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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 12 Apr 1951

Vol. 125 No. 5

Sea Fisheries Bill, 1950—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. If I can engage the attention of Dail Éireann for a moment about so mundane a matter as fish, I would ask them to take under consideration the Second Stage of the Sea Fisheries Bill, 1950, their assent to which I now respectfully request. I thought it would be for the convenience of Deputies if, when this Bill was circulated, I supplied them with what in the vernacular is described as a White Paper, and in that White Paper I have tried to make manifest the salient features of the proposed legislation.

I would like, however, if I could, to crystallise in a few sentences the fundamental principle underlying this Bill. The purpose of the Government is quite deliberately to reserve the domestic fish market for the inshore fishermen. Deputies are no doubt aware that maximum wholesale and retail prices for fish obtain in this country. I would ask Deputies to note that these were maximum prices, and that these maximum prices are admittedly higher than would be justified from the consumer's point of view if nothing but the legitimate interest of the consumer was present to the Government's mind. If it was not the Government's purpose to protect and foster the inshore fishermen, the Government would not ask the consumer to accept maximum prices on the scale at present fixed but it is in order to ensure that the inshore fishermen on our north-west, west, south-west and, indeed, in certain areas on our east coast, would be able to get from their fishing industry a reasonable standard of living that we have asked the consuming public, with their eyes wide open, to consent to paying a higher price for fish than they would be required to pay if they had free access to the world markets in Grimsby and other British ports, and could get fish at the lowest price which competition would produce. I think that, given the assurance that we can purchase by this device stability and a very modest prosperity for the fishing community in our country, we are getting very good value for it.

We have carried on to date under the existing legislation, and I want to make this clear: It has become fashionable in certain areas to suggest that the Sea Fisheries Association to date has achieved nothing, that it has made a mess of the whole business, and that the purpose of this legislation is to end something which has completely failed of its purpose. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Sea Fisheries Association over the last ten or 12 years has done admirable work with the resources at its disposal, and one of the most gratifying features of the present situation is that, six years after the conclusion of the world war, the sea fishermen in the great majority of cases have succeeded in paying regularly the instalments due on their boats and gear and, when you compare that situation with the situation that obtained after the 1914-18 war, when, three or four years after the war was over, practically every fisherman along our coast was bankrupt and could not pay the instalments on his boats and the boats were pulled up on the beach rotting, the Sea Fisheries Association has much reason to be proud of its work.

I do not want to go to the other extreme and to claim that the Sea Fisheries Association has been attended in all it sought to do by unqualified success and triumph. It has not but, considering the resources it disposed of, it did a very good job. Now we want to go a step further. We want to put the fishing industry on a permanent basis and we want to embark on a programme of expansion.

What I want the House to understand is this: There are two bases on which we might found expansion. One is, to build up a fishing industry analogous to the Icelandic, the Scandinavian or the British sea-fishing industry. The other is to build up a fishing industry on the basis of our own inshore fishermen, primarily founded on the domestic demand for fish. I am perfectly convinced that if our territory and market are to be thrown open to unrestricted exploitation by steam trawling companies we may get cheap fish but the inshore fishermen will disappear for ever from our society. So long as I am Minister for Fisheries, that will not be allowed to come to pass.

I am deliberately asking the House to take measures, through the medium of this Bill, to ensure that that will not come to pass and that we shall seek an adequate supply of demersal fish for the domestic market at prices slightly higher than may rule in the world market, but on terms which will ensure for our inshore fishermen a guarantee of a permanent and stable livelihood. Inevitably, when proposals of this kind are formulated the variety of interests concerned in the fish trade lose no time to make their claims for consideration and the wholesale fish merchants have not been backward in putting forward what they conceive to be their claims to rights and their representations have been very welcome.

Now my attitude in regard to this Bill, and one of the reasons why its appearance has been somewhat tardy, for I forecast its appearance three years ago, is that I have a chronic disinclination to push my neighbours about and I sought to draft this Bill in a way which would enable the fundamental purpose to be achieved, which was the protection of the inshore fishermen, without treading on other people's toes in so far as I could avoid it. Therefore, the scheme of the Bill is that the inshore fishermen would catch the fish, the Sea Fisheries Association would buy it from them and pass it into the retail trade, through the established channels of the fish wholesale trade which at present exists. I do not want to become involved in the wholesale fish trade. I do not want to become involved in the retail fish trade. I do not want the Sea Fisheries Association to have the necessity thrust upon them to do any more than to deal with the inshore fishermen with regard to boats, gear and so forth, to provide the inshore fishermen with a guaranteed market for their catch and that done, to pass it into the ordinary channels of trade and in that way allow it to be marketed in the ordinary way. But I do not want to divest myself of the ability to follow the fish into the wholesale market, or further if need be, should it transpire that any combination sought to array themselves against the overriding interest of the inshore fishermen, for whom I am asking Oireachtas Éireann to reserve the domestic market. I think the House ought to know this though.

One of the complications that has arisen is that because a price level was sanctioned in the domestic market for fish, superior to or higher than that obtaining in the world market, a number of fish wholesalers legitimately aspired to make hay while the sun shone. Some of them had trawlers prior to 1948. Others proceeded to acquire large boats and put them to sea. Their procedure was to land the fish catch on to a bigger boat. Some of them who had retail shops liked to go through the catch, picking out the brill, the turbot, the sole and other prime fish, send it on to their retail shops, and send the balance of the catch to the wholesale market. Others, having no retail shops themselves, but having large wholesale businesses, liked to bring the prime part of their boat catch to their own wholesale stores, thus ensuring that vis-a-vis anybody else, they had a regular supply of prime fish while others might or might not, as circumstances allowed. They feel a certain sense of grievance that they are not to be facilitated in continuing to trade on that basis. They feel it a grievance that they cannot go on bringing in their fish and securing for themselves that preferential position.

The reason that they cannot be facilitated in continuing in that direction is that if they claimed that right and secured it, every fish wholesaler would do the same until ultimately we would have a situation in which there would be no market for the inshore fish and every fellow who is in the wholesale trade, and perhaps in the retail trade, will put his own boats to sea and swipe the profitable market, made profitable, remember, by the maximum prices authorised by the Government because it was assumed that the fish was going to be marketed on behalf of the inshore fishermen. What the House has to consider is this: If the proprietors of the fishing fleets want freedom to land fish here for their own account, let them be free to do it but let world prices rule. If you accept that view, that is the end of the inshore fishermen, but if anybody is to have that right, then all must have it. The alternative is, therefore—and this is what I am asking Oireachtas Éireann to say—that the only people who may land fish for sale and consumption on the domestic fish market of Ireland are the inshore fishermen per se or through their co-operative, the Sea Fisheries Association.

If we accept that principle, then it becomes the duty of the Sea Fisheries Association, acting on behalf of the inshore fishermen, to undertake to make available to every fish wholesaler who wants it, an ample supply of all varieties of fish in so far as circumstances will allow, wherever and whenever he requires it. It is my intention, having fulfilled that duty, and having made the fish available, that the fish wholesaler should then be free to take it to the market and pass it on for consumption through the ordinary channels of trade. I am sure the House will agree with me that if we create deliberately a price structure in this country designed to confer some benefit and advantage on inshore fishermen, we cannot, and will not, permit large mercantile interests to muscle in on that perfect situation, designed for the inshore fishermen, with the inevitable result that the inshore fishermen would disappear and the musclers-in would be claiming to get from the Irish fish consumer the prices envisaged for the benefit of the inshore fishermen but which are now yielding profits to the Irish counterpart of the Grimsby or Yarmouth trawler.

I gather, from the general reaction to the White Paper circulated with the Bill, that the substance of this measure is not of a highly contentious nature. I approach this problem on the assumption that, in regard to fundamentals in any case, we are all of one mind. When I speak of fundamentals I mean that we are all primarily concerned with the welfare of the inshore fishermen. That is the assumption that I am proceeding on. I gladly join issue with anyone who puts the interests of the trawler owners against the interests of the inshore fishermen. If that view be advanced I will challenge it and gladly contest it. If we are agreed in principle, it merely becomes a matter of the most effective machinery to realise our common end. If I am vouchsafed advice and assistance by other Deputies who are experienced in these fishery matters I will welcome it. If there is any suggestion any Deputy on any side of the House can make to me to improve these proposals for the better realisation of that common end, I will gladly welcome it.

I could extend at great length my introductory observations by solemnly recapitulating the contents of the White Paper. I mean no discourtesy to the House if I proceed on the basis that the contents of the White Paper may be taken as read. I would invite Deputies, if they are concerned in the matter, to refresh their memories perhaps as to the background of the whole fish business of this country by referring them to the report of the sea and inland fisheries for the year ending 1949, in which a good deal of valuable statistical material is available for the guidance of Deputies who may wish to review the problem generally. I am at the disposal of the House to answer any specific queries which Deputies may wish to address to me, but I forbear from unnecessarily expanding my introductory observations. If there is any question which any Deputy has to address to me I will do my best to answer him the better to facilitate the House in debating the question at length in a formal way.

Nobody can find fault with the object of this Bill which, I take it, is set out in the beginning of the White Paper—

"to ensure improved outlets, with particular reference to the home market, for landings made by the inshore fishermen."

I think that the Department of Fisheries, since this State was set up and every Minister for Fisheries who has operated from that time, have been aiming at that same object—to improve the market, especially with regard to the inshore fishermen. The method which the Minister has adopted in this Bill would appear to be in the right direction, namely, to give wider representation on the board. Formerly it was called the Sea Fisheries Association. It is now referred to as the board. The proposal is to give wider representation on that board and to give it more powers. I think nobody can object to that. Before leaving that matter I would like to say that I agree thoroughly with the Minister that the Sea Fisheries Association did a great deal of good work during the time they were established. It is not because we have found fault with them that we are agreeing to another system, but rather because we think they could do better work under a new method of this kind.

