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Freezer Trawlers

Volume 81: debated on Monday 17 June 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Government's deliberations on the licensing of freezer trawlers for the mackerel fishery.

Major changes have taken place in the structure of the pelagic fishing fleet in recent years; in particular, the number of freezer trawlers has fallen from 26 in 1980 to one by the end of last year. Fisheries Ministers have therefore decided to institute, in consultation with the industry, an immediate full review of the restrictive licensing arrangements in respect of the pelagic fisheries, taking into account the current and prospective fishing opportunities.The review will include consideration of the particular restrictions on the licensing of purse seiners and freezer trawlers announced in a written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall South-East (Mr. Hicks) on 29 July 1980. It will be carried out in advance of the review of the restrictive licensing arrangements for pressure stocks generally which is due to take place next year. Pending the outcome of the pelagic review, the three licences for freezer trawlers new to the fishery which were issued earlier this year owing to a regrettable misunderstanding in my Deprtment will be maintained on a provisional basis. In the meantime, no further mackerel licences will be issued to freezers unless the new vessel is to replace the remaining one vessel that has been licenced to fish for mackerel before this year.The freezer trawlers will be allocated for 1985 a mackerel quota of 3,374 tonnes per vessel, which corresponds to the average catch of purse seiners last year. The definitive management arrangements for this year's North sea herring fishery, including the question of the quotas for freezer trawlers, are still under consideration, but, pending decisions on these, the freezer trawlers will be given an initial allocation of 400 tonnes per vessel when the fishery opens on 16 June, to count against their definitive quota for 1985.