asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the Government have concluded their review of the rules governing beam trawling within 12 miles of the United Kingdom coast; and if he will make a statement.
I announced last year that the views of the catching interests would be sought on whether a change in the rules governing beam trawling within 12 miles of the United Kingdom coast would be justified. Since then, we have received a number of representations. I have considered very carefully the points made and recognise the strength of feeling in many parts of the country that, as a result of technical developments and other factors, the existing rules are no longer suitable.In the light of the available evidence, we have concluded that a more appropriate rule round most of the country would be that imposed in other member States of the European Community where beam trawling for sole or plaice by vessels exceeding 70 gross registered tonnes or 300 brake horse power is banned within 12 miles of the coast. However, off South West England, between a line drawn due south from Portland Bill lighthouse and a line drawn north west from Pendeen lighthouse, I consider that the existing ban on beam trawling within 12 miles of the coast with an agrregate length of beam exceeding 8 metres is still appropriate.The approval of the European Commission has been sought and obtained to the introduction of a national measure on these lines and my right hon. Friends will lay before the House the necessary subordinate legislation shortly.