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Fisheries Bill

Volume 454: debated on Thursday 14 December 2006

2. What progress he has made in bringing forward a new fisheries Bill following the review of salmon and freshwater fisheries in 2000. (109016)

We have today completed a review of salmon and freshwater fisheries policy, and I can announce to the House that we intend to meet the objectives my hon. Friend and I share through secondary legislation as quickly as possible.

Britain’s 3.5 million anglers will welcome the news that the outcome of the salmon and freshwater fisheries review will be enacted by the Government, as promised in our charter for angling several years ago. However, will the measures set out by the Minister enable tougher action to be taken against fish thefts, which are carried out either for the illegal stocking of fisheries or, more recently, by eastern European workers who simply fish for the pot? Will he increase the present derisory penalties and tidy up the ambiguous and ineffective byelaws?

I agree with my hon. Friend and pay tribute to the tireless work that he does on behalf of the United Kingdom’s 3.5 million anglers. We do think we will be able to address the concerns that I share with him about the current level of fines for fish theft, and the whole range of concerns that were raised by the independent review back in 2000.

I am worried by the Minister’s answer to the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter). On 23 February 2004 the Minister stated:

“Work is proceeding towards the development of primary legislation required to implement other accepted recommendations”—[Official Report, 23 February 2004; Vol. 418, c. 137W.]

that is, of the Warren report. So the Minister has rowed back from primary legislation in the form of a fisheries Bill, and the draft Marine Bill has disappeared, though he promised that on 3 July 2006 at column 745W. Can he tell us whether there is to be a marine Bill and when, or will he row back to secondary legislation for that as well?

The question was about salmon and freshwater fisheries, but with the Speaker’s indulgence, I shall answer a question about the Marine Bill. We have made it clear that we have not abandoned our commitment to the Marine Bill. It was in our manifesto and it will be delivered before the next election.