I do disagree, perhaps fundamentally, with the Minister on one point. I have always thought that it is not in the best interests of the inshore fishermen themselves that the entire business of catching fish should be left to them. I have always regarded trawlers, whether owned by a company or not, as essential for the fish supply. I think it could be argued, and argued very effectively, too, that one of our objects should be to see that consumers are supplied with fish. But, unless consumers can get fish in reasonable quantities, and in reasonable variety, they will be dissatisfied with things, and will blame whatever system is there. They will come to the conclusion that the inshore fishermen are not doing the business as they should. We all know that, at times, the inshore fishermen are not in the position to catch fish at all. That occurs, rarely, I admit, only in times of very bad storms or something of that kind. But there are longer periods throughout the year, when the inshore fishermen are not in a position to get particular varieties of fish, and when a trawler company will be in a position to do so, because it can go farther afield to look for those particular varieties. Therefore, in order to supplement the supply of the inshore fishermen, and to add variety to the supply, I, at any rate, believe that trawlers are necessary. To that extent I do not agree with the Minister.

The Minister is in control of this Department now, and if he thinks that trawlers should be controlled in a different way, well that could be considered. I disagree with him fundamentally on the point that trawlers are not necessary. I say they are necessary. As to how they should be controlled is a different matter. The Minister mentioned that one particular set of trawlers was distributing the choice fish to its own retail shops and giving fish which was not so choice, to shops owned by other people. In the case of other trawlers, he said that they gave the choice fish to their own wholesale business and distributed the rest otherwise. I think that could be got over in another way if the Minister was so minded. Of course, if he thinks that trawlers are not necessary, then the question does not arise. If, however, his only object was to see that trawling was regulated in another way, there are other ways of dealing with it. There was a proposition before the Department of Fisheries for many years back, that there should be some additional legislation on the auctioning of fish. Legislation of that kind could, I think, cover that matter by making it compulsory that fish from any trawler should go through, if you like, independent firms of auctioneers. However, we can leave that for the moment, and come back to it on another stage of the Bill.

There are not very many big principles in this Bill. As a matter of fact, as the Bill stands that does not appear to me to be so. I must admit that there are some provisions in the Bill which appear to be too difficult for me to follow. There may be something in the Bill which deals with the licensing of trawlers. But, as the Bill appeared to me from reading it, I did not think there was anything big in principle involved. It is more a Bill to deal with matters in a different way and appeared to me to be one which could be discussed much more satisfactorily in Committee than on Second Reading. In order, however, that we may be ready to deal with the Bill in Committee, there are certain questions which I would like to ask, and perhaps the Minister will be able to enlighten us on them at the end of this debate so that we may have some information in advance on matters that will arise later.

The Minister repeated here to-day what he has said very often since he became Minister, that he likes to give freedom to everybody as far as possible. Section 7 does not appear to me to be following that principle, because, when this Bill is passed, as far as I can see no man can land fish for sale in this country unless he is a sea fisherman and a member of the association. This is the first time compulsion has been introduced; up to this a fisherman could be in the association or out of it. From the ordinary human point of view, that is a cruel thing sometimes, if it can be avoided. The Minister may, perhaps, make a very good point against me on this and say that it cannot be avoided. But, if it can be avoided, it is a cruel thing to compel a man to be in an association if he does not like to be in it, or if perhaps he is up against the committee of the association and has serious trouble with them, and says he will never have anything more to do with the association. You are removing a certain amount of human liberty from the man if you say, "if you are not in the association you cannot land fish for sale". As I say, this is the first time it has been introduced, and it has been introduced by the present Minister who declares very often that he is out for the liberty of the person, freedom of trade, freedom of action, and so on. I do not know if it is necessary to bring it in now any more than in the past, but I am sure the Minister will deal with that point when we come to it.

I can visualise a man who does not fish very often but who has done a certain amount of fishing every year for the last 25 or 30 years with a small boat, perhaps in a remote area where there are no other fishermen, and who has been accustomed to selling any fish he caught in the neighbouring houses. I know of certain men of that kind, men who never felt the need of joining the association because they never wanted a market. The few fish they landed were sold around the houses in their own neighbourhood. Under this Bill, when it becomes an Act, these men for the first time will be compelled to join the association. If they do not join the association, they cannot sell fish or, if they do sell fish without joining the association, they will be subject to fairly hefty penalties. In fact, they will be put out of business.

I should like a little enlightenment with regard to Section 12. All of us will agree that if a man is convicted more than once of an offence under the regulations, the court should have the power to revoke his licence. It is very hard, however, for a person like me to understand this section—perhaps a lawyer could understand it—because when we read it we see that if he has been already convicted and is convicted a second time, he loses his licence. But it appears that before the justice can revoke his licence, the man must have habitually disregarded the conditions of the licence, or any of them. I should like some information with regard to that. I do not think I have any intention of offering any amendment, but I should like to be clear as to what exactly is meant, whether a person who commits a second offence may have his licence revoked or whether he must have been habitually offending before he loses his licence.

In Section 14 there are provisions with regard to temporary restrictions on the grant of a licence. We find that a licence shall not issue in favour of a person who is engaged in the distributive fish trade. I should like to ask the Minister whether that applies to the people to whom he already referred in introducing the Bill— those who are the owners of boats as well as being in the distributive trade, whether as wholesalers or retailers or both. If it does apply to these, the Minister, I take it, has some good reason for making that proposal, which he will explain more fully when we come to the section. He should at least let us know how these people will fare, what will become of the boats which are there, whether they will pass into other ownership, or be acquired by the new board, or what is to become of the boats and the equipment and the organisation and so on if this section is applied as I think it is to be applied by the Minister.

The members of the board are to be nominated by the Minister. I do not object to that because I do not think it would be possible to have the board elected on the basis laid down, namely, to represent not only the fishermen but those who are engaged in the trade as well. With a board consisting of only five members, I think it would be impossible to have the members elected by the various interests and, on the whole, I think that they should be nominated by the Minister.

Why does the Deputy say that they should not be elected to represent the various interests?

You would have to have a much bigger board then and I think that a small board would be more efficient. If the board is to be a small one, I think it must be nominated. I am not objecting to that, but other Deputies may; there are arguments for and against. There is one point I want to make. The Bill says that the board shall meet once a week. That appears to me to make it impossible for any man to accept nomination from the Minister unless he lives near Dublin. I do not see how any man who has other business—and, of course, he will have other business, because, I presume, he cannot live on this job—and who lives more than 100 miles from Dublin can undertake to attend a weekly meeting in Dublin if he accepts nomination from the Minister. The Minister should keep that in mind. I can see that a weekly meeting would be very useful. Perhaps it can be got over in some way —that the chairman, the managing director and some other member could have weekly meetings and the board could meet once or twice a month.

Has the Deputy adverted to the fact that there are to be two bodies, one under Section 16 and one under Section 44?

But this is the board which is to manage the business and it must meet weekly.

This is an executive board running the business.

It must meet weekly.

This board will carry on the business of the whole trade. Now if they have to meet weekly, it will be quite impossible for a man who is a member of the board but who does not live convenient to the city—say within 50 miles of Dublin—to undertake to accept nomination from the Minister since he could not be expected to make that journey once every week. I think that will severely restrict the Minister in making nominations. If that clause were made a little bit more elastic and if it was provided that—this is a provision which appears very often in articles of association—the board would make their own regulations, could meet once a week if they wished, but would be bound to meet at least once a month, that would leave the Minister with a wider choice. I would like the Minister to consider that suggestion before we come to the Committee Stage because, as the Bill stands at present, I think he would be precluded from appointing anyone except a man living in immediate proximity to the city.

There is another point which needs some clarification. It is provided that the quorum for the committee of the association will be four, of whom one at least shall be a member of the distributive fish trade. Where two interests are concerned in an association such as this—one, the fisherman and, secondly, those who distribute the fish, either wholesalers or retailers, and there could be manufacturers, too—it is important that all those interests should be represented as well as the fishermen.

Strangely enough, it is not stated here that one of them must be a fisherman and it would be possible, therefore, for a meeting of this committee to be held with the stipulated quorum present and yet not have a fisherman present. I would ask the Minister to look into that matter. Perhaps he may, on reconsideration, bring in an amendment providing that at least one must be representative of the distributive trade and one representative of the fishermen.

I think two of them should be fishermen.

The Deputy goes further than I do.

I do not think it ever occurred to our minds that a meeting could conceivably assemble at which there would be no fishermen. There will be no difficulty in meeting the Deputy on that.

That is good. The Minister has stated that he does not want to interfere with the legitimate business and so on. Despite that protestation, I think there is one very bureaucratic provision in this Bill in relation to the chairman of the association. This association after all will be an advisory body. I think an advisory body should elect the members of the committee. That is the normal procedure. They elect those members who will speak for them to the board. If they want to get anything material done they will have to make representations to the board and they usually elect a committee to carry on negotiations on their behalf with the board. Here the Minister proposes to nominate the chairman. I do not know why the Minister should claim that right. Why should he think it necessary to nominate the chairman?

This will be a very democratic body because everybody who catches fish for sale, everybody who distributes fish, though they are not bound to be, can be members; every retail fish merchant and distributor of fish and every canner or processor of fish will all be members of the association. They will elect their committee and I see no reason why they should not elect their chairman. I see no reason why the Minister should nominate the chairman. He even goes further than mere election; he lays it down that no meeting may be held unless his nominee is present. That appears to me to place too much restriction on these people. I think we are going too far into the realm of bureaucratic control there. The Minister will need to defend this particular provision very strenuously.

I am sure some speakers will hold that the subscription is too high. I know that it is the general rule to say that such subscriptions are too high. If the Minister can make a good case for the 5/-, we will not object to it. I would like to know, however, what these people will spend this money on; this association will elect its committee; that committee will come up to Dublin and meet once every two months; there will also be an annual meeting. I do not know what particular business they will have to do except perhaps to meet the board and point out to the members that they are not doing things they ought to do or try to get more than they are getting or travel a little bit farther in the direction in which they would like them to go. That is the sort of business I visualise in relation to this association. I do not know what they will spend this money on; it is not quite clear from the Bill what they will need the money for though it is quite clear that they will collect 5/- per member per year. If the Minister makes a good case for this subscription I will certainly have no objection to it. Membership of the present Sea Fisheries Association involves a subscription of only 1/- per year. I cannot see any necessity for changing that. The Minister may be able to make a case to justify the increase.

