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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the licensing for future offshore carbon capture and storage facilities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: The Government will bring forward proposals relating to the licensing of offshore carbon capture and storage facilities as part of the Energy Bill, which will be introduced in this parliamentary session.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to publish the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Strategy; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA undertook a public consultation in 2006 seeking views on how to promote an integrated approach to coastal zone management in England. We published a summary of responses to that consultation in June 2007.
Responses to that consultation, and also that on the Marine Bill White Paper, emphasised the important contribution that new legislation could make to improving integration in coastal areas. DEFRA is, therefore, currently focusing on developing effective Marine Bill proposals as a key element of our strategy, and we are working to publish a draft Bill in the spring of 2008.
I intend to publish a statement in the summer of 2008 about how the Marine Bill and other work across Government Departments will contribute to our strategy on integrated coastal zone management, and will then consider what further action may need to be taken after that time.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when he plans to introduce measures to protect the pink sea fan colonies of Lyme Bay; and if he will make a statement; 
Jonathan Shaw: Voluntary measures to protect the pink sea fan colonies at Lyme Bay were agreed on 24 August 2006 and these are still in place. Public consultation is under way (until 21 December 2007) to consider whether further measures are necessary to protect biodiversity at Lyme Bay more generally. Following this consultation a decision will be made in the new year as to the protection measures necessary at Lyme Bay.
Conservation of brown crab stocks is achieved currently through a restrictive national
shellfish licensing scheme which limits the number of vessels allowed to participate in the fishery, through EU and national minimum landing sizes (which vary from region to region) and through strict limits on the quantities of crab claws that may be landed. There are also a range of measures applied by different Sea Fisheries Committees such as permit schemes, a prohibition on the landing of egg-bearing female crabs, seasonal closures and the incorporation of escape gaps in crab pots to allow undersized crabs to escape.
In response to industry concerns about increasing levels of effort in brown crab fisheries, DEFRA circulated a discussion paper on a range of potential management measures in late 2006. DEFRA is considering the way forward in the light of responses to the discussion paper, which revealed no consensus on possible additional measures but tended towards support for an EU or regional solution.
Jonathan Shaw: Assessments of brown crab stocks are made by Government scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. Stocks are managed at both national and Sea Fisheries Committee level. Stocks appear to be stable at the moment but most brown crab grounds available to fisheries are known and fully utilised. The stocks are assessed in six stock management units defined as sea areas in England and Wales. Major crab fisheries exist in the Central North Sea, Southern North Sea, and Western Channel, while smaller crab fisheries exist in the Eastern Channel, Celtic Sea, and Irish Sea. Most crab fisheries tend to be heavily exploited and it would be inadvisable for fishing effort to increase beyond current levels. Females predominate in landings but there is no evidence of reduced levels of recruitment.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) the devolved administrations and (b) the EU on brown crab conservation; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has regular contact with devolved Administrations on shellfish conservation in the course of general exchanges, and formally include them in consultations where the conservation of brown crabs is concerned. Should strategic developments in brown crab conservation measures be considered by any of the Administrations there are open channels in which reciprocal impacts on neighbour's fisheries can be considered. No recent discussions have taken place with the EU on this issue.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department expects to meet the commitment in the Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate targets (a) to source at least 10 per cent. of its electricity from renewables by 31 March 2008 and (b) to increase recycling figures to 40 per cent. of waste by 2010. 
Joan Ruddock: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has already met the commitment in the Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate targets to (a) source 10 per cent. of its electricity from renewables by 31 March 2008 and (b) to increase recycling figures to 40 per cent. of waste by 2010.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when the consultation on the UK Operational Programme for the European Union Fisheries Fund will begin; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what consideration he has given to using the dispute resolution procedures set out in the devolution agreements to finalise the UK Operational Programme for fisheries; for what reasons he has not already used them; whether he plans to use them; whether he has set a deadline for the devolved administrations for reaching an agreement before using them; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) whether he is required to hold a consultation on the UK Operational Programme for the European Fisheries Fund before he submits the Programme to the European Commission for approval; and if he will make a statement. 
Agreement has now been reached between all UK Fisheries Ministers regarding the division of the UK European Fisheries Fund budget and, as such, there is no dispute for which it would be necessary to use the dispute resolution procedures set out in the devolution agreements. DEFRA officials are working with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations to complete the UK Operational Programme, in order to enable the consultation to take place.
