HC Deb 21 June 2000 vol 352 cc188-9W
Mr. Casale

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the outcome was of the Fisheries Council held in Luxembourg on 16 June; and if he will make a statement. [127182]

Mr. Morley

The Fisheries Council met in Luxembourg on 16 June. I led the UK delegation, accompanied by John Home Robertson, Deputy Minister for Rural Affairs in the Scottish Executive.

The Commission presented its mid-term review of the Multi Annual Guidance Programme (MAGP) IV, which will now go for further study. I made clear that I could not accept the cuts in the UK fleet suggested by the Commission. In particular, effort control must be retained. However, the need to bring capacity into better balance with available stocks remained, and I welcome the Commission's plans for a public consultation this autumn on successor arrangements to MAGP IV. Stricter MAGP limits should be applied in member states offering construction grants for new vessels.

The Council adopted a report on the integration of environmental concerns into the Common Fisheries Policy for submission to the European Council and agreed on new arrangements for the collection of biological and economic data on the industry. I, together with German and Belgian colleagues, succeeded in insisting that these should not be unnecessarily burdensome. We raised the issue of unregulated international fishing for haddock off Rockall and with support from a number of member states pressed the Commission to seek early action through the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.

I welcomed a statement from Commissioner Fischler on the need for member states to take action to reduce cetacean bycatches in EU waters. I also welcomed the Commission's report on the pilot stage of Regional Workshops, which helpfully bring together fishermen, scientists and administrators to consider improvements in the management of particular fisheries.

Commissioner Fischler reported on the latest state of play on negotiations on a new EU-Morocco Agreement. The Council had an initial discussion on responsibility for the enforcement of Regional Fisheries Organisation responsibilities. A revised Total Allowable Catch for anchovies was agreed.