I move amendment No. 1:—
In page 3, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following definition:
" `Moville Area' has the meaning assigned to it by the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952;".
Vol. 197 No. 4
I move amendment No. 1:—
In page 3, between lines 11 and 12, to insert the following definition:
" `Moville Area' has the meaning assigned to it by the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952;".
If the House is agreeable perhaps amendments Nos. 1, 4, 9 and 11 could be taken together? Amendment No. 11 is consequential and amendments Nos. 4 and 9 are related to amendment No. 1.
Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would explain amendment No. 1 and perhaps we could then deal with the others?
The purpose of amendment No. 1 is to ensure that the Moville area, which is part of the area administered under the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952, comes within the ambit of certain provisions of this Bill.
I am not quite sure whether that materially clarifies the amendment. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would be a little more informative?
It is simply to link up the provisions and the penalties under provisions of this Bill to the Moville area, which is part of the area described in the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952, as the area administered under that Act. There could be doubt as to whether a piece of this amending legislation would apply to the Moville area, unless it is inserted in this section.
Really, I do not want in any way to press the Parliamentary Secretary, but he does not make clear to me what the purpose is. This is an amendment of the definition section of the Bill. It sets out that the Principal Act is the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959. There is then a series of amendments introduced into the Bill all of which refer to the Moville area, No. 4 being for the purposes of subsection (1) of Section 14. It says: "The Moville Area shall be deemed to be a fishery district and the Foyle Fisheries Commission shall be deemed to be the board of conservators therefor." Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would find it easier to explain the significance of the amendment, if we were to adopt the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's proposal and take the group of amendments together?
That is my suggestion also.
If the Parliamentary Secretary finds it difficult to elaborate on them individually, let us take the four together and then perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will explain their significance.
That was my intention.
It is agreed then to discuss Nos. 1, 4, 9 and 11 together.
Under the Foyle Fisheries Act, there is an area described as the Moville Area, that is, the area within our jurisdiction, within the 26-Counties, which is administered under the Foyle Fisheries Act. If we do not insert the Moville Area in this section and the associated sections, there is a doubt as to whether the legislation applies to the Moville Area but, if we insert in Section 1 that "Moville Area" has the meaning assigned to it by the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952, it then becomes clear that those provisions of this measure do apply to the Moville Area as defined within the meaning of the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952.
Amendment No. 4 inserts in Section 14 a proviso that, for the purposes of subsection (1) of Section 14, which has regard to a person making an application to the district justice under Section 158 of the Principal Act for a certificate of fitness under that section in relation to a salmon dealer's or a salmon exporter's licence, the Moville Area shall be deemed to be a fishery district and the Foyle Fisheries Commission shall be deemed to be the board of conservators therefor. Is that a new provision? Who functioned as board of conservators in the Foyle Fisheries Act?
The Foyle Fisheries Commission.
And this is merely to reiterate the provision in the Foyle Fisheries Act that the Foyle Fisheries Commission is the board of conservators for that area?
That is it.
They were the board of conservators under the original Act?
That is right. The amendment is designed to link up this legislation with that provision and to make it clear that the meaning attached to the "Moville Area" in the Foyle Fisheries Act is incorporated in this measure.
We also must have regard to Amendment No. 9. Are we not taking amendment No. 9 with this amendment?
And amendment No. 11?
Yes, and amendment No. 11.
Are these new provisions which are set out in amendment No. 9, that in the case of the exercise by an inspector of powers under this section in the Moville Area, "inspector" means an inspector appointed under Section 55 of the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952? Is that a new provision?
Why is it thought necessary to re-enact in this Bill that which is already enacted in the Foyle Fisheries Act? Has there been some litigation and have the provisions of the Foyle Fisheries Act been called in question or what is the occasion of these clarifications?
Go back to what I said when I started. This is a new provision——
Which is a new provision?
The provision we are discussing.
The section we are discussing is the definition section.
The Deputy moved from the definition section to amendment No. 9.
We are discussing amendments Nos. 1, 4, 9 and 11.
Deputy Dillon has just made a contribution on amendment No. 9. I want to indicate to him that the amendment is designed to ensure that the provisions in the section brought in in this legislation apply to the Moville Area. It is a new section which is not in the Foyle Fisheries Act of 1952. The amendment is designed to ensure that the powers given under this section will, in fact, apply to the Moville Area, part of the area administered under the Foyle Fisheries Act.
The restrictions on the purchase of salmon and trout?
Yes. This amendment is designed to apply these provisions to this entire State in order to make it quite clear that the Foyle Fisheries Act and the administration of the Moville Area are not excluded from the total administration of the Bill. It is important to bring in this amendment to clarify the matter and make certain that the provisions which we intend to apply to the whole State do in fact apply to the Moville Area, which is a special area, the area under the care of the Commission within the Republic.
