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Fishing Industry

Volume 21: debated on Thursday 1 April 1982

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on the future of the fishing industry.

I am continuing to seek a settlement on a revised common fisheries policy.

What legal rights does the United Kingdom have to exclude foreign vessels from our inshore waters in the event of the CFP not being revised by the end of the year?

I answered the point earlier. I can see no way in which any British Government would allow fishing up to the beaches. As I said to the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), there is provision in the Treaty of Accession that there should be arrangements before the end of 1982.

Is the Minister aware of the disquiet in the industry, following statements by the Earl of Mansfield and the right hon. Gentleman's replies, about the future aid package to the industry? May we have a categorical assurance that there will be an aid package, and will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when it will be produced?

I know of the industry's concern and have spoken to its representatives. The case put to us by the industry contains a wide variety of evidence. We wish carefully to assess it all before we come to a decision, and we are doing that.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the considerable concern of the inshore fishing industry at Bridlington about the possibility of restrictions on fishing for cod in the North Sea in the autumn? Is he aware that if cod fishing is restricted, no other fishing is available and the fleet will have to tie up?

I am very much aware of that. In the past five days, the fishermen in my constituency have made the same representations to me. I know of the anxiety fishermen feel when fishing for a particular species is closed for whatever reason. Inshore fisherman particularly do not have the same variety of opportunities as others. It is a serious matter, which I shall consider carefully.

Is the Minister of State aware that the owner of the last two deep-sea fishing trawlers out of Hull sold them to New Zealand because, he said, of the Government's failure to arrive at an agreement on the CFP? Are we to assume that the Government have said farewell to a deep-sea fishing industry for Humberside? If so, what steps will the right hon. Gentleman take in the Community or in the Cabinet to direct investment and jobs to Hull for the people who have depended on the fishing industry?

That is a selective view of the source of the problems of the deep-sea fleet. The main source is the extension of fishing limits out to 200 miles, giving rise to the loss of Icelandic and other water. I should have much more respect for such claims if they took into account all the interests.

Of the last two years' aid of £42 million to the industry, more than £7½ million has gone to the sector of the fleet broadly represented by deep-sea vessels. That does riot exactly show a lack of concern by the Government. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that.