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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 12 May 1925

Vol. 11 No. 12


Amendment.—To delete the section and substitute a new section as follows:—
"The scale of votes contained in section nine of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1848, shall be abolished, and every person who shall have paid licence duty as mentioned in that section to the amount of two pounds or more shall have one vote and no more and shall be entitled to vote in person and otherwise."— Tomás O Conaill, Pádraic O Máille.

There is a mistake in this amendment as it appears on the paper. The word "not" should appear in the last line between the words "and" and "otherwise."

On behalf of Deputy O'Connell, I move this amendment. The obvious intention is to abolish plural voting and proxy voting. The argument has been used that only persons interested in fisheries should have the right to elect conservators, and, no doubt, a good case can be made for that view. In this case, the intention is to abolish the rights under the section of a person who has no interest in fisheries, except the most casual interest. He comes to Ireland once a year and he may go to one river on one occasion and may go to another river on another occasion. The amendment also seeks to abolish the provisions which allow the collection by the fishery owner of all the votes of the licensees, which he can cast as he wishes. I ask Deputies to bear in mind that the scale of votes contained in the Bill was provided for in 1848. We all realise that the world has moved on regarding public authorities, and the method of electing public authorities, since that time, particularly in respect of matters such as plural voting and proxy voting. I hope we are not going to perpetuate the system of voting for a public authority which was established in 1848, in this Bill of 1925.

As Deputy Johnson states, there are two points in this amendment, one objecting to plural voting and the other to proxy voting. The strange thing about it is that the amendment would probably hit the person whom Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Johnson would like to protect. The effect of merely giving one vote to any person holding a licence would almost certainly give preference to the anglers on the board of conservators. A draught net which employs four men would be entitled to two votes where the salmon rod will only be entitled to one vote. One can conceive a position where, if the voting was the same for the rod and net, a big number of people could be got to take out salmon licences and swamp the board to the exclusion of the drift net workers. That is as far as plural votes are concerned, and I am strongly opposed to changing that.

I am not so much against the abolition of the proxy vote. In the past there has been a great deal of what you might call shady work or dishonesty in regard to proxy voting. The licences have been entirely collected by persons interested and have been used to get in certain persons on the board who will do certain things and are pledged almost to do so beforehand. This Bill, in its provision for short term licences, does not entitle a person who comes in and takes a fourteen days' licence for a pound to vote on that. That will abolish the visitors' proxy at last. The procedure, as a rule, for the exercising by draft-net and drift-net men of their votes at elections for boards of conservators is that one man is selected by the men. He collects the licences, comes along to wherever the voting is, and casts those votes for the person they want on the board of conservators. There is usually only one polling place in each electoral division. Every owner of a draft-net or a drift-net licence could not afford to come to the polling. It would be a certain amount of hardship on him. In that respect the proxy vote is desirable, but, as I said, I am not keen on it myself. I see it is open to abuse. If the amendment is pressed strongly I will come in as far as abolishing the proxy vote is concerned, but I do not feel justified in differentiating between the number of votes allowed to the net and the rod.

I admit there is some point in the Minister's argument regarding the number of votes. The vote is given to one person, being the person whose name is on the licence, though, as a matter of fact, the licence is held by two or a half dozen men in combination. If in practice it becomes essential that a licence should be held by one person, and he carries a number of votes, I agree there is a point against the amendment I have moved. I agree, too, with the Minister that the objection to proxy voting is more important. I ask him if he will promise to consider the form which the amendment should take to abolish proxy voting. If he does that I am inclined to withdraw the amendment with a view to altering it in such a way as merely to abolish the proxy vote.

I will consult the draughtsman between this and the Report Stage to see if he can manage that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Sections 8 and 9 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Question—"That Section 10 stand part of the Bill"—put.

On Section 10, I just want to raise a question. I notice that the only disqualification is against elected members. It is that any elected member of the Board who absents himself from the meetings shall be disqualified. I would like to know whether there is any justification in making that disqualification only apply to elected members. One would imagine it was at least as important that if a disqualification should apply anywhere it should apply to the ex-officio members who did not attend. Otherwise it may be thought that the ex-officio members were only going to attend when some matter concerned them. It is no proof that they have a real interest in fisheries, but only in fisheries as it affects their own particular property. I ask the Minister if he can justify the insertion of the word “elected.” That is the second word in the section.

There is a point in that. I think if you put in the phrase "any member" it would be more desirable to abolish entirely the question of the ex-officio members than that they should be disqualified for nonattendance. The difficulty is to disqualify a man who has at the same time that right at law.

I say that if a man has a right and does not exercise it, by virtue of disuse he forfeits that right.

I do not see where one idea follows from the other. In one case you have a man elected to do a certain work. In the other case a person is entitled to do it according to the law. The fact of not exercising or exercising what is his legal right cannot be put on the same plane as the other question at all. I do not see what the Minister has to consider in the matter.

The Deputy speaks of the law, but this will be the law when it becomes an Act of Parliament. We are engaged in making the law. I want to make the law such that the person who, because of his alleged interest in fisheries through ownership, is entitled to membership of the board of conservators, if he proves by his inaction that he has no interest in the fishery over a period of six months, is as much entitled to be disqualified as a person who has been elected and fails to fulfil his duties. If it is thought that only rights are to be considered and not duties, then Deputy Gorey may be justified in his contention. I have always learned and tried to remember that rights involve duties and that if duties were not fulfilled then rights were forfeited.

I can understand the case where an elected conservator who absents himself from attendance at board meetings is thereby disqualified for that particular time for which he is elected. He can become a candidate when that term has expired and he suffers under no disabilities. How long does Deputy Johnson say that other class of conservators is qualified for?

Five years. We will meet you by saying five years.

I do not think Deputy Johnson is meeting me at all, because I did not make any suggestion. I am just asking what his suggestion is on the matter. I do not think the two are on a parity at all. They cannot be compared.

I agree that there is a good deal in Deputy Johnson's point, except, of course, that the elected persons are sent to represent a body of fishermen or licence holders. If they are not doing the duty for which they were sent there specifically by that body, they should be removed and somebody put in who will do the work. The ex-officio members can be said to represent themselves, or, at least, their own interests, and if they do not attend, it is their own look out.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 11 put and agreed to.
(1) The Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, shall be construed and have effect as if in the Schedule to the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1848, there had been inserted the several duties mentioned in the First Schedule to this Act in lieu of the several duties mentioned at numbers 1, 3, 4, 5 and 14 in the said Schedule to the said Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1848, and notwithstanding anything contained in the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, no board of conservators shall have authority to diminish or reduce any of the said duties so mentioned in the said First Schedule to this Act.
(2) If any board of conservators shall so determine and resolve a licence for angling with a single salmon rod in their district during the limited period of fourteen days from the date of the licence may be issued and shall be obtainable on or after the 1st day of January next after such determination and resolution on payment of the licence duty of one pound.
(3) The licence duty for long lines for eels, trout, or sea trout shall be two pounds in every district in lieu of such duties for such lines as are now in force, and no board of conservators shall have authority to diminish or reduce the said licence duty of two pounds.
(4) The proviso to section 30 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1848, is hereby repealed, and in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted that no person who shall have taken out a licence for a rod for a calendar year in any district shall be entitled to angle with a rod for salmon in any other district unless and until he shall have taken out a licence for a rod in such other district, and paid the licence duty specified in that behalf in the First Schedule to this Act.

I beg to move:—

In sub-section (1), line 22, after the word "shall" to insert the words: "in respect only of persons not resident in the fishery district."

This amendment seeks to apply the higher rate of licence duty to tourists and non-residents. There is clearly no similarity between the two sets of fishermen. One lives in the district, and is of use to the district. The other comes into the district and uses the district as much as possible. There is clearly a case for the amendment.

Before the Minister replies I should like to call the attention of the Dáil to the effect of the amendment. When I first examined it, I was very pleased with it, and I thought it was in agreement with an amendment of mine to the schedule. In practice, as I read it, this amendment will mean that any person resident in the district can fish for salmon without a licence at all. That is a rather revolutionary proposition. If it does not mean that, if it means that persons resident in the district will pay £1 on the licence, then, on the whole, although I dislike legislation by reference, I think my amendment is better than Deputy Hogan's, because it says exactly what the licence is to be. If there is a loophole of doubt, as to whether people, even if they live in the district, have to take out a licence for salmon, then I urge the rejection of the amendment. Some people seem to imagine that salmon come into the river as the result of chance or by the act of God. As a matter of fact, if you dissolve every board of conservators, and cease all precautions for the preservation of fish, there would not be a salmon left in the country inside ten years.

Inside 10 weeks.

Deputy Gorey thinks that the time will be much shorter. I always try to avoid overstating my case, as Deputies know. There would not be a salmon coming into Irish rivers that would not be killed on the spawning-beds if these efforts at preservation cease. You must have funds if the fish are to be preserved, and a very important contribution comes from these sources. Though I agree to the principle of Deputy Hogan's speech, I am not quite sure that I could agree to the wording in the amendment. I do not think I could agree to it without opening dangerous loopholes.

I have not considered Deputy Cooper's amendment, but as I read it I think he is wrong in his contention that it would mean the abolition of the licence duties altogether.

I stated that I was not quite certain whether it would have that effect.

The effect of the amendment would be that the change to the higher duty would only apply to the person from outside the district, and that the original duty would be continued in the case of other persons.

Then Deputy Hogan is following the Minister's bad example of legislating by reference.

We cannot help that, when amending a Bill of this kind.

I am equally opposed to Deputy Hogan's amendment and to Deputy Cooper's amendment to the schedule. I am taking it that Deputy Hogan's amendment means what he said himself. It did not occur to me that it would possibly mean the abolition of the licence. The whole object of the Bill is to get more finances to enable boards of conservators to attend to the rivers properly, to protect the spawning beds and the stock. An important portion of the revenue comes from licences and the amount of revenue they get from the visiting anglers is at least so far highly negligible. If this amendment were passed it would deprive the boards of an important part of their revenue. Further, I am entirely opposed to the idea of differentiating between tourists and the local anglers. They are all anglers; we must remember that. Tourists do not come in with drift or snatch-nets, or anything like that. It would be a very bad principle to say to the world: "We are going to bleed our visitors and make a distinction as between those who come here to visit the country for angling purposes and the local anglers."

Deputy Wolfe spoke a great deal in connection with this point on the Second Reading, and asked had we done anything to get in touch with the Tourist Development Associations in order to try to bring people here for angling purposes. I am sure I will have the Deputy's support in opposing this amendment. If the Tourist Development Associations, and other people are taking these steps—and I think it is desirable that people ought to come to this country for angling—I think that the Dáil should not set a lead by discouraging these people. Certainly this amendment would have that effect.

I quite agree with what the Minister has said just now. I think it would be very unwise to differentiate against tourists in a way that would make them think that they would be bled. I think we are agreed that a certain amount of money must be got to carry out the work of preserving and developing our fisheries efficiently. Whatever amount may be fixed it should be such as will enable the work to be done efficiently, and I think the amount should be the same for those who are on a visit to the country and for those who are here. I think it would be unwise to make any distinction. Moreover, I am sure that the Minister is quite correct in what he said, that if the tourists see that there is a differentiation in any way that will make them think they are going to be bled, they will say to themselves: "We are not going over there to be bled like that. Let them keep their fishing to themselves." That will be the idea in their minds, but it should not be the idea in our minds or in the Minister's mind. If the hotel people waken up to their responsibilities, which is the important matter, as regards enticing people to come to the country, then I am quite sure that the results will be good. We hope at least that the people who come here will not come merely for the purpose of economising. We trust they will come to enjoy themselves and to spend their money. I am sure none of them will be against paying a sufficient sum if they get good value for their money, and all that, I suggest will be to the advantage of the nation.

The Minister's plausible argument has, I am afraid, led Deputy Wolfe astray. This amendment does not propose to discriminate against the foreign tourists or against any other tourist. I have re-read Deputy Hogan's amendment, and I am satisfied that it would apply equally to the Dublin man who goes to fish in Tirconaill or Kerry, to the Tirconaill man who goes to fish in Kerry, and to the Kerry man who goes to fish in Tirconaill. The principle on which the amendment is based is, that the man who lives in the locality is paying rates there. He is spending his money there by giving employment and in other ways, and, therefore, the proposition is that he should pay a lower rate than the casual visitor who comes to fish in the district for a fortnight or three weeks. The only people he is of benefit to are the hotel people. I think there is a good deal more to be said for the amendment than has been said either by the Minister or by Deputy Wolfe. I think the acceptance of this amendment would help towards the preservation of salmon, because it would give the local people a greater interest in the salmon fisheries. In that connection I do not propose to use now all the arguments which I intend to put forward in support of my own amendment dealing with salmon fishing, but I would urge the Minister to give this matter his earnest consideration.

I congratulate the Minister on his angling, and on the fact that he has secured a supporter. I would like to say that neither the Minister nor his supporter has, in my opinion, made any case against this amendment. This amendment is not an attempt to victimise the tourist, because you have already fixed a rate that you are going to charge the tourist.

Not until this Bill becomes law.


But under the Bill you propose to do it. In the section as it stands, there is a discrimination made as between the man who lives in the district and is of use to it, and the man who merely comes there for a fortnight or three weeks to make use of the district for his own pleasure and profit. There is surely no similarity between these two men. The one lives in the district and is of use to it, while the other merely comes there for a fortnight or three weeks to make use of the district for his own pleasure.

The case, I think, has to be emphasised that there is a large number of men who are interested in fishing as a matter of regular sport and who come a distance to utilise local opportunities. The Minister has made the case that you must not discriminate between the person who comes from a distance and the person who lives in the locality. I wonder will that be possible of application generally? Are you likely to be able to ensure that your visitor is going to have all the facilities, in respect to everything, that the resident has a right to? This brings me to a question on which I would like to have the views of the Minister and of Deputies generally. It has arisen on two or three occasions, but we have not yet had much discussion or enlightenment on it. The question is whether, in considering this Bill, as well as the whole question of fisheries as a natural resource from the point of view of food provision, or as an industry, or whatever you like to call it, you are thinking of the preservation of the fisheries mainly as a bait to attract the tourist? I think that is important, because it touches the difference of interest between the owner of a fishery up the river and the fisherman working for a living and catching fish down the river.