I would like to point out that if there should chance to be any serious difference of opinion between the board and the committee that might have the effect of seriously injuring the trade in general. One would like to see some way in which such a difference of opinion could be resolved without any injury being done. For myself, I cannot see any really satisfactory way of achieving that object. An association veto on the board would be ineffective. The board must be allowed to act. The board will listen to the association but if they fail to agree with the association it is difficult to see what can be done. If that happens on two or three occasions grave dissatisfaction may result and there will not be that enthusiasm amongst the fishermen that we think so desirable. I was wondering if we could have some provision which would give the association at least some hope that their point of view would receive consideration. If they were turned down by the board and it was agreed that the Minister should hear them subsequently, that might be helpful. All the Minister will be able to do, however, is talk to the board. I do not say that he should be compelled to do that, but I do not think these people should be turned down without very good reason. I do not think the Minister should have any right to order, but he should have the right to ask them to reconsider the points put forward by the association in an effort to meet their point of view.

I would not go further than that and, indeed, whether it is necessary to put that into the Bill or not I do not know, but it might be well to give the association some court of appeal. If they are turned down more than once, especially on something about which they are very keen, they would then feel that their point of view was understood by someone at headquarters. The Minister would be the best referee between them and the board, or their best advocate at the board, and they would feel that everything possible was done. As I said at the beginning, I think this is a Bill that would be more satisfactorily dealt with on the Committee Stage.

I am sure the Minister will not be surprised when he hears that I am very disappointed about not reconciling the interests of inshore fishermen with those of trawlers. I always held the view, based on statistics taken from countries similarly situated, seaboard countries, that the fishing industry should occupy a very important place in the economic life of the country. The Minister has given very considerable thought to this and has done very considerable research. We have it now established in this Bill as a matter of policy and of legislation that this nation has decided by Act of Parliament to abolish fishing from large trawlers. In considering that matter, we must have in view not only the interests of the fishing industry itself but also the interests of the general public.

I agree with Deputy Dr. Ryan—I am sure he largely culls his view in that respect in the same way as I do, representing the same constituency—that you can reconcile these interests. If we are to base our policy on the survival of the fishing as such and on adequate supplies of fish for consumption by the public, very considerable care and attention and a very considerable sum of money will have to be devoted to restoring the smaller ports and harbours. At present, particularly on the coast for which I speak, the coast of County Wexford, the large trawlers operate from well designed ports but inshore fishermen in remote country districts have to operate from small ports and harbours. If in the future they must carry the production which was formerly the function of the trawlers, these small ports will have to receive attention. I brought this matter to the Minister's attention on several occasions—not here in the House but otherwise—and I direct his attention to it now.

There are some matters in the Bill which are properly referable to the Committee Stage, but I would like to draw the Minister's attention at this stage and put to him by way of question, as he has asked for it, the position which arises under Section 14. Under it no trawler will be allowed to operate from the State which exceeds in length 80 feet. We know there are some exceeding that length at present operating within our territorial waters. Section 14 contemplates that owners of such trawlers must go out of business, unless some amendment is made. As the Minister has decided that we are not to have fishing from trawlers in future, and assuming that that is also the desire of the House, I respectfully ask the Minister to ask his advisers whether Section 14 is not ultra vires the Constitution. I would not like to see a Bill passed though here and go forth, and afterwards find that a very material section of it was ultra vires the Constitution. The Minister can visualise what I have in mind, namely, that no power is given to this Assembly to take property away from a citizen or group of citizens without provision for compensation. I would like the Minister to say something about that.

As Deputy Ryan has said, this is a measure which does not lend itself to very much discussion on the Second Reading, even though it contains 55 sections, but we shall have more to say on the Committee Stage. In his opening statement the Minister said that the intention is to protect the interests of inshore fishermen. With that sentiment we are all in agreement, especially those of us who represent constituencies where the fishing industry is carried on. Those engaged in it have, in my opinion, a traditional right to whatever protection the Oireachtas can give.

I am aware, however, that there are two schools of thought in connection with this matter. There are people who say that on no account should we engage in deep-sea trawling as it may interfere with the livelihood of the traditional inshore fishermen. There are also people who think that it will not be possible to establish a market in this country for fish and preserve continuity of supply without having some trawling vessels as an adjunct. I think this is a matter that has to be very carefully examined because nobody, in my opinion, can be dogmatic about it. A lot of people talk about the fishing industry and about what the trawlers should do and should not do; how the inshore fishermen could improve their lot and how their lot could be improved. When you get down to the essentials of the problem, you find yourself up against great difficulty. I think that it would be well for the Minister or for the board that is being set up under this Bill to lay down a certain period of time—say, 12 months or two years or some such period—during which an exact survey of the position would be made to find out what the potentialities of the inshore fishing industry are in reality and to ascertain how the development of these potentialities will fall short of satisfying the Irish market for fish. That is what I wish to say in connection with the inshore fishermen.

Of course, there is always a question of providing suitable boats for the inshore fishermen. That has been the trouble and will continue to be the trouble, I suppose. Boats and gear are becoming very expensive. They will probably get more and more expensive as time goes on.

Deputy Esmonde has referred to Section 14. He has pointed out that the implementation or the attempt to implement this section would be ultra vires the Constitution. If that be the case—if Section 14 would be ultra vires the Constitution—I imagine that Section 7 would be ultra vires as well.

I think both sections are ultra vires.

There is a prima facie case to be made in any case, that they are ultra vires the Constitution, because the implication in both of these sections is that the freedom of the individual will be interfered with, but to what extent the State or the executive acting on behalf of the State, can interfere with the liberty of the individual is a very difficult point sometimes to ascertain. The Minister has stated that the Sea Fisheries Association—the body which is now being replaced by new machinery—are deserving of a certain meed of praise for what they have done for the fishing industry in the past. I think that is right. While at times many of us could not see eye to eye with the way in which they carried on the work of the association, still we realise that they were dealing with a very, very difficult problem. There was always the overriding question of finance. I am sure that they would have done a lot more if they had had the necessary financial resources at their disposal. I see that we are now setting up a new board, the managing director of which and all the members of which will be appointed by the Minister.

And can be removed by him without rhyme or reason or without notice.

Or without any stated reason—yes, but whether the members of this board could be elected in any way by the members, we will say, of the association is another matter. I do not want to go into that now. We will have to examine it further. It is a matter, I am sure, that can be dealt with on the Committee Stage. Deputy Dr. Ryan has already referred to the chairman of the association as distinct from the managing director of the board or any member of the board, that even the chairman of the association would have to be appointed by the Minister. Whatever may be said about the right of the Minister to appoint the members of the board, there appears to me to be no justification for the appointment of the chairman of the association.

May I interrupt the Deputy for a moment? I see that is open to a misunderstanding. If you have a consultative body with 8,000 fishermen, 40 wholesale fishmongers, 200 retail fishmongers, all constituting the membership and meant to assemble and discuss the various conflicting interests, how can you satisfactorily ask that body to elect a chairman? Is not what you want a chairman who will be a sort of neutral between all the uneven interests that are represented on the body and who will hold the reins between the wholesale fishmongers, retail fishmongers and the fishermen without any regard to the magnitude of the individual interests represented on the association?

There will be a committee of this association and how will this committee be established?

The members of the committee are to be selected.

If the members of the committee can be elected, how can it be said that the chairman of the association can be elected?

He could be. Does the Deputy think it would be preferable that he should?

The Sea Fisheries Association, as distinct from the board, will be there to represent directly the interests of the various people who are interested in the fishing industry, both the fishermen and the fish retailers. I do not see for the life of me how it should not be possible for them not merely to elect the committee but also a chairman to act when they meet to conduct their business. That is a matter the Minister should consider.

If the Deputy will look at Section 47, he will see the sort of committee it is and the method of election.

That does not preclude them from electing their own chairman.

There is also the point —Deputy Ryan has already mentioned it—that perhaps experience will show that the recommendations of this association will carry very little weight with the board. I wonder is it absolutely necessary at all to have the two bodies, since the tendency in other Government Departments or semiGovernment Departments is to move in the other direction. We have in regard to the tourist industry, a very important industry, a tourist board and a tourist association.

There is apparently a bit of doubt about that.

There is a certain amount of confusion in people's minds as to what members constitute the association and what members constitute the board. I understand, however, that a move is being made to get rid of the association.

They were reprieved to-day for a year.

They have got a 12 months' reprieve. If it is found, in the case of the tourist industry, to be bad business to have a board and an association working together, or supposed to be working together, I wonder if it can be said in connection with the fishing industry that it is good business to have a board and an association.

Does the Deputy favour the amalgamation of the tourist board and tourist association?

That does not arise now, and I should like to give it more consideration. I merely want to refer to the inconsistency which appears to me to arise.

Abair amach an méid atá id intinn.

As the Minister has asked me, I must say that I am not a believer in too many people being stuck in anything, because I believe the more people you have looking after any business, the less chance of success it has. Too many cooks spoil the broth, very often.

Am I to take it that the Deputy is in favour of amalgamating the tourist board and the tourist association?

I did not say I was exactly. We will have another day for that. In any case, there are people dealing with that matter who are much more experienced than I. I would not like to put my opinion against theirs, on this occasion anyway, but maybe there will be another occasion.

I am quite sure I am going to be the voice crying in the wilderness because I do not agree with this Bill at all. Although the Minister purports to tell us that this Bill is designed to ensure the survival of the inshore fishermen, I propose to put on record my due and solemn warning that this legislation may be the very death knell of the industry it seeks to preserve. To my mind, it represents an extremely retrograde step, because here we are in a deliberative Assembly relegating the fishing industry to a position in which it is a small insignificant adjunct of the Department of Agriculture. By this measure, we are casting aside for all time whatever potential, from an industrial point of view, there may be in the well-known and popular fishing grounds that abound around our shores.