The Minister is advised that it is necessary to legislate specifically for this part of the country, lest it be assumed that the Foyle Fisheries Act excluded it from the consolidated fisheries legislation? I never heard it suggested that the consolidated fisheries legislation did not apply to the Foyle fisheries area in the same way as it applies to every other area.
It does not, actually. The Deputy may be interested to know that it does not.
The general law and regulations under the Consolidated Fisheries Acts do not apply there?
Unless linked up as is being done in this legislation, it could be argued that it does not apply.
Why does it not? In fact, I brought in the Foyle Fisheries Act, and I was never conscious of the fact when we took over the Foyle Fisheries with the Government of Northern Ireland that there was any provision which excluded that part of the fisheries which lay within our territory from the regulations applying to other parts of the country. Perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me but my recollection is that the Foyle Fisheries Act was primarily an Act to implement the bargain we made together with the Government of Northern Ireland to take over the Foyle fisheries from the London company. I do not remember that there was any provision in that Act excluding that part of the fishery which lay within our jurisdiction from the general operation of our fishery laws.
Perhaps the Deputy is not aware of the Consolidation Act of 1959?
I ought to be.
It is the governing Act in regard to this matter. Section 325 of that Act specifically excepted the Foyle fishery area from the operation of the Consolidation Act. This is a legislative amendment of the Consolidation Act and it is therefore necessary to adapt the provisions of this amending legislation in regard to the Moville Area, the part of the Foyle Fisheries Commission area which is within the Republic. I shall quote the section for the Deputy. It is Section 325 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act of 1959. It says:
"The Moville Area" means the Moville Area as defined by subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Act of 1952.
(2) Save as provided by subsection (3) of this Section, this Act shall not extend to the Moville Area.
So, the Consolidation Act does not extend to the Moville Area unless adapted to it. This is an amendment of the Consolidation Act and, if it is to apply to the Moville Area, as to the rest of the country, it is necessary to bring in the amendment before the House.
In fact we are making the whole of the consolidated Acts apply to the Moville area?
No, only some of the provisions of this amending Bill.
May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary if a similar adjustment will be made by the Parliament in Northern Ireland having the same effect as these amendments will have?
I understand that it does not arise in regard to the particular legislative enactments under their Parliament.
In the case of enactments in respect of the Foyle, there are always similar enactments by both Parliaments.
The difference here is this: The extension of this Bill is designed to cover only the Moville Area, the part of the area of the Foyle Fisheries Commission which is in the Republic. Therefore, what the Deputy says does not really apply.
As I understand it, a certain fishery area is operated under the terms of the 1952 Foyle Fisheries Act and all along in the case of any changes or amendments of the 1952 Act similar changes were made by both Parliaments at the same time. These amendments here and the provisions of the Bill do affect the Foyle fishery which is owned by both Governments and, therefore, is it not logical that there should be similar legislation on the other side because the fishery area administered by the Commission is not divided up in any way? It is one complete block where fishermen wander all over the place from both sides?
What the Deputy refers to is necessary only in the case of legislation amending the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952, when such legislation affects the whole area administered by the Foyle Fisheries Commission lying on both sides of the Border. This measure is designed to extend only to the area within the Foyle Fisheries Commission's area which is affected by the laws of the Republic, that is, the Moville Area. Therefore, there is no need for any dual legislation such as the Deputy mentions.
Is it not so that heretofore we have kept in step, that if there was a restriction put on fishing in the Foyle by our Government there was a corresponding restriction put on by the Northern Ireland Government so that the even balance would be maintained between fishermen coming from both jurisdictions? Now we have in Section 27 a very material reinforcement of the law in relation to the sale of salmon. That is the effect of Section 27.
It is a reinforcement of the law, of which I approve, a good reinforcement of the law, but I should like to be reassured, if we are going to tighten up the law in order to prevent the illegal disposition of salmon by our fishermen, that there will be a corresponding obligation on the fishermen on the other side of the fishery to act up to the same high standards as we are setting for our men. It would be very unfortunate if in our legitimate and proper desire to protect the Foyle fisheries we imposed a whole series of penalties for certain acts on the part of the fishermen only to discover that if you had been fortunate enough to reside on the other side of the Foyle you could go on doing all the things we propose to prohibit.
I do not know whether that aspect of the situation has presented itself to the mind of the Parliamentary Secretary and I think what Deputy Cunningham suggested is reinforced by the fact, which had escaped my memory, that the Foyle fishery, or what is called here the Moville Area, was excluded from our Consolidation Act because apparently we thought to get the Moville Area in a category to itself so that the legislation affecting it would march in step with the corresponding legislation on the other side of the lough in Northern Ireland. Here we are departing from that principle and introducing, as I say, commendable restrictions on our fishermen for the preservation of the resources of the lough but it is a new principle if we are to tighten our regulations west of the lough without a corresponding tightening on the east shore of the lough.