I gather from what the Minister has said that his main thought in this Bill is to make the fisheries of the country more attractive to the tourist from a distance, whether within the country or outside it, and that he is thinking of the fisheries rather in the light of making them attractive as a holiday pleasure than as an industry for the production of food. I think it is important that we should bear that in mind. There is that contradiction that occasionally arises, and whether we are considering the industrial side of this, the sporting side of it, or the tourist development side of it, we ought to understand where we are. It may be possible to harmonise the two interests, and I suppose the Minister's case will be that he is endeavouring to harmonise the two interests. But in such a case, if you are harmonising the two interests, then that is an added argument in favour of this differentiation: that you are going to assist the person who is living by the fishing and that you are going to maintain him on the lower scale, and still allow the tourist to come forward and get some advantage out of the sport by paying an extra fee for the licence.

If the main purpose is the encouragement of the tourist who will come fishing, then I suppose we might say that you had better reduce his fee and give him a preference. I do not think the interests of the local men who are always on the spot and who, as Deputy Cooper pointed out, should be encouraged to take an interest in the preservation of the fisheries, ought to be treated in the same light as those of fishermen who come to a district for sport. I think a good deal would be said, and it will be said before the Bill passes through, in favour of widening the range and the area of interested persons, so that as many people as possible will be interested in the preservation of the fisheries and will be very severe upon people who kill fish during the spawning season. This amendment of Deputy Hogan's is in that direction. It rather tends towards widening the range of persons interested in the preservation of the fisheries.

Deputy Johnson has lately developed the habit of interpreting what I think, but he usually succeeds in misinterpreting it. He said my main thought in the Bill was for the tourist. I said, just before I sat down, that the main purpose of the Bill was to provide sufficient funds for the preservation of the river stock. That is my main thought, but, at the same time, I am not going to cast aside as of no advantage the possibilities of attracting tourists to the country for angling. I think that that, as such, is, or at least could be made, as much a part of the industry as any other end of the inland fisheries. Indirectly it could be made, I suggest, a great source of revenue to the country. I am not at all convinced by the arguments put up against this. The local persons who take out salmon rod licences are usually as well able to pay as much as the visitors. They are sportsmen. When you come to consider that these licence duties were fixed as far back as 1848, and that the maximum fee for a salmon rod licence was then fixed at £1, surely it cannot be thought that a licence fee of £2 is exorbitant even for local people in the year 1925. I do not think there is anything in the argument put up by Deputy Cooper. It does not matter whether the tourist comes from across Channel or whether he goes down from Dublin. We should be just as anxious to encourage the Dublin angler to go to Connemara as we are to encourage the cross-Channel tourist, and I think you would be doing an unfriendly act to the hotel keepers and car owners in Connemara if you were to discourage the Dublin angler from going down there. The whole object of the section is to provide a greater sum of money for the preservation of the fisheries. If we are deprived of the increased licence duties from the local anglers, then you practically make the section valueless as far as the angler is concerned.

Amendment put and declared lost.

On behalf of Deputy O'Connell, I beg to move amendment 5: In sub-section (3) line 38 to delete the word "eels."

I understand that the position is that the Fishery Boards show very little interest in the preservation of eel fishing and eel fishing is done generally by poor men and is not very profitable. To put a licence duty of £2 upon these men is asking them to pay in effect for the preservation of the salmon fishing. It is asking them to pay something out of their poverty for the preservation of the sport of the richer classes interested in angling. That is the whole case as I understand it. The number of people affected and the class of people affected are generally the poorer elements of the population, and they think any funds they provide are certainly not going to be used for the preservation of the eel fishing and therefore, they should not be asked to provide funds for this purpose.

As a matter of fact, the only thing that matters in the sub-section is eels, and the intention is not to get funds but to prevent this particular type of eel fishing altogether. Legislation on that matter is long overdue because immature eels are largely killed by long lines. Eel weirs only kill mature eels. It is not the intention of the section at all to provide money for fish preservation. The intention might be better made known. I am going to accept the next amendment because it is of no consequence to trout and sea trout. Eels are the only things that matter in this section.

All I would say is that I have to leave the discussion of this matter to a later occasion because I do not understand it.

Amendment put and negatived.

I beg to move amendment 6. In sub-section (3) line 38, to delete the words "trout or sea trout."

I accept that amendment.

I think we should have some explanation of the meaning of this amendment.

I will explain it briefly. The wording of the Bill might legalise the practice of fishing for trout and sea trout with long lines. At present that practice is illegal. You may have a line set for eels but it is not the intention. Eel lines are set in deep water. However, if the particular wording of the section stood as introduced it might legalise the setting of long lines in shallow water for trout and do an enormous amount of destruction amongst trout. I am very glad the Minister has seen his way to accept this amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move amendment No. 7:—

That notwithstanding anything contained in section 21 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1850, and if a board of conservators of any electoral district shall so determine and resolve, no person, who does not reside or possess real property within such district, and who has not taken out a licence for a single salmon rod in such district for the calendar year then current, shall be entitled in any such year to fish with a single rod for trout within such district unless, and until, he shall have taken out a licence for a single rod in such district, and paid the licence duty of 10s. in respect thereof; and all the provisions of section 17 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1869, shall apply to such licence, and to all persons who by this section are prohibited from fishing for trout without having obtained such licence.

This raises a very contentious topic, and here we come to a question that was discussed partly on Second Reading, mainly the desirability of levying some duty for fishing for trout. I am afraid I am coming into collision with one of the Minister's fixed principles, because as he told us on Second Reading that while he himself was in favour of a small duty and some charge upon the trout fishery, he was met with such an outcry from the board of conservators and the angling associations, and so on, that he withdrew it. I attempt to meet that outcry, and so the amendment proposes to impose a licence duty only on a visitor who does not reside in the conservatory district in which he proposes to fish. There we come again to the discussion of the principle adumbrated in Deputy Hogan's amendment. I think there is something to be said on this matter. There was one person upon whom it would bear hardly, and that is the person who resided on the border of two fishery districts. He is just inside the border of one, and if he wanted to go five miles to fish on the other side he would have to pay this duty. I am not at all tied to the sum. I am prepared to reduce it to 5s. or to 2s. 6d., and I think it is a very good thing to give the trout fishermen some interest in the preservation of the fish. Some anglers come from England or other parts of the country, some come from the North to two or three lakes in the West during the May fly-fishing season. They live there for a fortnight or three weeks. Some contribute to the preservation of the fish, some do nothing. They lodge with farmers, and even the owners of these farmhouses in which they live do not contribute to the fund of the association. I think there is equity in the matter of asking people who come over and devote their whole time to sport for some contribution. I do not think it is unreasonable that they should contribute to the preservation of the fish.

As regards the argument about putting a tax upon persons coming from a distance, if a man can afford to take a rail journey costing £3 or £4, and if he can afford to pay for food and lodgings for three weeks, will the question of 2s. 6d. or 5s. or 10s. be of such great importance to him? I do not think so. I believe this would be an effective means of collecting funds for the preservation of fish where voluntary means have failed, and, therefore, I move the amendment.

I press the Minister to consider this amendment of Deputy Cooper. Deputy Cooper said that the Minister for Fisheries was thinking of some such licence duty, and that he had been met by such opposition that he had to drop the proposal. I have a document on behalf of those who spent years on the river Suir in my constituency. It is signed, and is representative not only of sportsmen, but of farmers, merchants and Government officials, and they asked to have this half-crown put on trout fishermen. They state that if this is done you will turn all those who indulge in this form of sport into conservators, and that they will help in preserving the rivers. They state that the Suir, with its tributaries, is one of the best rivers for visitors in England, Ireland, or Scotland, and that a large number of people come to Clonmel for trout fishing, and stay in the hotels and various places along the banks of the river. It is also stated that there is scarcely any protection, although the Civic Guards are doing their best. They want this money to be used for the purposes of preserving the rivers, and they state that if that is not done the poachers will practically clear the free waters of trout during the year. They press this proposal very strongly, and hope that the Minister will consider it. I am in favour of Deputy Cooper's amendment, but I suppose I can hardly vote for it.

The Whips are off.

I hope the Minister will consider it favourably, as it represents the views of those who have engaged in trout fishing in my constituency for many years. They have a thorough knowledge of the question. They have discussed the matter with the Civic Guards and they agree that this proposal would be of great help in preserving the rivers. They also suggest that visitors would be only too pleased to pay a tax of five shillings.

I agree with Deputy D'Alton in what he said about this tax. I have always thought that there ought to be some tax on trout fishing. I think that everybody who goes in for sport should be prepared to pay a small amount for his enjoyment. I would be in favour of a small level tax all round, and I do not think that anybody who indulges in fishing would object. I would be glad if the Minister would favourably consider this amendment. He, of course, has more information on this subject than we have, but, so far as I can see from my experience, I do not think that there would be any great objection to the imposition of a small tax.

There is one aspect of this matter which, I think, has been lost sight of. Visiting fishermen do not fish for trout. Our local fishermen, especially youngsters, in the months of April and May, when fishing, are not killing trout but are killing salmon-fry wholesale. Nobody on the river has authority to tell them to stop. If you speak to them they will tell you that they have as much right to be there as you have. Anybody who knows the rivers and who knows what April and May fishing means, knows that thousands of pounds worth of fish have been destroyed by young boys, and perhaps by old ones too, through the indiscriminate use of rod and line in these particular months, as well as certain flies to which the fish rise. I think that there ought to be an all round licence. I would almost go so far as to say that fishing on certain stretches of river, especially dead water near rapids, ought to be forbidden. I admit that on certain stretches of rivers you cannot keep the fish off the flies. The destruction done in shoal waters at certain stages of a current is enormous. Major Cooper and other fishermen know, I think, what I am talking about.

Deputy D'Alton was not quite in line with Deputy Cooper. He, with Deputy Gorey and Deputy Wolfe, advocated an all round licence. That question was before the Advisory Committee and—Deputy Gorey knows, as far as I remember, the arguments put up there—the unanimous decision of the Committee was against such licences. The great argument against it was that it would deprive youngsters of their sport. In the Firearms Bill today, an amendment was put in at Deputy Gorey's request reducing the age of the possessor of a licence from 18 to 15 years, because unless a person gets trained with a gun at the age of 15 he will not turn out a great cracksman. The same thing applies to the young angler. A boy fishing with a trout rod to-day becomes a salmon fisherman tomorrow. The Committee, after considering the pros and cons of the case, decided that a licence for trout fishing was not advisable, and I accept that decision. The differentiation between visitors and local people is, I think, bad. The same arguments prevail in regard to amendment 4, concerning visiting anglers. So far as getting money for the preservation of rivers, such as the Suir, is concerned, the Bill provides for increased finance for boards of conservators, and it will be their duty to provide protection for the fisheries of which Deputy D'Alton has spoken, as well as for other fisheries in their district. The Bill gives my Department more power of supervision than we have at present, and it will enable us to see that these boards look after all the fisheries in their district and, if they do not, the Bill gives us power to scrap them.

I had hoped the Minister would have given me some undertaking to reconsider this matter before the Report Stage, in view of the fact that every voice raised in the Dáil has been raised in favour of the principle of a small licence duty for trout fishing. I am not tied to the exact figure, or tied to the principle of taxing an outsider or a local man, but I am tied to the principle of a small licence duty for the preservation of trout. The Minister will not meet me on that. He quotes the Advisory Committee. I have great respect for that Committee. One member of it has spoken in partial support of my amendment, and another member has his name attached to the amendment. Then we are told the Advisory Committee is unanimous. I do not recognise the right of the Advisory Committee to override the Dáil. They are a body for whom I have great respect, and the Minister has constituted it fairly, but I cannot accept what the Minister says, that the amendment could not be accepted because the Advisory Committee are not in favour of it.

I do not think that the Deputy should work himself into a righteous wrath about the Advisory Committee going to override the Dáil. I have already stated the attitude I am taking up here is solely dependent on the merits of the Bill, and every section of it. Deputies are free to vote as they like.

I do not accuse the Minister of doing anything unfair. He told us on the Second Reading that he was in favour of this, and now he says he cannot accept it because the Advisory Committee is against it.

My concern is not so much with regard to boys taking out licences for trout fishing. I think more could be said in favour of than against their fishing. What I am concerned with is the destruction of fry, and not even an attempt has been made to deal with that evil. I do not know how it is going to be done. No matter what grant the Minister makes to the board of conservators I have no faith that they will be able to carry out the law. I believe that a board of conservators with two or three bailiffs on the stretch of a river and its tributaries in the district cannot do it.

The idea of the Bill is to provide more bailiffs.

I heard only one reasonable suggestion, and that is that a specially trained man should be attached to each Civic Guard station for this purpose alone. I made that suggestion to the Advisory Committee, and I make it now again.

I would like to press for the acceptance of the amendment, or, if it is in order, I would ask the Minister to consider an amendment on the lines suggested by Deputy Gorey. We should endeavour to prevent this reckless and wholesale destruction of fish in season and out of season, which is due largely, as Deputy Gorey said, to youngsters. I think you would have some check on them if you had a small licence. I do not care how minute you make the licence. If you catch a youngster or an older person offending you can refuse them a licence next year, and that will be a kind of penalty.

I will vote against the amendment. Take the case of Lough Mask, which is a free lake. The people in the area around about have been accustomed to fish freely in that lake for hundreds of years. How are you going to collect licences for trout rods on a lake like that? If you impose a licence on everyone who fishes there you would want a large staff of bailiffs, and the people will resent it, as they have enjoyed the freedom to fish in that lake so long. Deputy Gorey has pointed out that those who fish for trout afterwards do harm in regard to salmon. That does not apply to Lough Mask, where there are no salmon and, therefore, the arguments in favour of the amendment do not apply to Lough Mask. If the amendment were accepted, and no exception made as regards places like Lough Mask, harm would be done.

I do not believe in making every man who wishes to enjoy sport take out a licence. That, I believe, is not a good principle. People have enjoyed certain privileges on the rivers from time immemorial, and they should not be altogether deprived of these. While I agree that every precaution should be taken to preserve salmon fisheries, I do not think that the ordinary man, going out on a Saturday or a Sunday evening after his week's work to fish with a rod line, should be subject to any tax. I think we should give people that much freedom.

