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Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will match for the British industry the operating support given to the fishing industries of other EU countries. [156460]

Mr. Morley: I announced on 2 April a package of measures designed to meet the needs of the English fishing industry. Measures have similarly been announced by the devolved administrations.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with (a) the fishing industry and (b) fish processors about the financial state of the industry and their need for public support. [156459]

Mr. Morley: I have personally met with representatives of both the fishing industry and the fish processing industry. I am therefore well aware of the position of all parts of the fisheries sector.

I have already made clear that I share the catchers' and processors' wish to see a sustainable industry which is economically profitable and which uses environmentally sustainable practices. The package of aid measures worth £22.5 million in England, which will inter alia provide financial assistance to help restructure the fishing industry and make grants available for innovation in the marketing and processing of fish, makes clear that the Government are ready to support and encourage the industry in pursuing these aims.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has for decommissioning British fishing vessels; and when he intends to announce them. [156457]

Mr. Morley: I have already announced additional funding worth £6 million to help restructure the fishing industry. We will be consulting closely with the industry about the form that this assistance will take.

23 Apr 2001 : Column: 39W

Mr. Steen: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the landing sites for fishing ports in order of value of landings. [157879]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 April 2001]: The values of landings of fresh and frozen fish by UK vessels in 1999 at the top 50 UK ports are set out in the table. Corresponding figures for 2000 are not yet available.

Major ports: value of fresh and frozen fish landed by UK vessels into UK ports during 1999

Port of landingValue (£ million)
Milford Haven7.1
North Shields3.2
Troon and Saltcoats3.2
River Dart2.5
River Fal--Falmouth1.9
Lings Lynn1.9
Total landings, all UK ports463.7

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate the Government have made of the proportion of the overall EU fisheries resource accounted for by British territorial waters. [153369]

23 Apr 2001 : Column: 40W

Mr. Nick Brown: It is not possible to estimate the UK's share of the total EU fisheries resource occurring in British territorial waters. Fish movements are not determined by international boundaries. They also vary over time according to biological, environmental and other conditions. Furthermore, the ICES scientific assessments on which Total Allowable Catch decisions are based are provided in relation to the level of fish stocks within ICES rectangles. These include areas outside EU waters and do not take account of territorial waters.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy in respect of the European Parliament's decision on (a) abolishing national control over fishing in coastal waters, (b) access to the North sea and (c) the Shetland and Irish boxes. [153237]

Mr. Nick Brown: I assume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the resolution which the European Parliament adopted on 17 January 2001 in relation to the Commission report on the consultations the Commission conducted throughout the EU in 1998-99 in preparation for the 2002 Review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This resolution is not binding on the Commission and Council. Nor does it call for the abolition of national control over over fishing in national waters but, rather, for maintenance of the status quo if there is any controversy over the future of the six to 12 mile limits. The text of the resolution if available in the Library of the House. As we have consistently made clear, we are confident that the six to 12 mile access restrictions will again be renewed in the forthcoming review of the CFP. We shall be arguing then for these access restrictions to be made permanent.

In the North sea, all the main commercial stocks are now subject to TACs with quotas allocated according to the principle of relative stability, which will continue to apply unless a qualified majority of the Council on the basis of a Commission proposal decides otherwise. There are no signs that this will happen. As a result, we do not expect to see new or increased access to the North sea after 2002.

Restrictions on access to the Irish Box are laid down in the western waters effort regime, which the Commission has confirmed will continue automatically beyond 2002.

The Shetland Box will be rolled over automatically beyond 2002 unless, on the basis of a Commission proposal and acting by qualified majority, the Council decides to make any changes. The Government are currently reviewing the effectiveness of the Box in terms of the objectives originally set for it and a way of clarifying the arguments for its continuation beyond 2002.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what percentage of (a) fishermen, (b) vessels and (c) value of catch of the UK fishing fleet is (a) English and (b) Scottish. [157239]

Mr. Morley: The available information is set out in the table.

UK fishing fleet: Number of fishermen, vessels and value of catch (excludes Channel Isles and Isle of Man)

EnglandPercentageScotlandPercentageUK totalPercentage
At end 1999
Number of fishermen(7)
Number of fishing vessels
12 metre(8) and under3,341541,833306,151100
Over 12 metre(8)38129698541,297100
Value of landings (£ million)

(7) As at 31 March 2000 for England

(8) Based on registered length


Classification by Department of Administration

23 Apr 2001 : Column: 41W

23 Apr 2001 : Column: 41W

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to the EU Commission about aid and support for the British fishing industry following the reduced fishing opportunities available under new quotas and the new instructions to protect cod and hake. [158434]

Mr. Morley: None. We have announced a package of national measures within FIFG and support for regional assistance from the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to the European Commission about the compatibility with European law of the aid given to their national fishing industries by other EU Governments. [158436]

Mr. Morley: Following an announcement by the Commission of a formal investigation into state aid schemes in France and Spain, the Government wrote to the European Commission on 28 February setting out the UK's position on these aids.

In particular, we made clear our view that such aids should be considered incompatible with EU state aid guidelines as they distort competition in the fisheries sector and that paying operating subsidies prevents or delays the necessary restructuring of the least economic parts of the fleet. We understand the French aid scheme has been discontinued following Commission investigation.

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