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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 29 June 2004

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 21–22 June; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [181027]

Mr. Bradshaw: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on 21 June. The Scottish Minister for Environment and Rural Affairs was also present.

The Council held a public debate following the Commission's presentation of an Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming. We joined other Ministers in welcoming the Plan while stressing that expansion of the organic sector would have to be driven by consumer demand. The UK would play its part in further discussion but would want to ensure that requirements laid on the organic sector were economically realistic.

The Commission updated the Council on continuing WTO negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda and on its negotiations for a trade agreement with the Mercosur countries. We endorsed the efforts of the Commission to work for progress on both fronts and, on the WTO, emphasised the value of securing progress before the summer break. I re-iterated the benefits that a Doha deal could bring to the world economy and especially to developing countries.

The German Minister presented a memorandum to the Council on renewable resources, following a conference held last month in Bonn, which the Secretary of State had attended. Delegations welcomed the German paper, noting the growing importance of renewables. The Commission said it would submit a biomass plan by the end of 2005.

The Council had a brief exchange of views on the Commission's report on the operation of the beef labelling regulations. There was general agreement that the regulations had done much to support consumer confidence in beef and that major changes are not needed. Further technical discussion will take place at official level.

The Commission presented a paper setting out proposals for promoting more environmentally friendly fishing methods and a timetable for introducing new
 
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measures. This was the product of previous discussions between member states. The proposals had received wide support, including from the UK. We will continue to seek technical solutions and to support research directed at methods which respect the environment and contribute to a sustainable fishing industry.

The Council agreed the ceilings for the maximum fishing effort of member states in waters to the west of Britain (principally ICES Areas VI and VII). This was the final element of the arrangements agreed by the Council in October 2003, which are based on an up-dated reference period of 1998–2002 reflecting actual fishing effort over that period. We were pleased that the final text provided for consistency of approach and transparency in the calculations.

The Commission sought initial views on proposals for the establishment of a Community Fisheries Control Agency. There was general agreement that the concept was commendable if it improved consistency of enforcement. We indicated that we would be pleased to participate in discussions about the detail and registered that we believed that the Agency should complement rather than substitute the enforcement responsibilities of member states.

The Commission reported on continuing negotiations with trading partners over the rice tariff and with Russia on its requirements for certificates covering animal and animal product imports.

Cetacean By-catches

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will ensure that the UK's response to the European Commission's Cetacean Bycatch strategy proposes stricter measures than the EU proposals. [179459]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 18 June 2004]: The European Commission has not published a Cetacean Bycatch strategy.

I am currently considering the implementation of the UK Small Cetacean Bycatch response strategy in the light of the recently adopted Council Regulation and whether further, stricter, measures are necessary.

Dairy Cows

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the average lactations of dairy cows during their productive lifetime for each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [179972]

Alun Michael: Defra has made no estimate of the average lactations of dairy cows during their productive lifetime. However, according to data provided to the Milk Development Council by National Milk Records (who cover approximately 50 per cent. of the national herd) on average dairy cows have three lactations, each of which lasts for an average of 312 days.
 
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Fish Farms

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to minimise pollution from fish farms. [179883]

Mr. Bradshaw: Risks of pollution from aquaculture are being addressed on a number of fronts through initiatives such as the Marine Stewardship report "Safeguarding our Seas" and the Scottish Executive's long-term strategic framework for Scottish Aquaculture.

The Government's efforts focus on scientific research on the carrying capacity of aquaculture waters (and the possible relocation of sites where this is exceeded and relocation is practicable), the development of cost-effective ways of reducing output of polluting effluent, and research to determine parameters for the optimal management of stocking density of farmed salmon and trout.

The Environment Agency has measures in place to regulate the use of water and limit the discharge of chemicals from fish farms in England and Wales.
 
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Flora and Fauna Extinctions

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 9 June 2004, Official Report, column 440W, to the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson), on flora and fauna extinctions, if she will list the species of plants and animals believed to have become extinct within the last 25 years. [179163]

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 9 June 2004, Official Report, column 440W, on flora and fauna extinctions, if she will list the species that have become extinct. [179174]

Mr. Bradshaw: From the available information the following lists have been compiled of species lost since 1979:

Vascular Plants (as given in the Vascular Plants Red Data Book 1999)

Square brackets around the year of last record (column 2) denote that the species has since been reintroduced.


Species
Year of last record in the wild in GB

Habitat


Comments
Agrostemma githago(1)1970sArableLost through agricultural intensification; now only casual, or deliberately planted
Crepis foetida[1980]Coastal habitatsReintroduced to Dungeness
Galeopsis segetum(1)1980sArableNow perhaps only a rare casual
Neotinea maculata(1)1986Dune/heathIsle of Man only, but now perhaps extinct
Otanthus maritimus(1)1970sDunes, shingleLast known in GB in Cornwall and Sussex; reason for loss of this predominantly
Mediterranean species perhaps climate change


(1) Exact year not known.


Birds

The Red-backed Shrike Lanius colluho is the only bird species that can be considered to have gone extinct from the UK in the last 25 years. It was a regular breeder up until about 20 years ago. Since then it has continued to visit the UK—but without breeding success. The reasons for it's decline are not clear—both habitat loss (it prefers open meadow habitats) and climate change have been suggested.

Mammals

Mouse-eared bat Myotis myotis is believed to be extinct. It was last recorded in 1991, although a vagrant was recorded in 2002.

Amphibians

Pool frog, Rana lessonae is believed to be extinct. The last known male (ex Norfolk) died in captivity in 1999—attempts to mate this individual with females from Sweden failed.

Fish

Burbot Lota lota is believed to be extinct. It was last recorded in 1972 from the Great Ouse system, and was probably lost due to habitat change and pollution.

Dates of "extinction" for well-studied invertebrates in Britain

The dates that these species were last seen in Britain are given in the table. In some cases these are approximate, due to lack of precise data.
Species nameBinomialApproximate last date
Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Butterflies
Large BlueMaculinea arion1979
Moths
Viper's BuglossHadena irregularis1977
Cudweed sharkCucullia gnaphalii ssp.
occidentalis Boursin
1979
Essex EmeraldThetida smaragdaria1991
—extinct in the wild
Anemone
Ivell's sea anemoneEdwardsia ivelliPossibly 1983


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