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Fishing Industry (Northumberland)

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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What recent assessment she has made of the (a) state of and (b) prospects for the fishing industry in Northumberland. [120199]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(Mr. Ben Bradshaw)

The north-east of England fleet has been numerically stable in the past two or three years. The Northumberland fleet will continue to benefit from access to prawns and to shellfish stocks.

Does the Minister agree that he would do well to travel to Northumberland pretty soon to enhance his knowledge of the problems faced by fishermen in the region? They have lost much of their cod fishery, are in the process of losing their salmon driftnet fishery, still have no licensing system to protect their shellfish fishery and are worried about the future of the prawn fishery, to which the Minister referred. Should not all of that be fairly high on his agenda?

My grand tour of UK fisheries during the summer is expanding by the minute. I am aware of the problems faced in recent years by the fishing industry that the right hon. Gentleman represents, but I should point out that the salmon driftnet fishery is a voluntary scheme that has proved—he will correct me if I am wrong—popular in his area. Of course, it will have very beneficial effects on the number of river salmon, which will also benefit other people.