CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - TRAWLING OFF THE DONEGAL COAST.

I beg to ask the Minister for Fisheries a question, of which I have given him private notice: (a) Whether he is aware that at the present moment a fleet of English trawlers is operating off the Donegal coast to the number of 46, and is trawling within the existing defined limits; (b) whether he will take steps to prevent such illegal trawling immediately, and further whether any legislation is under consideration to increase the penalties for such offences.

Within the past couple of days I have received information as to the presence of steam trawlers in the locality mentioned, where it is alleged they are contravening the fishery by-laws, and I am handing the Deputy particulars of the steps which are being taken in the matter. I wish, however, to repeat my statement made to Deputy Fitzgibbon on the 18th ultimo—that it is quite impossible to guarantee effective marine superintendence with only one cruiser available for such duty, and that provision of at least one additional vessel is essential.

Inasmuch as the Magistrates, before whom convictions in such cases were obtained, heretofore, generally failed to inflict anything like the full penalty, the worth of that penalty as a deterrent has not been fairly tested. I expect, however, that the new District Justices will not hesitate to inflict the maximum fine where an offence is clearly proved; and, until I have seen the effect of this policy, I do not propose seeking powers to increase the amount of the penalty.