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Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in dealing with diseases among fish living in restricted cage accommodation. [128820]

[holding answer 10 September 2003]: Most farming of fin fish in cages takes place in the Scottish marine environment. The health status of farmed fish in the UK including those held in caged systems is closely monitored by the Fish Health Inspectorates reporting to the different administrations in the UK to ensure full compliance with the EU fish health regime as laid down in Council Directives 91/67/ EEC and 93/53/EEC and implementing national legislation, The UK has a high fish health status and is currently free from the most serious fish diseases, Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA), Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VMS) and Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis (IHN), Stringent control programmes operate to maintain freedom from these diseases and to control other serious diseases which may be present in some farmed fish populations such as Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) and Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD).In March this year the Scottish Executive published "A Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture" which outlines a range of issues which are being addressed to help protect the health and welfare of fish farmed in caged and other systems including better management techniques to help reduce the incidence of sea lice infestation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will grant a full aid package for the South West Fishing Fleet and a decommissioning programme following the proposal by the European Commission for a recovery programme for the northern hake stock including associated stocks of megrim and anglerfish; and if she will make a statement. [129414]

Grant aid for the fishing industry in south-west England is available under the EU FIFG structural fund programme. The current decommissioning scheme for fishing vessels in England is targeted to the sectors of the fleet which are subject to limits on their time at sea under the interim EU requirements for effort control to conserve cod.

The Government will consider whether there is a need for additional funds to be made available to the south west fleet in the light of the outcome of EU negotiations on the Commission's proposal for a recovery plan for Northern hake.