That is a matter that the Parliamentary Secretary should have regard to. I appreciate his difficulties. It is not always easy to get agreement about these things but the situation in Lough Foyle has been one of delicacy for many generations. Much of the difficulties were removed once we got joint control of the lough by the two Governments but I think the relative calm that has been established there is very largely dependent on the knowledge amongst the fishermen that hereafter all the fishermen, whichever side of the lough they come from, are treated on a basis of absolute equality. That is a principle we ought to be careful to preserve in this legislation.
I do not think one can refer to a part of the Foyle fishery on one side or the other. It is recognised now as a complete unit. I agree with Deputy Dillon when he says that, even if they are for the benefit of the fishermen themselves, any restrictions envisaged in this Bill should be applicable to all fishermen because, as I see it, all the fishermen can fish anywhere in the Foyle. For that reason it would be a bad thing at this stage to have varying regulations in that unit of fishery controlled by the Foyle Fisheries Commission. It does seem to me that this is the first departure from co-operative legislation by both Governments. I would urge the Parliamentary Secretary to have a second look at these matters because it would be bad for us here to start something which creates a difference of regulations in what is regarded by all sides as a complete fishery unit operated under the same regulations for all fishermen from all sides.
I should like to get this matter into certain perspective. The position at the moment is that on each side of the Border you have a separate corpus of fisheries legislation, a code of fisheries legislation here and a code of fisheries legislation on the other side. Since the enactment of the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952, it has been consistent policy in any amendments to our general fisheries code to segregate the Moville Area under the Commission's administration as being subject to new fishery laws applicable in this State. There is nothing new or unique in regard to this. The amending Act passed by this House last year— the Foyle Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1961—notwithstanding Section 325 in the 1959 Act — has brought the Moville Area within the Commission's administration entirely into line with the administration of fisheries legislation in the rest of the State and the present amending Bill before the House is merely a continuation of what has been the policy underlying successive fisheries enactments passed here since 1952.
It is a fact that under the Section I have mentioned a distinction is drawn between the Moville Area and the rest of the State but, by the Foyle Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1961, also, a number of provisions under the Consolidation Act of 1959 were made applicable to the Moville Area. I shall read subsection (1) of Section 10 of the Foyle Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1961:
The provisions of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959, indicated in the Table to this section shall, notwithstanding section 325 of that Act, extend to the Moville Area with the substitution, for references to boards of conservators, of references to the Commission and, for references to a fishery district, of references to the Moville Area and subject also to the modifications mentioned in the Table.
The effect of that amending legislation passed last year has been to bring the Moville Area into line with the general fisheries administration of the Republic. We are now seeking by these amendments to ensure a continuance of that situation. The joint co-operative legislation to which Deputy Cunningham refers arises only when both Parliaments enact legislation dealing with the administration of the Foyle Fisheries Commission— for instance, the amending Act of 1961 to which I referred along with the Act Deputy Dillon brought in in 1952. The amending Act of 1961 was brought in in just such a manner; it was brought in by way of parallel legislation on the part of Parliament here and Parliament in Belfast because these Acts referred specially to the Foyle fisheries area. At no stage was the Moville area, within the Foyle area, excepted entirely from the general fisheries legislation of this State.
I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say a couple of minutes ago, not seven minutes ago—he rather rebuked me, I thought, or did my ears deceive me? —that the Moville area had always been excluded.
No. I said it was a defined area excluded under Section 325 of the Consolidation Act of 1959, but, apart from that Act, enactments subsequent to 1952, particularly the amending Act of 1961 in relation to the Foyle fisheries, have ensured, for the purposes of new fisheries legislation, that the defined area of Moville has been included.
That is as I understood the law, but I thought the Parliamentary Secretary to be somewhat amazed that I did not know the Moville area was excluded from the consolidation Act, and he was shocked that I did not know that, I having been associated with the Foyle Fisheries Act. In fact, Moville has been brought within the general ambit of the fisheries legislation of this country.
But it is necessary to bring that defined area into this legislation in case someone might think it was not included.
But, in fact, the Moville area is subject to the consolidated fisheries law.
That appears to me to be the exact opposite of what the Parliamentary Secretary said seven minutes ago. But it is of no consequence. It could happen to a bishop. It is established now in any case that the Moville area is now subject to the general fishery code operating throughout the Republic.
