HL Deb 08 December 1998 vol 595 cc85-6WA
Lord Williams of Elvel

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What changes they propose to make in the arrangements for the licensing of pelagic freezer trawlers and pair trawling. [HL140]

Lord Donoughue

In July 1998 Fisheries Departments issued a consultation document seeking comments on proposals to assist pelagic freezer trawling including the aggregation of whitefish with pelagic licences and pair trawling with vessels from other member states. The proposals attracted wide ranging comments from the fishing industry.

After careful consideration it has been decided to introduce a time limited scheme for the introduction or replacement of pelagic freezer trawlers. Any person may introduce a pelagic freezer trawler into the UK fleet by aggregating Category A whitefish licences and/or category A pelagic trawler licences with existing Category A pelagic freezer trawler or purse seine licences or licence entitlements, provided:

  1. (i) proposals to introduce or replace a pelagic freezer trawler are notified in writing to Fisheries Departments by 28 February 1999;
  2. (ii) at least 40 per cent. of the vessel capacity units (VCUs) of the incoming vessel are covered by licences or licence entitlements from pelagic freezer trawlers or purse seiners;
  3. (iii) the tonnage and engine power of any incoming vessel must be no greater than the total tonnage and the total engine power of the vessels from which its licence entitlements derive;
  4. (iv) the incoming vessel is registered by the Registrar of Shipping and Seamen and licensed by one of the Fisheries Departments by 30 June 2001.

A capacity penalty will only be payable on that part of the capacity of the incoming vessel which is not covered by Category A pelagic freezer or purse seine licences; that penalty will be 20 per cent.

In submitting proposals to introduce or replace a pelagic freezer trawler, the prospective owner will have to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of Fisheries Departments, a genuine intention to pursue pelagic freezer trawling and access to sufficient fishing opportunities to support the operation of the incoming vessel. Any effort expended by the new vessel would count towards existing effort targets. Consequently any pelagic effort allocated to producer organisations or other groups to cover an incoming vessel's activities could only amount to the allocation for the existing freezer vessel it replaced and/or the fishing opportunities linked to any other pelagic licences used in the licence transaction. No additional effort would be available as a result of the aggregation of whitefish licences.

For the time being the prohibition on pair trawling with vessels from other member states will remain in place. The prohibition will, however, be reviewed in the light of the new rules to regulate transshipment and joint fishing operations which the Commission is expected to draw up following changes in the EU's control regulation for fisheries.

These arrangements, which take effect immediately, are being notified to all holders of pelagic freezer trawler and purse seine licences.