Examination of Witnesses (Questions 335-339)|
13 SEPTEMBER 2004
Q335 Chairman: May I welcome you all.
I would like to put to each of your organisations the same question
we have put to all our witnesses to date. You may have heard it
in the previous exchanges. We have lot of information, as I indicated.
If there was one thing that you wanted us not to forget in favour
of the Bill and one thing that you would not want us to forget
which highlight your reservations about the Bill, would you like
to tell the Committee about that. We will start with Ms Roxburgh.
Ms Roxburgh: Are you talking about
why I am here representing shellfish?
Q336 Chairman: You know why you are here
representing shellfish, otherwise you would not be here. You have
read the Bill; you have a lot of material. I am asking you to
pick out one thing you would like the Committee, on behalf of
your organisation, not to forget as to why you are in favour of
the Bill. It might be that you are implacably opposed to it, in
which case you could tell us that, or, in the converse, there
may be one very important issue in the Bill that is troubling
you and your organisation and you would not like us to forget
it at the end of this collection of material. This is your chance
to put those two key points to us.
Ms Roxburgh: My key point in relation
to not forgetting is that we want the Bill to maintain the idea
that invertebrates are animals. As far as I understand it, the
1911 Act does not omit invertebrates and therefore they probably
are included, but there is nothing specific about them and therefore
virtually anything can be done to them. We would like those to
be included as animals in the same way as the vertebrates and
the pets are included. The other thing that I would like to point
out is that I am very troubled about the sale of animals at fairs
and pet markets and the live sale of invertebrates.
Mr Denton: I am not really here
to speak in favour of this Bill. On behalf of the commercial fish
industry that I represent, I do not feel we should be included
in the compass of this Bill. It seems to us that the headline
purpose of the Bill is to extend the rules for farm animal welfare
to other animals that are kept by man, such as domestic pets,
zoo animals and so on. We do not believe that those types of welfare
requirements are appropriate to the commercial fish industry in
which we are prosecuting a wild animal for the purpose of producing
food for mankind. We do not see how our industry can fit into
the welfare requirements that are designed for animals, such as
dogs and cats, et cetera, kept by man.
Dr Broughton: I probably share
some of the views that Wesley Denton has just mentioned. I have
to view this Bill in the context of angling and fisheries. The
way it is drafted, I do not think I have a view that it is going
to advance those in any particular way, but clearly some of the
provisions within the Bill have raised, and will continue as drafted
at the moment to raise, quite serious concerns in the angling
world because of the way in which fish and angling practices can
be scooped up by the provisions. We have some grave reservations
about some of the issues in here. That is against the background
certainly of public comment from Defra and government officials
that it was not the intention of the Bill to mount an attack on
angling or to restrict anglers' practices, and it would be an
inadvertent and unfortunate consequence of the way the Bill is
drafted if that were the case. I come at this from that point
Mr Bird: Thank you for the invitation
to come today. I would endorse what Bruno Broughton and Wesley
Denton have just said. We see the Bill in its current form as
creating great difficulties for angling because it is not clear
enough. When you talk about animals and vertebrates, either description
will include fish. We would contend that our fish, to all intents
and purposes, are wild and therefore this Bill is primarily targeted
at domesticated or kept animals. We feel that recreational fishing
and fisheries should be excluded.
Q337 Mr Mitchell: What are the implications
of vertebrates, fish, being included in the Bill from your point
Mr Bird: There is one phrase that
sticks out for anglers of all types and that is where the description
refers to "kept animal". Whether you are fishing catch
and release or not, at the time of hooking or at the time of putting
it in a keep net, it is to all intents and purposes a kept animal.
Our concern is that there are those out there who would use that
kind of terminology to create mischief or problems for us.
Q338 Mr Mitchell: Would you rather that
"animal" were differently defined so as to exclude fish?
Mr Bird: Yes. In our submission
we actually try to put a positive slant on it by saying "animalsmammals,
birds and so on", so that the descriptions we put forward
by their definition excluded fish.
Q339 Mr Mitchell: What is the view of
the Sea Fish Authority? Would you rather it were defined in a
different way so as not to include fish?
Mr Denton: We think that is the
key to modifying the Bill, to change the definitions to make sure
that the definitions more carefully target the kind of animal
that this Bill is aimed at and to avoid the collateral damage.