Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £32,081 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chum bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1940, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí i dtaobh Iascach Mara agus Intíre, maraon le hIldeontaisí-i-gCabhair.
That a sum not exceeding £32,081 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1940, for salaries and expenses in connection with sea and inland fisheries, including sundry grants-in-aid.
The estimate as a whole shows an increase of £9,989 on the expenditure side and a decrease of £1,303 in Appropriations-in-Aid, making a net increase of £11,292 on the amount voted last year. On sub-head A, salaries, wages and allowances, there is a reduction of £890 on last year's figure. This reduction is mainly due to the permanent dropping of the two posts of fishery superintendents, one of the holders of these was seconded to the Sea Fisheries Association several years ago, and the other has died since last year. There is no further necessity to replace these men in the Department of Fisheries. Three junior posts on the administrative staff have lapsed through the discontinuance of bounties on fish exports.
Under sub-head B a sum of £75 more than last year is provided to cover the anticipated increase in travelling expenses and subsistence payments. Sub-heads C and D call for no comment. They are about the same as last year. I might say that no provision is made in this Estimate for any additions to the technical staff which may be found necessary, assuming that the Fisheries Bill at present before the House is enacted during the current financial year. It is not likely, of course, that there will be any increase of staff until very near the end of the year in any case. It is hoped to make the necessary orders to commence operations and take over those fisheries. That would mean the employment of a survey staff, but it is, as I say, very unlikely that we will commence operations before the end of the financial year.
The E group of Sea Fisheries sub-heads comes next. Sub-head E (1) shows just a slight reduction on last year's figures, and sub-head E (2) shows no change. Sub-head E (5) has also been reduced a few pounds from the previous figures. I am asking £3,400 more this year than last year for sub-head B in connection with the hire and running expenses of the second fishery cruiser, which is on charter since November, 1937. Last year I was not so sure about the second cruiser. She was on trial and charter. Now that she has given a fair trial, we feel that she serves the purpose very well. I am asking for the full amount for the entire financial year. I would like to say that since the second cruiser has been taken on, the number of complaints with regard to poaching by foreign trawlers has very definitely decreased. These cruisers have also helped to enforce the Act passed in 1937, the main purpose of which was to deter our fishermen as far as possible from landing immature fish.
Sub-head E (4) is down by £515 on last year's figures. This sub-head comprises the direct cost of administering the Whale Fisheries Act, 1937, under which we undertook certain international obligations with regard to whale fisheries. If any whale catcher registers here, we must pay the officer on board the catcher in the Antarctic to see that the Act is carried out in every way. The reduction this year in this sub-head is due to the post of assistant sea fisheries protection officer having been suppressed. The assistant has now become an officer. It was purely a training post last year. There are three such officers employed on this job watching the whale fisheries in the Antarctic.
These three officers are employed seasonally on whale factory ships which operate in the Antarctic and which are registered in this country. It is very hard to give an estimate of what we may spend on this sub-head this year, because we do not know whether any ships will register here. As against these charges we collect, if registered here, fees off these vessels. The fees collected are more than sufficient to pay the officers that are put on board, so that there is a slight profit in watching the whalers in the Antarctic. A factory ship is usually accompanied by seven or eight catchers. The vessels that catch the whales do not do the factory portion. In some cases the catchers are registered in England, and the whale factory ship is registered here. In such cases the British Government has, so far, remitted to us the greater portion of the licence fees collected by them from those whale catchers. Otherwise we would have been paying the officer on the catcher and they would be collecting the fees without having to pay anything. In these cases there has been an adjustment, and the British Government has paid a certain amount as a contribution towards our expenses. It is largely owing to that that we have been able to make a slight profit on the administration. The amount paid by the British Government is shown as an extra Exchequer receipt. It amounts in the current financial year to £800. The item will be found at the bottom of page 233 of the printed Estimates.
As regards the F. group of sub-heads, which deals with inland fisheries, there was only one appreciable change as compared with last year's Vote. Sub-head F (1) (4), which is up by £500, provides for payments to local authorities under Section 13 of the Fisheries Act, 1925. The basis of these disbursements is somewhat complex. It depends upon the inter-relation of the budgets of local authorities that formerly received as poor rate what is now the fishery rate. The total recoupment, which is determined by a Sealed Order of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, has shown a tendency to rise, and so an increased provision is being made this year.