This Bill represents an approach to fishing which is appalling in its mediocrity, which completely lacks courage in its vision and which certainly negatives completely the principles envisaged by the Sinn Féin movement in its conception of what could be made of Irish fishing. I propose to tell the Minister from my limited experience but as representing a successful fishing area what the potentiality of fishing should be and I want him to disabuse his mind while listening to me of the bias so flamboyantly and typically expressed by him when he told us he hated fish and would prefer an egg any day. I want him to approach this problem with the magnitude of vision with which he has been able to approach problems in the agricultural sphere, because by this Bill, if we are not careful, we are sowing the seeds of decay rather than progress.

Before dealing with the Bill itself, I shall have to try to controvert, effectively, I hope, and with deliberate intent, the unanimity which seems to exist. The Minister in this measure envisages not only the limiting of fishing to certain types and classes and to certain types of boats, but a controlled type of marketing and complete control in the matter of landing. This Bill in its present form is so idiotic and chaotic that I should be transgressing the law if I rowed out in my boat with a mackerel spinner some summer night and brought back a few mackerel to put on the pan for my supper.

It is not as bad as that.

I will have landed the fish and Section 7 says deliberately and bluntly—and Deputy Little who, like myself, has legal qualifications will agree—that if I am not a member of the association, I cannot land fish.

Sea fish does not include pelagic fish.

Let us say that I row out to get a different type of fish.

Cod fish or halibut, yes.

Let us get to grips with what is the real problem. The real problem in Ireland to-day is lack of fish. There is no proper development of a fish market in this country. Every Deputy listening to me, even those who, like myself, represent fishing areas, knows that at times it is impossible, and never very easy, to get fish, particularly in rural Ireland.

There is no doubt at all about it that nothing like the quantity of fish that could be consumed in this country is caught and consumed. There is no doubt that there is no development or expansion of the potential of a home market. There is no doubt that proper attention is not given to the development and encouragement of the eating of fish. It is quite certain and well known that at particular periods no fish can be bought in this country. What does the Minister for Agriculture suggest to us that he will do? Again, in his flamboyancy, he described lacuna periods in which he is going to whistle to Grimsby or elsewhere to bring in fish through the medium of this new marketing body. He did not tell us whether fish would be available to him at these periods or what quantity will be available or what type of fish it will be.

In this Bill we are facing an issue far bigger than we have conceived so far. The Minister has incorporated a section in the Bill whereby, no matter what the inshore fisherman may do in his period of difficulty when he cannot fish, we shall have to go elsewhere to seek the fish to supply the essentials of the home market. Can the Minister come here to me and explain what is inconsistent about having the equipage and the ability—owned, manned and controlled by Irish people themselves—to fill any lacuna period that may occur in regard to our fish? What is sinister or terrible about the deep-sea trawling conception in this country? It could be used to bolster difficult periods for the inshore fishermen and, if properly conceived and worked, it could be built into the first-class industry that it is among some sea-faring nations, even smaller than our own.

I represent West Cork and I say without fear, favour or affection that some of the finest fishing done in the interests of the Sea Fisheries Association is done from Schull Harbour. The desire of the people you meet there is to extend the industry, to get bigger and better boats so as to enable them to follow fish and to get bigger catches. They will tell you themselves and they will tell the Minister if he visits them that the modern trend of fishing is to get a bigger type of boat so as to ensure less risk and less of the tragedies that unfortunately many of the fisher families of Ireland have known.

It is perfectly true, and I am warning the Minister that it is true, that if he cannot get a constant supply of decent fish for domestic consumption in Ireland the whole structure of the fishing industry will gradually disintegrate. That has not been done to date. The only place where complete incompatibility can be found between the view that there can be a bolstering up of the inshore fishing industry by trawlers is in the Department of Fisheries and in the mind of the Minister for Agriculture himself. What is Ireland's fishing potential? If I drive down the road from Glengarriff to Castletownbere and to Bantry Bay I see trawlers of nations as far away as Spain. I see Belgian trawlers and trawlers from all over the North Sea. They are sheltering there. They are provisioning there. For various reasons they may come into that bay. But they have one common denominator— they are all fishing off the Fastnet lighthouse. They are able to send out trawlers from all parts of Europe, provision and equip them for the journey to and from the fishing grounds, and fish them at a profit. But for some extraordinary reason there is to be no development of a really substantial national industry based in Ireland, the nearest spot to the fishing grounds and able to compete on that basis with any of these foreigners.

I am perfectly in agreement with the principle that we should preserve a way of life for the inshore fishermen, but no inshore fishermen will contend that they are able to supply the home market. Nobody in this House could contend that the home market has been properly developed or has ever been properly supplied. If the Minister, instead of putting the cart before the horse, got down to the business of getting the fish and of developing the domestic market to its full capacity, then he would be able to review the position infinitely better than he is able to do so now. You can drive through the principal provincial towns of Ireland, and I do so continuously on my way to West Cork—big towns such as Maryborough, Cashel or Cahir—and it is seldom if ever that you can get any variety of fish there, and certainly no choice, on a Friday.

What is the real position with regard to fishing in this country? The approach to it is too narrow and it is completely unrealistic. We have built up a wealth of clash between two ideologies that could be complementary and the fostering of these ideologies has led to a lot of ill-feeling where no ill-feeling should exist. Unfortunately, on very numerous occasions throughout the last fishing season, substantially sized boats, even 50-footers, were bound in harbour, not able to fish. During that period any of us who tried to procure fish found that choice fish was almost unobtainable and fish at an inordinately high price was available in very small quantities to the very limited sections of the community that could afford to buy it. That situation should not exist. I warn the Minister here and now that he must get down to a plan whereby we can supply the domestic market with fish caught by Irishmen, whether they be inshore fishermen or fishermen fishing in Irish trawlers.

It is not right, I think, to allow the fishing industry in this country to become what this Bill envisages. I wonder whether the Minister and his Department have ever really tried to explore the potential of the fishing industry purely from the point of view of domestic consumption in Ireland. Did he ever conceive the idea of using creamery halts or creamery sub-branches for the distribution of fresh fish? A tremendous market is available for a substantially developed fishing industry if they would only look for it.

We are running into a period of rising international costs in many spheres. We know that certain by-products of the fishing industry such as fish meal could be very useful if they were available to our producers at home. Why does the Minister not therefore approach the fishing industry on a bigger and broader basis? While he can ensure a market for the inshore fishermen why does he not allow his concepts to become broader and strive to build up an industry that could supply our market, export surpluses and supply raw material for adjunct industries which might be very helpful? Has the Minister considered all the implications of quick freeze, smoking and the various other ways of processing fish even to canning which could become part of our national economy? He certainly does not envisage them in this Bill.

I feel that I will be a voice crying in the wilderness for the implementation of a wider and broader scheme which would tend to develop the industry, not cripple it. The day of the small boat is gone. Everybody knows that. There are many reasons for it. You must travel bigger distances to follow fish now than heretofore. Members who represent fishing areas will understand how that can arise; you can overfish certain areas or fish can change a run. I am warning the Minister and the Government as solemnly as I as an individual can that they are deliberately turning their backs on the potential that may exist by envisaging this type of Bill which has a remarkable tendency towards bureancracy although it comes from a Minister who professes to be the complete devotee of complete democracy.

I am sorry that the Minister has left the House because I want him to answer this question: What is wrong with a scheme whereby Irish trawlers manned by Irishmen—mind you the crews of many of the Grimsby trawlers and the trawlers of other fishing ports in England are Irish, many of them from West Cork—based in this country would work to fill whatever lacuna may be in the domestic market and to supply fish to the Irish people who want it? What is there in that to conflict with the interests of the inshore fishermen?

Inshore fishermen—and the fishermen themselves will tell you so—are a diminishing class. They have their difficulties and, as Deputies representing areas like mine know, emigration has taken its big toll of them. They have not security; they have not the continuity of livelihood which would encourage them to stay and they cannot have if under this Bill as the boats will be too small. They have longer distances to travel to fish and the growing tendency has been to make the boats more seaworthy, in itself, per se, a most worthy concept, because I am sure all of us are on common ground in hoping that the type of boats and equipment to be used by our fishermen in future will reduce the risks of loss at sea.

Before we come to grips with the Bill at all we must decide whether this House will accept a situation that exists, a situation where fish is scarce —I defy the Minister to challenge me on this—where it is not available at all in a large part of the country, where prime quality fish at certain times of the year is practically unobtainable and when it is available only a very limited section of the community can afford to buy it. We could reduce the impact of rising costs of such commodities as beef and mutton by developing a proper fishing fleet to supply an adequate amount of fish to the Irish people. How many people throughout the length and breadth of rural Ireland never see fresh fish and seldom if ever see salt fish? It is a deplorable condition when around this country are some of the finest fishing grounds in the world.

I say deliberately that this Bill is a retrograde step from the point of view of improving the fishing industry. I think that the Minister can ensure the survival of the inshore fishermen far more effectively by ensuring that fish is available to supply the domestic market. I have repeatedly clashed with the Minister on this issue, but I am taking this opportunity of putting on record in the House my confirmed belief that this particular type of legislation will not achieve the purposes for which it is designed.

I have heard laudatory comments passed here about the Sea Fisheries Association. I am sure they do some good work. I did not experience much of it, but I know this, that their outlook on fishing has never been broad enough or wide enough to envisage fishing as a major industry. I think this Bill will for all time preclude fishing as a major industry. Every facet of fishing, from the catching of fish, to the landing of fish, to the selling of fish and to the distribution, will be tied up and controlled under this Bill. And who will be the victim at all stages? The unfortunate consumer.

I thought it was the inshore fishermen you were bothered about?

