Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1974: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This is a Bill to extend the statutory limit on borrowings by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara from the Central Fund, to enable the boards to borrow in foreign currencies and to provide for the giving of a State guarantee where necessary for the repayment of sums borrowed by the board.

For the benefit of those Members of Dáil Éireann who may not be fully familiar with the role of An Bord Iascaigh Mhara in the fishing industry, I would like to outline briefly what the board's functions are at present. The general powers of the board were set out in the Sea Fisheries Act, 1952, in very broad terms but the primary purpose of the board's establishment can be described as the assistance and improvement of all facets of the sea fishing industry.

In their early years the board actively engaged in a number of aspects of the industry including the purchasing, processing and marketing of fish but as the years went by it gradually became clear that some of the board's activities were no longer necessary and that they should concentrate more on promotional and advisory activities. In 1962 the board's role in the furtherance of Government policy in modern conditions was set out in a White Paper entitled "Programme of Sea Fisheries Development". As a result the board have withdrawn completely from active participation in fish processing and marketing and now operate in the role of a development body for the industry.

The board's present functions include the administration of a marine credit plan under which grants and loans are given for the purchase of fishing boats, engines and gear; the provision of an advisory service to fishermen to improve fishing techniques and promote co-operation among fishermen; the development of markets at home and abroad for fish and fishery products; the encouragement of private investment in worthwhile fish processing undertakings; the operation of three boat years for the building and repair of fishing boats; and the operation of ice-making plants at some fishing ports where such facilities are not provided by private enterprise.

In addition to their grant-in-aid for capital development, the bulk of which is used to provide grants for the purchase of new fishing boats, BIM receive payable advances each year from the Central Fund for the provision of loans at a reduced rate of interest for the same purpose. These advances are repaid to the Central Fund from the loan repayments made by purchasers of boats.

Under existing legislation—section 1 of the Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1970—the amount of outstanding repayable advances from the Central Fund to the board may at no time exceed £5 million. That limit has now been reached and it is necessary that it be extended so that the development of our sea fishing industry may continue. Because of the strong demand for new fishing boats, the rapidly rising cost of these boats and the tendency to use increasingly larger boats, I consider that the limit should be raised to £15 million. This should be sufficient to meet BIM's demands on the Central Fund for at least five years. The original limit established in 1952 was £500,000 which applied to aggregate borrowing and not the total outstanding. That limit was increased to £1 million in 1956, to £3 million in 1959 and to the present £5 million in 1970 when it was also decided to change the application of the limit to total outstanding borrowings instead of aggregate borrowings as before.

The provision of more and larger vessels is the most important part of fishery development. I would like to quote a few statistics to show how the board's work of assisting fishermen to acquire fishing boats has been expanding in recent years. Last year the Irish fishing fleet contained a total of 1,126 motor vessels, an increase of 271, or 32 per cent, as compared with 1969. In the same five-year period the number of vessels exceeding 50 gross registered tons practically doubled from 70 to 138 and the number over 75 gross registered tons more than doubled from 19 to 47. In the same period the amount of financial assistance given by the board for the purchase of boats and gear tripled from £644,000 to £1,996,000.

The powers of BIM to borrow from sources other than the Exchequer derive from section 22 of the Sea Fisheries Act, 1952, as amended by section 2 of the Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1970, which provides that the board may, with the consent of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, given after consultation with the Minister for Finance, borrow such sums as they may require for the purpose of providing for capital or current expenditure. The Attorney General, however, has advised that the statutory powers of State-sponsored bodies to borrow do not cover borrowings in currencies other than Irish currency unless a specific provision to the effect is included in the legislation. I think it desirable that such provision should be made in respect of BIM so as to enable them, with the approval of my Department and the Department of Finance, to borrow outside the State. This is being done in the present Bill.

I am also making provision in the Bill for the giving of a State guarantee for the repayment of borrowings by BIM. This is quite a normal feature of borrowings by State-sponsored bodies.

I recommend this short Bill to the House.

We wish enthusiastically to support this Bill. Any legislation that would in any way improve the lot of our fishermen and provide more employment around our coast will have our full support. This, the Parliamentary Secretary said, is a short Bill to provide extra financial accommodation for Bord Iascaigh Mhara to expand our fishing industry further. I wonder whether it will do that. The Book of Estimates was published on Friday last. Government spending for the coming year will be increased by something like 26 per cent. Out of this, semi-State bodies are getting increases of anything from 40 to 45 per cent. However, when we look at the fishing industry we see that the Government have cut back on expenditure by almost 5 per cent. That is a deplorable cut. We must remember that 1974 was a nine-month financial period and 1975 is to be a 12-month period. Even to remain at the same level there should be an increase of 33? per cent without making provision for inflation or the huge increase in expenses which is inevitable. I am sure Bord Iascaigh Mhara will find themselves in the same predicament as every other individual and industry in regard to rising costs. It is most disappointing to find this cut in such a developing industry.

At this time the fisheries division should be made a full Ministry. Everything connected with this industry can be done within the State. Nothing has to be imported. Perhaps the Ministry could include such matters as the development of offshore oil and gas. At present fisheries are fragmented over four or five Departments. We hope our resources of gas and oil will be exploited and that all these activities can be included under one new Ministry. The British trawler fleet are at present seeking a £20 million subsidy per annum to keep going. Our fishing industry is doing well. Our fleet is growing rapidly. The industry is one of the fastest growing in the country and it is one of natural resources. Is it because it was not causing any problems to the Exchequer that the Government decided to cut back? Will this £15 million which we are allowing the industry to borrow under this Bill be an advantage to it after the cut back that has been imposed? Let me warn the Parliamentary Secretary that the money to be spent on fisheries for 1975 will barely keep our boat yards in production for the coming year because of the escalation in costs. It gives us on this side of the House no pleasure to predict that our boat yards will come to a standstill before the month of August next year, this at a time when our unemployment figures are soaring daily and at a time when there is growing confidence in the fishing industry. To prove this we only have to look at the progress of Bord Iascaigh Mhara over the past several years and to look at the orders they have on their books. I understand they have something in the region of £7 million worth of orders for new vessels on their books for three years. After this cut back by the Government it is doubtful if this power to borrow an extra £15 million will keep our boat yards going.

It is estimated that to date our fishing industry is worth about £18 million to the economy and the value of exports of fishery products stands at something in the region of £10 million whereas ten years ago it was only £1 million. Big redevelopment plans are in progress in our major ports and, more important, more young men than at any time in the history of the State are taking over skipper/ownership of huge £300,000 and £400,000 class vessels. Apart from this there are businessmen and others investing in shore industry based on a resource which all evidence proves is there.

At the present rate of growth there is every hope that by 1977 £34 million could be added to our GNP. In the past year 50 per cent of our exports have gone to EEC member countries with a further 43 per cent to Britain. The board's export development programme during the year concentrated on diversification of fish exports into the most remunerative outlets. The people who are qualifying as skippers are men in their early twenties. It is gratifying to know that those young men can get financial support for vessels costing £300,000 and £400,000 from financial institutions throughout Europe. Surely that is evidence enough of the confidence there is in the fishing industry. If a man in his twenties went into any financial institution for a loan of that size for any other industry or business what sort of reception would he get? We all know he would be thrown out. He would not even be considered. Unfortunately this confidence does not exist in the Fisheries Division. This is one of the reasons why Fisheries will have to be divorced from Agriculture. Fisheries is big enough now to stand on its own as a Department of State instead of being an adjunct of Agriculture or some other Department.

Fisheries should be responsible for all development and for looking after the interests of those engaged in the industry. It should be responsible for the development of harbours, ports and other facilities essential to the industry. The Parliamentary Secretary referred to processing. This is one area which has been sadly neglected. Total investment in the processing industry is hardly £4 million. The processing industry will have to be developed substantially either by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, private enterprise, entreprencurs or someone else. Processing will have to be done here right through from the raw material to the finished product. This would greatly benefit our economy and provide much needed employment in depressed areas along the western seaboard where the greatest potential for development lies.

The fishing industry in the past played a major part in curbing emigration. Surely it could play a big part now in halting migration from the west to the east. Our processing plants are very primitive. We are doing only the primary processing—freezing, filleting, smoking and salting. It is galling to see our fish going out partly processed to continental factories where the final stages of processing are carried out. There is very little sophisticated packaging. It is merely rough packaging for the catering trade.

One example of the gross lack of development is our herring. These are exported to Germany, France and Holland to be finished in these countries in cans, jars and marinades. There is no reason why this work should not be done here. Prior to our entry into the EEC these countries had very high tariff rates on finished fish products for the purpose of protecting their own industries. With the removal of the tariff rates we have reached the stage now at which Irish producers should expand the processing of fish right through to the finished stage. This will of course call for a huge capital investment in the industry. Will part of this £15 million be available by way of loan or grant to enable those interested to make a start in complete processing?

Last year herring catches were close on 40,000 tons. This makes us a major supplier of European requirements. With proper development there is nothing to prevent us supplying canned herrings, soused herrings, jarred marinades and other herring products, such as frozen kipper fillets in vacuum sealed packets. All these would be suitable for the European market, for Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and would provide a valuable source of revenue.

We are importing over £2 million worth of finished fish products, such as tinned salmon, tinned sardines, fish fingers and so on. Imports are actually growing and this could have a damaging effect in the long run on the sale of our own fresh fish on the home market. White fish would present a bigger problem than herring does from the point of view of processing.

With regard to research, we have at the moment only one research vessel. This, in itself, is an indication of the truly minor scale of the work. No single vessel could possibly do the amount of research required. There is every likelihood that there are unexploited fish resources within our territorial waters. Investment in research would pay a dividend from the point of view of pinpointing stocks and prevent the danger of overfishing to the detriment of future yields. We should learn a lesson from what happened in the North Sea where stocks were completely fished out some years ago.