It may not be unless the House passes these amendments.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary is not giving due regard to the point raised by Deputy Cunningham and myself that, where we are introducing in respect of this Moville area further restrictions on the fishermen resident in the Republic, it is eminently desirable that corresponding restrictions should be accepted by those fishing in this fishery by residence in Northern Ireland. It is vitally important to the successful operation of this very significant co-operative effort between the two Governments that a full measure of understanding and goodwill should be maintained in very difficult circumstances, because there is a long-troubled history behind this fishery with the fishermen of the Six Counties jealously watching the fishing from the Six County shore and vice versa.
We are not only, I take it, to assume the Moville area to cover the lough itself; it also covers the tributary rivers running into the lough and you have, therefore, a number of rivers in the exclusive jurisdiction of Northern Ireland and a number of rivers in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Republic. I am apprehensive, looking at Section 27, of which I approve, that if it is applied in all its rigour to all fishermen in the Republic who fish on the lough or to lough fishermen who fish in the river, and there is no corresponding provision in the Northern Ireland legislation, grievance will tend to accumulate. I think this is a matter into which the Parliamentary Secretary ought to look and I suggest to him that, unless he has had this matter under consideration already, between now and the Report Stage, he should consider whether some discussions with the Northern Ireland Government are not required.
The Deputy will appreciate the difficulty of bringing into line with our fisheries code the fisheries code operating in the Six Counties. That is not a difficulty likely to be resolved between now and the Report Stage of this measure. I agree with the Deputy on the desirability of Governments more or less moving together in such a matter, particularly as it refers to these contiguous areas under joint administration. But it is a matter for the Northern Ireland administration to bring in legislation on lines similar to ours and, while it is eminently desirable that that should be done, the Deputy will appreciate that this applies not alone to this particular measure but to the entire field of fisheries legislation.
Might I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that when the Foyle Fisheries amending Act of 1961 was brought before the House, certain regulations, which are now in this consolidation Bill, were embodied in it? Could we not have that now in reverse? Could we not exclude the whole Foyle fishery area from this and further amend the Act of 1961 to bring it in line with the regulations in this consolidation Bill? That was done before in advance. Could we not do it now post factum? For example, the regulations about the illegal sales of salmon or trout were last year embodied in the Foyle fishery legislation. That is now being dealt with for the rest of the country in this consolidation Bill. Could the Parliamentary Secretary not say: “We will exclude the Foyle area from the provisions of this measure but, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Government, we will bring the Foyle fishery legislation into line with what we are doing here now”? That would get the Parliamentary Secretary out of the difficulty.
I am afraid it would not be practicable to do what Deputy Cunningham suggests. Under the Foyle Fisheries Act of 1952, a number of provisions were enacted for the administration of that area. All of these applied to the Moville area and general provisions under separate fisheries legislation were applied to the Moville area for the purpose of maintaining parity in relation to the provisions of the fisheries code applying within our State. After the Foyle Fisheries Act of 1952, there was the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act of 1959 which defines the "Moville area" as being the area to which certain of the provisions then being repealed continued to apply by reason of the Foyle Fisheries Act of 1952.
The Foyle Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1961, applied to the Moville area the corresponding provisions of the 1959 Act, thus ensuring that, where there had been a disparity between the old provisions and the modern fisheries code, Moville area and the rest of the State were made uniform. We are maintaining that uniformity in this piece of legislation. Within the Foyle Fisheries Act, 1952, parity was maintained between certain provisions for the Moville area and the overall fishery legislation then applying to the rest of the State. That parity was maintained in the Foyle Fisheries Act of 1961 which again ensured that there was parity between provisions of the 1959 Act operating outside and inside the Moville area. These amendments seek to bring that parity further. What Deputy Cunningham referred to would bring about a rather drastic change of principle.
There is a long history behind this whole story. I was making speeches about the Foyle fishery in Donegal in 1927. It was a long troubled history. I think the Leas-Cheann Comhairle may remember it. I doubt if Deputy Cunningham does. In those days, there was a continued fracas in relation to the Foyle fisheries, the blame for which was always visited on the London company. I remember denouncing Fianna Fáil for having done nothing about it. However, it was done by agreement with the Northern Ireland Government and that is a thing we should never forget. It was done, I am happy to recall, through the superb negotiating ability of Mr. Rush, then a principal officer in the Department of Fisheries.
The whole spirit in which it was done was the presumption on both sides that our fishery controls operating in that area would keep in step. I appreciate the difficulties of the Parliamentary Secretary. With the passage of time and the enactment of fishery legislation in both areas of jurisdiction, the natural thing is for some tendency towards divergence to emerge. I think Deputy Cunningham is right. I agree with him in the view that you have got to watch this tendency very closely in regard to the Moville area and, in so far as it is humanly possible, avoid excessive divergence, lest you give rise to a recrudescence of all the intense feeling in that area which had its real root in the belief that the people on the eastern side of the estuary got a better deal than the people on the western side.