You have a situation arising where, through controlled channels, there are going to be delivered inadequate supplies of fish to meet the home demand. Despite whatever controls the Bill may envisage, in a position of scarcity prime fish will find its way through sale channels the way prime pieces of any particular goods find sale. I will repeat the question I asked while the Minister was out. The Minister envisages buying fish elsewhere at lacuna periods to supply the domestic market. Is there something wrong in Irish trawlers, manned by Irish crews and controlled by the Minister's Department, filling that lacuna period? Has he considered yet the potential of fishing as a major industry, with the adjuncts of freezing, smoking, canning and coarse fish going into fish meal? I say quite seriously that is the way the problem must be faced.

Will the Minister for a moment suggest that at any time the domestic market is adequately supplied? Will he indicate to the House what research of a market potential has been made? Has his Department ever considered ways and means of getting fresh fish rapidly distributed throughout rural areas that nowadays, if ever, seldom see a fish unless on occasion a poached one?

This legislation as such envisages an idea that is infinitely smaller than my conception of fishing but, in so far as the legislation is before the House, there are defects I have noticed in it. Some of them have already been adverted to here, but I think we have all overlooked what to me is the most peculiar thing of all. It is a very simple, innocent section, Section 6, dealing with Part II and it says:—

"This Part shall come into operation on such day, on or after the establishment date, as the Minister may by order appoint."

That certainly leaves an extraordinary position in relation to the whole of Part II. If the Minister feels that it may take time to evolve the mechanics of this section, let him be generous with himself in the margin of time he allows, but to leave Section 6 in its present form might lead to either a too early implementation of this part of the Act, or it could conceivably lead to an indefinite postponement of the implementation.

It did occur to me, and I think I mentioned it to the Minister in an aside, that Section 7 and Section 14 could both be ultra vires the Constitution. I am quite sure the Minister will have that matter examined on its merits by the authorities in his Department. If this Bill must be law, and if this niggardly conception of fishing must be the opinion of this House, I suggest that the Minister should seriously consider the whole problem of control again. There is conceived in this Bill what one might describe as an executive committee as distinct from what the Minister might call a consultative committee. I am not enamoured of that. I do not think it would be impossible for the Minister to weld the two ideas into one. I have a horrible feeling that this executive committee will be largely nominated from the Civil Service. I have a feeling that this executive committee, designed as it is, may tend further to aggravate differences that exist among fishermen.

I do not think—and I am saying it to the Minister deliberately—that he found the best solution to problems that have arisen between the Sea Fisheries Association and Muintir na Mara in this type of legislation. The Minister may well say that fishermen are difficult people to deal with, in bulk anyway. I suppose that may be said of all people whose life is a difficult and hazardous one. But I do feel that even on the basis of preserving inshore fishermen, that goodwill that could have been obtained, that cohesion, co-operation and co-ordination that could have been got, may well have been defeated by the abolition of the Sea Fisheries Association and the bringing into being of this new body. I am convinced that the Minister looks upon fishing as a kind of troublesome step-child of the Department of Agriculture——

I do not think that is at all fair.

——because the characteristic broadness of vision and the characteristic drive of the Minister for Agriculture are not enshrined in this measure nor, indeed, is there enshrined in it that spirit, so trenchantly flaunted in this House, and expressed in the statement that no inspector would cross the farmer's ditch unless he was invited.

This Bill envisages very wide and very definite controls, very wide and very definite invasions of the business of certain sections of the community. It may be that the Minister can say, "I must have this control because there is preference in the prices being given to the inshore fishermen in order to preserve their way of life," but I, representing, as I do, an important fishing community, am telling the Minister that this Bill will not preserve the way of life that it is sought to preserve, because he cannot build an economy of Irish fishing on the hope that in periods of scarcity he can purchase elsewhere fish that could be caught by Irish trawlers or by substituting for fresh fish foreign tinned fish which, despite the Minister's dislike, some people like.

I am saying deliberately that there is not enough fish coming into the ordinary fish markets, that there is not co-ordinated distribution of fish, that there is no real analysis or conception of the potential domestic market. In that situation, the Minister will have to face the problem of developing fishing as an industry capable of supplying home needs and of setting up adjuncts to that industry to use up surpluses that may periodically arise.

I want to get the Minister thinking on the lines on which he thinks in the Department of Agriculture. I want to get him thinking on the basis of preserving, certainly, for the inshore fishermen such of the domestic market as they can supply, and of having Irish-manned deep-sea trawlers, Irish-owned deep-sea trawlers, to fill the shortages that may arise and to meet the market demand when the inshore fishermen cannot fish, to make it a complementary and economic system. Let him envisage here and now the many subsidiary industries that he can build around the raw material abundantly present within convenient range of the Irish coast and of having harbours properly equipped to deal with deep-sea trawlers. Let him explain to the House why these two ideas cannot be complementary, why they must be antagonistic, when the Minister in his executive capacity, can control the menace that the deep-sea trawler might be to the inshore fishermen if it were given complete, unharnessed freedom. Let him remember and note well that many exiles of West Cork, Kerry and other places are seeking and obtaining a remunerative living as members of the crew and in some cases as skippers of the deep-sea trawlers that he so abhors.

The three potentials are there. There need not be any interference with the inshore fishermen. The fish can be got; the boats can be got and, with the Minister's co-operation, Irish exiles can be brought back, fully trained personnel, to man trawlers that would ply from Irish harbours and not from Grimsby or other foreign trawling ports.

I say deliberately to the Minister that the conception of this Bill is small. It envisages, not an expansion and development of a strong fishing industry, but an assurance that whatever limited quantity of fish is available will be sold for the benefit of the fishermen. It would be infinitely better for the fisherman, even if his price was less, if he could get larger quantities of fish and a bigger and broader market. I say quite seriously that if the question were properly tackled, infinitely greater quantities of fish than can be caught at the moment could be made readily available to more and more people at a reasonable cost and in that way fish would become part of the ordinary household diet. That would help to counteract the impact of rising costs of other commodities that are included in the ordinary diet. We must realise that we are facing a period when the costs of certain agricultural commodities that are consumed in the normal household will rise steeply, that beef, mutton, lamb and all these other household commodities are going to be a good deal dearer. In that situation, we should be developing a bigger fishing industry and making more and more fish available to our people to meet some of the ordinary food needs in the home.

In so far as the Bill itself is concerned, many of its features are new. I think the Minister, before this Bill comes to the Committee Stage, if unfortunately it should come to the Committee Stage, should try to find a more unified type of control. Possibly on that stage we shall also have to deal with certain difficulties that have been raised by other Deputies, but I really want an explanation from the Minister, not based on any statement that there was a trawler company here some ten or 15 years ago which went bankrupt. That is of no interest to me. I want to know from the Minister is there anything inconsistent, anything wrong or anything intrinsically menacing to the inshore fishermen in having Irish trawlers manned by Irish fishermen and complementary to the inshore fishermen, bringing home, as they can, material not alone for human consumption but for the subsidiary industries which could be built around the fishing industry? We are investing millions and millions of money in land reclamation and in capital expenditure of all types. I say to the Minister: why not conceive again, with the original principles of Sinn Féin, an Irish fishing industry as a practical economic business, an Irish fishing industry that could compete with the boats which travel to our fishing grounds from Sweden, Portugal, Belgium and other countries? Why cannot we in Ireland, instead of condemning for all time by this piece of legislation, progress and the enlargement of this industry, envisage, as a complementary source of supply deep-sea trawlers to supply a market for fish at home that is not adequately supplied and cannot be adequately supplied until such time as the Department moves in the direction in which it should move, explores the potential of the home market, develops distribution on a proper basis throughout the country, and thus give the Irish people supplies of fish that in many parts of the country they seldom or never see?

Is iondúil go gcuirim mo ladar isteach nuair a bhíos iascaireacht faoi dhíospóireacht, cé nach mórán fáilte a bhíos ag an Aire seo anois roimh aon mholtaí dá ndéanaim. Ní chuireann sin aon fhaitios orm ná ceana chroime agus cé nach mórán atá le rá agam, mar gur beag a bhfuil sa mBille seo, dearfa mé an beagán sin féin.

I usually say something on fishing matters although since the present Minister took over he has indicated to me that he has not much interest in what I have to tell him. That does not encourage one to put forward many suggestions and in the few remarks I have to offer on this Bill I am afraid I shall have to bear that particular attitude of the Minister in mind. Co-operation in the fishing industry has usually been compulsory. Compulsory co-operation may be a contradiction in terms but, in any event, it has been of that sort. The partial co-operation that we have had since the Sea Fisheries Association was founded has not succeeded in spite of what the Minister has said. No essential change took place from the time it was established, in spite of the fact that you had intervening the Fianna Fáil régime between that of Cumann na nGaedheal and the present régime. It is now being scrapped.

The control of the association remained practically unchanged and it was quite impossible, or practically impossible, as I pointed out here on many occasions, to change it without an enormous effort, which really was not within the competence of any individual Deputy unless he gave practically all his time to the job of bringing that about. Membership was not as confined as it is now proposed to make it under this Bill. While there were additions to membership from year to year, voting rights did not depend on the fulfilment of their obligations by the members. If a member defaulted in the payment of his sharecalls, all an applicant for election to the committee had to do was to go around the country, collect these papers, pay the shillings or whatever the amount was, fill up the ballot papers and send them in, so that the man with the largest cheque was sure of getting on the committee. These and many other things were pointed out. I must say that the advisers to the Minister, the officials, have not neglected or ignored entirely all the representations that were made to them from time to time. I think that I, personally, can claim the credit for having the cumbersome electoral area broken up into four parts. The only thing about the carrying out of these advisory functions is that the advisers seem to be very slow to react. However, the reaction has come and it is in this Bill.

So far as the Bill is concerned, I think the most that we can say about it is that it is providing a new reorganisation of compulsory co-operation which is a feature of Government interference in the fishing industry. I have nothing to cavil at about the compulsory nature of that co-operation. I do not even wish to make the point whether any of these sections will be ultra vires any provision in the Constitution. Whether the Bill can take a chance with the Constitution is a matter of small concern to me. I think the risk would be worth while.