I do not know if it is in order to talk about the protection of our waters. Probably the Ceann Comhairle will rule me out of order.

Not at all.

One of the major complaints is the lack of protection around our shores. There are four vessels but these can cover only a limited area. Their whereabouts are usually fairly well known and foreign skippers relay the information from boat to boat. More should be invested in fishery protection vessels because illegal fishing represents a loss to the economy. The position may be made more difficult as a result of our entry into the EEC. Fishing limits will have to be reviewed in 1983 and may result in a reduction of territorial waters. Could our laws be amended? Now, when foreign trawlers are caught within territorial waters, the skipper is fined and the gear is confiscated. Could we adopt tougher measures which would inhibit illegal fishing?

We must congratulate the board on the job they are doing but the board should be expanded. Some members of the producing association should be on the board. This is essential since they are the basis on which the whole industry rest. This is essential in the years that lie ahead now that it is more than probable that the Conference on the Law of the Sea, which it is hoped will conclude next May or so, will give exclusive rights for all economic exploitation within a 200 mile zone from the nation's coast. This will give Ireland extensive tracts of some of the most valuable fishing grounds in the world in the north east Atlantic.

Maybe this does not count within the aegis of the Parliamentary Secretary, but the Government should take note that a huge fishing port will have to be developed on the western seaboard. It is essential to our economy that this work should be put in train. The lack of a major fishing harbour will hinder growth in what is already the most under-exploited of our fisheries.

The number of fishermen in the industry remains static with new recruits only filling the gaps left by older men retiring and other forms of labour waste. BIM will have to try to attract new recruits to the industry. There are many other aspects of this Bill which I could discuss but I know that other speakers are anxious to get in. We wish BIM every success and we hope that some of the things which will be said here today will be taken into consideration in the expansion of this huge industry. It deserves the attention of a Government Minister.

Fishing is our third largest industry. Being an island country and fishing being one of our natural resources, I agree with the last speaker that we are not spending enough money on fishing. I should like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on the job he is doing for our fishermen. I have heard nothing but the highest of praise of him from any deputation who met him. He listened very sympathetically and he did his utmost for them.

The fishing industry should be taken away from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. It is an important industry and it should be dealt with by a separate Department. It is good to see that the Parliamentary Secretary is looking for an increase in the limit to £15 million. In 1962 the limit was £500,000, and today it is £15 million. I hope this will enable BIM to meet the terrific demand they are getting for money from our fishermen. If young men who are able fishermen, who can make a good job of fishing, apply for loans they should not be denied the money which is available. This industry is too important to spare money on it.

It is encouraging to realise that over the past five years our 50-ton vessels have increased from 70 to 138 and our 75-ton vessels have increased from 19 to 47. Like Deputy Brennan, I live in a constituency where we have the most modern fishing port in the country. In the past couple of years we have seen terrific advances with new piers being built, factories going up and a boat yard. No matter what night you travel down that road you see five or ten lorries bringing the fish to be sold in the cities.

BIM have done a terrific job in marketing fish. We cannot overemphasise the promotion needed to sell more and more fresh fish. At one time most people used to eat fish on Friday. Bord Iascaigh Mhara must promote the different ways in which the different fish can be served. Nowadays the housewives are looking for filleted fish. They are looking for shell fish, mussels, oysters and all the different kinds of fish. We must encourage the fishing industry. I, too, support this Bill.

I could hardly let this occasion pass without coming in to lodge a protest at the fact that the Book of Estimates shows a drastic reduction in the amount of money available for this most important industry. I want to put it on record that the people in the industry are appalled at the way this Estimate has been handled this year and to appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to try to redress the wrong even at this stage.

In the present state of the economy this is one industry in which we would expect to see investment by the Government and signs of new development, because it can have a direct effect on the economy in the part of Ireland where it is most needed. Frequently in this House we talk about the undeveloped areas, the less-favoured areas, the areas where decentralisation might help, and the areas where special incentive grants should be applied.

We have two natural resources in in the west of Ireland, fishing and tourism. We have the raw material for them given to us by God. If we do not make an effort to develop this important industry we cannot claim to be serious about anything we are doing in this House. Yesterday a serious blow was delivered to our tourism industry, and today we have to refer to a reduction in the Book of Estimates, Estimates which would need to be doubled if they were to pick up the slack which has come about by inflation and make for the expansion our industry is geared for.

The fishing industry has made steady progress down the years but it is now only beginning to show itself. That industry is now in a position to absorb more capital and respond more actively than any other industry. This is a sad story; it is a disgusting story and I want to protest in the strongest terms at the failure of the Government to give the Parliamentary Secretary the necessary money to do something with this important industry. This industry has a high labour content. It is an industry which, capital wise is not a difficult one to finance in that it will respond pretty rapidly to any investment. I did not come here to make political capital out of this but coming from a maritime county I was saddened, disgusted and completely upset to see that this Estimate was singled out for reduction this year.

At times we have referred to urban-minded people in Government and the lack of knowledge of the problems of the western seaboard—at times we may stress it too much—but there are signs that this is the position. The Government are now hitting an industry that is most deserving of investment and most responsive to capital in-feed. The action of the Government in cutting this Estimate is difficult to understand because the fishing industry is now geared for a great go ahead. We have more water than land and for this reason fishing should be our primary industry. It has been frequently said in this House that it is only being scratched. I was never content with what we were able to do for this industry in the past, but the industry was rapidly gaining momentum and showed signs of reaching the stage it should reach for a country surrounded by a wealth of waters.

We talk about the potential offshore mineral wealth, the Continental Shelf, and the exploration that should be carried out at £1 million per bore for testing the possibility of gas or oil, but the fishing industry only requires the capital because the exploration has been carried out. The potential of this industry is well known to everybody but it is starved for capital. This is an on-going industry that should get more and more capital each year.

My main purpose here today is to protest against this complete lack of responsibility by the Government in curtailing the capital available for this industry. Increasing the borrowing limit of State guarantee to £50 million means nothing. This has been increased as time went on and as inflation ate into money value. The question of being able to borrow is one which must be questioned because it is subject to our being able to borrow abroad and we have been borrowing so much abroad these days that we are wondering when the time will come when our cheques will be returned.

To develop the fishing industry was a difficult task and this could not be done rapidly because a four-pronged assault was necessary to bring the industry up to a proper standard. It was necessary to increase catching power and to do that it was necessary to have marketing. It was also necessary to have processing stations ashore and to improve harbour facilities for the people engaged in this occupation. I watched with interest all these things happen. The progress was commendable and we were reaching the stage where success was breeding success. Our boat yards were working to capacity and the size of boat was increasing. In Killybegs the biggest boat now is more than 80 ft. I am not making the point that everybody should have a larger boat. When I visited the north of Denmark to have a look at the fishing industry I was impressed by the fact that the fishermen there used every size of boat, the small boat to go to sea for a few hours, the larger craft which spent months at sea and the craft used for fishing from morning to evening. We should continue to use boats of all sizes but the use of the larger boats ensures that our fishermen are able to exploit the wider limits available to them.

These signs were most encouraging in recent times but the necessity for more capital is becoming more evident. I would hate to think that anything would halt the progress that has been made in that direction. Our navigation education has improved and facilities have been provided for the training of fishermen-skippers, in particular. It is a huge undertaking for a young man to go to sea with gear worth close on £250,000. The repayment of a loan of that size is a big undertaking but this has been done in many cases. Young skippers, sometimes in their early twenties, have qualified for the bonus payable to those who have repaid their loan before the allocated time. This is proof of the enthusiasm of such skippers, of the progress in that industry.

The most interesting thing in recent times is that the old tradition of only sea folk going into the industry has disappeared. We now have people from inland counties going into the industry, completing their training and taking charge of boats. They have successfully proved that it is not necessary to be a kind of amphibious animal to be a fisherman. The conditions under which crew work are better and the boats now have facilities for sleeping and eating, facilities which boats did not have heretofore. The net result is that fishing is becoming a more interesting occupation and one which is providing a high standard of living for the growing numbers going into it.

I hope the Killybegs harbour development is not held up again. We ran into capital shortage more than once since that development work began. A former Minister for Finance, Deputy Haughey, on one occasion had to tell a deputation that the reason why we were not making more progress was that we did not have the finance. He gave an undertaking to that deputation that the finance would be provided as soon as possible. This was done and this very big undertaking, which was originally recommended in the course of a report on deep sea harbours around the coast, commenced. I would hope that the necessity for that urgently required accommodation in Killybegs would be recognised and that work would proceed. If the Parliamentary Secretary could borrow on the strength of the extended facility being afforded him here he should allocate the moneys to harbour development of that type in order to ensure that the industry would not be restricted for want of accommodation and that provision be made for the growing fleet and larger boats the outcome of many years endeavour put into the industry in the past.

I should like to appeal also to the Parliamentary Secretary or to anybody who may succeed him to put a few extra million pounds into the development of this industry. I would appeal to him not to forget the casual fishermen around the coast and the little facilities they have come to use and enjoy around the western seaboard. We had a storm last January which did a lot of damage to many of these landing places. Not one penny has been spent since putting right the damage done on that occasion. Lest the Parliamentary Secretary might think I am speaking off the top of my head, so to speak, I am thinking of places like Rossbeg in Donegal, Inver, Malinbeg, where the facilities were either destroyed by storm or eroded over the years. No effort has been made in this respect. I have failed even to get satisfaction from the Department in relation to Malinbeg when I put a number of urgent requirements before them for the fishermen who use that landing place with their small craft and do a very good job in that respect as well as farming a little land. The part-time fisherman must not be overlooked in our efforts to develop the larger ports. I would make a very earnest appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to find some money in the EEC or elsewhere for that purpose.

