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Contaminated Fish

Volume 210: debated on Thursday 25 June 1992

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what information he has on the quantity and condition of diseased or contaminated fish that are processed for consumption;(2) which species of fish are most affected by pollution and contamination in the North sea;(3) what is his estimate of the tonnage of contaminated fish that are caught each year in the North sea;(4) what information he has on the uses to which contaminated or diseased fish are put when caught;

(5) what representations he has received regarding the amount of contaminated fish that are caught by North sea fishermen;

(6) what measures he intends to take to reduce the number of contaminated fish caught in the North sea;

(7) what is his estimate of the tonnage of caught fish that are not deemed fit for consumption owing to disease or contamination;

(8) what checks are made to ensure that fish caught in the North sea are fit for consumption.

I occasionally receive representations on this subject.The Ministry monitors levels of disease and contamination in fish and the results arc published regularly in the aquatic environment monitoring and food surveillance reports, available in the Library of the House. Neither disease prevalence nor contaminant levels in fish being landed in the United Kingdom posed a threat to fish stocks or to human health.Typical species of fish used for disease and contaminant monitoring are dab and flouder. This is because of their susceptibility to disease and their general distribution in inshore waters. Neither species is of significant commercial value.The most recent comprehensive survey of the North sea, the 1987 quality status report showed it to be generally in good shape. Problems areas are largely confined to the Wadden sea, which receives 65 per cent. of North sea river-borne contaminants via the Rhine, Meuse and Elbe. Nevertheless, the Government, with other North sea Governments, is taking action to reduce inputs of contaminants. For example, United Kingdom inputs of mercury and cadmium were down 51 per cent. and 61 per cent. respectively in 1985 to 1991.