The amendment does not apply to the ordinary man going out with a rod or line, but only to a man who does not live in the district.

I take it that the Minister for Defence is appealing to the Minister for Justice when he asks that we should be given that much freedom.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 11; Níl, 30.

  • Earnán Altún.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Bryan R. Cooper.
  • Sir James Craig.
  • Louis J. D'Alton.
  • Connor Hogan.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Mícheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Liam Thrift.


  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • John J. Cole.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileain Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Patrick McGilligan.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Patrick J. Mulvany.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Risteárd O Conaill.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Aodh O Cúlacháin.
  • Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Peadar O Dubhghaill.
  • Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Séamus O Leadáin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Domhnall O Mocháin.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Micheál O Tighearnaigh.
  • Caoimhghín O hUigín.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Cooper and Alton. Níl, Liam Mag Sioghaird and Seán O Súilleabháin.
Amendment declared lost.
Question—"That Section 12, as amended, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
(1) Every board of conservators is hereby empowered on or before the 31st day of December in every fishery year to which this section applies to strike a rate on all fisheries within their district rated for the relief of the poor or which but for the exemption conferred by this section would be so rated of such amount per cent. as with the estimated amount of their other income will be sufficient to meet the estimated amount of their expenditure for that fishery year.
(2) Every rate struck by a board of conservators under this section shall be subject to confirmation by the Minister who may confirm the same either without modification or with such modification (whether by way of increase or reduction) as he shall think proper.
(3) Every rate struck by a board of conservators under this section and confirmed (with or without modification) by the Minister shall be duly levied, collected, and recovered by the board in the manner and with the powers provided by the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, in respect of rates leviable under those Acts.
(4) If a board of conservators shall fail to strike on or before the 31st day of December in any fishery year to which this section applies a rate for that fishery year the Minister may, if he thinks fit so to do, on or before the 28th day of February in that fishery year strike a rate for the district of such board of conservators for such fishery year and in such case the rate so struck by the Minister shall be levied, collected, and recovered by such board of conservators in like manner in all respects as if such rate had been struck by the board and confirmed by the Minister under this section.
(5) Every rate made under this section and every rate struck by the Minister under this section shall be paid by the several persons rated for the same in two moieties on the 1st day of April and the 1st day of September in the fishery year for which the rate is struck, and shall be so paid over and above all or any licence duties paid by such persons under the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, or this Act for that or any other fishery year.
(6) Every person who is liable to be rated under the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909 as amended by this Act in respect of a fishery shall be exempt from liability for any rate leviable by the council of any county, county borough, or urban district, or the commissioners of any town, in respect of that fishery for the local financial year commencing on the first day of April next after the commencement of this Part of this Act or for any of the nine next succeeding local financial years, and no such council or commissioners shall levy or collect any rate in respect of any such fishery for any of the said local financial years.
(7) If the Minister for Local Government and Public Health shall certify that by reason of the exemption conferred by this section from liability for rates in respect of fisheries, the amount of the rate which but for this sub-section would require to be made and levied upon and in any area for the service of a local financial year ending within ten years after the 1st day of April next following the commencement of this Part of this Act by the council of a county, county borough, or urban district, or the commissioners of a town has been increased by an amount greater than one penny in the pound, the Minister for Fisheries shall out of moneys to be from time to time provided by the Oireachtas pay to such council or commissioners before the end of such local financial year an amount equal to the sum which would be produced by a rate upon and in such area equivalent to the amount in the pound by which such increase exceeds one penny in the pound.
(8) The several provisions in relation to rating contained in the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, so far as the same are inconsistent with the provisions of this section shall not have effect during any fishery year to which this section applies, but save to that extent the said provisions shall apply to the rates leviable under this section in like manner as they apply to the rates heretofore leviable under the said Acts.
(9) This section applies to the fishery year commencing on the 1st day of October next after the commencement of this Part of this Act and to each of the nine next succeeding fishery years.

I beg to move:—

In sub-section (1), line 58, to delete the words "their expenditure" and substitute the words "the expenditure required for the proper preservation of all the fisheries within their district."

This amendment is merely to emphasise that the boards ought to apply their revenue to all fisheries and not to fisheries patronised by the wealthy or those who can afford to pay.

The section does not impose any duties upon the boards, as far as I can see, except to carry on as they have done, and that is rather implied than stated. They are empowered to strike a rate on fisheries, but it does not define here what they are to do with the money, and there is a likelihood, unless some definite provision is put in imposing an obligation, that they may only apply their funds to the preservation of the salmon fisheries. The amendment imposes upon them the obligation to expend their money for the proper preservation of all fisheries within their district. That is an omission that should be remedied. I think the intention is obvious.

As it stands, this amendment would theoretically throw on the boards a liability for the protection of sea fisheries which abutted on their district. The intention, of course, is that there should be an obligation, specifically stated, on the boards for the protection of trout fisheries. This question was raised on Second Reading. Several sections in the Bill give very effective Departmental control over the actions of the boards and effective supervision by the central Department over their expenditure. As far as I can see, the amendment is unnecessary. The rate that the boards strike is subject to supervision by the Minister for the time being. He may add to that rate or lower it, if he thinks fit. He satisfies himself as to the amount necessary for the protection of the fisheries in the district. If they refuse to strike a rate, he has power to strike one, but in either modifying or striking a rate he must advert to the possibilities of raising revenue. From the general tenour of the Bill and the amount of control given to the central department, I think the amendment is unnecessary.

As I construe the amendment, I think it differs from the information that the Minister has given. Deputy Hogan wishes that the rates applied to the preservation of inland waters shall be applied to all fisheries, not to special fisheries. The section already provides that, but if my reading is correct it is only a matter of wording, and I see no reason why the Minister should not add the words "for the proper preservation of all the fisheries within their district."

I do not think it is sufficient to say that because the Minister retains power over the boards we may be quite sure that trout fishing, for instance, is going to be preserved. The Minister who may be in charge of the Department might have views in regard to salmon fisheries which coincide with the views, say, of the owners of salmon fisheries, and as he has no law to be guided by, he can exercise his discretion. The object of the amendment, which is most desirable in view of all that has been said about the various kinds of fisheries, is to ensure that the boards will realise that it is their duty to look after all fisheries—not merely salmon fisheries. Unless there is something in the original Act imposing on the boards a definite duty in respect to other fisheries, there is nothing as far as I can find in the Bill to define their duties in respect to other fisheries. Most of the references are to salmon fisheries. One can imagine that some boards at any rate will think only of salmon fisheries. It is undoubtedly a complaint made in many parts of the country against the boards that in the past they have only thought of anglers and salmon fisheries. As far as I can gather, the criticism made is that they have failed to consider trout, or the claims of fishermen on other parts of the river, and thought only of anglers for salmon. The object of the amendment, however faulty it may be in effectiveness, is to impose an obligation on the boards when spending money that they shall spend it for the preservation of all the fisheries and not confine it to salmon fisheries. If the Minister can assure the Dáil that the obligation in the establishment of the boards is to conserve all the fisheries, I admit there is not very much point in the amendment, but, failing that, I think there is very definite need to define their obligation so that that obligation should be in respect to all fisheries as well as salmon fisheries.

The unfortunate position with regard to this amendment is that occasion was not taken on Deputy Cooper's amendment to vote for it. Had that been done, and if those interested in every class of fishing had to pay some small sum into a common fund, the position would be that every fishery could rightly and justly claim protection.

Deputy Cooper's amendment was not for that.

Partly. He did not go as far as I wished. Here you have a fund subscribed by the owners of salmon and eel fisheries. Those interested in salmon will bear a much larger valuation, as there is no such thing as a valuation on trout fishing. All the money goes into a common fund, and those interested expect that it will be spent for their benefit. Trout have always been neglected, and no protection has been given them. On the flats in our rivers and streams netting goes on night after night. Three and four visits are paid weekly to the flats of the rivers—that is, where the water is about three feet in depth— and nets used. I have seen people passing my place at least four times weekly going to a stretch on the King's river. In future I hope some attention will be paid to such places by the authorities. If there was a common fund into which those interested would pay in proportion to their interests in fishing, I think it would be much more satisfactory. Here you have people who subscribe money, and on the other hand people who subscribe nothing demanding equal protection. That is a position that is not met. In future I hope the Minister will insist on every class of fishing getting the same protection. The trout fisheries of this country are more important than the salmon fisheries. The salmon is generally for export, while the trout are for home consumption. We have very little trout, because they are not protected. Even in Dublin it is quite common to see heaps of little trout on the marble slabs in the fish shops. It would take a dozen of these fish to weigh a pound. That is the result of netting, the rivers being cleared up and the small trout killed right through the season. That is a shame, but in all our towns these little trout are sold for a few pence, and the authorities allow them to be offered for sale.

I do not think that this amendment makes the matter any more specific. For Deputy Johnson's information, I may say that the law is specific. There is no alteration by this Bill in the existing duties that are imposed on boards of conservators. It is their duty to protect not only salmon, but trout and eel and other fish. It is the duty of the Department to see that the expenditure of the Board of Conservators is devoted to the conserving of fisheries in general. It does not matter really what the views of a particular Minister for the time being may be—whether they are more inclined towards the salmon owners or towards trout preservation— the duty remains on the Department to preserve all fish.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment No. 9:—

"To delete sub-sections (6), (7) and (8) of section 13."

The section as at present drafted takes away a certain amount of revenue from the local authorities. In view of the fact that strong representations have been made by the local ratepayers and by the Minister for Local Government to have the rates reduced, I think it is an injudicious thing for the Minister to have this section included in the Bill. If the local authorities lose this revenue, which in some cases would, I expect, amount to over one penny in the pound, or from £1,500 to £2,000, this would mean an added burden to the ratepayers. I think it is the national Government that ought to provide the money for the development of fisheries. I formally move this amendment.

Deputy Corish is making a mistake. The amount of money raised on fisheries in any one county is very small. I do not know what Deputy Corish's experience is on the Slaney. If there is any great rateable value put on the fisheries in the Slaney, I am rather surprised. The amount, as I say, is small, but it is an amount that would be of great benefit to the local boards of conservators, though it would be of very little use to the county rates. I have not the figures, but I think the Minister can give them. I am sorry I have not the figures, but if the Minister has them I am sure it would relieve Deputy Corish's mind considerably to hear them.

The total valuation of the fisheries in the Saorstát is £18,885. That is a very insignificant sum when you consider that the total Poor Law Valuation of the Saorstát is well over £11,000,000. We provide that in no case can the burden on the ratepayers be more than one penny in the pound. Provision is made in the Act for that. If in any case it comes to more than 1d. in the pound, the extra amount is met by grants from my Department.

What is the amount of money that the Minister expects will be realised from the fisheries?

In each district the poundage will be fixed by the board of conservators, subject to my approval. I expect it will not be anything less than the rate struck by the local authority. In all probability it will be more. Probably it will be the rate struck by the local authority plus 10 per cent.

I understood the Minister to be talking about something like £100,000.

Not at all.

That is what led me to put down the amendment.

How is that rate to be collected?

By the clerks to the boards of conservators. The actual result of this amendment is not the doing away with that provision of having the rates diverted from the local authorities to the boards of conservators. It is rather that they should pay a fishery rate and a local rate as well. I am perfectly satisfied that the fisheries could not stand it. As I said, it is anticipated that the rates under this provision will be at least as high as the local rates, and it would be well to state that those persons who own private fisheries are not exempt from the rates on their other property. They are still paying the ordinary rates for their houses and their other property.

A point has been raised—I am not sure that I appreciate it fully—that under the Bill as it stands if a special fishery rate is struck for one year the exemption of the local rate for ten years will follow. I do not know whether that is the intention of the sub-section.

No. If the section reads that way it ought not. The Minister for Local Government, in the course of conversations, agreed that for a period of ten years the rate on local valued fisheries should be diverted towards fishery preservation instead of going into the hands of the local authority. It is not a case of striking a fishery rate for one year and relieving them of local rates for ten years.

Will the Minister look into that? The section may be interpreted so as to imply relief from paying rates to the local authority for ten years if they pay fishery rate for one year. Perhaps between now and the Report Stage the Minister would look into it.

I will look into it and see whether it is possible it could read that way. It certainly is not so intended.

Amendment put and declared lost.

The next amendment is in my name. It reads:

To add at the end of sub-section (6) the words—

"Provided that this sub-section shall apply in any local financial year only if a rate has been levied by the Board of Conservators or the Minister under this section, so as to be payable during that local financial year."

This is the point that I have just raised and I will not move it if the Minister will look into it.

I think the Minister will see that, taking the whole section together, it might well mean exemption for ten years if the rate is levied only for one year.

Amendment not moved.
Question—"That Sections 13, 14 and 15 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
This section shall not apply to a licensed fisherman selling fish of his own capture.

I move amendment 11, which is down in my name and the name of Deputy Myles:—

Before sub-section (3) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

"Any licence to take or kill fish held by any person who shall have been convicted of an offence under this section shall be forfeited, and no other licence to take or kill fish by any means whatever shall be issued to such person during the calendar year in which such conviction shall have been made."

This is not an amendment to which I attach any great importance. It imposes an additional penalty on a person who is found guilty of selling salmon without a licence. In addition to the penalty already prescribed in the section, his licence shall be forfeited as regards the taking or killing of fish. It would seem to me desirable that, in addition to the licence to sell, the licence to catch fish should be forfeited in such a case. It is possible that a man who has forfeited his licence to sell might say: "I caught these for myself" when, as a matter of fact, he had the intention of selling them. The amendment is open to the objection, which probably Deputy Johnson will make, that it prescribes two penalties for the one offence. Against that, I would point out that it is desirable to close every loophole for the sale of poached fish. If there was nobody to sell the fish there would be no poaching. The amount of poaching done by a man who wants to get a salmon to eat is infinitesimal. It is desirable, I think, to make these penalties as severe as possible.

I oppose this amendment. The Deputy himself has stated my principal objection: that it is imposing two penalties for the same offence. Furthermore, there is really no precedent in our Fishery Acts for such a penalty. I admit that there is a loophole, but I do not think that this would be the proper way to stop it. We must only hope, by more supervision, to get after these offenders, rather than deal with them in this way. There are many worse offences for which there is no such penalty.