We talk about regional development. Yesterday we received a paltry sum of money for regional development that would not even construct a decent road from here to Galway, would not even patch it. I should like to see somebody negotiate at EEC level and come back with £100 million to develop fishing on the western seaboard, really make the people realise that we are up and doing, that we mean business and that we are going to develop one of the greatest industries of this country. It remains still only as a bad third when it should be equal to agriculture and manufacturing, if not ahead of them.

I should like to congratulate An Bord Iascaigh Mhara for having done a good job and put a lot of expertise into fishing. I admire them. Over the years they have had their critics, sometimes the fishermen themselves— and fishermen are not always people easy to deal with; they have many problems and tend to blame them on many people and many sources—but the fishermen in Donegal are among the best in the world. I think they would all agree that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara have been doing a very good job in so far as it lies within their power to ensure that the industry is developed. For goodness sake, give them the money to do it. It is a good capital investment and a lot better than some of the things on which we are spending money. As I have said at the outset, it will respond more rapidly and any capital fed into it will yield an immediate return. It will reduce that about which we have spoken so much—the balance of payments deficit.

My colleague, the previous speaker, spoke about the sale of fresh fish. I am not anxious to encourage the sale of fresh fish. I feel it is like selling cattle on the hoof. The more processing we can have at home the better. When we engage in processing whether it be smoking, marinating, deep-freezing, filleting, or anything else all of which is being done at present we are enabled to hold our supplies and place them on the market at the most advantageous time. The fresh market is one that must be availed of immediately and one must take or leave whatever may be the price at a given time. Processing is a market that ensures continuity of supply. Nowadays there is no such thing as dumping of fish supplies. I remember on many occasions seeing herrings being put out on the land as a fertiliser when they could not be sold. Thank God, that day has gone. Many people in this House would find it hard to believe that tons of those herrings had, at times, to be dumped because they could not be sold. We will never have a glut of fish now because the fishmeal factories are prepared to step in at all times, when the price drops below a certain economic level, to process them and they can use more than they can get. Our fishmeal can be sold in competition with Peruvian or any other in the world because it is of a higher standard and generally of better quality.

Thank God, again, we have seen a lot of progress made in the fishing industry in recent years, thanks to those who have worked hard in it. But today we are alarmed and worried at the way the industry has been treated in this year's Book of Estimates. This is not something that could not be remedied as yet were the will there to do it. A Supplementary Estimate for a few million pounds would be very useful. Increasing the borrowing to £15 million will take up a good deal of the slack in the devaluation of money as a result of the inflationary erosion of money values. Assuming that we could borrow that money, assuming that it would be available to us from some money market abroad, it should be used primarily to improve landing facilities and particularly to complete those works in hand because until they are completed, they are not a proper investment. Until they are officially completed, they are not yielding to the nation the benefit intended. I was glad that permission was granted to the fishermen in Killybegs temporarily to use part of the development there because they were completely hampered through lack of space.

My main reason for speaking is to protest about the way the industry has been handled in the allocation of Estimates. When there was going to be a slashing of the capital programme it is a disgrace that this most important industry should receive such treatment. I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to do something about it. I want also to reiterate the need to keep the smaller landing facilities around the coast in a decent state of repair to enable part-time fishermen to continue their seasonal work which is their main source of income apart from anything they may make on their small holdings. It is one of the means of livelihood in the west and not one that can be taken from the people there as a result of centralisation or any rushing to the brighter lights of the city. It exists and development of it is what is needed. The tourist industry, having received the knock it did last week with the increased price of petrol, the fishing industry now is showing signs of being starved of finance. This is a bad omen for the future. I do not approach this with any desire to use it as propaganda but in an effort to make a genuine appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary, along with the Minister for Finance, to ensure that we on the western seaboard live too. If we have not got anything worthwhile out of the regional fund, at least we have the raw material for two great industries, if given a chance. One of those is fishing and the other is tourism. The Government must realise the importance of our fishing industry.

I rise to say a few words in support of this Bill. Like the other speakers, it is my contention that more money should be provided for the fishing industry. The Parliamentary Secretary is a man who is deeply interested in the development of this industry. He is living on the water's edge, as it were, and he meets with fishermen every day of the week. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that he has a much greater knowledge of their problems than any of his predecessors might have had.

I wish to pay tribute, too, to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara who have done a tremendous job. For a number of years the fishing boats were on the small side but there is now the realisation that, if we are to make a success of the industry, there must be larger vessels. I am glad to say that during the past few years the trend has been towards these larger vessels.

In this connection I would refer briefly to the question of our boatyards. These concerns have not been given the support that they deserved down through the years. Too many boats were imported from abroad and, unfortunately, the history of those imported vessels has not been all that might be desired. Many fishermen have found fault with them and some of the vessels are now lying idle although they were very costly to purchase. It is generally accepted by the fishermen that those boats built in our own yards are of better quality than the imported ones. There is a boatyard at Baltimore in Cork which has a very long tradition in the building of fishing boats, but I was amazed to find that they did not have a crane with which to shift the heavy materials required for building the larger fishing vessels. I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to use his influence with an Bord Iascaigh Mhara to enable our own boatyards to be equipped better so that the larger vessels could be built here. The day has gone when heavy timber or steel could be lifted by manpower. With the proper equipment our boatyards would be in a position to compete favourably with foreign shipyards.

While the Naval Service are carrying out fishery protection work around our coast, the board should take an interest in providing small boats for the protection of the fishery industry. While the Department of Defence have increased their number of protection boats, these vessels are still very scarce so that they are not capable of carrying out all the protection work necessary. The result is that foreign trawlers are fishing off our coasts, sometimes within the twelve mile limit. During the year many of these boats were captured but we can assume that others escaped. An adequate protection service is the basic requirement in regard to any efforts to safeguard our fishing industry.

As the previous speaker said, a number of small fishing harbours and piers have been neglected for many years. That speaker however was seeking a sum of £100 million for this work, but he did not think of giving credit to anybody for the £35 million that we are to receive as our share of the Regional Fund. That amount of money should not be turned down and we should thank the people who were instrumental in our qualifying for it. Might I suggest however that some of this money be spent on improving piers and harbours around our coast, especially fishing harbours? I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary is well aware of the need for improving the harbours at such places as Schull, Baltimore, Courtmacsherry, Kinsale and a number of others which are used as a safe anchorage by fishermen, who consequently do not have to take their vessels the many miles to Bantry and other places.

We must be prepared to provide sufficient moneys to enable us to have the best possible fishing industry. As much money as possible should be provided for the purchase of bigger boats. Courses in fishing are very important, too. In this regard the board are to be congratulated on the courses they provide for young fishermen. It is heartening to see these young men completing these courses which equip them to take over those big vessels that are costing up to £100,000. Every effort should be made to encourage participation in the courses. However, we can rest assured that the Parliamentary Secretary, with his intimate knowledge of the industry, will do all in his power to help the fishermen make a better livelihood.

I shall not delay the House very long. At the outset I congratulate An Bord Iascaigh Mhara for the great work they have been doing during the past ten years in providing grants and loans for the purchase of fishing vessels. Much credit must go, too, to the Parliamentary Secretary who is deeply involved in the problems of the fishing industry. I am sure he is well aware of the plight of fishermen, not only in his own area but around our coasts generally.

I should like to say a word, too, in praise of the training courses provided for young fishermen. This training, together with the grants and loans that are made available to them, enable them to make a good livelihood. However, of equal importance is the provision of adequate facilities for the harbouring of these boats. There is a great need around our coasts either for the reconstruction of existing harbours or for the provision of small piers so that when there is a storm the skipper can proceed to the nearest harbour for shelter for the night. Otherwise, he suffers the risk of being lost at sea with his crew. There are some facilities around our coast but there should be guiding lights to enable fishermen to see where they are going with their boats. It is very hard on any young skipper if he has a boat worth £100,000 which he is trying to pay for, and he goes into a harbour where there are no guiding lights and where he may catch the boat against a ledge of rock, and it may cost him £1,000 to have the boat repaired.

Our fishing fleet has grown a hundredfold in the past ten to 15 years. People make a good living out of fishing but it is hard work. The three islands off the Galway coast, the Aran Islands, are greatly concerned with fishing and when the herring and mackerel seasons come around boats come from Dunmore and Killybegs. The harbour is choc-a-bloc with boats. Often a ship comes in to take away ore or ships come in with timber, phosphates and so on. These boats must be moved from time to time. I understood the Parliamentary Secretary was to visit Galway but the Galway races intervened and he did not come. I would ask him to come and take a look at the bottleneck in Galway harbour with fishing boats and all the rest, so that a decision can be made one way or the other on the new fishing harbour announced years ago in Galway by the then Parliacee mentary Secretary, Deputy Fahey, in conjunction with the Minister for Finance. If the project has been shelved it should be taken off the shelf.

This Estimate is confined to loans and grants and so on, but there are many inshore fishermen who must be protected. They make a mere livelihood out of fishing and their work is even harder that that of a man with a big boat who can ride the swell of the sea. The man with a small fishing boat with a diesel engine is always in danger. That is why I say guiding lights should be provided in the harbour. Could grants or loans be given to inshore fishermen who set the lobster pots for crayfish and lobster? If a storm blows up they can lose anything up to £500 worth of lobster pots and go into bankruptcy. The Parliamentary Secretary will get all the support he needs for assistance in this direction. I would ask him to come to Galway as soon as he can.

I have been there and I have examined the harbour and surroundings on two occasions.

It is news to me that the Parliamentary Secretary has been there.

I was down there and met some people.

If he was down already and saw the harbour when the fishing fleet was in, he will agree that something will have to be done. In Galway the fishing fleet comes into the inner harbour. If a Tynagh boat comes in it must go into the inner harbour to turn around and face out towards the Atlantic and pull up beside the shed to unload the ore. The fishing boats would have to be asked to move aside to enable the other boat to turn. The owner of the boat may have gone home to Waterford or Killybegs or he may be at the far end of the Gaeltacht and it would be very hard to contact him, and the tide means a lot when you are bringing a big boat into Galway.