That feeling is simmering under the surface and can boil up very rapidly. It is very hard for people to carry a conviction to fishermen operating in that area, whether in the estuary or on the rivers, that there is not some advantage being extended to the people in Northern Ireland at the expense of the people in the Republic. I believe that our Department of Fisheries are vigilant to protect the legitimate interests of our people. In a case of this kind, there is nothing more important than to persuade the people to believe that is true. It requires not only to be done but the people must be persuaded that it is being done, if you are not to have very serious trouble harassing and embarrassing our administration.
If our regulations get tougher and tougher for the protection of the fisheries, without a corresponding strengthening of the regulations on the other side, it may give rise to trouble which only local people or people with personal experience of the history of this fishery fully appreciate. I recognise the difficulties of the Parliamentary Secretary but it is clearly our duty, who have some knowledge of the history of this thing, to warn him of the dangers to which this growing divergence of fishery legislation may give rise in that area.
I think it is more important to keep uniformity between the Moville area and the rest of the country. At the same time, I can see a point where there are contiguous areas. If Deputy Cunningham and Deputy Dillon allow these amendments through, I promise to look into the matter between now and Report Stage and see if I can come back with something which may go part of the way towards meeting their views.
I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for that. I think that perhaps the easiest way to deal with this matter is that as soon as possible after this Bill is enacted, we should further amend the Foyle Fisheries Act itself to bring it into line with what we are enacting here now.
I do not know why the Deputy should thank the Parliamentary Secretary. I think the Parliamentary Secretary should thank us for preventing him putting his foot in it.
This is the section which deals with "deleterious matter". Does Section 3 of the Principal Act, as amended by Section 2 of this Bill, apply to estuaries, mussel beds, oyster beds and shellfish beds?
Would the Parliamentary Secretary tell us whether there is any reason why our Department of Fisheries cannot do what the Shannon Oyster Company proposes to do? We tried to do it in Clew Bay. I should like to know whether any success attended our efforts and why the Department of Fisheries have not been able to do it through their own expert staff. Oyster fisheries on our own shores are primarily something that ought to belong to the people. It seems an unfortunate departure to be inviting companies to come here to establish oyster fisheries on our own shores when we are already afflicted by the fact that a great many of our riparian fisheries are in exclusive ownership. We find that an embarrassment. We object to certain well-to-do persons having an exclusive right to fish in certain rivers. I think we ought to be on our guard against creating new exclusive rights in fishing. If we are to have oyster fisheries, they should be in the ownership of the people. If they are not, the time will come some day when Deputies will be asking why wealthy companies have the exclusive right to cultivate oysters when, in fact, the right should be exercisable for the benefit of the individual in the community. If that time should ever arise, I would be in sympathy with the representations.
It appears to me that it is not enough to take precautions to prevent pollution, if we do not go on to exploit the waters which we are keeping pure. I would regret it if we were preventing pollution exclusively for the protection of foreign companies to come in here and exploit our coastal waters. I should be interested to hear the Parliamentary Secretary tell us that the restrictions on pollution which he envisages here will be used primarily by our Fisheries Branch to promote the growth of shellfish beds of suitable character in the ownership of the people rather than the ownership of the individuals I have mentioned.
I think Deputy Dillon is drawing a long bow, so to speak, in this matter. There are ample waters around our coast. The few applications that have been received from foreign interests to develop an oyster industry in certain parts around our coast will leave an ample supply of water, tidal waters, bays, and so on, for development by our own people.
Skill, risk, enterprise and capital are involved in developing certain specific places. We very carefully circumscribe the specific area assigned to them. At the moment, particularly in Holland, there is the prospect that the oyster fishing industry may be in difficulties in ten or twelve years' time. They are the main suppliers of oysters within the Common Market area. They have all the skills and technical know-how, built up over years.
Some of these entrepreneurs in that country are interested, amongst others from Common Market countries, in using their know-how and technical capacity to engage in the development of an oyster fishing industry here in Ireland. That would be, of course, of benefit to us in the way of employment and in the way of building up an export business. That is without any detriment whatever, by reason of the availability of waters, to any such development in this country.
The experiments at Clew Bay, to which Deputy Dillon referred, have not been successful. I regret that. We shall look into a further adjustment of the operations that have been carried on heretofore. They have not been successful. Oyster rearing, as Deputy Dillon well knows, is probably the most highly complicated business imaginable.
If know-how and a certain capacity in regard to oyster farming or oyster rearing has grown up over one hundred years, say, in Holland, it is certainly a very useful thing to import that skill in order to facilitate us in the rehabilitation of oyster beds in certain areas circumscribed and specified by way of Order.