Will the Minister consider this amendment in relation to sub-section (3) before the Report Stage? I think some penalty is necessary there where a person sells fish which he pretends are of his own capture, whereas they were not captured by him at all.

I will look into that. Perhaps the Deputy would state his point more fully.

I will go into it more fully when the section is being put.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move on behalf of Deputy O'Connell:—

Amendment 12.—To add at the end of sub-section (3) the words—"nor to an unlicensed fisherman selling brown trout of his own capture or of the capture of other unlicensed fishermen for whom he is acting as agent for the purpose of marketing."

The decision has been arrived at that no licence is required by men fishing for brown trout. There is a large number of men earning their livelihood by fishing for brown trout. In Galway, I understand, the practice is for the men to arrange with one of their number to do the marketing on their behalf. This amendment is designed to protect such a man.

This amendment would considerably increase the possibility of loopholes. I am not prepared to admit at all the unlicensed agent. I would be prepared to consider an amendment striking out the word "licensed" before "fisherman" and putting in the word "lawful" before "capture." That would make the sub-section read: "This section shall not apply to a fisherman selling fish of his own lawful capture." I am opposed to allowing in the unlicensed agent.

Would the Minister explain what he means by "lawful" capture? Does he mean caught in a regular manner?

Yes. The brown trout rod man is an unlicensed fisherman, but he can catch fish legally. That would be his lawful capture.

I am thankful to the Minister for meeting part of the case made by Deputy O'Connell in this amendment. We come to a matter, not of sport but of trade and of livelihood, when we deal with the question of the agent of lawful fishermen selling fish lawfully or marketing fish caught under the law. Any objection to that proposition seems to me to be hitting directly at the livelihood of a large number of men. I am working in this case on material prepared by Deputy O'Connell. I am not aware of the local circumstances, but I gather that the position is somewhat like this: there is a considerable number of men who fish and capture brown trout. They sell those trout for a livelihood and they arrange with one of their number to do the selling on their behalf. Under this section it appears that that fisherman would be liable to a penalty. Therefore, those fishermen who hitherto appointed one of their number to act as their selling agent will each have to go and do his own selling. To say the least of it, that is most uneconomic and will materially affect the livelihood of a considerable number of men.

Could not that agent apply for a licence under the section?

I am not sure whether a licence would be given to a man who is, perhaps, taking the fish from the place of capture to the station or market. He is not a regular seller in the ordinary retail way; he is merely a conveyer. He arranges marketing and transportation, and I do not know whether it is proposed that that man should take out a licence.

From the reading of the Bill, I hold that the manager of my fishery, who arranges for transportation of the fish to the various markets, would certainly have to take out a licence. There is no fee for a licence.

I think it is doubtful whether the man who is conveying fish and, perhaps, selling part of the catch on his journey, will come under that section. I am not familiar with the case dealt with in this amendment, but these are the points that have been put forward, and it seems to me that the proposition in the amendment is a sound one. I would ask the Minister to consider the matter in the light of the conditions prevailing in Co. Galway and see if he could do anything in the matter between now and Report Stage.

I will do that. I do not want to make any changes in the section now. The change I suggested I will bring forward on the Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion made—"That Section 16 stand part of the Bill."

I want to call the Minister's attention to the danger that I think exists under this section. I refer to sub-section 3, which states that the section shall not apply to a licensed fisherman selling fish of his own capture. I take it that it is a fisherman who has a licence to fish with the rod, not a licensed dealer. The profits of poaching are such that it would be well worth while for a poacher to take out a licence, or even half a dozen, in different districts, and place his fish on the market and state they are the result of hauls through the rod. It would be difficult to prove that the fish were not his own capture. Throughout history it has been hard to prove that fish are your own capture. Many people go out fishing and come home with tales of capture that, to say the least of it, are not strictly veracious. They cannot be proved. I am afraid that difficulty would arise here. I ask the Minister, before the Committee Stage, to see if he could not impose some penalty. At present no penalty is imposed on a licensed fisherman who sells fish, not of his own capture, except a fine. He does not forfeit his licence. I know that is a danger. In one or two districts in Tirconaill it is looked upon as a considerable danger, and it is the one weak spot I really see in the Bill, in spite of my numerous amendments. It is the one loophole through which the poacher can get rid of poached fish. I hope the Minister will see if he can strengthen this without depriving a fisherman of the right which I think he enjoys.

I admit the loophole exists. I have given this a great deal of consideration, and I will consider it further to see if I can cope with it.

Sections 17 to 21 put and agreed to.

May I draw attention to the term "metropolitan police" in Section 21?

I will wait until the Report Stage to cut out "metropolitan police." It is in Section 23 also.

Question—"That Section 22 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
(1) Every member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or the Gárda Síochána and every member of a board of conservators and every officer or servant of a board of conservators authorised in writing by such board to exercise the powers conferred by this section and every officer of the Minister authorised by the Minister to exercise the powers conferred by this section is hereby authorised and empowered to do all or any of the following things, that is to say:—
(a) to stop and search any person conveying or believed to be conveying fish of any kind or any instrument used or adapted for taking fish illegally and to inspect any fish and any such instrument which such person is found to be conveying and for that purpose to open and search any vehicle or package in which such fish or instrument is or may be or is believed to be conveyed;
(b) at all reasonable times to enter upon and have free access to the interior of:—
(i) any premises in which fish is or is believed to be sold, or kept, exposed, or stored for sale, or
(ii) the premises of any person engaged in the business of carrying goods for reward, or
(iii) any pier, quay, wharf, jetty, dock or dock premises, or
(iv) any ship, boat, railway waggon, motor lorry, cart, or other vessel or vehicle used for the conveyance of goods;
(c) to examine all fish found in any place which he is authorised by this section to enter and for that purpose to open any package found in such place and containing or believed to contain fish;
(d) to stop, enter and search, on any river, lake or estuary, or the shores thereof or any part of the sea or the shores thereof any boat, barge, corach, or other vessel used or believed to be used for fishing or containing or suspected of containing fish illegally captured and to examine all fish and all nets and other instruments used in fishing found therein and for that purpose to open any package which contains or is suspected of containing any fish, nets, or other instruments as aforesaid;
(e) to take, remove, and detain in his custody any fish (either together with or without any package in which the same may be contained) found in the course of the exercise of any of the powers conferred by this section in respect of which an offence under the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, the Fisheries Act, 1924, or this Act is being or is suspected of being committed or which have been or are suspected of having been illegally captured;
(f) to take, remove and detain in his custody any net or other instrument used in fishing or any article which is liable or is believed to be liable to forfeiture under the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, or the Fisheries Act, 1924, or this Act;
(g) to demand and take the name and address of the person having custody of any fish or other article which he is authorised under this section to examine and also to demand and take from such person the name and address of the owner of such fish or other article.
(2) When any person detains in his custody under the authority of this section any fish or other article he shall as soon as conveniently may be take such steps as may be proper to have the person guilty or believed to be guilty of the offence committed or believed to have been committed in relation to such fish or other article dealt with according to law.
(3) Where any person detains in his custody under the authority of this section any fish and such fish is likely to become unfit for human food before the matter can conveniently be dealt with by any court, such person shall produce such fish to a Peace Commissioner, and if authorised so to do by such Peace Commissioner shall destroy such fish.
(4) A Peace Commissioner to whom any fish is produced in pursuance of this section shall, if he is of opinion that the fish ought in the circumstances to be destroyed, give to the person producing the fish a certificate in writing describing the fish, and any marks, peculiarities, or other particulars thereof pointed out to him by such person and authorising such person to destroy the fish, which certificate shall be conclusive evidence in every court of all such matters of fact as aforesaid stated therein.
(5) No person shall be liable for any loss or damage occasioned by or in the course of the exercise of any of the powers conferred on him by this section unless such loss or damage was caused by such person wantonly or maliciously.
(6) Every person who shall obstruct or impede any person in the exercise of any of the powers conferred on him by this section or shall refuse to give his own name and address or the name and address of any other person (so far as known to him) when lawfully demanded under this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding two months.

I move:—

In sub-section (1), lines 28 and 29, to delete the words "every member of a board of conservators and."

On the second reading stage I called attention to the insertion of the words "and every member of a board of conservators." That is in respect of the powers given to policemen, guards, officers and servants of the boards. As the Bill stands, all the powers of search, confiscation and the like are given to officers of the board, to guards, and also to every member of the board of conservators. I think the Minister admitted that there was a doubt as to the wisdom of that and so I have put down the amendment. I think it will be seen that to endow such members with power to follow fish to any part of the country, to open up cases and generally to interfere is likely to lead to trouble both for the members and the public. I think we should not give them that power or impose an obligation which implies that power.

As I intimated to Deputy Johnson on the second reading, I am prepared to consider this. I will submit the whole section to the draftsman.

It does not matter whether the Minister accepts the amendment or not. It is the present practice of boards of conservators to appoint honorary water bailiffs, people who are interested in the fish and who protect them without payment. If they had the legal power of bailiffs and if the amendment were accepted the board of conservators would appoint all the honorary members as water bailiffs and they would have the same power.

I am glad Deputy Cooper has told me that. I can move an amendment, at the next stage, removing that power from the boards.

In that case they would appoint the bailiffs and pay them.

The powers in this section are powers beyond the existing powers. They are powers to follow and search all over the country and interfere with fish in every part of the country. I can see Deputy Cooper going into Watson's shop and interfering with the fish and the proprietor of the shop comes to prove that they are not illegally caught.

The Deputy knows I never interfere with what is not my business.

This will be your business if you allow the section to stand.

I will accept the amendment, subject to re-drafting.

Does the Minister mean that he will re-draft the section afterwards?

I am accepting the principle of your amendment, subject to handing it to the draftsman.

I would rather see the amendment accepted by the Minister. He can then bring in a drafting amendment on the Report Stage.

Very well.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move:—

In sub-section (3), page 11, line 31, after the word "shall" to insert the words "sell or."

In sub-section (4), page 11, line 34, after the words "to be" to insert the words "sold or," and in line 37 before the word "destroy" to insert the words "sell or."

Before sub-section 6 to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

"All monies realised by the sale of any fish sold under the provisions of this section shall be paid to the clerk of the board of conservators of the electoral district within which such fish were detained, and shall be applied by him in such manner as the District Justice for the district in which such fish were detained shall direct, and such District Justice may, if he thinks fit, direct that all, or any part of such monies shall be paid to such board of conservators, and such board shall be entitled to apply all, or any part of, the said monies when paid to them towards the payment of any expenses incurred by them in respect of such detention or sale."

Amendments 14, 15 and 18 all deal with the same issue, and I will take all three now. They seek to make it possible for a peace commissioner to authorise the sale of fish that is being seized. Under the Bill as it stands, at present the only thing a peace commissioner can do is to authorise the destruction of the fish seized. These amendments authorise him to sell it, because the case may well arise that fish will be seized in a district where it is known that the District Court will not be held for a week or possibly 10 days. The fish will not keep fresh for that length of time, and as a result the peace commissioner would have to have them destroyed. That, of course, would be a waste of good food.

It has another advantage, namely, the selling provides for redress in the case where a mistake has been made. In the event of the fish having been seized, and afterwards it being found that they were properly caught and were the property of the person holding them, the District Justice could make an order that the proceeds be paid over to such a person. I do not press this strongly, but the Minister should take it into consideration himself. Compulsory destruction of good food is not a desirable thing. It demoralises people to see pounds and pounds of salmon burned and otherwise destroyed. It does not create the proper state of mind with regard to fish as a national asset.

I also urge this on the Minister. This provision to destroy fish is a farce. We always knew that in fact the fish would never be destroyed if they were sound fish. I can inform the Minister that fish caught in nets were given as presents. Talking of destroying here is only a sham. It is a shame to destroy fish. They should be taken charge of and sent to the best market. It is a crime to destroy good fish. Once they are out of the river and dead, the best use should be made of them, and they should be sent to the best market. Fish is not a thing that can be kept for days. The provision here is only so much waste of language, and should not be in the Bill.

I hope the Minister will not accept this amendment. I agree with any proposal which would suggest that the fish, if it is good, should be disposed of to some public institution freely, rather than destroyed, or even distributed, as Deputy Gorey said it is in fact distributed.

Who is going to get it?

I am not going to ask who is to get it. I agree that it is unwise and wrong to destroy fish which is good food, but I think that the difference between that and making the sale of fish a source of revenue to the board is putting too great a temptation in the hands of the board.

It is subject to the veto of the District Justice.

The peace commissioner has a certain authority in this matter. The peace commissioner has to decide certain things, and may decide these things on a report made to him by the person who has taken the fish into custody, and the responsibility for doing that unfairly is nil. Any board which desires to increase its finance might well adopt this plan of increasing its revenue—capturing fish, taking it, running no risk in taking it, selling it, and so making a good thing out of it. I think the proposal is a bad one, and would introduce into this class of legislation a principle that would lead us far astray. It is asking an authority to seize fish for the purpose of supplementing and increasing its monetary reserves. I hope the Minister will not accept the amendment.

I wish to press the point that Deputy Cooper brought forward. I think it is most important. I would not agree that fish seized in this way should be distributed. I maintain that it should be sold because the dealers' register would be able to show where that fish had come from. If it is distributed, in the case of fish that is procured by night-fishing and by other illegal methods, people will be able to say that this was fish that had been seized. In ordinary circumstances that would be destroyed, but now it is suggested that it should not be destroyed, but ought to be given to some institution. I certainly agree that it should not be destroyed, but it should be sold. It would then appear on the dealers' register. That is the most important point, as otherwise people who evade the law, who fish at night, and who are liable for prosecution, would simply state that they had sent the fish to certain institutions, whereas they had been paid for it, perhaps. I press that point on the Minister, that the fish, instead of being destroyed, should be sold, and it would then appear on the dealers' register.

