HC Deb 10 November 2000 vol 356 c408W
Ms Atherton

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will make a statement on the effect of the recent five tonne limit on bass fishing by pair-trawlers; [136955]

(2) what recent evidence he has received and evaluated regarding bass stocks off the coast of the United Kingdom; [136956]

(3) what further representations he has received on restricting the activities of pair-trawlers fishing for bass in European waters. [136800]

Mr. Morley

The licence condition restricting landings of bass introduced from 1 January applied to all UK fishing vessels in 2000 and not just to pair-trawlers. With two months of the year to go, no catches by UK vessels have approached the five tonne limit.

I will be receiving from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science shortly their report on their monitoring of the 1999 and 2000 offshore fisheries. Information on a tagging exercise conducted during the summer in the inshore fishery is also due to be delivered and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has recently convened a Study Group to look at the status of North East Atlantic bass stocks. A preliminary report is expected next May.

I have received many letters and other representation from right hon. and hon. Members and their constituents requesting further restrictions or complete closure of the offshore fishery. I will consider what action is necessary in the light of CEFAS' reports and the ICES conclusions.