HC Deb 17 June 1999 vol 333 c218W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his policy towards sandeel conservation; what are the present estimated total stocks in UK waters; and what is the present allowable catch. [87342]

Mr. Morley

I remain concerned to ensure that an appropriate Total Allowable Catch is established each year for sandeels. I am also concerned to ensure that effective conservation measures are put in place to ensure that sandeels are available to those sea birds that depend on them at certain times of the year.

Figures for estimated total sandeel stocks in UK waters are not available. The main sandeel fishery off the UK is in the North Sea. In October 1998 the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea advised that the North sea spawning stock biomass of this short lived species stood at 1.8 million tonnes. On this advice the Council of Ministers set a Total Allowable Catch of 1 million tonnes. A further 7,000 tonnes may be taken in the tightly regulated local fishery at Shetland.