I would like to remind the Dáil that not one penny of the money derived from the sale of the fish would go to the board of conservators except by direction of the District Justice. The District Justice is not connected with the board of conservators and he would not be likely to grant a penny of money more to the board than he considered they were entitled to. If it would meet Deputy Johnson's objection I would be quite prepared, if the Minister would accept the principle of sale, to have a provision inserted directing that any money derived from the sale should go to the Ministry of Fisheries as an Appropriation in Aid. I am quite prepared to agree to that. The principle I want to establish is that there should not be an unnecessary destruction of fish, and if you accept the principle of sale you must accept some tribunal for deciding how the money is to be disposed of. Deputy Johnson, I am sure, would object very keenly if I suggested to leave the money to the board of conservators. I tried to suggest the best arrangement possible and the amendment I put forward is, I think, the most reasonable way of dealing with the matter.

I am rather inclined to favour the principle of this amendment as I said, and I am still rather inclined to favour it from certain aspects, but I think there will be considerable difficulty about providing for this sale of the fish. For instance, fish caught in the close season, or for some other reason, may be considered unsaleable.

In that case the word "destroy" would apply. I do not propose to delete the word "destroy."

At any rate, before I can accept the amendment, the matter would require very careful consideration. I just merely promise to look into the matter before Report Stage. When I read the amendment I was inclined to accept it, but many difficulties have been brought to my notice since then.

The Minister is not opposed to the principle of sale?

No. I know of cases where it seems a great shame and a great waste that boxes of salmon taken off a train have, under the law as it at present stands, to be destroyed. The difficulty is to devise proper machinery to deal with such cases.

Might I direct the Minister's attention to the suggestion made by Deputy Cooper that the proceeds of the sale might go to the Ministry and not to a particular board of conservators? In that case my objection would be largely removed. What I feel about it is that under these very extensive powers you would be giving an invitation to the board to add to their resources by interfering unnecessarily with captures because they are more or less indemnified against any responsibility unless the injured party can show malice. Where the board is not obtaining any direct advantage from the sale that temptation will not arise and consequently my chief objection will not hold.

If the Minister is approaching it from that angle and will consider it and will let us have the result of his consideration on the Report Stage I am quite prepared to withdraw my amendments.

Amendments by leave withdrawn.

I beg to move:—

In sub-section (4), page 11, line 37, after the words "by such person" to insert the words "or observed by such Peace Commissioner or by any person whom he may request to assist him for the purpose."

I think it is not right to leave the peace commissioner any option to accepting the word of the officer, whoever he may be, in respect of the peculiarities or marks or distinctive qualities of the fish. If he knows anything about fish himself, or can find somebody who knows something about it, then he shall have the right to satisfy himself without relying solely on the word of the prosecutor. I think the principle is easily understood, and should be accepted.

I think the Deputy has not read the section correctly. I consider the amendment unnecessary. The position is, that the peace commissioner is to describe the fish, and he may put in whatever, in his discretion, he thinks right. There is nothing to prevent him from consulting anyone he thinks fit. The point is, that if he omits any descriptive particular which the person who presents the fish to him considers essential, the latter is entitled to ask that that should be put in. That is the whole point in the sub-section.

As I read the sub-section it rather suggests that the peace commissioner is to have his opinion formed for him by the person who is describing the fish. Sub-section 4 reads:—

A Peace Commissioner to whom any fish is produced in pursuance of this section shall, if he is of opinion that the fish ought in the circumstances to be destroyed, give to the person producing the fish a certificate in writing describing the fish, and any marks, peculiarities or other particulars thereof pointed out to him by such person, and authorising such person to destroy the fish, which certificate shall be conclusive evidence in every court of all such matters or facts as aforesaid stated therein.

The peace commissioner is to be satisfied before he will give the certificate. The suggestion in the sub-section is, that the person who is going to give evidence of the necessity that this fish should be described is the prosecutor— the officer of the board. I want to suggest in the amendment that the peace commissioner shall be entitled to call in other expert evidence as to whether such fish ought to be destroyed or not. On re-reading the sub-section I think I can see the Minister's view more clearly, and that I am wrong. I, therefore, ask for leave to withdraw the amendment.

There is actually nothing to prevent him from calling in anybody.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The next amendment is, I think, consequential, and I ask for leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Before the section is put, there is what appears to me to be a great omission: the question of the inspection and examination of fish poached in the close season. We know that extensive poaching of fish goes on in the close season. The fish may be in the houses of people in the country, and may be salted in barrels. That is a common practice in some parts of the country. The fish may have been speared in the rivers during the night, and of course would not have passed through the hands of licensed dealers at all. I do not think that this matter is covered by (b) of section 1, nor do I think it is covered by this section at all. During the close season, fish taken in such circumstances may be kept for consumption in farmers' houses as well as in other houses, and there ought to be, I think, a provision to make a search and an inspection. As far as I know, there is no provision to do that at the present time, and some such provision ought to be introduced. Everyone knows that the greatest crimes are committed during the close season. There ought to be provision whereby power will be given to search and enter houses where there are reasonable grounds for believing that fish is being kept on the premises for one reason or another. There may be fresh fish in some of these houses, and in others it may have been put into pickle. I do not know whether there are any Deputies who are aware of the fact that such a practice is carried on.

I am acquainted with that practice.

I want the Minister to take precautions against this evil and to have a specific sub-section to deal with it, because I say it is the greatest evil of the lot. The absence of such a sub-section would be a great blemish on the Bill, the object of which is to preserve fish. It is at this particular season of the year that a great amount of fish is destroyed because people destroy the spawning beds. The Bill in different sections deals with the preservation of fish in the open season. I want specific powers given to the officer of the Board and the Gárda Síochána, or other officers, to go in, at any time, into the house of anybody who is believed to have fish that was caught in the close season.

I support what Deputy Gorey has said. I am greatly surprised if there is not law already for dealing with that class of poaching. In Lough Mask the most serious kind of poaching is done in the close season in the three winter months. They do what Deputy Gorey has described. They get the fish in large quantities and salt them in barrels. That is a very serious injury to the fishing in the Lough. I would be greatly surprised if the law is not there already prohibiting a crime like that, and that it is only weakness of the bailiffs that prevents the law from being carried out.

I am aware that what Deputy Gorey has said applies to other parts of the country. Fish are netted in the close season and are pickled in that season and are kept in the farmers' houses. Would there not be a possibility of the Minister being able to ascertain what powers are at his disposal to trace out fish netted in the close season and pickled by parties and retained in their houses for sale or distribution among their friends? They certainly should be prosecuted.

Sometimes the fish is taken, as Deputy D'Alton has said, by net and taken perhaps by fishermen and kept in their houses or sold to farmers. In addition, the farmers go out at night with torches and spear salmon in the spawning beds. Salmon are also taken with nets, and I have seen them sold, but they are speared in the upper regions of the river, which is not possible in the lower regions, where nets are used. In the upper reaches they come along with torches and the fish are speared and killed wholesale, and by destroying the spawn thousands and millions of fish are lost. Not alone do fishermen do this and sell the salmon, but farmers do it also.

Is this not covered already in the Bill? It is rather peculiar if the Minister did not intend it. There is power of inspection of any premises in which fish is or is believed to be sold. Are there two meanings to be read into this? I take it that you could read into it that there would be power to enter any premises in which fish is.

I am afraid that means any premises in which fish is sold or is believed to be sold. With regard to Deputy Gorey's point, we are all aware of the necessity he has mentioned, but provision is already made for that in the Act of 1842, where the bailiff can get a search warrant and enter any house if he finds it necessary. I do not think there is any necessity to bring it now to this Bill, because it exists already.

Most people must have forgotten that.

Question—"That Section 23, as amended, be added to the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 6.40 and resumed at 7.20,
Question—"That Sections 24, 25 and 26 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
(1) On and after the commencement of this Part of this Act the several powers of making bye-laws, definitions, rules, regulations, and orders conferred on or exercisable by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland by virtue of the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1909, shall be transferred to, vested in, and exercisable by the Minister and shall cease to be exercisable by the Department aforesaid, and any appeal from the making of any such bye-laws, definitions, rules, regulations, or orders to the Lord Lieutenant in council shall likewise cease to exist.
(2) Every bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, and order made by the Minister under this section shall, come into operation on the day specified in that behalf therein, and if no such day is specified shall come into operation on the 28th day after the day on which the same is made.
(3) Every bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, and order made by the Minister under this section shall, as soon as may be after the same is made, be published in theIris Oifigiúil and in one or more newspapers circulating in the district affected thereby, and a copy of every such bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, and order shall within one month after the same comes into operation be deposited with the Clerk of the Peace for every county which or any part of which is affected thereby, and with the District Court Clerk of every Court District which or any part of which is affected thereby, and in every station of the Gárda Síochána within the area affected thereby.

I move:—

In sub-section (2), line 2, after the words "this section shall" to insert the words "subject to the appeal hereinafter mentioned."

With the leave of the Dáil I shall also move the following amendment:—

Before sub-section (3) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

"Any person who may consider himself aggrieved by the making of or by the refusal of the Minister to make any such bye-law, definition, rule, regulation, or order, may within fourteen days from the date of the publication thereof in the Iris Oifigiúil or, in the case of a refusal to make same from the date of such refusal, appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal against such making or refusal as the case may be, and the Rules of Court applicable to appeals from the High Court of Justice to the Supreme Court in civil cases (save as to the time limited for such appeals) shall, so far as is practicable apply to any appeal under this sub-section.”

The intention of these amendments is to give a right of appeal from the refusal of the Minister to make a bye-law. Under the old law there was such appeal. It was possible for anybody aggrieved by the action of the Vice-President of the Department, who then occupied the post now held by the Minister for Fisheries, to appeal to the Lord Lieutenant in Council. Since the Treaty that appeal has lapsed, and no appeal has been substituted. So far as I can discover, the mind of those interested in fisheries, and particularly the mind of conservators, would be that so long as the present Minister is Minister for Fisheries that right of appeal will probably never be exercised. Great confidence is felt in the Minister's fairness and in the fairness with which his Department is conducting fisheries. He may not, however, be Minister for ever, and, therefore, it is desirable to make some provision by which any person aggrieved by a new bye-law, or by the failure to make a bye-law when a strong case is made, would be in a position to appeal. I had some doubt as to the necessary tribunal to which to appeal. I thought of an appeal to the Minister's advisory committee, but that is not a statutory body and it is necessary that the tribunal should be a body recognised by statute. I therefore decided to put in the Supreme Court of Appeal. They will decide the matter not as a question of law but on its merits, and the fact that one must appeal to the Supreme Court is in itself, I think, a safeguard against frivolous appeals. I presume one would not go to the Supreme Court without engaging eminent counsel and paying heavy costs. I do not attach enormous importance to the tribunal to which the appeal is to be carried, but I think, on general principles, it is desirable that the Minister should not have the last word. There should be a possibility of appealing to a permanent, impartial, non-political body over the head of the Minister for the time being. This is not an assertion of a new right, but a reassertion of an old right, and as such I commend it to the Minister and the Dáil.

I accept the principle of these amendments, but between this and the Report Stage I will want to consult with the Minister for Justice to know whether the Supreme Court would be available for such purpose. There is a point in it, however, which I do not think I could accept. I believe it would be unreasonable to provide, for instance, for an appeal against refusal to make bye-laws, as in that case the status quo would not be disturbed, and nobody could say that he is aggrieved, or at least more aggrieved than he had been for years past. I agree, however, where we make a bye law a person may be said to have a grievance, and I feel it is essential that there should be a right of appeal. I shall consult the Minister for Justice and bring in something to meet the Deputy from that point of view.

I am quite satisfied with the Minister's undertaking, and I therefore ask leave of the Dáil to withdraw the amendments.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Sections 27 to 32, inclusive, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Section 78 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1842, shall be construed and have effect as if the words "between sunset and sunrise" were omitted therefrom.

I beg to move:

To add at the end of the Section the words:—

"Section 37 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1850, shall be construed to have effect as if the words ‘unless the Minister certifies in writing his satisfaction that the passage of fish up and down any such river is not impeded by means of such weirs,' were inserted therein next after the words ‘either above or below same.'"

I move the amendment formally, as I do not think I could undertake to argue it. I merely desire to get the Minister's reply.

As a matter of fact, anything in the nature of a weir is an impediment to the passage of fish, at least in some stages of the water. I cannot conceive any Minister certifying that the passage of fish was not impeded by a weir. The circumstances contemplated by the amendment have never come within the experience of the Department.

Would the Minister inform us as to the general effect of the terms of Section 78 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1842? "Between sunset and sunrise" was in the section of the old Act as originally framed. Does the Minister now propose to omit those words?

The idea is that the enactment in Section 78 of the Act of 1842 only applied to the night time. As the law stood heretofore, it was lawful to use any instrument, net or device for the taking of fish in daytime. It is proposed to remove that anomaly.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Sections 33 and 34 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
(1) Every offence under any section of the Fisheries Act, 1924, or of this Act may be prosecuted by or at the suit of the Minister or of any board of conservators as prosecutor.

I move to delete sub-section (1). It seems to me to unduly limit the existing law. The law at present is that any person may prosecute in a fishery case. It seems to me that if sub-section (1) becomes law only the Minister or the board of conservators may prosecute. I may be wrong, and I hope I am wrong, but if I am not it seems to me that this is legislation in the wrong direction. What we have been trying to do all through this Bill is to create public opinion against poaching, to make the people feel that poaching is as much a crime as burglary, and that it is the duty of the ordinary citizen to stop poaching, whether he is a member of the board of conservators or anybody else. If you limit the right of prosecution to the Minister or the board of conservators, you tend rather to enfeeble that civic conscience we are trying to create. In times past prosecutions had been taken frequently by one individual, who had not the locus standi of the board of conservators or the Minister. I think it might be found desirable to do something of the same kind in future, so that a water bailiff might bring a prosecution, or even a private individual. I suggest that there is no great advantage in this sub-section, and that there is a danger of its limiting the power of prosecution unduly.

I desire to support the Deputy's amendment. The Westmeath Fishery Preservation Society during the season offered a reward of £5 to any person who would bring a prosecution against a poacher of fish. The result of making this offer was that it practically prevented poaching during the past season. They have increased that reward, and if under this section no person outside the authorities will be able to prosecute, it would encourage poaching rather than otherwise. I ask the Minister, if possible, to provide that persons who voluntarily give evidence will be in a position to earn that reward.

