CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - FISHING RIGHTS IN WESTPORT RIVER.

To ask the Minister for Fisheries if he is aware:—

(1) that in 1919 the Department of Agriculture issued an order extending the mouth of the Carrowbeg or Westport River about 1 ¼ miles seaward, and a like distance from its natural outlet.

(2) that this extension runs through the fairway channel of Westport Harbour.

(3) that fishing was prohibited within a specific distance of the artificial mouth then defined.

(4) that this extension was authorised for the promotion of a private interest, and as an aid to private pleasure, and confiscated the rights of fishermen working for a livelihood.

(5) that seeing that this unnatural extension serves no useful or national purpose, will the Minister cancel the order authorising such extension and if the order extending the mouth of the Moyour River, which was issued at the same time as the order extending the mouth of the Carrowbeg River, and for the same purpose, will also be cancelled?

The order made by the Department in 1918 did not extend, but defined for the first time, the mouth of the Carrowbeg or Westport River. The defined mouth of the river crosses the fairway channel of Westport Harbour. The prohibition of netting for salmon within half a mile of the mouth of a river is fixed by statute, to secure that a proper supply of fish may ascend to the spawning grounds, and thus maintain the stock in the river. The Department merely defined the limit of prohibition. The mouth of the river was not defined in favour of a private interest. A public inquiry was held at Westport, of which due notice was issued, before the definition was made, and no objection was offered by the local net fishermen. If a demand for an inquiry with a view to altering the mouths of the Rivers Carrowbeg and Moyour is made, the question of holding it will be considered.

The Minister in his answer referred to the spawning beds, and to the necessity of allowing the fish to come up to spawn. I wish to ask him if the spawning beds referred to were not formed immediately before, or since the enquiry of 1919, and is he aware that this Carrowbeg River was never a salmon river, and never will be?

I am not aware as to whether the spawning beds were formed at the time stated by the Deputy, but I will make further inquiries.