HC Deb 14 January 2004 vol 416 cc732-3W
Ann Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what type of trawl is used as standard for scientific fisheries research within the European Union. [146714]

Mr. Bradshaw

The type of trawl used for survey work varies according to target species and area. In the fisheries of interest to UK fishermen, the main trawls used for surveying bottom living fish are the GOV and the beam trawl.

The GOV is a general purpose bottom trawl with a high headline and is used for scientific surveys where the target species are the main commercially important whitefish including cod, haddock, whiting, pout and saithe. The net also samples some of the main shoaling or pelagic species including herring and mackerel. The design and operation of the GOV trawl is co-ordinated by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, and all countries involved in the International Bottom Trawl surveys in the North Sea use the GOV trawl with an internationally-agreed specification. In addition to the North Sea. the GOV is used in surveys in the west of Scotland and the eastern English Channel, and has recently been adopted as the main trawl for surveys in the Irish Sea and Celtic Sea.

For flatfish species such as plaice and sole, the main gear used is the beam trawl. Scientific surveys in the North Sea, eastern and western English Channel, the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel are again co-ordinated through ICES. The survey trawls are based on the beam trawls used commercially but vary slightly in size and specification between areas.

Scientifically, it is desirable that survey trawls remain unchanged over a relatively long time period in order to ensure consistency in the survey catch rates from year to year.

Mr. Whittingdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government will pay transitional aid to fishing vessels in England adversely affected by effort controls resulting from the Cod Recovery Programme on the same basis as proposed for fishing vessels in Scotland and Northern Ireland. [147161]

Mr. Bradshaw

We have no plans to do so.