Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Salmon Prices.

Mr. O'Higgins

asked the Minister for Agriculture whether he is aware that, due to a temporary glut, Cork and Blackrock fishermen are now being paid only 5/6 per lb. for salmon while the retail price has remained unaltered; and, if so, whether he will state what steps he proposes to take to prevent these men from being exploited.

The information available to me indicates that while the salmon fishermen in Cork and district are enjoying a good fishing season, no difficulty is being experienced in marketing the catch at prices which bear a fair relationship to prices on the wholesale markets. I have no functions in regard to the prices paid for salmon at any stage.

Surely the Minister must have some interest if so wide a disparity appears between the retail price for salmon and the price paid to the fishermen for the salmon they catch? Surely it is a matter the Minister will wish to examine, and, if there is any injustice being done to those who are catching the salmon, he will take such steps as may be necessary to prevent its continuance? Who else is there to do it?

The evidence of disparity has not been brought forward. We have no evidence of any such disparity.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary then——

Most certainly, yes.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary go a step further, and, in view of the allegations made by Deputy O'Higgins, which he has doubtless had from somebody in the area, will he ask some of the fishery inspectors to inquire of the fishermen in the Blackrock and Cork areas—there are not very many licensed to fish for salmon in these areas—if these allegations are well founded and, if they are, take what steps he can to see that the abuses will not continue?

The price of 5/6 mentioned by Deputy O'Higgins must be related to a price of from 6/- to 8/6 in Billingsgate and 7/- in Liverpool. As the salmon season advances, there is a seasonal drop in the prices, as the salmon become more plentiful, but there has been no glut as such, and, although the season is better than last year, it is not anticipated that there will be such a glut.

A price of 5/6 in the Minister's view is a reasonable price?

I have told the Deputy that we have no powers to control the prices, but we certainly give whatever assistance we can to fishermen, if there are any flaws in their marketing arrangements and so on, and any advice that can be offered to them is made readily available to them.

On the whole, 5/6 does not look unreasonable?

It is not, in present circumstances.