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Fishing Quotas

Volume 940: debated on Thursday 1 December 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in negotiations between Norway and the European Economic Community regarding fishing quotas.

There have so far been two rounds of consultations about reciprocal fishing possibilities in 1978. Considerable progress has been made on the allocation of the shared stocks in the North Sea, but no quotas have yet been decided upon for stocks in the Norwegian Arctic region. These are being discussed in conjunction with quotas for Norway from stocks occurring exclusively in member States' waters. Further consultations are to be held shortly.

Is the Minister aware of the necessity for urgency in this matter? In Fleetwood we have two trawlers tied up, with the men unemployed, and there are many more in Humberside. Does he agree that it is essential to get agreement on the quotas, so that we know for the future what the supplies will be?

I recognise the urgency of this matter. From the consultations that we have had so far, it seems likely that agreement can be reached on the division of the shared stocks for 1978, but we want to make sure that the United Kingdom gets a share of the available fishing opportunities which is comparable to the contribution that we are making to the Community resources.

Has my right hon. Friend noticed that Norway, by the simple expedient of staying out of the European Economic Community, has obtained a 200-miles exclusive fishing zone, whereas we have not yet obtained one of 50 miles?

I think that my right hon. Friend will want to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture for the contribution that he has made so far in ensuring that the national interests are looked after.