There is no danger of the coastal waters of our country falling into the hands of these people. We have investigated the matter. If we feel it is for the overall benefit of the country to have such capital, skill, risk, enterprise, knowledge and technical know-how, I do not see why we should not have it. I think it is in accordance with the general policy pursued as a matter of principle in the past number of years. Therefore, I should like to say to Deputy Dillon that he need not have any fears in this matter.
We are watching the position carefully. There will be no complete domination of our coastal waters by such interests. We shall continue to conduct our investigations and to offer our advice. At the same time, having regard to the availability of coastal waters, that can be continued without detriment to private interests wishing to establish themselves here.
Is there no reaction amongst our Deputies in Dáil Éireann? Are we to sell out the whole country?
There is no suggestion of that.
Is there nothing we can do ourselves?
There is quite a lot but I would not prevent the efforts of others to develop something that we probably have not the skill or the know-how to develop ourselves at the moment.
This is an interesting proposition. I think we have all the skill and those that we have not got we can buy or hire, short of selling out the country for them——
There is no question of that. There are only a few bays——
This is a question of principle. We could perfectly well say that we do not choose to engage in the restocking of our rivers but that if wealthy Americans, wealthy Britons, wealthy Germans, wealthy Scandinavians choose to come here and restock our rivers we shall gladly hand over the rivers and if they chose to develop them they would be entitled to reap the profits and set the riparian rights at suitable rents and we would have the benefit of whatever employment this operation would give. I have an instinctive reaction against that. I do not think we should do that.
What is to prevent this Government or any other Government from proceeding with the scheme you suggest if they have the skill and the know-how, as the Deputy suggests, step by step?
I did start it.
You did not. It is purely experimental. It has been going on for 20 years in Clew Bay on an experimental basis. The Deputy never started it on a commercial basis——
I shall not argue about that.
That is the point.
When I was Minister and in charge of Fisheries, I gave the staff of the Fisheries Branch a direction to exhaust their technical abilities to establish an oyster fishery in Clew Bay.
"Experimental", my foot.
The experiment has failed.
Gracious me, we had, or I believe we had, as good a technical staff as we had in Europe in our Fisheries Branch.
The experiment has not succeeded: I regret it.
There may be reasons for that. If the experiment did not succeed in Clew Bay, what special subtle knowledge have the Dutch that we have not here, or is there nowhere where that knowledge can be hired?
I can assure the Deputy that sometimes know-how is very hard to get.
I do not think the Deputy need explain these elemental facts of life to me. I am afraid we are getting into that state of mind, which I deplore, that we are able to do nothing in Ireland and that, in order to get anything done with the natural resources of Ireland, we must sell the fisheries to the Dutch, land to the Germans, industry to the Continentals. Where our people come into this picture, I do not quite know.
They become employed.
Well, I could conceive of a more dignified destiny for our people in their own country than to become the servants of immigrants.
Consider the unemployment rate in 1956.
It is not a very wonderful destiny for the Irish people that they should become in their own country the servants of immigrants and it is not an ambition for our people that I would be prepared to accept.
The Deputy accepts a ranch policy with no employment.
We are not at the moment talking about a ranch policy but about the sea. I have not yet heard it referred to in terms of ranches. Why have we not established oyster beds of our own?
It does not prevent us. Some of these interests are private Irish interests.
The Fisheries Branch is supposed to be, and I believe is, the repository of the highest fishery skills in this country. Is that not so? Why can we not establish oyster beds in the inshore waters of this country for the public benefit? Or must we surrender that?
We have heard about the Clew Bay one which has not been a success. Have we learned from that failure?
I do not know.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary says he will have it examined again to see if it can be made a success. However, this will be a big effort.
My problem is that we are not trying at all. We are now inviting in the Dutch and they think it worthwhile to come.
They have the know-how.
The Department should recruit Irish know-how.
There are separate Irish interests.
But the Dutch run the show. I think it is up to the Department to see that any Irish know-how there is will be recruited to this purpose.
Does the Deputy appreciate it involves an enormous amount of capital?
We are about to spend £6 million on the nitrogenous fertiliser factory at Arklow.
Tell that to Deputy M.J. O'Higgins.
We are about to spend £6 million——
Is the Deputy against the nitrogenous fertiliser factory at Arklow?
The Parliamentary Secretary has just said this would take a large amount of capital. Surely it will not take £6 million to establish an oyster bed? We have been told we have not the know-how and the Parliamentary Secretary says immediately afterwards that Irish nationals are interested.
In some cases.
I presume the Deputy recruited the know-how when he set down the bed at Clew Bay.
Why has it not been a success?
I am not responsible for Fisheries now.
The Deputy set it under the wrong reins from the word "go".