Under the old Congested Districts Board there were beacons to guide fishermen into port. The ones I have in mind are those leading to Killeaney in the Aran Islands. There are four to six beacons there altogether. During a storm five or six years ago one of them was knocked down. One side of these beacons is usually painted white to guide the fishermen at night. If a storm blows up the boats leave Kilronan pier and head for Killeaney where there is complete shelter. These beacons have not been painted or whitewashed for a number of years. In view of the value of these boats and their cost to the fishermen, it is only a small thing to ask that this be done. Until the Parliamentary Secretary takes a stand they will be left at the mercy of the waves and the swell. I would ask, therefore, that he seriously look into this.

I welcome the introduction of this Bill which reveals the progress made in our fisheries industry. I welcome the fact that it allows BIM to extend the limit of borrowing from the Central Fund from £5 million to a new limit of £15 million, which it is thought will be sufficient for the next five years. I also welcome the second provision which gives them the capacity to borrow abroad with the permission of the Minister for Finance. Borrowing outside the country carries risks, so far as inflation is concerned. Sometimes we would have reservations about Government Departments or semi-State agencies going outside the country for their funds for obvious reasons. When one is dealing with an area, which is basic to the economy, developmental in nature, which is developing raw materials for resources, providing employment and helping our balance of payments, it has all the ingredients of what must be termed "top priority". In other words, if there are problems in the country this is one area in which we cannot afford to let up. The net loss to the nation if there is not progress in such a fundamental area, will be infinitely greater than any reservations we might have about borrowing for such activities. Therefore, I am completely in favour of the development of the fishing industry to the fullest potential.

Despite the progress BIM have made in fishing we are still at an elementary stage. We must avoid falling into the trap of patting ourselves on the back too much. There is a danger of being carried away by figures, especially when we are looking at the increased financial value of catches in recent years due to the level of inflation. Our assessment should be based on catches in terms of tons and numbers of fish rather than financial value. The most recent figures in my possession are for the period 1970-72. The increase in the quantity of wet fish in that period was from 1,325,000 to 1,489,000. This is progress, but at a relatively slow pace.

I welcome the Parliamentary Secretary's statement that the provision of more and larger vessels is the most important part of fishery development. I believe this to be at the root of the fundamental problem in the Irish sea fishing industry at present. It is fundamental also when we look at the level of catches and the value of fish. Despite the progress referred to, we are still relatively underdeveloped and, to a very large degree, engaging in inshore fishing. We will have an escalation of this and rapid progress only when we begin to tap the resources further from our shores and which we are very limited in tackling at present, not due to skills or men, but simply due to the lack of facilities in the form of adequate harbours with infrastructural necessities and adequate depths and also the question of larger vessels to allow us to venture further from our shores.

There is a great deal of sense in looking at our offshore prospects. The figures we have read are startling in so far as they show the degree to which other European countries, even land-locked countries, are tapping a resource which is nearer to this than any other country. Only a tiny portion of the fish off Irish waters is being caught and landed in our ports by Irish boats. We have seen the extraordinary movement of large vessels from continental Europe and the very heavy catches of fish off the Irish Continental Shelf being caught and brought to continental ports. The total tonnage of fish taken by European countries in sea areas near the Irish coast in 1971 was 700,000 metric tons. This gives some idea of the potential which exists for us to tap. I welcome this Bill because the provision of larger vessels will lead to a rapid increase of funds in capital investment. If progress is to be made, the £15 million which BIM are seeking may be absorbed sometime before the five-year period expires. I look with some disquiet at the Estimate for fisheries in next year's capital programme. At first sight it seems that fisheries in 1975 will be provided with £4,240,000. In the nine months ended December, 1974 — we are not comparing like with like but a nine-month period with a 12-month period — £4,473,000 was provided as compared with £4,240,000 for the 12 months of 1975. This is a reduction of 5 per cent and is inconsistent with the Estimates for other Departments. An explanation of this figure is necessary. How is this figure arrived at? To what extent is the drop in the budget contained in the Department or within BIM? The sea fishing industry is vital to our economy and must not be starved of funds. If there is a limitation on the availability of funds, that limitation should be in non-productive areas of the economy. We may have supplementary Estimates for this particular area later because the fishery industry will have a problem providing the necessities in 1975.

Like some Opposition speakers, I believe this is a useful time to question the State organisation of marine activity. Before becoming a Member of this House I always questioned the wisdom of fisheries being in the same Department as agriculture. We are an agricultural country. Next year agriculture has a massive budget of practically £80 million. By its nature, it demands the concentration of the attention of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. We must question some fundamentals about State organisations which affect various Departments, but particularly fisheries and the validity of its inclusion in the agricultural area.

The question of a new Ministry is outside the scope of this debate.

I appreciate that. I was merely referring to a point made by Deputy Kenneally. Might I make one final remark with regard to what he said.

Then, of course, the Chair would be allowing enlargement of the scope of the debate which other Deputies would be entitled to follow.

I intended making a few further remarks but I bow to your judgment. We are pleased in Mayo with the proposal to develop Ballyglass harbour. We are frustrated by the delay in regard to the design of such works. We urge those involved to speed up the provision of this harbour because on the Mayo coastline there are many fishermen who are starved for adequate harbours. There are very few landing points of any depth between Galway city and Killybegs. Therefore, the provision of this harbour is of vital importance to our economy.

While Killybegs is the port at which are discharged the highest quantity of fish a large proportion of it is caught on the north Mayo coastline. The provision of this harbour and additional employment for our people there would be particularly welcome. There are possibilities at present, even greater than originally envisaged, in other areas in which a harbour can be used. It is possible on that part of the coastline, because of all the discussions taking place about offshore oil exploration, that where there are no harbour facilities a good harbour could be used as a basis for such exploration.

I would like to say a few words about fish farming. Apart from the people in BIM, who are active in this development, who are extremely well qualified and are au fait with the possibilities, we are not sufficiently aware of the possibilities that exist in this aspect of fishing. Fish farming was in the science fiction area a couple of decades ago. It then moved into an era of fairly hard research. It has now come out of the research and development area into a specific type of fishing, where there are hazards. It is an area in which we have great resources, because of our sheltered bays, the ideal format of them, the unpolluted waters and the temperature of the water. We have this tremendous advantage for this aspect of fishing which is almost undeveloped. In other countries there is enormous development largely by multi-national companies.

BIM, while looking at the development of fish farming, should attempt to get the greatest possible level of Irish participation. This would be preferable to having multi-national companies coming in to use our resources. There are about 5,000,000 tons being produced for human consumption all over the world. This aspect of fishing could be tackled by Irish commercial interests and farmers who live along the coastline.

The problem arises with regard to how this should be tackled. I believe the IDA are doing useful work in pointing out to Irish business people in different towns, whose background is commercial rather than industrial, the possibility for investment in industry. They should undertake a similar type of campaign with commercial interests, who may have no knowledge of the sea or fishing, provide feasibility studies for them, show them the unlocked potential which we have and instil an interest in Irish companies for this type of development which offers one of the greatest possibilities for development at present.

I intended speaking at some length about the organisational question and the degree to which we are a maritime country and the degree to which I believe maritime matters should as far as possible be contained within a single Department. If it must, due to constitutional limitations be grouped with another Department, one infinitely more rational than the Department of Agriculture might have been chosen. However, since this is beyond the bounds of this Bill, I will finish by welcoming it with my reservations about the Estimates and hoping we will continue to make progress in the industry.

While welcoming this Bill I must express disappointment with it. I do not agree with the previous speaker when he said this will mean a massive capital investment for our fishing industry. It will do no more than keep pace with inflation and with increased costs of materials used in the building of boats and the other works in which BIM are involved. This only allows for an average increase of about £2 million a year in the borrowing of BIM. This is subject to obtaining this money from abroad. So much money has been borrowed from abroad in recent times that I foresee difficulties in having this money available. I have to express disappointment with this Bill especially when we see in the Book of Estimates a reduction of 5 per cent in the money available for this important industry.

Many speakers referred to the progress made in the fishing industry over the years and I agree with this. I was responsible for fisheries for three years and during that time I was able to assess the progress made. While I felt that progress was reasonably satisfactory I was convinced that we were only scratching the surface as far as the fishing industry and its tremendous potential was concerned. We did not make the progress we wished for mainly because of lack of finance and it is sad to see now that the necessary finance to continue the rate of expansion is to be curtailed.

This Bill will do nothing to offset that curtailment in any way. We have a tremendous resource around the coast which is crying out for development and to be exploited to its fullest extent but this Government do not intend to continue the rate of progress we were making. We hope the demand for newer and bigger boats and for more up to date equipment will continue. We hope there will still be a need to continue the expansion of our boat yards but I fear that finance is not being made available to allow that expansion to continue.

I should like to congratulate Bord Iascaigh Mhara, its chairman, staff and members of the board and all involved in the Fisheries Division for the progress we have made even if it is limited down the years. I should like to refer to the fragmentation in our fishing industry. I should like to see the work of the board expanded because it is charged with responsibility for the promotion of the sea fishing industry and if it is to do its work satisfactorily it would require to have control of many more aspects of the industry. While the board has responsibility for operating our marine credit plan and grants for new boats and the building of those boats, it has not responsibility for the training of personnel to man those boats and this is an important part of the work. When we are building bigger and better boats with better equipment it is vital that these boats be manned by experts properly trained in their use and capable of using them to maximum advantage for their own benefit and that of the industry. The board should be involved in recruiting and training future fishermen and, having got the people to man the boats, it is necessary for the board to be involved in the development of fish landing places around the coast.

