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Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what weight of wild fish is required to provide fishmeal for the production of one kilogram of farmed fish; and what assessment she has made of the long-term implications for wild fish stocks. [112417]

We do not hold information on the weight of wild fish used in fishmeal for feeding to farmed fish in the UK. The quantity involved will vary depending on the proportion of the fishmeal used in the different grades of dry fish feed produced for the species of farmed fish concerned and their stages of growth. However carnivorous aquaculture species are unlikely to consume more natural marine resources through feed than their wild counterparts would consume in the natural environment.The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) makes annual assessments of the main commercial fish stocks around Britain, including those used to produce fish meal such as sandeels, Norway pout and blue whiting, and provides advice on their management. The total abundance of sandeel or Norway pout in the North Sea varies considerably for natural reasons, but the ICES assessments show that they are currently stable. ICES does not consider that the sandeel and pout fisheries are affecting the availability of food for other wild fish at the stock level, but studies are in progress to investigate whether problems are likely to occur more locally. As regards blue whiting, ICES has stated that these stocks are outside safe biological limits and that catches should be limited to 600,000 tonnes in 2003. Although there is no internationally agreed Total Allowable Catch (TAC), the EU has set a TAC of 345,000 tonnes for Community waters in order to help manage the fishery.