§ 1. Mrs. Humble
When he last held discussions with representatives of the fishing industry. 
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Elliot Morley)
I regularly meet fishing industry representatives and I last met the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations on 19 November.
§ Mrs. Humble
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. He will be aware from our recent correspondence that the Fleetwood fishermen welcome some aspects of the new decommissioning scheme but are concerned about the separation of licence and track record from the value of the boat itself, which may result in loss of quota to the port and, indeed, to the country. In his discussions with representatives of the fishing industry, has my hon. Friend had an opportunity to consider this matter?
§ Mr. Morley
This year's decommissioning round was a pilot scheme. It allowed for the first time the separation of track record from the value of the vessel. This was generally welcomed by the industry. There is an issue, however, about the socio-economic effects of this approach. My hon. Friend has been a leading campaigner on the issue, along with the local authority in the area she represents, and she has convinced me that it is a matter that we need to bear in mind in future to ensure that we protect the interests of fishing ports along our coasts.
§ Mr. Gill
In the Minister's discussions with the industry, has he found anyone who supports the notion of reducing the minimum landing size of plaice, for example, from 27 cm to 22 cm? Given that so much of the regulation that stems from the common fisheries policy is ostensibly to do with conservation, how can the Minister justify reducing the minimum landing size to below that at which the fish could reasonably be expected to breed? What will he do about it?
§ Mr. Morley
I do not justify that. I spoke against it at the Council of Ministers, and submitted a reservation on the basis that the minimum landing size was too low. I argued that it sent out all the wrong signals to the fishing industry at a time when we were arguing for conservation. The logic behind the move was to match mesh size with discards so as to reduce discards, which is a sensible objective. The answer, of course, is to increase mesh sizes if we want to increase the minimum landing size. Fishermen can do that voluntarily now and I hope that more of them will follow the example of those who do, who are concentrating on quality, not quantity.