Reasonable progress has been made in this connection. We have evidence, I am glad to say, that anywhere money has been invested in this aspect of the industry it has proved to be well worth while and a sound investment but there is often long delay between the time the development is planned and the fishing port is officially opened and put into use. Frequently, so much time has passed that the work is out of date before the port is fully in operation and the need is already evident for further expansion.

Because of this experience we should have no hesitation in providing money for fish landing places. No industry here has developed as quickly as the fishing industry, especially as regards exports. If one looks at the increases that have taken place one must feel very gratified. From the export point of view no industry has given the same return as the fishing industry has given and is capable of giving in the future if it gets the necessary capital.

I should like to see the board more deeply involved in the provision of fish landing places and more consultation taking place with fishermen. My experience was that this consultation was somewhat lacking and I believe the board should have more say in this aspect of the industry because if landing places with suitable facilities are not available all the other work is of little value.

This brings me to the very important matter of processing. We should process as much fish as possible at home. This would give much-needed employment in areas where it would be very welcome and it would add considerable value to the fish being exported which would be a tremendous benefit to our economy. Our processing industry has never made the progress it should have made and one of the reasons for this is that we have never been able to keep up a constant supply of fish to the factories. They always run into difficulties for want of continuity of supply, but with the development of larger boats properly manned we should be able to get over this problem. These larger, better-equipped vessels could go to sea in the most difficult weather conditions and stay out much longer and bring back much larger catches of fish and this would help to ensure that the processing industry would make the progress we all want to see in the years ahead.

The boat building aspect of Bord Iascaigh Mhara is also very important and I should like the boat building capacity to be increased and the yards extended so that we could meet at home the demand for boats. We know that many more fishermen would buy their boats if it were possible for them to do so. There is a waiting list, or they are compelled to go abroad to make their purchases. We know from experience that this can create difficulties. It would be much better if we could cater for them at home. It would give much needed employment in areas where it is most needed.

Therefore I regret the curtailment in the amount of money being spent in this industry, that a board as important as BIM would not be able to continue at the rate of expansion, even the limited rate of expansion, we have had during the years. I do not say this for party political reasons but because of my sincere wish that the fishing industry would continue to develop.

In Waterford we have one of the major fishery harbours, Dunmore East. There are many other fish landing places along that coast which are in need of development. We have Cheek Point, Passage, Dunnabrattin, Helvick and Ardmore. Dunnabrattin is one which could be developed to the advantage of all concerned. Many new boats have been put into use there in recent times, many of them provided through Bord Iascaigh Mhara loans and grants, and it is sad to say that because of the lack of facilities proper use cannot be made of these boats. Because of the damage done by storms, particularly during this winter, the people there are unable to continue to use the bigger boats they now have and it is vital that the landing facilities be improved immediately. If that is not done the fishermen there will find themselves going backwards.

We need not be afraid to invest money in this aspect of the industry. Anywhere money was invested in this work it proved to be worthwhile expenditure and created a demand for more and more investment in improving landing facilities. Therefore I submit that money must be made available quickly, whether by way of Supplementary Estimate or otherwise, for this work. If the confidence of the industry is not to be undermined there must be massive investment as quickly as possible.

Resource development and research were mentioned. This is a very important aspect of BIM. Perhaps we have had some overlapping in this work and this should be avoided as much as possible. My point is that more money must be spent on this aspect of the industry because in order to exploit these resources around our shores we must have research and resource development.

The benefits negotiated for us on EEC entry will be coming up for review and I am sure this will take into account the use we have been making of our fisheries. I am afraid that if we are not prepared to develop them ourselves, others will do it for us, to their, not to our, advantage. Therefore we should set out a programme of developing this vital industry as quickly as possible.

Before I left the Fisheries Division I set out a programme of future expansion which would entail considerable investment. Today I regret that we are going into reverse and I do not think any Deputy in the House realises that more than the Parliamentary Secretary. He should be prepared to take into account the views of Deputies who spoke this morning from his own benches, each one seeking greater investment in the fishing industry, suggesting that development should and must take place. There was a special plea from the Parliamentary Secretary's constituency by Deputy O'Sullivan.

I appreciate keenly that if the Parliamentary Secretary found it possible he would expand the fishing industry. Therefore he must use all his influence and power to bring home to the Government the importance of the industry and the need for more investment in it. I know this is a difficult task for him but I urge him to introduce a Supplementary Estimate if necessary to get the vital funds made available for this great industry which is so vital to the parts of our country where there is no alternative employment, the western seaboard.

I should like to couple with my comments on the necessary improvement of fish landing places the difficulties in getting fish to market, the transport problems. A promotional body like BIM should interest themselves more in this side of the industry — getting the fish to market in good quality and the presentation of it in the market. The roads from many of our fishing ports are in a deplorable condition, not fit for use by the bigger lorries now necessary for fish transport. This applies to the entire country. Money is needed for the improvement of these roads if our fish catches are to be transported efficiently to markets.

Today we are agreeing to increase the borrowing powers of BIM. This will all have been done for nothing if we continue to neglect some of the areas in this industry. I make this point with particular regard to landing places and the facilities available there, the need to have sheds and storage places in which fishermen can look after their gear during bad weather conditions. Bad weather involves loss of fishing time. It is at times of bad weather that fishermen would need facilities to improve and maintain their gear. Suitable facilities for this work should be provided at landing places. Toilet facilities should also be provided. There should be efficient transport to markets. Therefore I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, who has a particular interest in fishing and who is aware of the problems, to bring home to the Government the folly of neglecting this important industry.

It is essential to progress that fishermen should be properly organised. They are not so organised at the present time. In this respect An Bord Iascaigh Mhara can play a very important part. They are close to the fishermen and work with them in trying to improve their lot. We must ensure that fishermen are organised and are given every facility to organise. There must be constant consultation. I regret the slow progress in the establishment of producer organisations. I do not know the reason for it. Organisation is vital to the proper operation of the industry within the EEC. If advantage is to be taken of membership of the EEC, organisation must be achieved quickly. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the House what the present position is, what steps he is taking and what progress he has made in this direction. I do not see that any progress is being made. I should like every fisherman to be in an organisation because he would then be in a better position to look after his own interests and the interests of the industry.

There should be proper distribution of fish to inland towns and villages. Those of us who live inland know the problem of getting fresh fish there. It is desirable to increase home consumption of fish but this cannot be done without regular supply so that the housewife knows that she can get good quality fish in fresh condition.

I should like to pay tribute to BIM for the wonderful part they have played in publicising the advantages of fish and the proper presentation of fish. A great deal more could be done in this direction if more money were available to BIM for this purpose. Lack of finance inhibits progress.

Fisheries protection has been referred to. This is a matter of vital importance to the industry. Reference has been made down through the years to the lack of proper protection for the industry. The money that has been invested in the industry and the money we are voting here today will count for very little if the industry is not protected. For proper protection there should be a fisheries protection vessel at each major fishing port. The protection vessels must be available on call when foreign boats are within our limits. If the boat has to travel a long distance there is the danger that radio messages will be picked up and the foreign boats can be outside our limits by the time the protection vessel arrives at the scene. Dunmore East is one harbour where a protection vessel should be based during the herring season. I can see no problem in having this arranged.

Fishery protection should come under the auspices of a Department of Fisheries and not under the Department of Defence. At least, a Department of Fisheries should have a say in the operation of the protection vessels. There is too much fragmentation with regard to this important industry. I would agree with the suggestion, which I also have made, that there should be a Ministry of Fisheries. There is great need for development of the industry and it is vital that the various elements of the industry should be brought under one umbrella. Marine works and problems of pollution could be dealt with by a Ministry of Fisheries. I do not wish to develop this point now. I make passing reference to it in the context of the fragmentation that exists in the industry. The Office of Public Works are involved in estimating harbour works and in the execution of the work. Local authorities are involved in the financing and maintenance of the work. All this leads to delay which can mean that a scheme is out of date by the time it is completed. In Killybegs boats are tied up in the harbour, sometimes five and six deep, with the result that the fishermen have lost their livelihood because of the overcrowding. If all these matters could be put under one umbrella we would do much better.

There is much duplication and overlapping of work in the fishing industry. I know the Parliamentary Secretary is anxious to do as good a job as possible for the fishing industry, not merely because it is a matter of concern to his constituents. He is doing everything possible to get the necessary finance but a separate Department is essential. A Minister has access to the Cabinet table when decisions are being made, but a Parliamentary Secretary has not this access and must depend on his Minister to speak for him. The fishing industry is too important to the economy to allow this situation to continue.

It is time to take a hard look at the industry and to see where we are going. I acknowledge that progress has been made during the years; in the circumstances it could be described as tremendous progress having regard to the finance available to the industry. I have experience of this matter and I realise we are only scratching the surface of the enormous potential of the fishing industry. However, we are now going into reverse; we are cutting the finance available and curtailing the activities of the industry. This measure will do nothing to improve the situation. There has been a cut of 5 per cent and this must be regretted. At a time of galloping inflation and with increased costs in all directions, it is obvious that this important industry has suffered a great set-back. I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to do all he can to ensure that money is found so that at the very least the rate of progress will be maintained.

Our fishermen have been badly hit by the increased cost of oil. Other countries have come to the assistance of their fishermen to help them survive the present economic situation but I am afraid the Parliamentary Secretary has done nothing to help the people in the industry here. I appeal to him to help them in their desperate plight; otherwise it will take them years to recover from the present situation. We are in the EEC and we have a tremendous market advantage but we must keep up constant supplies to that market and we must develop our processing industries. Consequently a massive investment in fishing is needed to ensure that there will be a future for the industry. Instead of that we have cut back at a vital time and the people are losing heart and confidence. They are crying out for assistance but it is not forthcoming.