As a matter of fact, the sub-section does not do that at all. This sub-section is necessary because of the provisions of Section 9 of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act, 1924, which says:—

(1) All criminal charges prosecuted upon indictment in any court shall be prosecuted at the suit of the Attorney-General of Saorstát Eireann.

(2) Save where a criminal prosecution in a court of summary jurisdiction is prosecuted by a Minister, Department of State, or persons (official or unofficial) authorised in that behalf, by the law, for the time being in force, all prosecutions in any court of summary jurisdiction shall be prosecuted at the suit of the Attorney-General of Saorstát Eireann.

The statute which conferred the right does not apply either to this Bill or to the Fishery Act of 1924, and in consequence of that section this sub-section is necessary. If it is desired to widen the power given in order to enable officers of the boards of conservators or any other aggrieved persons to prosecute it will have to be done by adding to the sub-section. I would be prepared to consider something like this:—"Prosecuted by or at the suit of the Minister or of any board of conservators or any officer thereof, or any aggrieved person as prosecutor." I think that is the point in the amendment and that is how it will have to be achieved.

I think I should be out of order if I asked the Minister whether he had taken the Attorney-General's opinion on the legal point, but I can assure him that I am supported by counsel's opinion that the effect of this sub-section would be to repeal the right given by 5 and 6 Victoria, cap. 106—that, I take it, is the Act of 1840 or 1841—that that would repeal the right that any person might prosecute. That right exists under this early Act and counsel's opinion, as far as the Association of Conservators has been able to consult it, holds that that would be the effect of the sub-section. If the Minister prefers me to put it by way of addition I will try to do so before the Report Stage, but the formula he suggests, "any aggrieved person," would not be acceptable, unless it is recognised that the public generally may be aggrieved by poaching—that poaching is an offence against the interests of the public as a whole, and that a person who wishes to stop poaching, even though his own particular interest is not affected, has a right to bring a prosecution.

That is what I mean by "any aggrieved person"—I mean any person. I think it would be better to leave the matter over. I did consult the draftsman with regard to this and I was advised in this direction. I will bring in an amendment on the Report Stage.

I will put down an amendment for the Report Stage in order to remind the Minister.

Am I to understand that if the person prosecuted is found guilty one-third of the fine goes to the informer?

That is so.

Is that what it is sought to make wider in its application?

It is not making it wider.

Is that not the point of contention?

It is to maintain the status quo.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Section 35 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to
Section 36 put and agreed to.


(a) Single salmon rod

for one calendar year




(b) Single salmon rod for one calendar year where the applicant already holds a like licence for another district





Snap nets





Draft nets or seines





Drift nets:Not exceeding 400 yards in length




Exceeding 400 yards in length, for the first 400 yards




For every additional 200 yards





Eye, gap, or basket in any weir for taking eels




Amendment 23 not moved.

I beg to move:—

In No. 1, before (b) to insert the words: "Single salmon rod for one calendar year where the applicant is registered as a Dáil elector in a constituency within the district for which the licence is issued, £1 0s. 0d."

Here again we raise the contentious matter raised in a slightly different form by Deputy P. Hogan, this afternoon; the question whether we shall give the local man the right to fish for salmon at a cheaper rate than those who come into the district from a distance, whether it be from across Channel or from other parts of the Saorstát. I put down this amendment partly at the instance of the Association of Conservators of Fisheries and partly because I was asked to do so by the Anglers' Association, and I gather that the principle also has the support of Labour Deputies. That is a volume of opinion that ought to carry some weight. It comprises practically every interest engaged in rod fishing. But I put it down mainly because of the request of the Anglers' Association. This association to which I refer contains seventy members. Most of them are clerks, men engaged in shops, and people of that kind—people to whom £2 is of very considerable value, but they are keen fishermen. In the past I think some of them probably fished illegally, but they want to fish legally, and the owners of fisheries in the Sligo district have feen facilitating them in this way, because I and other owners have given them one or two days a week, or whatever we could, free fishing for salmon. But it very often happens that this day in the week does not bring the man, say, who gets two days in the year—one of these days may be in May, and the other in September— under the fortnightly licence provision. That man, therefore, out of his comparatively limited means, has to pay £2 licence fee.

I humbly suggest to the Minister that if this increased duty is enforced on a man of that type the result will be, not that he will pay £2 duty, but that he will pay no duty at all, and fish illegally. That is what we have been trying to prevent. The fishery owners who have given facilities to this association have given them because they felt it was far better to give these men an interest in the preservation of fish, having them fishing legally, making them feel that their right to a share in the sport was recognised, than to have them saying: "We can do nothing else but be poachers." That is a case that requires to be met.

The Minister has tried very hard I know to create an atmosphere favourable to the preservation of fish and the encouragement of fishing as a sport. You do not want to alienate the man who cannot afford to pay £2 for a salmon licence—to make him feel that this sport is kept for people who come over to this country and spend large sums of money on their railway fares, hotel bills, and so on, and that the ordinary man who, as the Minister for Defence said so eloquently, takes out his rod and goes out after his day's work, is not wanted. I am sorry the Minister for Defence is not here. The Whips are off, and I am sure he would vote with me. I am supporting the principle he propounded with his usual eloquence.

I urge the Minister to realise that in this matter there is a great concurrence of opinion. Conservators, anglers' associations, and everybody concerned with fisheries, want to see this differentiation made. The only argument against it is that of the Minister and Deputy Wolfe that we do not want to discourage people from coming to fish. Whatever force there was in that argument for trout, the man who comes to fish for salmon, takes a salmon fishery, or stops in a hotel where he gets what is called free salmon fishing, and where the bill is, perhaps, 20 per cent. higher in consequence, can afford to pay £2. The man who goes out of his own district and who fishes regularly, can afford to pay £2. I appeal to the Minister to deal with the case of the man who gets two or three days in the season near his own home, days scattered and so far apart that he can get no use out of the provision of the fortnightly licence and who will be debarred from a sport which he enjoys and which he can help others to enjoy if only given an interest in it. I sincerely make that appeal to the Minister.

Before the Minister replies I would like if he could give us some evidence to justify the scale of licence duties, say, in respect to salmon, in paragraph 1 (a). What number of licences have been issued in the past; what is the total amount of revenue from the different licence duties in the past; and what is expected in the future? Perhaps the Minister also would give us some information, if it is available, as to the number, quantity and value—perhaps value alone—of salmon caught on lines and salmon exported? I do not know if that is possible, but certainly one has a right to look for information of that kind when dealing with the schedule of licences proposed to be imposed. I think more particularly we should have some information as to the number of licences issued in the past, the revenue derived from them, and what revenue is expected in the future. I do not feel justified strictly in voting one way or the other in a matter of this kind, but I will support the amendment now on the general grounds stated in the earlier motion. I would be much more satisfied if I had some figures or information as to the possible effects of either the amendment or the proposal in the Bill upon the income of the conservators. As a matter of fact, I would like to come to the conclusion that it would be better to cancel all licence duties while registering fishermen. Perhaps the Minister will give us some information about the financial side of this schedule.

I have figures here as to the number of licences that were taken out from 1913 to 1922 for rods, snap nets, draft-nets, drift-nets, bag nets, stake weirs, cribs. In 1922 the number of licences issued were:—Rods, 1,442; snap-nets, 94; draft-nets, 392; drift-nets, 254; bag nets, 8; stake weirs, 17; cribs, 40; gaff nets, etc., 136.

What is the total income?

In 1922 the total licence duty was £4,676. The proposals in the Bill will about double the revenue.

Provided the same number of people take out licences.

Yes, but we are satisfied that they will. I can also give certain figures as to the increased value of salmon, a matter that Deputy Hogan has on various occasions disputed. I have figures from 1881 to 1891, and for every year down to last year. The price remained fairly constant from 1870, and except for a few pence per pound there was very little change in the London market. The price ranged from 1s. 4d. to 1s. 6d. or 1s. 7d. per lb. until 1916, when it jumped to 2s. In 1917 it went to 2s. 5d., and in 1918 to 3s. It fell to 2s. 8d. when prices were controlled. When the control was removed in 1920 the price jumped immediately to 3s. 5d. It has decreased since 1920 to 2s. 7d. I think that was the price last year.

Is that the average price throughout the year?

Yes, in the English markets. That means that roughly the price since the licence duties were first imposed has doubled. In itself, I think that is a justification for increasing the licence duty on nets. If in 1880, 1s. 3d. per lb. was paid for salmon in the English market, where 2s. 7d. is now paid, it is a reasonable thing to expect for the sake of the preservation of salmon that you could increase the licence duty.

Has the Minister any information on the relative price of bacon for this year?

I am not concerned with that.

It was not the licence duty raised the price of bacon.

I am opposed to the principle of the amendment for reason I mentioned before—differentiation. Even though I admit what Deputy Cooper said, that these persons might not object to pay something more than the local people, I think it looks bad, and is wrong that we should differentiate in that way at a time when hotel-keepers, the railways and other services are advertising to the world that they are cutting rates in order to induce people to come to the country. I think it would be wrong to have any differentiation between local people and outsiders. I am opposed to the amendment.

It is differentiation. The Minister is differentiating against local people. The local man has to pay for the upkeep of the roads, for instance, which a fisherman uses, possibly for motor cars.

He pays motor tax.

There is a motor tax, but he will hire a car and only pay that indirectly. The local man has to contribute to hundreds of things, in addition, that the visiting fisherman has not to contribute to. The Minister has not found a weak spot in my amendment.

The Deputy spoke of one day's fishing in May and one day in September. The obvious answer is that the fishery proprietor, in order to comply with the pound duty, might give fourteen days' fishing.

I can answer the Minister. I let my rod-fishing every year, and I reserve the right to one rod. Sunday fishing is not allowed. That right is only of use to the class I refer to on the weekly half-holiday. I give it to them every Wednesday.

The Minister has not thought out the cases of those small men at all. The weakness of my amendment is in the words "registered as a Dáil elector." The ordinary term "resident" is hard to define. There is no legal definition of "resident," as far as I know. It might be held that a man who comes over to this country and takes up his residence here for a couple of months is "resident." There is, of course, the disadvantage that my friends on the right and their constituents might be confined to fishing in College Green at the reduced rate, or voters in the National University might be confined to fishing in Earlsfort Terrace. That is the only "fishery district" they would be entitled to fish in at the £1 rate. But that is fantastic.

A Dáil elector must be 21 years of age.

I do not think any boy under 21 would have much need to be fishing for salmon. A big salmon would pull a young boy into the water.

A boy under 21!

It might. I know that no salmon could pull Deputy Gorey or any of Deputy Gorey's family into the water, even if they were under 21 years of age. The comparatively poor man should have a share in salmon fishing, and for that reason I submit that my amendment is sound and, therefore, I am pressing it.

Does the Minister suggest that Deputy Cooper's point might be met by a fortnight's licence? Would not a fortnight's licence hold only for a consecutive fortnight from the date of issue? It would not serve for a fortnight spread over the year.

That is what I suggest—that the fishery proprietors might give fourteen days instead of a day.

What use is that to a bank clerk who only gets two afternoons off in the fortnight?

The reason why this altered scale was put on was that the fisheries of this country were in such a bad condition that everybody concerned had come to the conclusion that the revenues would have to be increased. Increased licence duties had to be fixed in order to put the fisheries into a better condition than they are in at present. Everybody concerned had his licence duty increased so as to make the common fund greater and make more secure the fishery preservation. Making one rate for a "resident" and another for a "nonresident" of any county is no use. What does the Deputy mean by "resident"? Does he mean a citizen of the Saorstát, or does he mean by a "non-resident" some one who has come into the Saorstát?

I have not used the word "resident." I have used the words, "where the applicant is registered as a Dáil elector in a constituency within the district for which the licence is issued."

Then somebody going from the County Donegal into an adjoining county would have to pay an extra licence. The man on one side of a fence would be subject to a different licence fee to the man on the other side. The thing is too ridiculous.

I am moving this amendment at the request of the Association of Conservators.

In that case, my opposition to the amendment is confirmed. It is not meant for the benefit of the poor man.

Amendment put.

Before the Dáil divides, I would like to ask the Minister if the Whips will be on for this division?

Every Deputy can vote as he likes?

The Committee divid ed: Tá, 15; Níl, 23.

  • Earnán Altún.
  • Bryan R. Cooper.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
  • Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
  • Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Liam Thrift.


  • Pádraig Baxter.
  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Séamus Breathnach.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileain Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • Liam Mac Sioghaird.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Tadhg O Donnabháin.
  • Eamon O Dúgáin.
  • Donnchadh O Guaire.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Domhnall O Mocháin.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.
  • Caoimhghín O hUigín.
  • Patrick W. Shaw.
Tellers: Tá, Major Cooper, Earnán Altún. Níl, Liam Mac Sioghaird, S. O Suilleabháin.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment 24 (a) "First schedule; in No. 1 (b) to delete the figures 10s. and substitute 5s." My proposition in this amendment is that the endorsement duty for a single salmon rod be 5s. and not 10s., as in the schedule. My grounds for that suggestion are, first of all, the disproportion that exists between the licence fee and the endorsement fee, considering the number of fishery districts there are in the Saorstát, and, secondly, that the 10s. endorsement duty would bear very heavily on a not inconsiderable number of occasional fishermen—men who have few opportunities of fishing and who, when they get a chance of fishing, may not always get it in the same district. They may, perhaps, go to one place on a holiday on one occasion and to another place on another occasion and get, perhaps, a week's fishing in the whole year. In the course of that week they may visit, perhaps, four fishery districts, and a 10s. endorsement fee will be regarded by such men as a hardship. They are a class of men that fish merely for sport. A number of them, with whom I have spoken, are more enthusiastic than successful. They do not catch many salmon. Some consideration should, I think, be given to their peculiar circumstances. Many of them live far from any salmon-fishing district. I urge the Minister to do something for that class of sportsman. If he cannot see his way to agree to a five shilling endorsement fee, perhaps he would give the conservators power to issue a one-day fishing licence for salmon. I hope he will consider my suggestion favourably.

