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Airborne Fishery Patrols

Volume 113: debated on Friday 3 April 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will make a statement on the cost, efficiency and effectiveness of the airborne fishery patrols operated for his department in England and Wales and in the Falkland Islands;(2) what aircraft and radar equipment are used for airborne fishery patrols by his Department in England and Wales and in the Falkland Islands; and what contractual arrangements apply to the operation of this service.

My right hon. Friend announced on 14 November 1985 the conclusions of a Government review of the arrangements for fishers protection in the United Kingdom. On long-range aerial surveillance, where the role is more observation and collection of information rather than direct enforcement, Ministers concluded that the task could he carried out at lower cost using civilian aircraft of a lighter type than RAF Nimrods then employed for this task. Inshore aerial survillance would continue to be provided by civilian aircraft. Arrangements were put in hand to implement these conclusions.At present, inshore surveillance patrols in England and Wales are undertaken by a Turbine Islander, while a Dornier 228 operates in offshore areas. A second Dornier 228 is due to come into service in July. The Turbine Islander and the Dornier are equipped with a Sperry Prisms 500 radar; both Dorniers will use a Bendix RDR 1500 radar as from July.The operational requirements for serial surveillance are controlled by the Ministry, but the aircraft and their equipment are provided, and flown under contract by FR Aviation Limited at a cost of just over £2 million per annum over the next five years. This "turn-key" arrangement has proved to be a most cost-effective way of implementing the Ministry's aerial surveillance responsibilities.The arrangements made by the Falkland Islands authorities for aerial surveillance of their waters are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.