|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking in international organisations to protect dolphins; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The UK Government works actively through several international organisations to further the protection offered to dolphins and other cetaceans. These include the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the OSPAR Convention) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The UK Government have implemented a comprehensive system of by-catch monitoring under the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive and Council Regulation 812/2004. In 2003, the UK was the first member state to publish a response strategy for the monitoring of small cetaceans by-catch. In December 2004, the UK banned pelagic pair trawling for bass by UK vessels within 12 miles off the south-west coast of
England. The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) regularly reports the results of its research on by-catch monitoring which covers all relevant UK fishery sectors, including the bass pair trawl fishery to the Department, and has recently presented us with their 2006 findings. This report will be submitted to the European Commission and published on DEFRAs website in due course. The Commission evaluate all contributing member states schemes.
The UK Government have identified the potential benefits of acoustic devices, such as pingers, in reducing bycatch of dolphins and other cetaceans in fixed gear fisheries and argued successfully at an international level for these devices to be required in certain fisheries by EU legislation. Prior to enforcing the use of pingers under Council Regulation EC 8121 2004, the UK Government wants to ensure that those we recommend to be used are safe and cost effective for the industry and offer the maximum protection to porpoises.
We have also provided significant funding for collaborative working with other countries to collect information on the distribution and abundance of cetaceans in European Atlantic offshore waters. Other countries participating in this research study are France, Ireland and Spain. The outputs from this work will provide new information on the distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of a number of cetaceans, which include the bottlenose dolphin and common dolphin. This information will be used to assess the threats to dolphins and inform what mitigation measures may be required.
All dolphins are listed in either Appendix I or II of CITES. Under CITES, commercial trade in wild-taken Appendix I dolphins is only allowed in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II dolphin species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless trade is regulated. The UK supports the listing of dolphins on the appropriate Appendix and, in 2004, supported the up-listing of the Irrawaddy dolphin from Appendix II to I. Under CITES, countries manage trade in listed species to ensure that their conservation is not threatened by trade. Under that management regime, the UK (and EU) takes strict measures in respect of trade, and keeping in captivity, of all dolphins. Trade in wild-taken dolphins would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances, for example scientific, breeding, or educational purposes (where these would bring conservation benefits to the species concerned). Commercial trade in the EU in these species is strictly prohibited. The UK encourages other countries to adopt similar standards.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he next plans to meet his counterparts in the devolved administrations to discuss budgetary arrangements for the European Fisheries Fund; and if he will make a statement. 
At present, I have no plans to meet my counterparts in the devolved administrations to discuss budgetary arrangements for the European Fisheries Fund. However, there has been regular
contact at both ministerial and official level and, following recent correspondence, I am working with my ministerial counterparts to agree a proposal regarding the split of the UK convergence budget, which represents a compromise for all administrations. The four fisheries administrations are mindful that continued lack of agreement is clearly not in the best interests of the UK fishing industry. However, I hope that agreement will be reached in the next few days.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how he plans to allocate the European Fisheries Fund between the fisheries sectors; and if he will make a statement; 
Axis 1: Measures for the adaptation of the Community fishing fleet.
Axis 2: Aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products.
Axis 3: Measures of common interest.
Axis 4: Sustainable development of fisheries areas.
Axis 5: Technical Assistance.
Axis 1 of the EFF covers funding for more sustainable gears. We are proposing to allocate approximately 15 per cent. of England's EFF budget for Axis 1 measures. Axis 2 covers aquaculture, and we are proposing to allocate approximately 15 per cent. of England's EFF budget for Axis 2 measures.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under what circumstances the European Commission may penalise the UK in relation to the European Fisheries Fund; and if he will make a statement. 
(a) propose to the European Council and Parliament that funds be transferred to later years of the Programme; or
(b) propose a cut in the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) budget, in effect reducing a member state's budget.