The Parliamentary Secretary has been in office for two years and I realise it is not easy for him to accept a curtailment in the activities of the industry for which he is responsible. Therefore I would ask him to listen to us and to Deputies on his side who have applied to him. I would ask him to do everything possible to ensure that the Government wake up to their responsibility, that they know of the injury they are inflicting on the industry. Although the industry may not have developed to the extent we would have wished, nevertheless there has been quite considerable progress during the years.

When the review clause provided for in the negotiations and in the Treaty of Accession to the European Communities is being considered it will look very bad if our fishing industry has not made the progress we claimed it would make. We based our arguments with regard to the retention of our fishing limits on the statement that this was an expanding industry and we had evidence to back up that statement. When the matter comes up for review, if it is shown we are not making progress, that we are going backwards, that the Government have no confidence in the industry and are not prepared to give it the necessary finance, I am afraid we will not be able to repeat the same argument and we will not be as successful as we were previously.

It is vital that we are seen to have made the progress we claimed we would make and that we make available the necessary investment so that the industry will survive. If we have not the finance, let the Government be honest and say so. They should seek the necessary funds from the EEC or elsewhere. What we have got from the Regional Fund will do nothing for us in this matter. It is only a paltry sum and is less than what we rejected 12 months ago. It was not enough then and it is not enough now. We must get money from some source if we are to ensure that this vital industry continues to make reasonable progress.

I appeal once more to the Parliamentary Secretary to impress on the Government the need to have money made available for this very important industry. The investment will be a sound one and there will be a good return on it. We have proved this is so down through the years. This industry was handed over to the present Government in a flourishing condition. It was perhaps not making progress at the rate at which we would like it to be, but nevertheless it was making progress. They have the responsibility to ensure that that progress will be continued.

I support this Bill. It is obviously very necessary. As we can see from the Parliamentary Secretary's statement, the loan moneys available have now reached the ceiling of £5 million fixed in 1970. The figure proposed in this Bill multiplies by three the ceiling of the moneys that can be made available. This is to make money available so as to extend the statutory limit on borrowings by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

There is a very important matter introduced in this Bill. It is that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara are given power to borrow in foreign currencies. This is very necessary when one bears in mind that boats of only a limited capacity can be built as yet in this country and that there are many boats on order which are being built in other countries. It is natural enough that in placing the order for these types of large boats the business is done through foreign finance channels. I am glad to be able to tell the House that the pioneers and the innovators in the purchase of those large vessels are people who come from my constituency and that it is a company in my constituency that has put its feet on this new road. The purpose of purchasing those vessels is to enable the Irish fishing industry to fish in deep water grounds far further offshore and in far further fishing fields than have hitherto been even thought of by Irish fishermen. In order to do that the amount of money involved is exceedingly large. When I mention the figure of half a million pounds per boat I am not overstating what the implications are from the financial point of view. We have not gone anywhere near that in our boats to date. This is new ground that is being broken by the Irish fishing industry and I hope it will prove to be successful and fruitful ground.

The Parliamentary Secretary made a very pertinent point in introducing this Bill when he stressed that the board should concentrate more on promotional and advisory activities. That sounds a very small and simple statement but there is much implied and much contained in it. What is virtually being said is that the marketing that was previously worked out under the aegis of An Bord Iascaigh Mhara is largely being taken over by private enterprise in the fishing industry itself. That is a sign of maturity and growth.

Deputy Fahey spoke about the difficulties in the fish processing industry. He said that past difficulties had been due to lack of continuity in supplies. He said that the way to get over those difficulties was to go further afield for our fish supplies. That may be correct, but only in a limited sense. I would not want it to go from this House that that course, as advocated by Deputy Fahey, is necessarily the correct and only course. There has been considerable research work done, again by fishing families from my constituency, on the fish processing business. They have already been in the business in a partial way and indeed have been unable to meet the demand for their product. This product can be made and will be made in larger quantities in this country because there is a new factory set up in Castlebridge in County Wexford. This factory will use a process that is in considerable demand and is of a higher standard than is to be found in other European countries. It may be of interest to know that the demand comes from Norway. It is great to see that an Irish firm can produce a processed fish material that is better than is produced by the premier fishing nation in Europe. We should take pride in that fact. It shows that we can do equally as well and better than other competing countries in Europe who have been in the business much longer than we have been.

Why is our standard low? This is where I disagree with Deputy Fahey. The reason is that the fish delivered to the processing plant is fresher and younger because it is kept over a shorter period as between catching and processing than is the case in other countries where the structure is different from ours. It is well to bear these matters in mind and not to take a blanket view of what policy should be. This has been proved by people who have been in the fishing industry like their fathers before them and possibly their grandfathers. These are the people who know what they are talking about. I must say I admire those people who have spent a considerable length of time in Europe and elsewhere discovering for themselves and studying up-to-date methods. They have done this at their own personal expense. It is heartening to find that spirit in the industry, particularly in the processing industry, because it augurs an excellent future. It means we will have an extra exportable product which will be able to compete with an equivalent product from any other country.

We should not approach this Bill with an inferiority complex, with the "Och, och, ochone" that we heard from certain speakers here this morning. I can see no reason for that. I can see no reason for the loud clamour about a decrease of 5 per cent in the Estimate for the Fisheries Division. Is it realised that the capital allocation to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara has increased by 6 per cent and, on current account, the allocation has increased by 1 per cent? This Bill multiplies threefold the amount that can be lent to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara. I am sorry to have to say that a great deal of time was wasted this morning in waffle. We should get our figures in proper perspective.

One matter which was not adverted to this morning is the fact that money is available to the industry through FEOGA. A grant of up to 25 per cent can be made. In case Members are not aware of it, FEOGA look on the fishing industry with a kindly and co-operative eye. They realise that it is a growing industry and they are prepared to give all the assistance they can.

Reference was made to fishery protection. Recently someone advocated the use of smaller boats. The Minister for Defence was quite correct when he said it was absolutely essential to have all-weather craft on fishery protection. Again, I disagree with Deputy Fahey when he advocates the stationing of a fishery protection vessel in Dunmore during the herring season. That is a landlubber's view; that is the view of the man on the shore looking out to sea. A fishery protection vessel must be out at sea, if necessary outside our own territorial limits.

What would be the use of having a vessel moving out from Dunmore after a message, picked up on the ether, has been sent? Such a statement shows a complete lack of appreciation of what is involved in fishery protection. It would be a good thing if more Members would take a trip in a trawler and undergo the trauma of a little bit of sea sickness to discover for themselves exactly what fishermen have to contend with: that would give them a proper appreciation of the requirements of the industry.

Some of us have been out.

Some of us have, but there are others who have never gone beyond Dún Laoghaire Pier. I should like to see more money invested in fishery protection. I know protection is very expensive because special craft are required. There is a more sinister aspect where fishery protection is concerned. Up to now our industry has not been able to avail of the full catch within our own territorial waters. I doubt if poaching has been a very serious matter, but it is becoming more serious because we are now battling at international level for quotas. Other nations realise that our industry is growing.

There is a restriction on catches in the North Sea because that area was grossly overfished. There has been overfishing in other areas as well and greedy eyes are now concentrated on the Celtic Sea. There is a strong feeling among our fishermen that there is poaching in the Celtic Sea. The Celtic Sea could yield us a rich harvest. The area is ours by tradition and by right. Other nations are becoming very interested in it and it is very important that we should preserve our rights. I know we have not got the resources and I know the difficulty involved, but I would dearly love to have evidence of what the actual catch has been by foreign trawlers operating in the Celtic Sea.

I and my constituents feel that a great deal more is being taken out of these waters than is admitted by people claiming quotas in the area. One cannot put a figure on it because we have not got the resources necessary for proper protection, but it is a matter of some seriousness. The excuse is made that conservation requires a curtailment of quotas, but the Celtic Sea is not so important to other countries as it is to this country because it is there that a very large proportion of our herring catches occur. Admittedly, our take last year was not the best because of the weather and other circumstances. It could be very large, and very rich, and very rewarding.

As I understand it, the present proposals from NAIF, the organisation which is discussing the matter of quotas, would mean a curtailment of our take amounting to at least £500,000. That is very serious from the point of view of our fishing industry. Not on purely selfish grounds but with the God-given gift of being near our waters, we should be given a better quota than is being offered, particularly as we are a developing fishery nation.

Since I was elected to this House I have been an unofficial spokesman for the cot fishing men off the coast of Wexford. These are part-time fishermen. For a long time we have pleaded that something should be done in the way of providing lights at landing areas for these small cot men. These are herring drifters. They go perhaps three or four miles offshore. We all know that herring fishing in that area is at night, as it is in other areas. Sometimes the weather is not the most clement. For years we have been looking for proper lights at landing points so that at least these men can find their way home. To date in many cases it has been by guess or by God that they got home.

These men are in small open boats, 18-footers to 24-footers, driven at the best by perhaps a nine horsepower outboard engine. Due to the complex world in which we live, when we look for lights in a situation like that we are passed from the ESB to the county council and from the county council back to the ESB. Nobody appears to have responsibility. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary most sincerely to get BIM or his branch of the Department to be the co-ordinating head to get something done. It would not cost much, and one life lost would be a terrible price to pay when it could be avoided very easily and very simply and at a small cost.

I have heard a recurring complaint in the fishing industry about the delay caused by the slowness in providing spare parts for fishing boat engines. Possibly the difficulty has arisen by virtue of the multitude and diversity of the models of engines. I know that when BIM are building a boat for a fisherman they give him fairly good latitude in the choosing of the equipment for his boat, including the engine. Having regard to the amount of time lost, and to the failure to provide a speedy service, this aspect of the type of engine used in our trawlers might be given closer scrutiny. We could save money and provide a better service.

