asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will make a statement about seal shooting in the Wash; what steps he is taking to ensure that destruction of seals is not undertaken before it has been established that fishing interests are being severely affected; that if he will ensure that only skilled marksmen, armed with adequate weapons and ammunition, are allowed to undertake such work.
The Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee is satisfied that the number of seals in the Wash area is increasing and has asked my Department to approve the expenditure of a sum not exceeding £50 on their destruction. The results of investigations conducted by my Department's scientific staff suggest that if numbers are permitted to increase, damage to fisheries in the area will become substantial. My Department are in communication with the Committee with the object of ensuring that if approval is given, humane methods of destruction will be employed.
Will the Minister bear in mind that before the war there was a certain amount of seal shooting in the Wash with.22 rifles, but that the 50-grain ammunition required is not at present available? That is the only humane ammunition to use with.22 rifles.
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that in any permission we may give—we are at the moment considering it—humane destruction will be one of the conditions.