asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the current level of herring stocks and of the improvement brought about by the ban; and what are the reasons for the shortfall between current levels and those predicted as likely to result from the ban.
An estimate of the size of the spawning stock of North Sea herring in 1979 will not be available until after the herring assessment working group of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has met later this month. However, it forecast in 1978 that the total spawning stock for 1979 would be about 435,000 tonnes compared to an estimate of 180,000 tonnes at the time the United Kingdom national ban was introduced in 1977. The rate of stock recovery is necessarily dependent on many factors including annual variations in recruitment which result from a number of different causes.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he intends to phase in the return to herring fishing rather than permitting a new free-for-all once the current ban is ended.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has recommended a ban on directed fishing on a number of herring stocks in 1980. ICES has, however, been asked to advise on the criteria which would allow fishing to start on stocks for which a ban is currently in operation, and any arrangements for a resumption of these fisheries would depend on its advice, including the size of any total allowable catch that was recommended.