Now I come to Group G—the Sea Fisheries Association sub-heads. As a whole the group shows an increase of £7,000 on last year's Vote. Deputies may recollect that last year's provision was deliberately made a restricted figure, because I was not prepared to ask for larger provision until I had been satisfied as to the outcome of certain discussions then in progress with the directors of the association concerning future policy. The association has since furnished replies to the queries raised upon its working methods by the inter-departmental committee which had been examining that question, and I am hopeful that improved results may henceforth be expected.
Sub-head G (3)—Advances for Boats and Gear—has been restored to the figure of £10,000, at which it had stood prior to the exceptional conditions of last year's Estimate. As a matter of fact, we had to find £1,500 more than the £5,000 voted last year, towards the end of the financial year, for this purpose, and we got that from savings on other sub-heads. It is by funds advanced out of the provision on sub-head G (3) that the fishermen are enabled to get boats and gear on the hire purchase. Deputies who represent maritime counties are aware that the average inshore fisherman has little, if any, capital and, therefore, the association's purchase system has to be financed. The figure for sub-head G (4)—Advances for General Development—has been cut down to £1,000. The money advanced under this sub-head is repayable on the principle that the work for which such advances are made are of a nature more or less permanent, as distinct from the experimental operations for which grants are provided under sub-head G (2). At the present time the bulk of the works undertaken by the association under this sub-head are more or less experimental, and therefore it is natural that the provision under sub-head G (4) should be only a fraction of that under G (2).
The Appropriations-in-Aid show an aggregate decrease of some £1,300 upon last year's figure, and £100 of this decrease is under Item 2—Repayment of Fishery Loans. There are still heavy arrears outstanding on loans issued in the days before the Sea Fisheries Association was established. As the years go on we find it more difficult to retrieve anything on foot of these debts, and so we have to budget for less receipts from the debtors this year than last.
Item 4 shows the expected proceeds of lettings of sporting rights in the hands of my Department, and of the State fisheries whose upkeep is provided for under sub-head F (3). This item is down by £200. This is largely explained by the fact that one tenant, who recently was leased one of these properties, owned by the Department, has entered into a certain agreement to carry out extensive improvements in the shooting lodge in lieu of rent for the first year. We are budgeting under item 5 for an increase of £300 in repayments by the Sea Fisheries' Association of the advances made to them for boats and gear under Sub-head G (3) and for general development under Sub-head G (4). There is a relatively big drop of nearly £300 in the figure for item 6, which represents what we expect to get in respect of special local licenses for netting in the Erne and the Owenea estuaries. The salmon seasons of 1937 and 1938 were bad, not only in this country, but over the countries of north-west Europe generally. Fewer licences, no doubt, will be applied for in 1939. The receipts from special local licences are offset by payments amounting to £600 to boards of conservators which have been provided for in the 5th item of Sub-head F (1). As regards item (7) of Appropriations-in-Aid which has fallen by £150, I have already referred to this when dealing with the Whale Fisheries Sub-head— E (4). The item—Repayment of Salaries of Officers seconded for service with the Sea Fisheries' Association—which has appeared for some years past, is no longer necessary for the reasons which I gave when speaking on sub-head A.
It will be appropriate for me to say a few words with regard to the revival of deep-sea trawling by the company engaging in that business from the Port of Dublin. It is true that the group of businessmen who undertook this revival last year have found themselves faced with many difficulties; but it looks as if they will eventually be justified of their enterprise. While it is too early yet to make a definite pronouncement on the subject, I think the following few figures speak for themselves:—(a) our imports of fresh and frozen fish were for the first quarter, 1938, 46,890 cwts; and for the first quarter, 1939, 24,499 cwts. (b) The number of Dublin steam trawlers working in March/April, 1938, was two, and in March/April, 1939, was eight. (c) Total landings by Dublin steam trawlers were in April, 1938, 555 cwts., and in April, 1939, 4,065 cwts. It is true that in April, 1938, there were landings made at Dublin by foreign trawlers totalling 2,344 cwts.; but, adding that figure to the 555 cwts. then landed by the Dublin trawlers, we have a total of 2,899 cwts; and the present year's figure of 4,065 cwts. represents a very big increase on that basis. I think that covers all the sub-heads.