§ Mr. Morley
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether English Nature has given its approval for the issuing of licences to kill goosanders on the river Wharfe on the Bolton Abbey estate, north Yorkshire; how many goosanders have been approved to be shot; what evidence has been submitted to her Department in support of this application; and if she will place a copy in the Library.
§ Mr. Soames
As a licensing authority under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Ministry is responsible for the issue of these licences and they must not be unreasonably withheld.
On receipt of the applications from the Bolton Abbey estate, ADAS, the Ministry's wildlife advisers followed their usual practice and notified English Nature of the applications and invited them to comment. The views of English Nature were made known in its press release of 14 January 1994, a copy of which has been placed in the Library. Those views were given full weight in making the licensing decision.
The applicant must provide sufficient evidence of serious damage being caused to the fishery and show that other methods of non-lethal scaring are ineffective or impractical and not just difficult to implement. The Ministry cannot disclose to third parties information provided in support of a licence application which is commercial in nature, such as the extent of any financial loss being suffered by the fishery.
Two licences have been issued for the Bolton Abbey estate to shoot goosanders as an aid to scaring; one licence, covering a 7.5 mile stretch of the River Wharfe, is to shoot up to 10 birds between 1 October 1993 and 28 February 1994; the other is to shoot up to four birds on the Bolton Abbey trout hatchery between 1 January to 28 February 1994.
§ Mr. Morley
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research work has been carried out on the river Wharfe to examine the impact on fish stocks of breeding goosanders.
§ Mr. Soames
The Ministry has not conducted any formal research studies on the river Wharfe. However, on receipt of the applications from the Bolton Abbey estate, an officer of ADAS, the Ministry's wildlife advisers, visited the applicants to assess their case. English Nature was advised of the applications and were invited to comment. The Ministry's own fisheries experts at Lowestoft were also asked for their comments. ADAS then provided a report on the visit with recommendations to the Ministry.
Once the licences were issued, ADAS began making monitoring visits and have been providing reports to the Ministry. They will continue to do this during the period of validity of the licence. The licensees are also required to provide a report to the Ministry of the action taken under their licence and, where possible, to retain the carcases of birds shot. These will be collected by ADAS and sent to our fisheries laboratory at Lowestoft where the contents of the gut will be examined. All of this information collected as part of the licensing arrangements will enable the Ministry to keep under review its policy on the issue of such licences.275W