The Minister's objective is to maintain the inshore industry. He told us on previous occasions that it is a way of life, and that, as such, he intends to preserve it. I do not know whether I may be misjudging the Minister, but it seems to me that that indicates that his interest in the fishing industry is no more than what one would have in a museum piece. He need not hearken —he did not do so in the past—to suggestions from this side. He got them to-day in much more forcible terms from those sitting behind him. I, too, do not want to see the inshore fishermen wiped out, but I would like to point out to the Minister that his purpose of maintaining the inshore industry, and of providing whatever development is possible on the basis of the home market, is going to be a very difficult proposition for this reason: that the home market for fish, just as the market for any other home product, is not likely to be capable of much development unless it can be supplied. In the matter of food, one expects to get continuous supplies. I think everyone knows that our inshore fishing industry is not capable of providing that continuity of supply which is necessary to foster that market. Deputy Collins referred to that question and suggested means of meeting it. Deputy Dr. Ryan did the same. Whatever the method may be by which the deficiency in the inshore industry can be met, I know that the Minister does not like the sound of the word trawler. In any event, some means will have to be found to give that continuity of supply, if even the inshore industry is to be maintained.

I would like to tell the Minister that, along the coast, 30 and 40 years ago, when there were no engined boats, there were larger quantities of fish and a greater variety of fish available to the consuming fish public than there are to-day. Now, we have the engined boats. We have the association's standard boat of 36 feet over all. Yet, the varieties of fish have not returned in the same quantities as we had them 30 or 40 years ago. I suggest to the Minister that he should ponder on that and ask himself what is the reason for it.

What do you think is the reason?

It would be difficult to be positive on the matter, but I have an opinion on it.

Better fishermen?

No, I do not think so.

There must be some reason.

We have as fine fishermen as ever we had in places where they have not got beyond the row boat stage. I think that subsequent to the first world war, with the development of the steam trawler, and the wider range of those trawlers, more and more of them found out our fishing grounds. They came there and carried out intensive fishing. There was also the fact that they could come to within three miles of the shore. All that had a deleterious effect on the spawning grounds. I think that is why various people in this House have recommended from time to time that something should be done with the international organisation concerned about getting an extension of that three mile limit if these spawning grounds are to be preserved. The fishermen themselves will tell you that they have seen these trawlers—British, Spanish, French and of various other nationalities—on the west coast, and have seen immature fish being heeled over those boats in large quantities. That may be the cause of the shortage. The question arises, what is going to happen if that scarcity is to continue within easy reach of our shores? Are we going to continue to provide large sums of money for an inferior type of boat, too small and not sufficiently powered, to go out where the fish is available, and capable of meeting the hazards, from the weather point of view, that must be met if the boats are to go farther afield?

What boats is the Deputy referring to?

The type of boat which we have been providing since the Sea Fisheries Association was established. The standard boat was a 36-foot boat.

And is now 50 to 60 feet.

At the time that the 36-foot boat was decided on it was condemned straightway by most people on the west coast. I am referring now to 23 or 24 years ago. It took a good deal of persuasion to get the Minister's advisers at the time to alter their opinion on the matter, but they did.

They are now getting the 50-foot boat.

People say that, in the circumstances which exist, the 50-foot boat is really the minimum, so far as size is concerned, that you would need to go further afield. The Minister seems to have a bee in his bonnet about this trawling business—that it is going to kill prematurely the inshore industry. I know we have had trouble around the coast where the new competition turned up on the scene. We had it in Galway Bay. There, again, the small size of our boats was the cause of that jealousy, because the boats which came into the new waters were unable to go out to the places which the foreigners could reach. Therefore, all our boats supplied by the association had practically to confine their activities to the scrapings up of our own bays and harbours.

A suggestion has been made that the debate on the Sea Fisheries Bill should continue until 7.30 instead of the Local Government Bill, which was fixed for 6.30, if the House agrees.


There are matters, as has been mentioned, that possibly can be better dealt with section by section. It seems to me, however, that sections of this Bill, particularly Section 14, will be quite unfair to certain people who are in the fish trade, who equipped themselves with good boats and who are now likely to be put off the sea under Section 14. If that happens, it will be quite unjustifiable and these people will have a very definite cause of complaint. If people have been prepared to put their money into equipping good boats, giving employment to fishermen, and, incidentally, giving us a better and more regular supply of fish, they deserve well of the Minister, of the Government and of the fish-eating public. I hope that nothing like that will happen.

The question of the revocation of a licence ought not to be left to the courts. The Bill states that people who have habitually disregarded the conditions of the licence, or of any of them, will have their licence revoked. If there is to be any assessment of habitual breaking of conditions, that can be done better by the people who issue the licence, who are in constant touch with the fishermen and who administer the entire business, rather than by a district justice, who will have only second-hand knowledge of the matter and will not be able to give as fair a decision as to habitual disregarding of conditions as the authorities in the association. There will be many miscarriages of justice if that power is to be operated by district justices. I have no doubt that representatives of the association will appear in court and give advice and assistance. Nevertheless, it would be better if the matter were dealt with by the Sea Fisheries Association. These boats will be issued by the Department and will be provided by public expense, and the authority that administers these funds will have a closer contact with the operation of the boats and will be better qualified than a district justice to decide as to whether a man has been honouring his contract.

One thing noticable about this Bill, like all previous attempts to regulate the fish trade, is that it does not attempt to deal with shoal fish and to face the question of trying to market herrings and mackerel. It is a pity that the Department which is now taking what might be called totalitarian powers for the regulation of the fishing industry should not take its courage in its hands and include herrings and mackerel in its operations. I do not suggest that it could on all occasions successfully handle all the mackerel and herrings that would be available; but there are many occasions in which it might find mackerel and herrings a very useful substitute when demersal fish are not sufficiently plentiful to meet the demand. The question of what is a fisherman can, perhaps, be dealt with more effectively on the Committee Stage. If a man buys a boat, would that qualify him for membership of the new association? That is an important question and it ought to be made clear in the definition. If he puts his money into the buying of a boat, he ought to be entitled to have some say in the matter, either directly or by proxy.

As the Minister pointed out when introducing the Bill, the choice in this matter was between free for all and complete control. In present circumstances, of the two courses I think it was better to try the totalitarian method. Under the Bill, nobody can engage in fishing unless he is a member of the association. That seems a rather tall order, but, if the purpose which we all have in mind can be achieved by this method, it is worth trying. Personally, I would not be too squeamish about taking risks with the Constitution. Fishermen themselves are not terribly concerned about these matters and, if the industry can be developed, if the market can be expanded and, above all, if their income can be increased, I think they will take the same view as I take about it.

This Bill is mainly for reorganising control and co-operation, and the co-operation remains compulsory as before except that it is now comprehensive and all-embracing. The question of the landing of fish by people who are not nationals seems to have raised a query in the minds of some people who have read the Bill. I take it that the landing of fish by people who are not nationals and who are not members of the association is controlled by the Control of Imports Act. If it is not, there is a flaw in the Bill which requires attention. I hope that matter will be explained to us when the debate is being closed or during the Committee Stage.

I am glad that the old association is to disappear. It was never really an association, because you could not get its members to meet. Some reference was made to having a fisherman as chairman of a meeting. At some of the annual meetings of the old association there was only one fisherman to about five or six non-fishermen members present. You simply could not get a quorum of fishermen. I hope that position will not be allowed to arise under this Bill and that there will be a periodical revision of the membership if the annual subscriptions are not paid.

I do not know exactly how the election to the advisory committee will take place and whether the abuses which existed in regard to elections under the old body will be eliminated. In any event, it will not be so important now because the effective control of the association is in other hands. At the beginning of the war, as a member of the committee of the Sea Fisheries Association, I recommended something of this kind because I knew, from my experience of the first world war, that during war periods the fishing industry requires very little artificial stimulation. It requires very little coddling from civil servants, committees or associations.

The industry provides in war-time a food for which there is a ready demand and when one has an article for sale for which there is such a demand it does not require a great deal of organisation to sell it. That was the experience gained in the first world war. At the outbreak of the last war it was my view that that experience would operate again. It did operate and I found personally that I did not have to give my time and attention to organising markets for the fishermen and I, therefore, severed my connection with the committee. Before doing so, I proposed a resolution, which was carried, giving powers somewhat similar to those now contained in this measure; I think events have justified my viewpoint.

There was, of course, one fairly universal cause of complaint amongst fishermen during the war with regard to gear and equipment. A great many people received quotations from across channel for gear at prices somewhat less than those charged by the association. Those enhanced prices of the association continued right through the period of emergency. There were also complaints about distribution. However, that phase has passed and I hope that it will not be revived.

The Bill before the House is an attempt to cure the defects and faults in the organisation of this industry. Naturally I welcome any attempt to give better organisation in the industry. I hope the Minister will give some attention to the fish consuming public. If the industry is to survive it can only survive with the continued support of that public. If one takes the view that that is the main purpose of the fishing industry, then one must recast one's views with regard to complete dependence on the inshore fishing industry. That industry is gradually declining because of circumstances outside our control. Very serious competition operates within three miles of our shores. We can do nothing about that, however, since it is within the province of some international body.

The home market can be revived and is capable of expansion in my opinion if the public is kept supplied with fish and if they can procure that fish in a certain variety. It is no use expecting people to eat mackerel, herrings, excellent though they may be, or whiting all the time. I agree with Deputy S. Collins that if one wants fish, constantly and in variety, one must come to Dublin for it. In Galway and in other places one gets the tail-end of the supply that comes in. The best fish is boxed and sent up to Dublin or out to the country. Whiting has been described as the chicken of the sea, but one can get very tired of whiting. Yet, as a rule whiting was the only fish procurable in Galway.

