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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 27 Nov 1962

Vol. 198 No. 1

Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1962— Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1.

In page 12, to delete section 30, lines 35 to 41, and to insert the following section:

(1) Sections 102, 103 and 114 and Parts XIII to XVI (which provisions relate to sea fisheries and certain other matters) of the Principal Act shall (notwithstanding section 325 of that Act) extend to the Moville Area and, for the purpose of giving full effect to the said provisions, every other provision of the Principal Act or of this Act which is applicable in relation to any of the said provisions shall also extend to that Area.

(2) The provisions of the Fisheries Acts, 1842 to 1958, corresponding to the said extended provisions of the Principal Act shall, in so far as they continued to be in force in the Moville Area by reason of the operation of section 325 of that Act, cease to be in force.

(3) Section 29 of this Act shall not extend to the Moville Area.

On the Committee Stage, I undertook to review those of the provisions of the Bill which will apply in the Moville Area, that is, the part of the Foyle area which is within the State.

In order to get a clear picture it is necessary to go back to the Foyle Fisheries Act of 1952. That Act, with its counterpart enacted in parallel terms by the Belfast Parliament, provided a common code of law for the administration of the salmon fisheries of the Foyle Area by the Foyle Fisheries Commission. The then existing provisions of the Fisheries Acts, 1842 to 1949, were repealed for the Foyle area in so far as the Foyle Acts rendered their retention unnecessary. It was necessary, however, to retain for the Moville area a considerable body of the pre-1952 law, for instance, the provisions dealing with sea fisheries. Even when those provisions were consolidated in 1959 for the remainder of the State, they remained in force in their old form in the Moville Area. Section 325 of the Consolidation Act had that effect. This situation was changed by the Foyle Fisheries (Amendment) Act of 1961 when the opportunity was taken to extend corresponding provisions of the Consolidation Act to the Moville Area.

The present position, therefore, is that some sections of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959, apply throughout the entire State and others do not apply in the Moville area because there are corresponding provisions in the Foyle Fisheries Acts. In other words, there are two codes of fishery law in the Moville area, one under the Foyle Acts connected with the administration of the Foyle Area and the other under the Consolidation Act.

The present Bill amends and extends the Consolidation Act of 1959 and, so far as the Moville area is concerned, it is convenient to consider the sections of the Bill in four groups. One group of 16 sections 2 to 7, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 24, 26, 27, 31 and 33, will not apply in the Moville area because they amend provisions of the 1959 Act which do not apply in that area. The second group of 19 sections. Sections 1, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18 to 23, 25 to 28, 32, 34, 36, 37 and 38, will apply in the Moville Area because they relate to provisions applicable to that area.

Section 30 of the Bill, which is alone in the third category, specifically extends to the Moville Area further provisions of the 1959 Act, mainly those relating to sea fisheries. Only two sections—Sections 29 and 35— remain for the final group representing new legislation which will, in the absence of any provision to the contrary, apply throughout the entire State. Section 35 is aimed at conservation of stocks of sea fish and should clearly apply in the Moville Area. Section 29 deals with fishing for salmon at sea and it was my intention, under subsection (3), to except the Moville Area from its scope. However, in deference to the views of the House, I am moving an amendment to add a new subsection making it clear that Section 29 will not apply in the Moville Area. This amendment is included in the revised section which is being substituted for Section 30 and the opportunity is taken to improve the drafting of the remainder of that section.

The intentions expressed by the original subsection can in fact be dealt with by way of regulation under the Foyle Fisheries Act. Both Deputy Dillon and Deputy Cunningham expressed the view on Committee Stage that the more appropriate way to deal with the matter would be to ensure that regulations under the Foyle Fisheries Act would apply to the Moville Area and to the area in the Six Counties. Therefore, in deference to that point of view, we are making it clear that Section 29 does not in fact apply to the Moville Area and that the intention of Section 29 in regard to drifting at sea for salmon can, in effect, be carried out by way of regulation under the Foyle Fisheries Act.