I support the amendment by Deputy Alton for different reasons from those he has given. The great purpose of the Minister is to preserve the inland fisheries, and to raise a revenue sufficient for that purpose. It seems to me that all the prices fixed in the schedule are too high. As in the case of any other commercial undertaking, if you lower the prices you will get a larger return. For occasional fishing, such as has been described by Deputy Alton, a ten-shilling fee is undoubtedly too high. It is easy to imagine a professor from one of the Universities, not particularly a fisherman, going down to a country district where there is very little recreation. To kill a portion of the day, and to take in some of the scenery, he goes out fishing salmon. If he were fishing salmon for a week he would not do the slightest injury to the fish. In a case like that, it would not be fair to impose a ten-shilling tax. I think it would bring in more money to the conservators if the tax were fixed at five shillings.

The main objection to this amendment is that it seeks to differentiate in favour of a very small proportion of the anglers. Most of those visiting anglers, who are able to afford a day here and a day there, can well afford to pay the difference between five shillings and ten shillings. This endorsement fee of ten shillings was fixed because the practice had crept in of visiting anglers from across-channel going to fish in Galway or in Kerry or in Donegal, after they had taken out their licence in Dublin. That licence entitled them to fish in the other areas and they contributed nothing to the preservation of the fisheries in the districts in which they actually fished. The provision was also necessary because certain persons, owing to spite against the board of conservators in their own district, would not take out licences there, but would take out licences in another district, and then fish in their own district. This matter has been very carefully considered, and I cannot see any way of meeting Deputy Alton. I think a ten shilling fee is quite reasonable.

Has the Minister considered the question of a one-day licence?

Is there any serious objection to that?

It would be most difficult to the conservators from the administrative point of view. In addition, I think ten shillings is even too low for a one-day licence. After all, the idea of the whole thing is to get revenue.

I agree with Deputy O'Doherty that you will get far more revenue if you keep the cost of endorsements low.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment 25:—

"To delete No. 4, page 14, and substitute the following: ‘Drift nets of any length, £2.'"

The Deputies will remember that on the Second Reading of this Bill the argument against this extra tax was put forward by me and several other Deputies. The fishermen whom this will affect are men, part of whose income depends on the salmon fishing. In several districts which I know personally it will drive them out of the salmon fishery trade altogether. The position is that the present licence for nets is £3. Roughly, according to this schedule, the licence will be doubled. I am not certain that the Government or the Minister has power to impose a tax on those men. The fishing on which this tax is imposed is done on the high seas and is open to all the world. If the fishermen here were stopped under this Bill from fishing for salmon it would not prevent others from England, Scotland, Belgium, and France from coming in and taking those fish. Certainly that would not be in the interests of the State. The object of this Bill, with which we are all in agreement, is to preserve the inland fisheries and improve the yield from those in the interests of the State.

We have put on certain checks and controls, such as registration, etc., in order that abuses in the dealing in salmon may be prevented. On that ground I think it is only fair that those fishermen in whose interests I am speaking should pay what might well be called a registration fee. I fix that at £2. Bear in mind that you have no power to impose a tax on those men. They are illegally taxed at present. Proceeding on that assumption, if we object to this clause altogether and say that the tax should be abolished, we would be within our right. What we do propose is that, in conformity with the object the Minister has in this Bill, we will agree to a licence tax of £2. A flat rate of £2 will cover all nets around the coast of Ireland.

There is another side of this question which I want the Minister to consider. His Department knows as well as I do that the incomes derived from those few weeks of salmon fishing make a difference between poverty and comparative comfort in the case of the people living along the north and the west coast. Bear in mind, too, as was said in the Second Reading, that this is a hazardous occupation. The men are out on the track of American steamers. Frequently their nets are destroyed. They run a great risk when the weather is squally. A year ago four men lost their lives. They went out from Kilcashel to raise their nets. Their boat was capsized in a squall, and they were never seen again. That is a common occurrence. If these men are made to pay a licence, it must be that they are committing some injury against the salmon. Fishing five to ten miles from the mouth of the river, they do not interfere with the salmon at all. It seems a pity that only the supporters of the Minister are present at the moment. I would like to tell some of the history of salmon fishing around the coast of Ireland. The Minister might be saying that I am holding up the House for the purpose of a snatch division. That is not my purpose. I say deliberately it would be a cruel and unjust thing to impose this additional tax on those men in the interests of the fish-owners of the river when you have people all around who could well afford to pay. Why should not the ratepayer, the huge shopkeeper, the railway people, or the tram people be taxed to provide this revenue which you are demanding from those fishermen? There is no just ground for imposing this tax, and I hope the Minister will take this into consideration.

I want to support this amendment, and my reason for so doing is that I have been asked to support it by a number of people from the poorest part of my constituency, who make a considerable part of their living out of salmon fishing. A great number of people on the West coast of Mayo, far away from the mouth of any river, make a fair amount out of it in the summer months. The season is short, and the work is hard. At the same time that is the district where there is never work to be got. Any relief the people can get is of the greatest importance. It seems that this tax on drift nets will have the effect of making those people who have drawn my attention to the matter, pay £8. They are usually grouped in four. Four men have 800 yards of net. A family of four men will have to pay £8 for the fishing they get off the coast of Mayo. That is the way they put the case to me, and I enquired into it. People resident in the district told me that was so. If what they say is true they will have a great grievance if the Schedule is passed. If that is the case it would be better to prohibit that sort of fishing altogether. You are making it a natural impossibility. You should not adopt the attitude of making poor people pay a prohibitive rate for what is a very important industry, and one which gives most valuable employment in districts where people have scarcely any other employment to get.

I endeavoured to produce here in the earlier portion of the debate, arguments as to why the Minister should not impose this prohibitive rate, and the Minister, on an earlier amendment this evening, came full tilt against my arguments. No doubt, he is convinced that he demolished them, but he forgets that I have some reserves. He told us that the value of salmon has practically doubled itself in some years, but he did not tell us what was the cost of nets, or what is the price now. He did not tell us what was the cost of transport formerly, compared with what is the cost now. Possibly he would find that these two items of expense more than cancelled the increased price of salmon. Looking at the figures he gave us, I find that he says there were 254 drift nets. At £3 each, these would bring an income of something like £750. £750 represents very little of the general fishery revenue, but it represents the margin between absolute poverty and comparative comfort for some of these people. It represents practically the difference between life and death for these people, and the position still remains, as I pointed out on Second Reading, that you are giving these people nothing for the increase. Notwithstanding what the Minister may think of the seal argument, I have to revert to it again, and to say that you are giving no protection from this pest at all.

I have a letter here from a fisherman and he says that he saw seventeen salmon strike his net, and he took out one and a half. That represents a state of affairs that is certainly not conducive to making fishermen hopeful. As Deputy Professor Tierney points out, it is a matter of whether you prohibit these men and make the whole thing illegal, instead of, in this fashion, making it impossible for them to eke out a living. It is a living for a good many people. Many people make their entire living on this business. You might as justly endeavour to tax a tradesman's kit of tools as to tax a fisherman's drift net. It would be just as fair. The Minister, I think, will have a very big job in trying to justify this increase.

I think we are wandering away from the point. Deputy O'Doherty, making a case for this amendment, spoke of the tax being illegal. If the tax is illegal the Courts are there to question the matter and get it rectified. It is absurd to talk in that fashion. At present the licence duty on a net of 1,500 yards is £3. The Bill proposes that for the first 400 yards there shall be a tax of £4. Three pounds is the flat rate at present for any length from 130 to 1,500 yards. The Bill proposes that on a net of 400 yards there shall be a tax of £4, and for every 200 yards over the 400, it shall be an extra 5s. Deputy Professor Tierney has therefore been entirely misinformed. The tax on a net of 800 yards will be £4 10s. 0d. The licence duty on nets used in Deputy O'Doherty's constituency, which are mostly nets of 1,500 yards, would therefore be about £5 10s. 0d. In nearly all districts the length of net which may be used is restricted by by-laws. In a good many districts drift nets are chiefly used in estuaries. In Tirconaill they are used mostly in the open stream and that is the reason the by-law permits the use there of a net of 1,500 yards.

It might be interesting to hear what are the restrictions in other areas. In Waterford the length of nets allowed is 240 yards, in Lismore 200, Limerick 130, Bangor (Mayo) from 600 to 800, Ballina 800, Sligo 400, Dundalk 500, and in Tirconaill 1,500 as I said. The catch of salmon for many years past in the Tirconaill drift nets has been about 90 per cent. of the total catch. I will give the figures, taking the last five years. In 1920 in Tirconaill 410 cwts. were caught; in all other places 66 cwt. The Tirconaill percentage of the total catch was 86. In 1921 there were 1,015 cwts. caught in Tirconaill and 86 cwts. in all other places. The Tirconaill percentage of the total was 92.

Will the Minister say what these figures represent—fish caught or exported?

Fish caught by drift net. In 1922 the Tirconaill catch was 977 cwts.; in all other places the catch was 24 cwt. The Tirconaill percentage of the total catch was 98. In 1923 the Tirconaill catch was 1,233 cwts.; in all other places the catch was 146 cwts., so that the Tirconaill percentage was 89. In 1924 the Tirconaill catch was 2,288 cwts. In all other places the total catch was 144 cwts., so that the Tirconaill percentage was 94 of the total catch for that year. In the five years, in Tirconaill there was a total catch of 5,918 cwts. and in all other places a total catch of 459 cwts. The Tirconaill average of catches in the five years works out at 92 per cent. of the whole. The Tirconaill fishermen have caught 5,918 cwts. of fish. Taking a very small price for the last five years, say they sold this fish at 1s. 3d. per lb., the value of the five years' catch would be £41,426 and the amount of licence duty paid by the Tirconaill fishermen in these five years was something less than £1,000. I, furthermore, have figures showing that as a matter of fact, Tirconaill fishermen have evaded paying their licence duties in recent years.

Hear, hear.

In 1917 the number of nets licensed in Tirconaill was 103, and the catch of salmon 1,455 cwts. In 1918 there were 125 nets licensed, and a catch of 1,469 cwts. In 1919 there were 124 nets licensed, and the catch was 1,972 cwts. We now come to the year 1920, in which 50 nets were licensed, and the catches were 476 cwt. That was a bad year. It was during the Black-and-Tan campaign. In the next year, 1921, there were 23 nets licensed, and the catches were 1,100 cwt. In the year 1922 there were only four nets licensed, and the catches were 1,001 cwts. In the year 1923 there were 11 nets licensed, and the catches were 1,379 cwt. In the year 1924 there were 106 nets licensed, and the catches amounted to 2,426 cwt. It will be noted that there was a great improvement in that year, and as we now look forward to the year 1925 we hope that there will be a still greater increase. When you take these figures and see what the catches of these drift nets amounted to, it is absurd, as Deputy O'Doherty, I think, stated, to say that one drift net in Tirconaill does no more harm than one salmon rod in the river.

It is not that I say it. It is scientific knowledge.

Take the figures for 1924, which show that the catches by 106 nets amounted to 2,426 cwts. If you divide that figure by the 106, and ascertain what each net caught, and then argue that one net makes no more impression in the river than one salmon rod, I say, on the face of it, that statement is absurd. Deputy Hogan has again raised the question of seals. He mentions that one man told him that he saw seventeen salmon coming into a net and that he only took out one and a half salmon. What did he do to prevent that? If a farmer sees crows coming along and picking up his seed, what does he do? He either shoots them or turns them off. At least he does something to prevent them from picking up the seed. The fisherman, too, must decide to do something. If he sees that a seal is so bold as to come so near the boat as to take the salmon out of the net, just as the net is about to be hauled in, surely he is not going to write up to the Department about that. It is his duty, I should say, to take some action about it himself. There is no case made for this amendment, and the next amendment stands in the same position. It is only fair that nets should pay a licence duty corresponding with their catch area. If a man is allowed to fish a net of 1,500 yards, I think it is just that he should pay more than the man allowed to use a net of, say, 130 yards. In saying that, I am taking full cognisance of the fact that the man who uses the 1,500 yards net uses it in the open sea, while the other man uses his in the estuary. The drift net men have the first whack at the salmon as they come to the rivers, and the figures there are proof that their catches are very big and that they can very well afford to pay this extra duty.

The most remarkable thing in the statement of the Minister is his antipathy to these unfortunate men. He related to the House every item that he could turn to their disfavour. He even went into statistics, and we all know what statistics are. They come under three categories. The second and the third are the interesting ones—lies and damn lies.

What about scientific knowledge?

The first point I made in favour of this amendment was that this was an illegal tax. The Minister dismisses that as rubbish, and says why not have recourse to the courts? Why does the Minister, who should act in a paternal manner towards the fishermen, not put them right if it is an illegal tax? I say that he cannot justify it. They are fishing on the high seas, and he has no power to control them.

I did not say it was an illegal tax. It was you who said that.

I maintain that you have given no reason against that. You read out these blessed statistics, and you made the point that four nets in a certain year caught 1,000 cwt. of fish. I ask why there were only four nets licensed that year. The answer, I say, is because the Minister's Department did not do its duty in collecting the licences. Every item that the Minister has given against the fishermen is also a charge against his own Department. One would imagine that when the Minister read out the number of nets and the amount of fish taken, that that was the actual quantity of fish taken by the licensed nets. He read out the number of nets licensed in a particular year. Surely he does not mean to suggest that four registered nets in that year caught 1,000 cwt. of fish. It is absurd, I suggest, to give to the House the impression that the persons using these licensed nets were catching so much fish. I say they were not. The Minister, at least, has shown hostility to these fishermen. I ask the House to show that it is hostile to the attitude the Minister has taken up, and to vote in favour of this amendment.

I feel that the more information we get from the Minister in the way of statistics the more doubt there is raised as to the general scheme of this Bill. I am not quite sure, but I think the Minister said that the amount of duty raised from licences in Tirconaill in a certain period was about £1,000. I would like to know if that is correct?

The figure is something less than £1,000.

I challenge that statement.