These provisions are set out in the Inter-Institutional Agreement (IIA) between the European Parliament,
the Council and the Commission of 17 May 2007, on budgetary discipline and improvement of the budgetary procedure.
The UK is one of six member states yet to submit an Operational Programme (OP) to the Commission for approval. Until the OP has been approved, the UK cannot spend EFF funds and spending will therefore not match the Commission's projections. The Commission may therefore choose to invoke one of the above provisions. I will be seeking the agreement of the Commission to choose the first of these two options and my officials are working with those from devolved administrations to submit a draft OP to the Commission by the end of the year.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the proposals in the Marine Bill White Paper to introduce protected marine areas in UK waters will apply to foreign vessels with historic rights within the 12 nautical mile limit; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Marine Bill White Paper proposes a network of new marine conservation zones with clear conservation objectives. Should it be necessary to restrict fishing activity in order to achieve the objectives set for any site within six nautical miles of the coast, the relevant authority could introduce appropriate measures. In respect of sites located between six and 12 nautical miles from the coast (in which other EU member states have historic fishing rights) the Secretary of State would seek the agreement of the European Fisheries Council to the introduction of measures through the common fisheries policy. If such agreement were forthcoming, measures to restrict fishing activity on the site would apply to all vessels, regardless of origin.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the relative effectiveness and efficiency of (a) Hunt Class and (b) River Class patrol vessels in performance of fishery protection duties as referred to in the answer of 16 October 2007, Official Report, columns 945-6W, on fisheries: protection; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The three River class vessels which replaced the six Island class vessels in 2003-04, were leased by MOD to provide the majority of Fishery Protection duties for DEFRA. The Rivers, like the Island class before, are contracted to provide 70 per cent. of the total annual patrol day requirement. The Rivers provide on average 190 to 230 patrol days each year. Their design, their equipment and their crewing is geared to provide a first class fisheries enforcement service in UK and International waters at anytime of the year.
The Hunt class vessels that are seconded to the Fishery Protection Squadron for 2 to 3 year periods, are Mine Countermeasure vessels which were designed for that primary role. There have always been three to
five Hunts in the Fishery Protection Squadron at any one time, but they have always acted in a supporting role to the Islands and Rivers within the Fishery Protection Squadron. Most of the Hunts provide on average, 50-100 patrol days each year and consequently spend long periods of the year not on fisheries enforcement duties.
The River class vessels, built in the last five years, are much faster vessels than the older Hunts (18yrs plus), with a maximum speed of 22knts compared to a maximum of 15knts on the Hunts and they are able to stay at sea for longer periods. Rivers currently carry out 12 day patrols followed by a two day stand-off whereas the Hunts carry out seven to eight day patrols followed by a two day stand-off.
The River class vessels are equipped and manned to be able to routinely deploy two sea-boats to carry out simultaneous inspections whereas the Hunts are equipped to use one sea-boat. They do exceptionally use two sea-boats if weather and crewing permit.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish proposals for consultation on fishing quota management reform by the end of 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: In the light of the Net Benefits report by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit published in March 2004, DEFRA and the devolved fisheries administrations embarked in May 2005 on a programme of reform of the UK's quota management arrangements: the Quota Management Change Programme (QMCP).
We planned to consult on the findings of the QMCP this autumn and were in a position to do so. However, in June 2007, the Scottish Executive announced that it was withdrawing from the QMCP while it considered what quota management arrangements would be best for Scotland. The Scottish Executive has recently indicated that it wants quota management and licensing arrangements in Scotland to be separate from the rest of the UK. This would represent a significant change in UK fisheries management.
While I am prepared to consider this constructively, the Scottish Executive has yet to provide details of its proposals and I have, so far, seen no evidence that separate arrangements would be of benefit to the fishing industry. I have asked my officials to work with the industry and officials in the devolved administrations to examine the issues that separation raises.