This is an appropriate amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Agreed to take remaining Stage today.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary now for a short statement on what the position under the new fisheries code will be, when this Bill passes, in respect of one specific problem. The consolidated Act consists, I think, of five Parts. I think the fifth Part of that Act provides for the compulsory acquisition of fisheries in this country, if it is put into operation by the Minister by Order. I do not think it ever has been put into operation by Order for reasons that we debated on the Second Stage of the Bill. I want to know now if, without undertaking the whole burden of implementing Part V of the Act, under the existing code, when this Bill has been enacted, we have any powers to deal with a specific problem which presents itself in connection with the development of inland fisheries. There are scattered about the country, in various places, small lakes, the fishing rights of which are vested in old estates. These estates have in many places been sold either to local people or to the Land Commission, without any conveyance of the fishing rights. These fishing rights are vested in God-knows-who—the heirs to these old estates.

In several areas, particularly in my own constituency of Monaghan, people want to carry out, in collaboration with the Inland Fisheries Trust, works of improvement on these lakes, but they are deterred from doing so by the knowledge that if they take an abandoned lake, now swarming with pike and perch, and convert it into a good trout fishing water, it immediately becomes quite valuable and there is no reason why the heir to the old fishing title, which has long been abandoned, should not revive it, once the lake has acquired an amenity value. You may have some person turning up in England, Scotland or God-knows-where pointing out that the fishing rights in this lake were never alienated, that they belong to him and that he now proposes to preserve the lake on which the local angling association and the Inland Fisheries Trust have invested money with the intention of using it themselves or providing it as an amenity for their neighbours.

In cases of that kind, where the title to the fishing rights has in fact been abandoned for ten, 20 or 30 years, have we any powers in any of the codes to extinguish the rights or to publish an advertisement notifying all and sundry that, unless a right is established, these waters are no longer vested in any individual and thereafter will be vested in the Inland Fisheries Trust? I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary if we have not that power, we ought seriously to consider taking steps to acquire it. I fully appreciate that if we have such an intention, or if we have the power, it is a power that will have to be used with discretion. You will have to fix a minimum period of abandonment before determining that the title has in fact been abandoned. But unless and until we do something of that kind, there is a good deal of development work which ought to be carried out, which people are anxious to carry out but which cannot be carried out because, if it is carried out, strangers may revive an ancient claim and effectively take over the fruits of the Inland Fisheries Trust's and the local angling organisations' labours.

I do not expect the Parliamentary Secretary to be in a position to give me a categorical answer now. Although I am fairly familiar with the fisheries code, I do not know the answer to the question I am asking—whether we have any power under the existing code to deal with this problem. If we have not, I suggest it is a matter which we might reasonably look to, because it is at present obstructing the performance of valuable work which many angling associations and the Inland Fisheries Trust are anxious to put in hand, but which they are not putting in hand until this ambiguity has been clarified.

Like Deputy Dillon, I am not quite certain as to whether we have the power in the particular circumstances he mentioned. I would venture to say we have not, because Part V of the 1939 Act, enabling us to acquire fishery rights on a compensation basis, only envisages a situation where there are ascertained owners. The Deputy raises the case of abandoned fishery rights with unascertained owners or owners who cannot easily be ascertained. Certainly, if that situation could arise, it would create a very undesirable situation, especially as the Inland Fisheries Trust are doing very useful development work. It would be undesirable that a situation should arise where an unascertained owner might reappear and proceed to establish his legal rights.

It is a question of making provision for arrangements whereby after a certain prescribed period these rights will cease to exist. If the Deputy suggests that could be done without detriment or prejudice to existing rights by advertisement or notice of that nature, it is a matter worthy of investigation. I shall take it up with the Inland Fisheries Trust, with a view to finding out if there are in fact cases where they have been held up in any way or have refrained from going ahead with development work by reason of such fears as the Deputy expressed. I guarantee to take that up with the Trust with a view to clarifying the position. If there are specific instances where they have not gone ahead with desirable development work for the reason the Deputy suggests, I shall certainly give very real consideration to adopting some such provision.

The Parliamentary Secretary is not confining it to one fishery?

That is another day's work.

Question put and agreed to.