The only reins under which I set it was to instruct the Fisheries Branch to bring to bear on Clew Bay all the technical knowledge at their disposal. I decline to be a party to the Minister's policy of endeavouring to instruct his own technicians how to do their job. I knew nothing about establishing oyster beds but I believed, and I still believe, we have as fine a technical staff in the Department as there is anywhere in Europe. The Parliamentary Secretary says now that Irish interests are going to establish these oyster beds. I asked the question why we could not employ Irish technicians and he says that it would require vast amounts of capital.
Over a 15-year period.
I would remind him we are about to spend £6 million building a nitrogenous fertiliser factory and £4,500,000 on the establishment of a dockyard in Cork. We have spent millions establishing a steel mill in Cork and we have spent £6 million on providing jet planes to cross the Atlantic.
All money well spent.
Time will tell, but ad interim if we can find capital for all these, how is it we cannot sink some into oyster beds? If we have the capital, the know-how, then why do we send for the Dutch? The Parliamentary Secretary says it is a noble thing to send for all these people and instal them here so that our people can be employed. Is that the Fianna Fáil future for this country——
Full employment here.
——that our people would become the servants of immigrants here? I do not think it is a pretty picture.
Surely we should not discourage external investment and external know-how when there is plenty of scope for its use in this country.
If we can do it ourselves, I am wondering why we do not. I am awaiting the answer. I warn the Parliamentary Secretary that it is a facile procedure up a slippery slope to start shifting the burden of responsibility, which he is supposed to bear, on the one hand on to the wholesale fishmongers——
Back to that again?
——and on the other, on to the Dutch.
I believe some fishmongers are very decent people. Apparently the Deputy does not like them. They provide us with a very useful distribution service. I wish there were more of them with more enterprise. If there were, we might make something out of our fishing industry.
The Deputy is a relatively new member of the House and I do not want to be rude. I hope the Deputy will contribute to the debate. The Parliamentary Secretary should at least give us this reassurance: that if the Dutch are to get the first crack in this, we will make an effort to do something ourselves.
The Deputy has that reassurance.
The Parliamentary Secretary told me on one occasion he had under contemplation some scheme to establish oyster beds. I should be grateful if he would give us particulars of any such proposals that he may have in mind at the present time.
We have had discussions on this matter and I can give the Deputy the assurance that we are following up these discussions. I want to emphasise it is a highly complex matter——
The Parliamentary Secretary need not tell me that.
——involving finance and know-how. I repeat that we are having these discussions.
I am glad to hear we are not leaving it exclusively in the hands of the Dutch.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 4, to delete lines 3 to 6 and to insert " `(4) Subsection (2) of this section shall not apply in relation to bye-laws made under this Act after the commencement of section 3 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1962, and if any person contravenes (whether by act or omission) any such bye-law, he shall be guilty of an offence against"
It is agreed that we discuss amendments Nos. 2, 12 and 13 together.
The purpose of this group of amendments is to ensure that any penalties arising out of the bye-laws made under this Act will, in fact, be enforced. Without the inclusion of the bye-laws there is a very real danger that a contravention of the bye-laws would not involve the penalties set out in the penalties section.
The purpose is to increase the fines which may be levied over and above what they are at present?
Quite, and that the penalties will be applicable under the bye-laws.
Would I be correct in saying that these amendments taken together are intended to do more than to attach to breaches of the bye-laws a breach of the Act itself? I take it the Parliamentary Secretary is giving a general undertaking to have these bye-laws laid on the Table of the House.
The very last amendment provides for that in the case of orders.
Does this represent any material change of the law?
Not very material.
Of course it does.
What is the change?
It extends the provision of Section 14 of the Principal Act. Perhaps I am under a misapprehension here. Are we dealing with Section 4 or Section 5? This is an important section in that it is an enabling section, making provision for the making of regulations by the Minister——
Wait a minute. Has the Parliamentary Secretary got this right?
Section 5 deals with qualification of conservators. Its purpose is to ensure continuity. It is designed to ensure that the existing qualifications for membership are tightened up so as to provide that any person seeking election must be the holder of a fishing licence or a rated occupier of a fishery of under £50 valuation. The purpose of the section is to ensure that the office of conservator will only be available to a person who is interested in the administration of the district's fisheries.
I do not follow. The Parliamentary Secretary says he must either hold a licence or be a rated occupier, and the section appears to provide that to be eligible he must reside or possess real property in the fishery district and "either—". That is what it appears to me to say. How far is that a change in existing law?
That part is the same. Would the Deputy continue?
(i) he would, if an election for that electoral division were held at that particular time, be entitled under subsection (2) or (4) of section 24 to vote at the election——
That is additional.