The case for other potential reforms of the quota management arrangements, flowing from the work conducted under the QMCP, will also be considered. Any proposed changes to the quota and licensing systems will be subject to consultation with the industry. Until further work has been completed on the Scottish Executive proposals, it is not possible to say when this consultation might take place.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 25 October 2007, Official Report, column 526W on fishery: quotas, for what reason no estimate was made of the value of the quota being swapped; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: It is not feasible to undertake an economic analysis of the value of quota involved in every swap undertaken. The cost involved would be prohibitive and the time it would take could jeopardise the chance of completing swaps in many cases. In the case referred to, a judgment was made that, on balance, the quota being swapped in was to the greater benefit of the overall inshore fleet than the quota swapped out. The relative monetary value of quota gained and lost is one element taken into account when considering a swap. The primary concern however is to ensure, on balance, the greatest benefit to the UK industry and/or inshore fleet as a whole.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is departmental policy to make estimates of the economic value of quota being swapped when a swap takes place; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: Decisions on day to day quota management, including the negotiation of quota swaps, rests with the Marine and Fisheries Agency. The monetary value of fish being swapped in or out is one aspect taken into account when quota swaps are undertaken. This is normally based on the lease value of the fish involved. The primary concern however is a judgment of the wider socio-economic value of the swap under consideration. The objective is to ensure that a swap provides the greatest benefit to the wider UK industry and/or the inshore fleet as a whole. This process can involve a consideration of the shortage of stocks being swapped in or out, the effects on a particular sector of the fleet or impacts on a community or communities.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to provide support for landowners with the costs of (a) clearance and (b) prevention of fly-tipping on their land. 
Joan Ruddock: The Waste Strategy for England, published in May 2007, includes the Governments Illegal Waste Activity Action Plan, which sets out action proposed and being taken in this area. This includes working with stakeholders to consider how the Flycapture database can be enhanced or improved to enable local authorities to better use data to take action against fly-tipping. This may include extending the scope of the database on a voluntary basis to landowners.
Neither the local authority nor the Environment Agency is under any legal obligation to assist the removal of waste on private land. However, some local authorities are ready to work with landowners to investigate and prosecute repeated incidents of fly-tipping and to tackle specific problems or issues. The
Government believe that to place a duty on authorities to remove waste from private land would encourage illegal dumping rather than tackle the problem.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 gave courts the power to make an order against anyone convicted of the main offence of illegal waste disposal to pay for costs incurred by a landowner in removing waste that has been illegally deposited.
In addition, the Environment Agencys National Fly-tipping Prevention Group identifies better ways of preventing and tackling fly-tipping on private land by working closely with organisations like the National Farmers Union, the Country Land and Business Association, Network Rail and the National Trust, and has issued guidance to landowners on how to deal with this problem.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to ensure that incidents of fly-tipping on private land are recorded on the Flycapture database. 
Joan Ruddock: The Flycapture database currently only records incidents dealt with by local authorities and the Environment Agency. It does not include fly-tipping that is dealt with by private landowners.
The Government are considering how to get a better picture of the problem of fly-tipping on private land. This includes the possibility of landowners reporting data to Flycapture on a voluntary basis.
DEFRA also attends the Environment Agencys National Fly-tipping Prevention Group, which identifies better ways of preventing and tackling fly-tipping on private land and has issued guidance to landowners on how to deal with this problem.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect on (i) wildlife and (ii) the rural environment of lead shot left in the countryside by the gamebird shooting industry; 
Outside these areas, the use of lead shot is not prohibited for shooting gamebirds or other species and my Department has not commissioned any research on lead shot residues in the countryside, making it impossible to provide an estimate of the amount of lead shot left by the game bird industry.
Wildlife may, in certain circumstances, be at risk from lead shot when scavenging on other species killed by lead shot. Research involving Natural England and other organisations has shown that for red kites in England, exposure to this type of poisoning appears to
be sufficient to be fatal in some cases, although this has not prevented the reintroduced red kite populations from increasing rapidly.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|