There have been undue delays as a result of parts not being available, and service not being available on time. I am aware that there has been an improvement but, in respect of certain makes of engine there have been deplorable and unnecessary delays resulting in heavy loss of revenue and finance to the fishermen. One must bear in mind that fishing boats are not cheap. The repayments are high and, in this day and age, interest is high. Any day off the fishing grounds when they are available and accessible must be avoided at all costs.

As this debate has ranged fairly widely, I should like to compliment one aspect of the fishing industry, that is, their newspaper The Skipper. It provides an absolutely first-class service for the fishing industry. It is very nice to see BIM working so well with that newspaper which is an organ for disseminating information to the fishing industry and keeping them up-to-date with world developments.

Like other speakers I welcome this Bill. Having listened to most of the speakers this morning two points emerge from the contributions made. One is that speakers have complimented BIM on their efforts to improve the fishing industry; the other is that nearly all speakers were crying out for a larger investment in the industry.

In the past number of years, and particularly since BIM were organised under the present manager, we have seen the planned development which has gone on from year to year in the industry. The work of the board is wide and varied. I was rather critical of the board in the past but, as a member of the board later, I got an insight into the working of the board and I can say quite honestly that the efforts made by the people involved are tremendous. They are not fully appreciated by the general public or, very often, by the fishermen. I am very glad that the Members of this House appreciate the great work being done.

A new phase has arrived in the boat building industry. Traditionally many of our fishermen have worked in small boats, in half-deck boats. In Killybegs or any of the large ports, you will find that many of the men who are now thinking in terms of 80-foot boats started off with small half-deckers.

They progressed from 50-foot craft to boats of more than 80 foot. This type of development, while it has not helped to bring us the rapid returns we would like from the fishing industry, has been a good one inasmuch as the owners and skippers of the boats had to come from the bottom. They succeeded through encouragement from BIM who provide assistance by way of educational facilities and advice. It is mainly through the efforts of BIM that these fishermen are now in a position to take over the larger craft.

A close eye on all development in the fishing industry is kept by BIM. When I refer to development I am talking in terms of boats. Because there are fishermen who are not afraid to invest as much as £200,000 or £250,000 in a boat, a venture which takes a great deal of courage, one realises the great development that has taken place in the fishing industry. BIM know who to invest the money in and they are seldom far wrong.

As a result of the gradual development over the last nine or ten years we have now reached a new stage in the development of the industry. Up to now we have had an inshore fleet and we are now contemplating the possibility of having a middle water fleet or a fleet which will be larger in size than those in use at present. It can be said that we have not been too successful in ventures of this kind in the past. However, I feel confident that we now have reached the stage that our fishermen are fully qualified and expert to go into this type of fishing. The extra finance for this expansion of the industry has been sought but I was disturbed to learn that the money allocated will not be sufficient. Are we being consistent in cutting back on the amount for fishery development?

In my view all this focuses attention on something which we have been guilty of here down the years. We do not seem to realise the potential we have in our fisheries. I am not blaming the Parliamentary Secretary for the fact that the Government have decided to cut back on the amount of money to be made available for the fishing industries. But this action focuses attention on the way we have been treating this industry in the past. Until such time as we have a Minister to deal exclusively with fisheries, a person in the Cabinet who will be directly responsible for this industry, the situation will continue. Any fairminded person will agree that this industry has not expanded to the extent it have should or would have if we had a Minister for Fisheries. Listening to some comments recently on this aspect of our national activity, one would imagine that we had done nothing at all with regard to the development of the fisheries industry down the years. I agree that we have not been sufficiently active and that a good deal more could be done but it is only fair to say that we have made progress although this progress may not have been spectacular in this vital industry.

It is seldom realised that there is a great deal more involved in the fishing industry than the catching of fish. The ratio of employment is something like six to one; for every fisherman six other people benefit directly by way of employment. This shows how important it is to improve and expand the industry. We owe a great deal of thanks to BIM for the work they have been doing on a very limited budget. This work covers a variety of aspects of the industry. Taking into consideration what is done by other semi-State bodies and the facilities made available to them, I do not believe that we fully recognise the great work done by BIM.

Mention was made during the course of this debate of the fishery protection service. I had occasion recently to ask the Minister for Defence a question on this service. At present we have four vessels carrying out this work. It is completely unsatisfactory to have such a number of vessels involved in fishery protection and, with the possibility of our fishery limit being extended, it is necessary to have some new thinking on this matter.

On that occasion the Minister mentioned it was necessary to have "all weather" craft suitable for that type of work. We might take a look at what happens in other countries, such as Canada, for instance, where a coastguard service is provided, where boats are located at many points along the coast and where the cost of maintaining them is not nearly as high as we pay for the boats we provide for this service. If boats were located at many more points it would mean that foreigners would be more careful about poaching our valuable stocks. There is another point to be made about the manner in which foreigners are apprehended. It is this, that when one of our boats intercepts a foreign trawler the procedure followed is that a boarding party take in the foreign vessel; it is conducted in by our boat. I believe that that is the time when the other foreign trawlers really go to work because they know that our patrol boat is in harbour and they have a clear field. I know it is a situation not easily remedied but I believe we could provide a more efficient service, at a lesser cost, were we to approach it in the way I have suggested.

One encouraging feature of the fishing industry at present is that fishermen approach it as a business. Bord Iascaigh Mhara deserve a great deal of credit in this respect. All skippers and boat-owners now approach the business in a completely different light from that which we knew traditionally. They know they have to make provision for maintenance of their engines, for the purchase of new gear, and so on, and their whole approach is different.

Marketing is another area where tremendous advances have taken place. Again, this is due to the service provided by the Board for the fishermen. I know there are areas where the situation could be improved. The ideal situation would be to provide markets at the landing points so that the fish could be marketed when landed. Unfortunately that is not the position and fishermen continue the practice of sending their fish to the Dublin market where it is auctioned. I know also that in many areas they have no choice but to follow that practice, which is not a satisfactory one. The Parliamentary Secretary might examine the manner in which the market operates at present, where there are several auctioneers. They are both buyers and auctioneers and this is something in need of revision. I think there was a recommendation a number of years ago that a State auctioneer would go to the Dublin market and that there would be one auctioneer only to conduct sales of fish. It is true to say that an auctioneer, or a fish buyer, actually sells the fish to himself and charges the fishermen 7½ per cent for buying that fish from them. That is the way in which things operate at present and it is not at all satisfactory.

There is the question also of carriage on the fish and, very often, the question of pilfering, which means that fishermen who live a long distance from the larger centres of population experience great difficulties in that respect. Again, I know that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara have made efforts to assist the fishermen by providing grants for cold storage and processing and, through their marketing service, have assisted in the provision of outlets for the fishermen in the smaller towns adjacent to ports. But that operation has not advanced as much as I would like to see it advance. That brings us to the question of continuity of supply. Fishermen, especially those along the west coast—where there are long periods of broken weather—even with the facility of cold storage and access to centres where their fish can be sold are afraid that they will not be able to maintain a continuous supply for merchants.

I think it was Deputy Fahey who mentioned that fishermen were not organised and that this was a hindrance to them. I would not agree entirely with Deputy Fahey in this respect. In recent years fishermen have tried very hard to organise themselves. There are now very successful co-operatives in many ports; for instance, there are successful ones at Killybegs, Kilmore Quay and right along the coast. There was formed also a federation of co-operatives which drew up a policy in relation to the fishing industry—a worthwhile effort—but which did not yield the desired results. I make that point because it is fair to say that efforts have been made to have fishermen organised. At present there is the Irish Fishermen's Association—I think it is called—an organisation which covers all the ports. When the co-operatives were formed the position was that there were a number of existing organisations and there did not seem to be any proper tie-up between the co-operatives and the existing organisations.

That situation has improved. There is one organisation, with a full-time secretary, representing the fishermen. This should make for a vast improvement and should also ensure our being in a position to avail in the best way possible of any benefits accruing from the EEC fund. From a reply given to a parliamentary question, I am aware of the Parliamentary Secretary's anxiety that this organisation get off the ground as soon as possible.

The whole concept of fisheries and their development have taken on an entirely new dimension in recent times. In the past when we talked of fisheries we thought in terms simply of the men going out in boats, catching the fish and bringing them in but now a very wide field has been opened up as a result of the research that has been carried out into fish farming and other aspects of the industry. However, much financial input is required if we are to exploit the potential of the industry to the full.

It is necessary, too, that we concentrate on the education aspect of the industry. I know there are many people who would be prepared to engage in such work as research if only the finance required was available to them. In this connection I might mention a very worthwhile project undertaken last year in Killary Harbour by a group from UCG. Unfortunately, very little finance is available to people like those who are prepared to devote their time and energy to projects of this kind. They deserve every help that we can give them. In regard to the work undertaken by the UCG group there was a grant from the board and also from Galway and Mayo County Councils and from the regional development groups in the two counties as well as from the university, each contributing a few hundred pounds. Money invested in work of this kind can only be beneficial to the industry and, consequently, to the nation as a whole, in the long term.

Greater development of fishing not only in the west but in many other parts of the country would lead to the availability of much more employment for local people. We always seem to have money available for a foreigner who wishes to set up an industry here. Unfortunately, however, some of these people, having collected their State grants, disappear overnight, so to speak. We should concentrate more on the development of our own resources.

To return for a moment to the question of education, there are many people going to our universities who will never have the opportunity of working at home for the simple reason that there are too many graduating in medicine, engineering and the arts, for instance. This is happening while there continues to be a total lack of knowledge of marine works and other aspects of our economy. If there were scholarships whereby people would be sent to Norway or Denmark or some other continental countries where there has been more rapid development than has been the case here, the students who would visit these countries would be a tremendous asset on their return because they would be in a position to help in the development of co-operatives and also in the development of the wonderful resources that are ours.

