|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
23 Feb 2004 : Column 130Wcontinued
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on including energy in the comprehensive performance assessment. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 February 2004]: Defra Ministers have had a number of discussions involving colleagues in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on the interaction between the comprehensive performance assessment (CPA) and Defra's policies that relate to local government. Similar discussions have also taken place at official level. These discussions have included issues relating to energy.
Proposals for redesigning the CPA methodology are currently the subject of an Audit Commission consultation paper. A key objective of these proposals is for CPA to respond to the shared priorities agreed between central and local government. This is intended to improve the ability of CPA to reflect cross cutting issues like sustainable energy, including energy efficiency and related issues such as fuel poverty.
Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she intends to reply to the letter to her dated 9 December 2003 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. A. Warrich. 
Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will hasten implementation of the Dee Cockle Regulation Order following the incident in Morecambe Bay on Thursday 5 February. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Department will take action to make a Regulating Order under the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967 once the prospective grantee, the Environment Agency in Wales, has submitted a formal application for an Order. I understand that the Agency has made good progress in obtaining the necessary
23 Feb 2004 : Column 131W
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) who the members of (a) the governing board of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, (b) the Sea Fisheries Committee and (c) the Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee were on 1 January; what the term of office of each member is; and what their remuneration is; 
(3) who the members of (a) the Advisory Committee on New Foods and Processes, (b) the Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committee, (c) the Apple and Pear Research Council, (d) the British Potato Council and (e) the Consultative Panel on Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis were on 1 January; what their term of office is in each case; and what their remuneration is.
Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is the Department's policy to make notes of (a) meetings and (b) telephone conversations involving ministers; and under what circumstances no notes would be taken. 
Margaret Beckett: My Department follows the central "Guidance on the Management of Private Office Papers" which makes clear that good record management procedures are necessary not least to ensure accountability and provide an audit trail. Among the records covered by the guidance are Ministers' meetings and telephone conversations.
23 Feb 2004 : Column 132W
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the Environment Agency's budget in (a) 19992000 and (b) 200304 was spent on national insurance contributions. 
Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether funding for environmental education in schools will change when the landfill tax credit scheme is amended. 
Environmental education forms a part of the national curriculum for schools. A number of non-curriculum waste education projects received funding through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme. The reform of the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme was announced in the Pre-Budget Report in 2002. As a result, waste projects are no longer eligible for funding. However, certain types of environmental educational projects are eligible for funding under the current scheme, for example, in the biodiversity category.
A sustainable waste delivery public spending programme, administered by Defra, has been established following the reform of the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme, to ensure that sustainable alternatives to landfill disposal are widely available. Under the public expenditure programme the Waste and Resources Action Programme is responsible for taking forward work on waste awareness.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated value is of payments due from the European Commission in respect of expenditures incurred and payments made by her Department, for which no claim has yet been made. 
23 Feb 2004 : Column 133W
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to the United Kingdom is in 200304 of maintaining the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour Working Group. 
Mr. Bradshaw: It is not possible to give the annual cost of maintaining the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas Fishing Technology and Fish Behaviour Working Group because the ICES budget does not separately identify individual working groups.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the financial contribution made by the United Kingdom Government to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas was for each of the last five financial years; and what proportion of those contributions was spent on fisheries research. 
It is not possible to determine how much of the UK's contribution was spent on fisheries research because the ICES budget does not separately identify such research. Individual countries' contributions are not allocated to specific areas of work.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she has conducted into the extent to which the level of one fish stock is affected by the levels of fish stocks of similar species sharing the same habitat. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Models which look at the interaction between species are still being developed by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). However, the evidence to date suggests that, in most cases, the level of one species is a relatively minor factor in the level of similar species, due to the rich marine food webs.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons are for the relative decline in cod biomass in the North Sea; and to what extent stocks have been affected by (a) long-term changes in sea temperatures, (b) predation and competition by other fish species,
23 Feb 2004 : Column 134W
(c) commercial exploitation of food supplies upon which cod stocks rely, (d) seals, (e) overfishing and (f) other factors. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Scientists advise that over the last 20 years the fishing rate on cod has been five times that required to promote optimal use of the cod stock, and the fishery captures too many immature fish. On average less than 5 per cent. of each new brood now survives to maturity, and the cod age structure is very restricted. The stock is severely overfished, the biomass of mature fish has shown a prolonged decline, and the number of young cod entering the stock decreased in the mid-1980s.
The ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM) advises that the reduction in recruitment can be at least partly explained by a reduction in the quantity and quality of eggs produced by a reduced spawning stock. There is speculation about the effect of environmental change and species interactions because of increased water temperature, and various contemporaneous changes in other species, but work carried out on these factors does not yet allow them to be quantified. ACFM notes that there may be some changes to the natural mortality of cod, such as a decrease on younger ages, possibly due to reduced cannibalism, and an increase on older ages due to seal predation, but the supporting evidence for these changes is weak.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what independent scientific advice she uses in relation to fisheries management; and if she will publish the advice she has received in relation to increased fishing effort for haddock while protecting cod stocks. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We and other EU member states receive independent advice on fish stocks from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). The latest such advice on haddock has already been published by ICES on their website: http//www.ices.dk/
Mr. Bradshaw: ICES stock assessments are carried out internationally using landings and biological and survey data that are analysed in a standard way by methods that are well-known and are accepted by the international fisheries science community. Results are dependent on the quality of the data, and on our understanding of biological processes in the sea. It is accepted that the data and the methods are not perfect, but they are the best available. Assessment results are reviewed within ICES by ACFM, as well as by the North Sea Fisheries Commission Partnership in the case of the North Sea stocks, and ACFM is further developing quality assurance and review processes.
23 Feb 2004 : Column 135W
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she has commissioned on the effect of escape behaviour between different species on mortality rates for cod in North Sea fisheries. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Differences in escape behaviour alone are not significant determinants of fishing mortality. The combination of escape behaviour and net design can be a factor and considerable research has been conducted into net designs which will, for example, reduce fishing mortality of juvenile cod. One option is to separate cod from other species within the trawl and then subject them to a different selection process (e.g. a larger mesh size) when they try to escape. Alternatively, it may be possible to design nets so that some species, including cod, avoid the net completely. Each fishery targeting different ranges of species may require a different complex design with the aim of catching the marketable species and releasing the unwanted species. Research is ongoing in the UK, in collaboration with commercial fishermen.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) EU, (b) UK and (c) French fisheries observers have spent research time on board (i) industrial trawlers, (ii) bass pair trawlers and (iii) other pelagic trawl fisheries vessels operating in areas (A) VII and (B) VIII in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 4 February 2004]: As part of Defra-funded research into cetacean bycatch, the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) carried out eight days of observations at sea in 2000, 25 days in 2001 and four in 2002 in the following UK pelagic fisheries in Area VII: mackerel, pilchard, whiting and anchovy.
In the offshore pair trawl fishery for bass in Area VII, SMRU undertook 72 days of observations in 2001, 40 days in 2002 and 87 in the spring of 2003. Further observations have been taking place in the bass fishery since December 2003 but data are not yet available. Defra does not hold records of observations undertaken by other member states in these areas.
In addition, observers from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) undertook 13 days' monitoring of English or Welsh registered vessels fishing for pelagic species in 2003 in Area VII and Area VIII. This work, which observed about 33 hours fishing, met obligations under the EU discard monitoring programme. CEFAS also undertook monitoring in Area VIId in 2001 for a total of about 21 hours fishing.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of whether fishing effort managed by limiting days at sea, including the banning of discards, is an effective fisheries management tool. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Scientific assessments have shown that fishing mortality on key species such as cod is too high in waters around the UK. Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas on their own have not been effective in reducing fishing mortality to sustainable levels. In December 2002 and again in December 2003, EU Fisheries Ministers agreed limitations on days at sea to
23 Feb 2004 : Column 136W
complement reductions in TACsit is too early to assess what impact these restrictions will have had on fishing mortality.
A discards ban is a separate management tool to a days at sea scheme. At present a ban on discards is not yet considered to be practicable. The European Commission published an action plan in November 2002 which suggested a number of options to reduce discarding, including consideration in the medium term of a discards ban. The UK and other member states have welcomed the Commission's intention to try out the ideas in its action plan through a series of pilot projects.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been conducted on the effectiveness of hybrid systems which use total allowable catches, days at sea and individual species quotas. 
Mr. Bradshaw: There is no such research available applicable to EU waters because the EU has only recently introduced days at sea rules to support the Total allowable catches (TACs) set for cod and other threatened species. In the past, TACs alone have not been respected. It is too soon for research to show whether the new approach is more effective.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|