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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 30 Nov 1933

Vol. 50 No. 5

In Committee on Finance. - Sea Fisheries Protection (No. 2) Bill, 1933—Final Stages.

Question —"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"— put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I want to make a few remarks on this Bill as a whole. I take it that the object of it is to preserve the fish and the fishing around our coast for the benefit of the Saorstát. Reading the Bill, it seems to me as if it had not got as far as the fish or the fishing. I do not know how far this may be part and parcel of other Bills that are to come along, but there is no doubt that the trawling industry is passing through a very difficult time. The present fleet of trawlers in the Saorstát is, I think, down to about seven. The Government, apparently, have not very fixed ideas, because from time to time they have hired other trawlers to supplement the catches of the Sea Fisheries' Association.

I am not objecting to that policy, but I would like to urge upon the Government that they should make up their minds as to the direction in which the trawling industry is to progress. Is steam trawling a thing of the past? Are we coming on to smaller trawling boats and concentrating on smaller boats? Has a case arisen for getting out a quite different type of trawler, possibly driven by diesel engine? I suggest that is a question that possibly the Minister cannot answer at the moment. But a considerable amount of money is being spent upon the preservation of the fish and the Government might very well apply subsidies for the production of a trawler that is likely to be the type to be adopted for the future. For instance, if the Government could see their way to provide funds for one or two trawlers of an experimental type, quite a lot of useful ground could be covered and possibly yards of talk and discussion saved if it was found that vessels that certain people think are good, in the future were suitable or unsuitable. I am merely taking this opportunity on this occasion to urge that view upon the Minister.

Dr. Ryan

I think Deputy Dockrell is justified in asking as to policy in regard to the future of the fisheries. I thank him for letting me off lightly, by saying that he could not expect to get an answer to his questions right off. During one stage of this Bill I said that the best thing, and the most important at the moment, was to get powers to deal with foreign trawlers. Having got the powers we shall try to use the equipment and force we have to good effect. If it is not sufficient, we might have to apply for an increase of the patrol service. That is only so far as the protection of our fisheries is concerned. There is another side to the fisheries question, that is development. The Sea Fisheries' Association was set up for the development of our fisheries and they are a couple of years in being now. They have made some progress, and we hope that they will improve as time goes on and that we will get our fisheries upon a good foundation. There is also the matter of marketing. Up to this, of course, the market was for herrings and mackerel, and that was a foreign market. Our Irish and Scottish fishermen, depending on foreign markets, are meeting bad times. The Russians, who took a lot of our herrings, have developed their own fisheries to a great extent. So have the United States and a good many other countries to which we exported fish. It appears, for the time being, these markets are gone but against that we are trying to organise our own home market for white fish. It may go some way to replace the loss we have had on mackerel and herrings in the foreign markets. Our own fishermen are being driven more to inshore fishing instead of going out for herring and mackerel as they used to do for the foreign markets. These matters are getting attention and will continue to get attention until we have improved the lot of our fishermen.

Question put and agreed to.