Under the terms of the relevant EC Regulation (1198/2006), it is a requirement that a member state shall draw up its Operational Programme in close consultation with the regional, local, economic and social partners in the fisheries sector and all other appropriate bodies.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2007, Official Report, columns 864-65W, on the European Fisheries Fund, up to what percentage the European Commission can propose a cut in the UKs European Fisheries Fund budget; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions he has had with the European Commission on the penalties that could be imposed by the European Commission for late submission and approval of the UK Operational Programme on Fisheries; 
(3) pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2007, Official Report, columns 863-64W, on the European Fisheries Fund, what assessment he has made of the
effect that a reduction in the European Fisheries Fund budget for the UK would have on his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
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(a) propose to the European Council and Parliament that funds (that is, the amount of projected spend for 2007) be transferred to later years of the programme; or
(b) propose a cut in the EFF budget, in effect reducing the UK budget (by the amount of projected spend for 2007).
All member states have experienced delays in implementing the programme. Until the UK OP has been approved, the UK cannot spend EFF funds and therefore spending will not match the Commissions projections. The Commission may therefore propose either of the aforementioned courses of action. I will support any Commission proposal and seek the necessary EU Council and Parliament agreement which would result in the 2007 allocation being carried forward.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2007, Official Report, column 864W, on the European Fisheries Fund, which EU member states (a) have and (b) have not submitted their Operational Programmes on fisheries to the European Commission for approval; which have had their Operational Programmes approved; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: Information regarding which EU member states have and have not submitted their European Fisheries Fund (EFF) Operational Programmes to the European Commission for approval, is not available.
Of those programmes already submitted to the Commission, I understand the Commission is aiming to have the majority approved by the end of the year. I understand that Finland is the only EU member state to have had their EFF Operational Programme approved by the Commission to date.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the UK National Strategic Plan for Fisheries in relation to the European Fisheries Fund for the period January 2007
to December 2013 has been submitted to the European Commission; what the deadline was for (a) submitting it to the Commission and (b) Commission approval; what penalties could be imposed for submission being made after the deadline has passed; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: The UK National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Fisheries, in relation to the European Fisheries Fund (2007-13), has not yet been submitted to the European Commission. DEFRA officials are working closely with those from the devolved administrations to finalise the NSP and I plan to submit it to the Commission by the end of the year.
The relevant EC Regulation (1198/2006) states that the NSP shall be submitted to the Commission, at the latest, when submitting the Operational Programme. The NSP does not require approval by the Commission but shall be the subject of a dialogue between the member state and the Commission. Failure to submit an NSP results in the Commission being unable to approve an Operational Programme.
Jonathan Shaw: The eutrophication status of UK waters is reviewed at four year intervals by the Environment Agency (England and Wales), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Scotland) and the Environment and Heritage Service (Northern Ireland) as required by the Nitrate and Urban Waste Water Treatment Directives.
UK coastal and marine waters are also reviewed by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Environment and Heritage Service for the Convention on the Prevention of Pollution of the Environment of the North East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention).
Provided that the science clearly justifies them, DEFRA supports the concept of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) closed to fishing, both for sustainable management of fish stocks and for ecological reasons relating to species and habitats. The usefulness of protected areas as a fisheries conservation measure has to be evaluated in each individual case taking into account factors such as the biology of the stocks, character of the fishery, and other fisheries management measures already in place. It is recognised that there may be displacement of fishing effort from protected areas and these effects must also be managed.
DEFRA commissioned a number of reports in order to help clarify the potential role of MPAs when applied to fisheries management. These are available on the DEFRA website.
DEFRA intends to develop criteria for the selection of Marine Protected areas and then use those criteria to contribute to the development of an integrated approach to their designation and management, including the examination of the potential for fisheries conservation.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of aerial surveillance in support of fisheries enforcement. 
Jonathan Shaw: Aerial surveillance supports fisheries enforcement, in that aircraft are tasked for some 1,000 hours (2006-07) to undertake monitoring of fisheries activity in English and Welsh waters. Tasking and monthly profiling of the aircraft patrols are directed from the operations room at the Marine and Fisheries Agency headquarters in London.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent by the Government on aerial surveillance in relation to fisheries protection in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: Aerial surveillance in relation to marine fisheries protection in the waters around England and Wales is undertaken by private contractors hired by the Marine and Fisheries Agency. The cost to the Marine and Fisheries Agency (Sea Fisheries Inspectorate prior to 1 October 2005) of these activities is given in the table as follows.
|Financial year||Cost (£000)|
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