HC Deb 23 July 1996 vol 282 cc265-6W
Mr. Beith

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what enforcement actions fishery protection vessels have taken against Danish vessels engaged in industrial fishing on the north-east bank; [38253]

(2) what assessment he has made of the impact of industrial fishing for sandeels by Danish vessels on the north-east bank on fish stocks and on the ability of vessels from local ports to pursue the haddock and whiting fishery; [38254]

(3) what mesh size limits apply to vessels engaged in industrial fishing for sandeels on the north-east bank; [38255]

Mr. Baldry

[holding answer 22 July 1996]: Sandeeling is subject to common fishery policy regulations. However, the United Kingdom in pressing for the introduction of precautionary total allowable catches as well as further research to increase our understanding of the impact of industrial fishing on other species.

Nets used to catch sandeels in the North sea from 1 November to the last day of February must have a minimum mesh size of 16 millimetres. No mesh size restrictions are applied to sandeel fisheries at other times but throughout the year the maximum permissible by-catch of all protected species, including haddock and whiting, is 10 per cent.

Aerial surveillance on 2 and 9 July identified up to 52 industrial trawlers in the area of the north-east bank. That number had fallen to four on 16 July. In the period of peak activity some 25 inspections were carried out by Royal Navy fishery protection vessels without any infringements being found.

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