Now that the Minister will have powers which no Minister has ever had before in relation to this industry I hope that he will utilise these powers to ensure a more rational distribution of fish in the future. I have had the experience travelling up to Dublin from Galway of seeing a fish van at the end of my train; I have had the experience many times of passing a Galway-bound train with a fish van attached to it. The fish from Galway was being sent to Dublin while the fish going to Galway came from Grimsby or somewhere else. I have mentioned that matter before.

The Minister is now taking certain powers. I know that the difficulties in the past were due in some measure to the fact that the fishermen wished to market the fish themselves individually, even in cases where they had signed a marketing contract and had agreed to market their fish through the association which had supplied them with a boat. At a time when they thought individual marketing would bring in more money, human nature being what it is, they left the association's marketing arrangement and launched out on their own. That was a big snag in any State operation which was not totalitarian in character. I do not take the views some speakers have taken, and I hold that any defect in marketing cannot be remedied if one's powers are inadequate. If it is only done partially, it seems to me that the defect will continually arise. It is a case of "going the whole hog" or leaving it a "free for all". For that reason, I have no objection to the powers the Minister now proposes to take. The Minister must admit that he is not applying the same principles in the fishing industry as he applies in relation to tillage. He is taking the opposite view in relation to the fishing industry. This is an experiment, and alterations can be made if it is not successful. I hope that it will be successful. I am glad it is being tried and, if it does not succeed, let us try something else.

I welcome this Bill because of the principal objectives expressed therein. One of those objectives is to ensure improved outlets with particular reference to the home market for landings made by inshore fishermen. The first essential is to create a demand for fish. The Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture and the Sea Fisheries Association have made no attempt whatsoever to create such a demand. I agree with Deputy Bartley that Dublin is the only place where fresh fish can be obtained at the moment. We must go down into the inland towns of Ireland, down into the houses in the rural areas and educate the people there into the advantages of a fish diet. Some short time ago I put down a question asking the Minister would he consider the suggestion that films should be used for the purpose of displaying the various methods of cooking fish. The buck has been passed in so far as that question was concerned; I have never received a reply to it. I know that people in the inland towns and throughout the country generally abhor the taste and smell of fish simply because they have never been educated into its use and into the proper methods of cooking it. During the war the British Ministry of Food spent thousands of pounds in educating the people in the filleting and boning of herrings. I will guarantee one will not get a boneless herring in any inland town in this country. We must educate the people in the advantages of eating fish and having got the market we must look to the supply. There is no use in having a surplus supply with no demand. The demand must come first and the supply afterwards. There must be continuity of supply. So long as we cater only for the inshore fishermen, leaving the shore fishermen alone, we can never hope to get that continuity.

I tell the House a true incident which occurred to myself. I am the part owner of a seine net fishery. Two seasons ago we were prohibited by the Sea Fisheries Association from fishing more than four days per week at Killybegs. On a Friday of a particular week when we were prohibited from fishing for more than four days, I was in a certain inland town and inquired from a Civic Guard whom I met in the street as to where I could obtain a supply of fresh fish. He directed me to a man on the corner, who had a supply of immature whiting in a dirty box. I asked if that was the only supply of fish in the town and I was assured that it was. I certainly do not blame the people in that town if they are appalled by the smell of fish. No effort was made to bring in the fish which we could land in Killybegs to supply that inland town.

One thing that must strike the people is that during the present century we have had on only two occasions a surplus supply of inshore fish. Those occasions were, strange as it may seem, during the two world wars, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945-6. During those periods the supply exceeded the demand. We must ask ourselves why. It is fairly obvious to us all now that the reason why the inshore fishermen were so prosperous was that there was no outside trawling. So long as we have outside trawling, we can never hope to have inshore fishing. I agree with Deputy Collins that we must go outside if we cannot get fish inside to maintain the continuity of supply.

There are two classes of fish to which we should look-the fresh fish and the salted fish. The salted is the one of which we can get continuity, yet it is the one for which we are not catering. The cured herrings of this country are sufficient to guarantee a supply for the whole Twenty-Six Counties during the whole year, provided they are properly protected.

The importation of fresh fish is prohibited except under licence, but salt fish can come in ad lib. to compete against our cured herrings. As a result, we cannot find a home market for the cured herrings and if we are not lucky enough to secure a continental market, these fish have to be dumped, as they were in former years. It is time we began to cater for a supply of salt fish during the scarce period of fresh fish. By doing that, if we have a supply of salt fish, we can supply continuously that demand that we should create first.

Having created the demand, we must continue the supply. During the recent world war we had a surplus of fresh fish at Killybegs and endeavoured to find home markets for it. No person was more enthusiastic or worked harder to find an outlet than the local agent of the Sea Fisheries Association. He went around the local towns, around Donegal, Sligo and Ballyshannon, and procured people anxious to sell the fish locally. When fish got scarce, what did we find the association doing? They let the market which he created go by the board and instead of supplying those local markets, the fish were being brought to Dublin and, as Deputy Bartley said, merely the tailend of the supply was sent to the consumers the agent had created.

Again, in Donegal we have good sprat fish and on our sprat shores the average take was in the neighbourhood of £50 a year. We have succeeded in finding an English market for this sprat now and in the last year alone we obtained £8,000 at the Port of Inver for the sprat exported. Surely the sprat could be marketed, canned and sold in this country, or exported as canned fish, thereby creating employment, and not having them stored here and then sent out as demand requires them in Manchester.

The Minister has told us of the efforts he is making regarding storage for grain crops. The sooner it is realised that off our coasts we have some of the finest fishing grounds in the world and the sooner canneries, quick freeze and good curing stations are created, the better. If the Minister could—I suppose it is impossible for him to do it—give one fraction of the energy, the time and the ability which he applies to agriculture to the fishing industry, I would be satisfied that that industry would be on a sound basis for all time.

Ba mhaith liomsa cúpla focal a rá ar an mBille seo, Bille atá iongantach tachtach do na mílte duine in san tír seo a chaitheas slí bheatha a bhaint amach ar an fhairrge, beatha cruaidh i gcónaí. Sílim nach bhfuilid ag fáil faoin Bhille morán cuidiú agus nach mbeidh a gcás i bhfad níos fearr mar gheall ar an mBille seo. Bhí mo dhuine ó Dhún na nGall ag moladh go raibh an Bille ag tabhairt chuid mhóir do na iascairí i dTír Chonaill ach sílim nach bhfuil a gcás morán níos fearr faoin Bhille ná mar a bhí sé roimh ré. I want to welcome this Bill——

Téigh ar aghaidh i nGaedhilg. Tuige nach dtéigh?

I want to welcome the Bill, though I feel it is not going far enough and so far as the fishermen in Donegal are concerned it does not hold out much hope that the position will materially improve as a result. The Minister is aware that the mainstay of the fishing industry in Donegal is the herrings. We have a grudge against the various Ministers for Agriculture and the Department and the Sea Fisheries Association for a long time, that they pay very little attention to the herring fishing and to efforts to obtain markets for it. For a number of years we have been asking the Department to arrange a system whereby herring fishermen in Donegal would at least get a minimum price for their product. We have asked that, because for some years past the fishermen there are at the mercy of the private buyers. There is no competition. The private buyers come along and form a ring and beat down the prices to whatever figure they feel they should give to the fishermen. If the fishermen do not like to take that small price the herrings can rot. It should be the duty of the Department to help the fishermen in whatever way possible by ensuring that there would be a minimum price at least and that the Department would take the fish over at that price rather than give them to these private buyers at such bankrupt prices as have often been offered by them.

All the Deputies who have spoken are as one in the opinion that this should be one of the most important industries. I have made this remark when the last Government was in office and I make it now again. I say that until we have in this maritime country of ours a Minister for Fisheries, one whose time will not be taken up by other important duties, I cannot hold out very much hope that the fishing industry will ever be the success it should be. I am making no reflection on the capabilities of the present Minister for Agriculture. I know that he is interested in the fishing industry and would be very glad to do all he could to make it a success. I feel it is asking too much of any Minister for Agriculture to take over a Department that should be one of the most important Departments in this country.

I feel that the fishing industry is the "Cinderella" industry in this country so far as all the Governments we have had since we got self-government are concerned. Until we get a Minister for Fisheries or a Parliamentary Secretary who can devote all his time travelling around the country, seeing the fishermen and travelling round the piers and seeing what is being done and seeing the problems first hand of the fishermen in the various places from Cork to Donegal, I feel that the headway we will make in the fishing industry will be very slight indeed.

I agree with what my colleague, Deputy O'Donnell, has said with regard to the importation of fish. It is a sad reflection on a maritime nation such as ours that, after so many years of self-government, it is necessary for us to import fish, fish that can be caught off our own coasts. Surely, the Government should wake up to the potentialities of the fishing industry and see what it could do for our people if properly organised.

So far as Donegal is concerned, I am afraid that if matters continue as they have been doing for the last few years, hundreds of our best fishermen will give up the craft or industry altogether. Young people, now coming along, feel it is too much of a gamble and they are reluctant to get into the industry or spend the time and the energy that would be necessary to make it a success. I have been speaking to many of them and they say:—

" We may have one good season and four bad ones. It is better for us to emigrate rather than stick at an industry that offers so little wealth after so much trouble and danger on the high seas."

I think that the Government should, at this stage, show our fishermen that they are behind them; that they are willing to help the industry in whatever way possible and that minimum prices should be offered for the herring which is the mainstay of the industry in Donegal.

After all, the fishermen look at the farmers and see that their products are guaranteed minimum prices. They cannot understand why the foodstuffs that they land at the piers and harbours around the coast should not be similarly guaranteed in so far as prices are concerned.

With regard to the home market, I think that part of the Minister's function should be to create a public demand for fish. That could be done by spending so many thousands on advertisements in the daily and provincial Press. They should take a leaf out of the books of manufacturers who have sold their products by continual advertisement. A campaign of that sort, backed up by guaranteed supplies of fish, would be successful and I recommend it to the Minister for Agriculture.