(ii) he is the rated occupier of a fishery in the fishery district aforesaid the rateable value of which is less than fifty pounds and has paid the fishery rate in respect thereof for the fishery year immediately preceding the year in which the election for such office takes place and the amount thereof is not less than one pound."
What does the Parliamentary Secretary hope to gain by that? Anyone who has a fishing licence can vote in the election of conservators.
That is an improvement on the existing position.
How? In what way?
He cannot vote unless he has a licence.
How does the licence make any difference?
I presume the holder of a licence is a person who is interested in the conservancy of the fishery in his area.
Like someone else a long time ago, the Parliamentary Secretary presumes too much.
It is a reasonable presumption.
It is naive. The Parliamentary Secretary is aware that if the secretary of the local Fianna Fáil cumann wished to be on the board, he could be provided by his pals with a licence which would automatically qualify him to vote.
There will not be that sort of nonsense.
I hope not but if there were some provision against it, it might be a lot better.
It is an improvement on the situation that they cannot be elected without a licence.
It is said that a good poacher is a good conservator.
Section 6 makes provision in regard to the making of regulations governing the election of boards of conservators. The purpose of the section is to ensure that the Minister may, by order, make regulations in relation to the procedure for the nomination and election of members of boards of conservators. Certain dissatisfaction has been expressed to me—and I find basis for it—against the present procedure, which is too casual and haphazard. There is no procedure laid down whereby candidates must be duly nominated—proposed and seconded and so on. Under this section, we may bring in orders providing for due nomination procedure, venue of election and whether the election may take place by postal ballot, which has been suggested by a number of associations as being a very desirable object. This is an enabling section to enable these reforms to be carried out.
These regulations will be laid on the Table of the House under the 21 day rule?
It improves the present election procedure which is a bit of a joke, as the Parliamentary Secretary is aware.
It is conducted in a very haphazard manner.
What is the reason for this change?
It is to prevent a person who has been disqualified from being eligible for co-option after disqualification. The practice has grown up that people who had been disqualified for non-attendance were re-elected.
It is a handy way of keeping a board seat open to re-elect a person who does not turn up.
What is this?
This is in regard to the Council of Boards of Fishery Conservators, a non-statutory body set up in 1958 composed of representatives of the various boards of conservators throughout the country. The purpose is to make funds available to meet administrative and other expenses.
What about the Salmon Conservancy Fund?
That is another matter.
Is this the levy?
Is that its sole source of revenue?
No. The Exchequer vote at the present moment is twice as high as the total levy.
The Exchequer contribution goes into the Salmon Conservancy Fund?
Subject to the general remarks against the fraud of levying 2d. a lb. on exports of salmon in order to spare the Exchequer the obligation of making its due contribution to the Salmon Conservancy Fund——
The Exchequer contribution has more than trebled since Deputy Dillon's days.
So has the cost of living.
And the cost of salmon.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 5, line 59, before "licence" to insert "fishing".
This is merely an amendment to correct a typographical error in the original script. It is merely to insert "fishing" before "licence".
My Bill reads: "... disqualified for holding a fishing licence or an oyster licence ... " This amendment seems to make it "... a fishing fishing licence ..."
"... an oyster fishing licence ..."
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 6, to add to the section the following subsection:
"(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section the Moville Area shall be deemed to be a fishery district and the Foyle Fisheries Commission shall be deemed to be the board of conservators therefor."
We have already discussed this amendment and the Parliamentary Secretary has undertaken to look into the matter.
What is the reason for asking them to keep the registers for six months after they are filled?
It is a question of preserving them. It is a practical question.
Of preserving the record? I take it the fishmonger is liable to produce this register on request?
We are providing that he must preserve it for a further six months beyond when it is in use?
That is correct.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 8, before section 18, to insert the following new section:
"Section 172 (which provides for the protection of water from pollution) of the Principal Act is hereby amended by—
(a) the deletion of subsection (1), and
(b) the substitution of `deleterious matter' for `deleterious liquid' in subsection (2)."
The purpose of this amendment is to bring Section 172 into line with the new "deleterious matter". It is a definition matter.
But you are deleting subsection (1)?
Which defines "deleterious liquid".
Does it mean that if somebody has deleterious matter in his possession which he intends throwing into a river and which will kill fish but which is for an innocent purpose, he can throw in as much as he likes?
The whole purpose of the new definition is to broaden the basis of "deleterious". We are broadening that to include liquid.
This person can now throw in deleterious matter, if it is for an innocent purpose?
He must prove it.
If he can prove that, does that exempt him from any penalty?
He must go into court and prove it.
Is that not the whole trouble, that people are pouring in this material and fish are being killed?
I agree with the Deputy but there is a principle of law. It shifts the onus on to him to make the case that he had it for an innocent purpose.