[holding answer 13 June 2006]: I regard the request from English Nature very seriously. I also recognise that Lyme Bay represents an extremely important fishery for the south west and the socio-economic impact of any action needs to be taken into account in reaching a decision. My officials have attended meetings with English Nature and Southern and Devon Sea fisheries Committees and, more recently, with the newly formed South West Scallopers Association. This dialogue is continuing.
I hope we can urgently broker a local solution to this issue which will be acceptable both for the marine environment and the livelihoods of fishermen. If this is not possible, or if individual scallopers choose not to respect any negotiated agreement, I will not hesitate to accede to English Nature’s request.