§ Mr. Barry Field
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last commissioned a study into the dog whelk population; what signs there are that the TBT ban has led to a recovery of the dog whelk; and if he will list those areas where the dog whelk population is showing a substantial increase.
§ Mr. Trippier
The Government currently fund three studies of dog whelk populations and their response to672W TBT contamination. These are carried out by the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, by the Marine Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland and by the Institute of Biology and Marine Conservation Society. They indicate that populations of the dog whelks, which is the most sensitive species to TBT, have been affected to varying degrees in different parts of the British Isles by past exposure. In extreme cases, particularly in sheltered localities, populations can no longer reproduce. The species has only limited capacity to recolonise such areas and it will take some time before the studies are able unequivocally to demonstrate any recovery since the ban.