I do not think that there is very much more to say, except that Country Donegal has recently been responsible for focusing the attention of the country and the Minister on the question of inshore trawling. The means they employed for focusing attention was, perhaps, rather drastic, but, at least, it brought home to the people the depredations of the foreign trawlers. I hope that, in future, the Department will see that the coast is better patrolled and that the fishing industry will be left to our own people and that they will get every opportunity of enjoying the fruits of that industry.

One can welcome this Bill because of the fact that the Minister is very much interested in looking after the interests of the inshore fisherman. Whilst I appreciate that fact, I should like to remind him that, so far as a very big area in my constituency is concerned, there have been times when there was no fish at all. Owing to that fact, a man in my position is subject to great criticism. One week following another there is no fish to be got. Whilst we are all interested in furthering the interests of the inshore fishermen, I think more regard should be had for the needs of the consumer. It is for that reason that I welcome Section 18, which gives the following power, amongst other things, to the Sea Fisheries Association:—

"It shall be the duty of the board to arrange for the importation of fish to supplement whenever necessary the supply of fish to the home market by Irish fishing boats and to arrange for the proper distribution of such imports to domestic consumers through the recognised trade channels."

I welcome that section, in particular, because no matter what may be said about the importation of fish, the fact remains that the supplies are very uncertain. I do not think it is fair to traders in Dundalk and Drogheda, who supply a very big hinterland, that they should have their shops empty and have to wire Dublin and other places with no results. Yet if they wire across the water they will get boxes of fish in a few hours. There must be something wrong there. While Acts of Parliament are all right, I think that the fishermen themselves will have to co-operate and do a little more with the Minister and Government and see that proper supplies of fish are available for the people who want fish.

I have been listening to many debates on this subject. It is one of the most difficult subjects with which to deal. The trade itself is very uncertain. The fact is that we are not a fish-eating people and that is one of the great drawbacks in so far as the fishing industry is concerned. Sometimes we have a feast and sometimes we have a famine.

I was particularly struck to-day by the trend of the debate because, if my recollection serves me right, the whole force of the debate was concentrated upon improving the conditions of the inshore fishermen.

The debate to-day would lead me to believe now that that is being set aside by a great many Deputies and that they are all out for the creation of what is known as a trawling fleet. They speak of the creation of such a fleet as if it were something that can be done overnight. You cannot buy trawlers like buttons. It takes a good deal of money to buy trawlers and a trawler fleet would cost the country a very considerable sum. It is not such an easy matter as some Deputies would lead us to believe. I know that on the far side there have been hundreds of these trawlers tied up for years and years and that the owners of these vessels have incurred enormous losses. It is a question of whether this country can afford to go into that business or not. I have no very strong views on the matter, but I would go so far as to say that I do not think we can have both a trawler fleet and a fleet for inshore fishermen. It is a very difficult problem and the fact is that each successive Minister has done his best to do all he could in the interests of these fishermen.

This Bill is designed to do that, so far as it is humanly possible. Certain sections may be subject to amendment when the Committee Stage is reached, but, so far as Sections 7 and 14 are concerned, I do not think there is any need for alarm with regard to their unconstitutionality. If these sections were ultra vires the Constitution, all the rules and regulations of trade unions would be unconstitutional, because every trade union, whether a trade union of ordinary workers, the medical profession or the legal profession, makes rules which could, more or less, be argued to be ultra vires. Section 14 merely prescribes the length of the boat and Section 7 prescribes that a man must be a member of the association. These rules are quite common in trade unions and in all classes of associations, professional and otherwise, and we need not waste much time in speaking of details of that nature.

We want, within the limited resources at our disposal, to keep the men who are engaged in inshore fishing occupied and to give them as good a return as possible for the labour they put into their work. That is what the Minister is out to ensure, but he cannot do that without the goodwill and co-operation of the fishermen themselves. Doubts have been cast on the wisdom of the Minister's action in trying to further the interests of the inshore fishermen, but Deputies must make up their minds that they cannot sit on two stools. They must have either one or the other, and, if this Bill does not accomplish what the Minister hopes, it will be a matter of letting the best horse jump the ditch, of letting all trawlers come in in order to ensure a good supply of fish for the people. We cannot have it both ways and the sooner Deputies make up their mind on that the better.

I have no reason, and no reasonable person could have reason, to complain of the tone of the debate. It has been moderate and reasonable and has contained suggestions which will be very carefully considered on their merits. I should like to reply, so far as I am able, to the specific matters raised by Deputies. I agree with Deputy Coburn that one of the principal duties of any fishery authority such as that envisaged in the Bill is to guarantee the consuming public a supply of fish. I am a little disappointed that Deputy Coburn feels that the supply of fish in recent weeks and months has shown no improvement on the situation that obtained five or six months ago. I had hoped that such an improvement had been effected and that I had been taking measures which had in some degree alleviated that supply position.

I was not speaking of the past five or six months.

In the past five or six months, we have succeeded in some degree—I will not say more than that —in alleviating a position which approximated to a chronic scarcity of demersal fish on the retail market. We hope to improve on that as time goes on. I want to improve it by increasing the landings of the inshore fishermen and arranging for their prompt distribution. What I think a good many people in Dublin, Cork and other urban centres forget is that fish landed by our inshore fishermen is far superior to Grimsby trawler-caught fish because the fish our men land is marketed while it is still fresh fish direct from the sea. In the case of the trawler going out on a three weeks' cruise, half the fish in that trawler is a fortnight old, lying in ice, before it is ever put on the wholesale market at all and then finds its way on to the retailer's slab and thence to the consumer's frying pan. My objective is to keep the demand met by the landings of our own inshore fishermen but ad interim to fill the lacuna by imported fish.

That brings me at once to the issue joined by Deputy Collins and one or two other Deputies with myself on this subject of trawlers. Deputy Collins thinks it is a mistake that the lacuna in supplies should be filled by imports and not by trawlers, and says that I have a bee in my bonnet about trawlers. So far as I am aware, I have no bees in my bonnet at all on the subject, but the plain fact is that if you want to operate trawlers, you cannot have much fewer than six if you want to operate a fleet. Trawlers are expensive vessels, and, if you want to man and operate six trawlers, you cannot send them out to trawl once every three weeks. They have to trawl day in and day out in order to earn their keep.

They are expensive commodities to maintain. They carry very heavy overheads and they must be earning every possible day you can get them to sea. But if you put a substantial and efficient trawler fleet to sea as often as it is possible to get it to sea and bring it back to port, loaded with fish, as frequently as you can get it back, it is only a matter of time, and a very short time, until the domestic market is so flooded with trawler fish that the inshore fishermen will not be able to dispose of the demersal fish at all. The only reason why I brought in this Bill is that I am interested in the inshore fishermen. If I did not believe myself to be working for the inshore fishermen, I should make a great stand to get out of the Department of Fisheries. Let us be quite frank. I do not give a fiddle-de-dee for retail or wholesale fishmongers or for trawlers. I should let somebody else worry about them if they were the people concerned. My only interest in fishing is the inshore fishermen. I believe I can make that community prosperous. I believe I can give them a stable, decent standard of living. I am convinced that the community at large is prepared to pay a small premium on demersal fish if they are reassured that that outlay on their part secures for the inshore fishermen the kind of living I think we can secure for them. They are under no obligation for that living: rather are we under an obligation to them. Though the price paid by Irish consumers for the inshore fishermen's fish may be a trifle higher than that of trawler fish, it is certain that, in so far as the domestic demand for demersal fish is supplied by inshore fishermen, our people are getting better fish than trawler fish It is true that if there was open competition, the average consumer might content himself with the relatively poor quality fish from trawlers, but by actually paying a little more for inshore-caught fish the Irish consumer is, in fact, getting better value.

Deputy Dr. Ryan apprehended that some isolated individual would catch a handful of codling and want to sell it to his neighbour. These isolated warriors who operate their own boats may bring in a few herring or mackerel on a string and sell the fish among their neighbours. If that is so, this Bill does not apply to them at all. I have never heard of a man who went out and caught a couple of codfish or turbot and who then went out and sold it to his neighbours off a string. Nelson had a blind eye, and if I can find such a man who sells fish to his neighbour, certainly if it is not a telescope that I should put to my eye, I should put a black patch on it, because such a man deserves to be allowed technically to break the law—if he exists, and I do not believe he does.

Could I get Deputies to see, as set up under this Bill, a body of shareholders, which is the advisory committee: the directors are the board. I want the board to meet regularly so as to run the business in the most efficient possible way. I want the advisory body to meet as often as it wants to meet. The reason why I want the Minister to have the right to name the chairman of the advisory body is that if Deputies will look at Section 47 they will see that the advisory body is made up of sea fishermen, representatives of the retail fish trade, representatives of the wholesale fish trade and representatives of other interests. When they come to elect their committee they are obliged to choose four representatives of sea fishermen, two representatives of the retail fish trade and two members representative of other interests. But I cannot tell them to choose a chairman who will be one-eighth sea fisherman, one-eighth retail fish trader and one-eighth wholesale fish trader. You cannot divide one man into fractions. What it seemed to me to be necessary was that when the whole advisory committee met there should be in the chair a neutral person who would hold the ring for all the contending interests there represented, all of whom would have an opportunity of speaking their mind and all of whom would have an opportunity of having their case fairly stated because the chairman would be neutral, nominated by the Minister and not by any individual representative in the association.

I want to get a Bill that will do the job and make the inshore fishermen prosperous. The 5/- fee is to pay for the ink, pens and stationery of the advisory body. If it appears to the House to be too much, I will reduce it. I should be slow to increase it materially. I do not think it is too much. I think we want it at 5/-.

I agree with Deputies who say that in their judgment this Bill could be discussed more cogently on the Committee Stage, if we accept the general underlying principle at all. It is largely a Bill of detail. I invite the House to accept the principle that it is the inshore fishermen who count. If that is so, I think we may with propriety, pass the Second Stage of the Bill now and I am in the hands of the Opposition as to when they wish the Committee Stage to be taken.

Tuesday fortnight.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 1st May.