And that the value of the fish, assuming that 1s. 3d. per lb. was paid for it, was £41,000. That is round about 2½ per cent. I think that 2½ per cent. as a licence duty on the value of the fish caught, assuming that the figures given are accurate, is entirely too much. The Minister has given these figures to show how well off the Tirconaill fishermen are compared with the estuary fishermen in other parts of the country. The case made by the Minister seems to be based on a certain assumption that I do not think is at all reliable. That assumption is, that all the salmon that may be in the high seas off the Irish coast are coming home to Irish rivers to spawn and that consequently, so far as the Minister can do it, there must be some prohibition and some obstacle placed in the way of fishermen catching salmon on the high seas so as to allow the salmon to come into the rivers for the anglers to catch. I think there is just as much justification for saying that many of the salmon in the Atlantic will move eastward to the Scottish, English or Norwegian rivers as to the Irish rivers and if we interfere with the rights of fishermen to catch salmon on the high seas, we interfere with what everybody has supposed to be an industry that ought to be encouraged. I agree with Deputy O'Doherty that the idea of making fishermen pay licences to fish on the high seas is rather preposterous. But he might make some kind of case for licensing fishermen with nets if you license fishermen with rods in the rivers or the estuaries of rivers partly, and I think mainly, because you want to have a check upon persons who are fishing. The Minister has of course argued that the main purpose of the Bill is to provide increased funds for the boards of conservators but I think the real justification for licensing them is to have a register of licence holders. I do not see how that ought to apply to fishermen fishing for salmon on the high seas any more than that you would ask men fishing for herrings on the high seas to have licences. But suppose the case is made, then I ask the House whether it is reasonable to suggest in the best case that has been made for the Minister and the worst for the fishermen, that 2½ per cent. of the catch ought to be paid in licence duty. And now it is a question of increasing that without any suggestion that there is going to be any greater chance of catching fish in the Atlantic from the same number of nets.

In his general statement the Minister thought that the new scale of duties would bring about the doubling of the revenue. I suppose that is including the drift nets, and he would assume that instead of £1,000 in the past five years, £2,000 in the next five years would be secured, and £41,000 at 1s. 3d. in the £ is the income for the fishermen, assuming the continuation of the high prices. But supposing—and it is quite reasonable to suppose—that there is going to be a reduction in the price; then the tax of 2½ per cent. for a licence duty is going to increase, perhaps, to 5 per cent. for licence duty, and perhaps to 7 per cent. I think Deputy O'Doherty is perfectly sound in his contention that the duty is entirely too high. I do not know how the figure would apply when we go to the estuaries where there are shorter trains of nets, but very much smaller catches according to the Minister's figure. We have the figures that he has given us showing that the number of cwts. of salmon caught by all the drift nets owners is very small indeed. But their tax also is to be doubled. I think Deputy O'Doherty has made a very sound case, and I hope the Committee will approve of it. As a matter of fact I hope, at a later stage, to be able to persuade the House as a whole that this licence duty ought to be abolished altogether. We will refrain, however, from discussing that at the moment, and now I beg to support Deputy O'Doherty's motion for a reduction of this rate.

I am sorry that I was somewhat late for the discussion on this amendment. I want to put forward another point of view in support of it—that is the unanimous demand made by the County Council of Tirconaill on this matter. They at least, are a representative body, and their views are entitled to consideration on so important a matter to the county as this is. They have not gone so far as Deputy O'Doherty, but they have asked that there should be no change in the licence duty in regard to drift nets from what was embodied in the Fishery Act of 1848. Now the contention that you can or should charge a licence duty for fishing outside the three-mile limit, may be disputed or it may not, but I think that it will hold its ground; and as regards the damage done within the three-mile limit by those fishermen, I think it is infinitesimal. Certainly, from the importance of the industry from the national point of view and its importance to the people engaged in the trade in Tirconaill, I think it is a very peculiar thing that the Minister of our own paternal Government here should now suggest that a penalty should be imposed upon those fishermen. That was not thought of under the Government that prevailed here before. If the development of this industry is sought to be achieved by this Bill, then a wrong method is being taken to develop it, and, as Deputy Johnson has stated, the two-and-a-half per cent. may become twenty-two-and-a-half per cent., according to the volume of the trade, and that is a very serious impost to put upon those people.

Now, as a matter of fact, we find Scotch fishing boats coming into our shores for the herring trade and securing catches worth £11,000. All that they contributed, in fees, in respect of that, was something like £120. If the position is going to be that as between the foreign fishing boats coming from Scotland and our own people, who depend largely upon this industry, all the preference is to be given to these other people, and our own people are to be penalised in this way, then I say farewell to the prospect of developing the fishing industry in this country as it should be developed. It is a wrong angle altogether to approach the subject from. The necessity for more revenue for conservators may be very serious and imperative, but, at the same time, the means of getting that revenue should not be sought from those who have to take all the risk, to face all sorts of weather, every day, in this business, for the purpose of supplementing their incomes from other sources, in order that they may be able to live at home. Now, if our fishing industries are to be developed, and the people are to be kept at home, I say this House —a democratic House—should not, on any account, over-ride the unanimous decision of the representatives of a whole county, and of all the fishermen in that county, by giving a decision here which would not be given by any Government in the times gone by. I ask the Committee to support this amendment, and give people some hope and chance that they may proceed to develop this industry in the way that will enable them to live at home and support themselves and their families in this country.

There is no use getting into hysterics in this matter. If there is a two-and-a-half per cent. licence duty—two-and-a-half per cent. of the amount of the catch—we must remember what it is for. This licence duty is for the preservation of the fish stock. If the fish stock is not preserved, then in the course of a few years these drift-net men will have to go out of business anyhow. The word "penalty" does not apply. It is asking them to contribute to save the fish for themselves for the future.

There is no use in putting up the cry that I was showing myself hostile to this or that person. I am not here to be hostile to anybody. I am here to do what I think right, and, after due consideration, to preserve the fisheries. I have given the matter consideration, and I am satisfied about the provision in the Bill, and nothing that has been said has made me change my mind. If Deputy McGoldrick were here earlier in the evening he would have heard Deputy Cooper working himself into a rage because I followed the advice of the Advisory Committee. He talked of the Advisory Committee overruling the Dáil, and now Deputy McGoldrick apparently wants the Tirconaill County Council to overrule the decision of the Dáil. This matter has been thought out very carefully in my Department, and it was thought over very carefully by the Advisory Committee, and the result of our thoughts and of all that consideration is the provision in the Bill.

How many fishermen were members of the Advisory Committee?

One is a member of the Tirconaill County Council, Deputy Myles.

It was representative of all interests, as far as I can remember.

There was one fisherman on it out of the lot.

I stand on my opposition to the amendment.

I am going to ask the Minister again to deal with the finances of this proposition, and to ask any Deputy in the House interested in industry, apart from sport, to consider it. It is to increase the tax on the sea salmon-fishing industry from 2½ per cent. of the takings, that is, of the sales, and not of the profits, 2½ per cent. of the turnover, to something indeterminate. If every farmer, every industrialist, every producer of any other commodity, were asked by the Minister for Finance in his next Budget to pay a tax on his sales of 2½ per cent. without any remission on any other score, there would be a pretty wild outcry. Then the Minister might be justified in talking about hysterics and rage. I do not think in all the time that we have been sitting here less hysteria and less rage were shown than now. This is about the dullest of all the debates we have had, yet the Minister describes it as hysterical and raging. Seriously, however, it is an important matter if we are to be asked to agree to this increase of 2½ per cent. of the takings on sales to something indeterminate, for what the Minister says is the protection of the industry in the future. He, however, gives us no evidence in support of his contention that the salmon caught on the high seas were making their way into Irish rivers.

It may be said that herring or mackerel caught twenty, thirty, or forty miles away, as they sometimes are, from the shores are coming close inshore for spawning purposes, but anybody who knows the trade knows that is not the case. Anything that will justify the contention in this respect is going to justify a licence duty, based on the length of the nets of every fisherman fishing with herring or mackerel nets or any other nets, in the seas, because it is going to provide revenue for the Department of Fisheries, or one of its subdepartments, for the purpose of preserving and developing the fishing industry. There may be something to be said in some instances for the industry being specifically taxed for its own protection and preservation, but we had better not go too far on that line. If the farmers are going to be taxed as farmers for the protection of farms, and the merchants in the cities are going to be taxed as merchants for the police forces protecting their particular establishments, and if we carry that principle right through, we will find that we are not a State at all, that we are not a society at all, but simply a conglomeration of separate little interests. I would ask the Minister not to press that proposal too far—that we must tax an industry for the preservation of that industry. Here we have two industries in question—the tourist industry on the one hand and the protection of anglers. I am not going to say a word against it, though I am not going to raise it to the highest pinnacle as the most desirable thing to which the country should look forward as a national development. We have the other industry, fishing on the high seas, and fishermen on the high seas are to be taxed at the highest rate for the purpose of preserving the tourist industry. That is the proposition of the Minister, and I would urge every Deputy to consider seriously the implications of the amendment, or rather the proposal which the amendment tries to avoid, and to support Deputy O'Doherty in refusing to put this additional tax over and above the two-and-a-half per cent.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 16.

  • Earnán Altún.
  • Próinsias Bulfin.
  • John J. Cole.
  • Séamus Mac Cosgair.
  • Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Pádraig Mac Fadáin.
  • Pádraig Mac Fhlannchadha.
  • Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
  • Martin M. Nally.
  • John T. Nolan.
  • Máirtín O Conalláin.
  • Eoghan O Dochartaigh.
  • Tadhg O Donnabháin.
  • Mícheál O Dubhghaill.
  • Seán O Duinnín.
  • Séamus O Leadáin.
  • Domhnall O Mocháin.
  • Tadhg O Murchadha.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).
  • Máirtín O Rodaigh.
  • Mícheál O Tighearnaigh.


  • Earnán de Blaghd.
  • Seoirse de Bhulbh.
  • Bryan R. Cooper.
  • Máighréad Ní Choileain Bean
  • Uí Dhrisceóil.
  • Patrick J. Egan.
  • Osmond Grattan Esmonde.
  • Desmond Fitzgerald.
  • Thomas Hennessy.
  • Liam Mac Cosgair.
  • Peadar O hAodha.
  • Parthalán O Conchubhair.
  • Séamus O Cruadhlaoich.
  • Séamus O Dóláin.
  • Fionán O Loingsigh.
  • Seán O Súilleabháin.
  • Liam Thrift.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies O'Doherty and P. O hOgáin (An Clár). Níl, Deputies O'Sullivan and B. O'Connor.
Amendment declared carried.

I take it that Deputy McGoldrick will not move the amendment standing in his name?

I think I will withdraw that amendment now, under the circumstances.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The question is that the First Schedule, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

I want to retrieve an error by which I allowed Section 12 to pass without comment. I propose to ask the House to disagree with the schedule as a whole. If I had spoken on Section 12 I would have done so without the light the Minister's figures have thrown on the question as a whole. I want to make the proposition that the preservation of the fisheries, and if you like, more particularly the salmon fisheries, is best done by the Gárda Síochána, and paid for out of the ordinary police funds. I think it is not desirable that the salmon and trout fishing industry should be dependent to so great an extent as is proposed on licensing fees, and that the cost of police duties ought to be borne out of the general police funds, sometimes local and sometimes national. It is a general service, a national industry, and it should be considered as a national industry, and not a mere sporting right.

The old conception—the conception of the original Acts, of which this is a mere amendment—was that salmon fishing was rather a sporting right for the wealthy, and had to be preserved. We are trying to consider this matter, I hope, in the light of an industry. The Minister stated that the income was about £4,600 per year, and that it is hoped to double that—to make it, say, £9,000. The proposal to raise £9,000 by licence duties seems to me as raising very much more irritation and creating more opposition than £9,000 is worth. I agree with those people who have argued that the right way to preserve salmon fishing is to make the penalties against catching salmon during the spawning season very rigorous, very severe, and to encourage as many people as possible to stand by the preservation of salmon, and give them absolute freedom, subject to registration, for fishing outside that spawning season. I admit that there is something to be said for registration of salmon fishers, say, for rod and line and net, so that you will know who are fishing, and have some means of checking the number, but I do not think it is the best policy to impose a licence duty of any size except, perhaps, the cost of the licence—the registration fee. If you have as many people as possible free to fish without licence, and finance the authority which is policing out of other funds—national funds or local funds—you will have much more satisfaction and better salmon and trout fishing. The amount involved is, perhaps, £9,000, provided the whole scheme of licensing were abolished. Of course, if this schedule were not accepted then it would require that the Bill itself should be revised. But I would ask the Dáil, for the sake of the money value, is it really worth charging these fees in the interests of salmon fishing for the purpose of providing funds for the policing of the rivers? I think that the conservators would be better engaged in the development of fisheries by means of artificial propagation and the like, endeavouring to encourage an interest in preserving the fisheries by other means than through bailiffs.

I would agree entirely with those who say that the catching of fish, whether by line, rod or net, during the spawning season, should be prevented and punishable. I am informed by some people who know a good deal about the matter that there is more damage done by ducks eating the spawn than by the fishermen at the mouths of the rivers. But there certainly could be a great deal more supervision during the spawning season, and very severe punishment for offences during that time. Then I suggest that the interests of salmon fishing at all other times in the year are going to be better looked after if everybody has freedom to fish and all that is required is to register. It is with that view that I ask the Dáil not to agree to these licence duties, but rather to throw upon the Minister the responsibility of revising his Bill with a view to preserving fisheries as an industry and thinking of fishermen as well as the angler who is a tourist. If that view were taken—instead of merely tinkering with the old system based upon the preservation of fishing rights for landowners and their friends —if the old system were revised, we would have very much more success in preserving fisheries.

It seems to me a great deal wiser that the persons benefiting from the salmon and trout fisheries should themselves pay the cost, or at least contribute largely towards the cost of preservation, than that money should be found from a central national fund. The Gárda Síochána are doing a great deal already towards helping the conservators' bailiffs. Deputy Johnson's proposition, I am certain, would necessitate adding largely to the existing force. It would also necessitate special training for certain members of the force who would be on fishery duties. Anyhow, it has always been the policy to avoid as far as possible having the work of fishery preservation thrown on national funds. The policy has always been rather to have it thrown on the local people as far as possible and on the persons who benefit. After my experience of the Department, I do not see that any reasons have been advanced to change that policy.

Question—"That the First Schedule as amended, stand part of the Bill"— put and declared carried.
Second Schedule put and agreed to.
Title put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.