It is difficult to understand why there should be a cut back in spending on fisheries. I sympathise with the Parliamentary Secretary in finding himself in this position but I hope that these cut backs will not result in work being held up in our boat yards. The yards at Killybegs, Baltimore and Dingle have managed to expand in accordance with the demand for boats. Up to recently 60 per cent of our boats were being built in those yards but now they are geared to building the bigger vessels and are even talking in terms of building steel boats. Our boat builders deserve every credit for the type of vessel that they have been providing. These boats compare favourably with any that have been imported from continental countries. Indeed, I have heard from fishermen that our boats are better than any built outside the country. One must not mention boat yards without referring to the contribution made in this sphere by the private builders. There are some areas of the country in which there is a tradition of boat building. It would be a tragedy if the progress in this field were to be halted now because of a lack of funds. If this occurs during the year I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will ask the House to provide the necessary money in order to keep things moving, and he will have the full co-operation of this side of the House in doing that. The projections are there for a great future in the industry. Everybody who has spoken this morning recognises this, and I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary and the Government are so foolish as to allow this progress to be halted.

We are catching up on the other countries in our development. We had a late start. We did not have the resources that were available to many other European countries, and comparisons in this respect are often not fair. Having regard to our limited resources, progress has been steady although not spectacular. I wish the Parliamentary Secretary every success, and hope that, as a person who lives along the coast and understands the position of fishermen better than most people here, he will do his utmost to continue the good work.

While I welcome this Bill, I am not satisfied at all with the progress being made by the Fisheries Division and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara in the promoting of the fishing industry. Not enough money is being injected into this industry having regard to the vast potential which there is in the Celtic Sea and, indeed, within a few miles of our shores.

The numbers engaged in fishing here is remarkably small in comparison with the numbers engaged in it in other countries. More money should be invested in training young men in fishing so that they would be able to man the bigger boats. We are badly hampered along the whole coastline due to lack of proper landing and storage facilities and the atrocious condition of our piers and small harbours. The amount of money spent on the repair and improvement of these small piers along the west and south west must be terribly low. The time has come for the Fisheries Division of An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to set up some organisation or agency to co-ordinate and organise such repairs and improvements.

A Deputy finds it very difficult at times to know where to start when making representations about these harbours and piers. We are referred from the Fisheries Division to the Office of Public Works and from there to the county council, and it appears to the local fishermen that all these stages are nothing more than a stalling measure. This organisation should be responsible for the repair and improvement of these small piers and harbours from the very moment the application is made until such time as the work is completed.

At the height of the mackerel season last September and October I visited a number of these small piers throughout south Kerry and in parts of west Cork. There was one pier in particular. Garnish, out of which 18 small boats fished. It was a terrible sight to see these boats lining up and waiting for their turn to load their very heavy landings onto lorries. The lorry driver had to reverse his truck down the pier with half the wheels on either side hanging out over the verge of the pier. This was a very dangerous operation. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary knows this pier very well. I saw many similar situations at other places but not quite as bad as this one during that period, September and October.

Something must be done about these piers before they are completely washed away. As a result of heavy storms and rough weather conditions over the past few years these piers and harbours are deteriorating. This will continue from day to day and year to year until there is a terrible tragedy, and then we shall all realise that something should have been done years ago to remedy this terrible situation. If we want to maintain and increase our population in the fishing villages and in the districts along the western seaboard and particularly in the south west, we must look after the fishermen who go out in small boats. Many of the fishermen operate with four or six in a small boat, an 18-footer or a 24-footer with an eight- or nine-horse power outboard engine. There is a great fishing tradition in all those areas, and the younger people there today prefer to stay at home and work at fishing than to emigrate. Therefore, more money should be spent in providing greater grants for the smaller boats.

I would also urge strongly that public lighting should be made available, particularly in the more important of these small piers and harbours. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary realises how dangerous it is at night and in bad weather when some of these fishermen come in in these light boats trying to make their way towards the pier and going only on experience. I am surprised we have not had even more tragedies in these areas. Money spent on lighting these piers and harbours would be money well spent.

I was amazed to see that the Estimate for Fisheries for the coming year was cut. Out of the money to be made available a great deal of it should be spent on these piers and harbours, especially on lighting. We must remember that the bigger the boat the greater the catch. The vast majority of our fishermen fish nearer home than those who man the bigger vessels costing from £250,000 to £500,000. We should balance the value of our exports of fish against the employment content of the fishermen working on small boats off the west and south-west coasts in particular. We must make sure that there will be a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the fishing industry. In my view the Estimate should have been increased if we are to improve the industry and increase our exports. I cannot see how this can be achieved by cutting the expenditure to be voted for fisheries.

I will attempt once again to throw some light on the entire fishing position and the approach to it so far as our thinking is concerned. Down the years I have consistently tried to get the message across about the massive wealth which abounds off our coast. There has been terrific excitement about the wealth—oil deposits—supposed to exist off the Head of Kinsale. These deposits are small compared to the other wealth which can be brought ashore and harvested very easily. With an energetic approach and realistic thinking, which do not appear to have existed through the years in all the Governments we had, an industry could be built up mainly along the west coast which would mean £100 million a year to the people living along that seaboard. It would give employment to 5,500 extra personnel on major trawlers which would fish off the banks of the west coast. It would give employment to a further 20,000 to 25,000 people ashore plus up to 10,000 more in connected industries.

The approach to the Estimate—a reduction of 5 per cent—reflects the limited thinking which exists at all levels here. I am not blaming only the present Government. I am blaming everybody concerned. This industry, which could be great, has been latched on to the tailend of agriculture. The fact that the sum provided will be cut by 5 per cent shows how little importance is attached to this industry by the people concerned.

About a fortnight ago I attended a meeting of the CDC in Athlone. I lashed out at their approach to the fishing position. Some officials from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries let us know that FEOGA grants were being channelled into providing grain silos and other forms of farmyard development in agriculture, all of the larger type. We are getting money from FEOGA because of the depressed conditions which exist on our western coast and this money is being channelled into more active sections inland. Why were there not some officials from the Fisheries Division present at that meeting in Athlone? If they were there, they did not speak on behalf of fisheries.

We have a great natural asset which could yield anything up to £4 million a year. Eight or nine years ago, when I was in Europe, I got production and export sales figures of all the different fishing countries. At that time, Norway's figure was £100 million and our puny effort was £2 million. We are now claiming credit for about £15 million in exports, a great deal of which is as a result of our inland fisheries, salmon fisheries, fish farming, shell fish and so forth. If at this stage we can produce only £15 million, surely it is time to have a look at the situation again?

Let us make a general statement. We are or we are not a fishing nation. We are not a fishing nation because fishing was never encouraged here. The limited number of fishermen in the different areas are fully engaged with the type of craft they operate in our inshore fisheries. We must think big.

There is no thinking behind the policy of BIM. They did not do a very good job in the past. I was amazed to hear today they still operate under the same system. We hear of delays in getting parts for boat engines and for the different things that are needed to operate fishing boats. In this day of costly trawlers and the high cost of everything in relation to fishing, fishermen are losing money every day they are tied up in ports. When I first came into this House I studied the position in Dingle and found that in a fleet of 17 boats there were at least four different types of engines. Very often boats were tied up at the pier waiting up to three months for the replacement of a part so small that you could put it in your pocket. Sometimes BIM got a replacement engine and sent it down to the fisherman but there was no system of organised repair locally. There was no attempt made to have the parts available to serve this industry, which could have been built up to a position far ahead of what it is today.

There should be one type of engine for a fleet of boats fishing from a particular harbour and there should be a complete set of parts in store and a repair service available. There should be a re-conditioned engine for any engine that fails. Many fishermen in the Dingle area gave up fishing when they became so frustrated at not being able to get replacement parts. They left the area and got jobs in other parts of the country or emigrated. They were forced to sell their boats or had them seized when they could not pay their debts. The Government should consider setting up a body something like the IDA, which could be called the Fishery Development Association, with power to develop the great asset we have around our coastline. This would give employment far beyond our dreams to fishermen around the coast. Such a fishery board could revitalise this industry, now that we are getting money from the EEC development fund.

We need the development of more harbours along the west coast. Valentia is a natural harbour and should be developed. With Portmagee adjacent to it, this could be a very active centre for the development of deep sea fishing in the Kerry area. We could have an industry there worth £20 million. We have people there looking for work. We should make every effort to keep them in their own area.

Much has been said about the protection of our fisheries. The greatest protection we can have is to reach the stage where we have 500 heavy trawlers operating from Bantry Bay to the coast of Donegal. That would keep foreign trawlers out because they will not come if there is competition. I was attached to the fishery committee in Europe for a few years and at that time there was a noticeable drop in the foreign trawlers fishing off our coasts because they could not get the quantity of fish they got in former years. I was informed last week that anything up to 100 British trawlers were seen off the Donegal coast getting high catches of fish on their way to the Greenland coast. We have the greatest fishing grounds in the world. We have the weather to fish all year round, which most European countries have not, and we have sufficient manpower, once they are trained, to go to sea. It will not be easy for these men to obtain work in Britain in the future, so we should make every effort to provide work for them at home.

Europe is wide open because of the high cost of meat, for products we could develop here from our fishing industry. We can land first class fish, process it and find a ready market in Europe. The new board, which I suggest should be set up, should have processing and fishmeal plants established. Their first duty would be to obtain markets for our fish.

We must first erect piers at many of the harbours around the coast. It is necessary to allow the existing places, like Dingle, to operate as they have been doing. It would not be easy to get them to change to modern methods as they are making sufficient as they are and are not interested in any major type of development. We are supposed to have a major harbour in Castletownbere which, according to official thinking, should serve Kerry.

The worst part of the Atlantic coast, apart from the Bay of Biscay, is the point off Dursey Island and to ask Kerry trawlers which have to operate off the Blaskets and further north to find their way around that dangerous coast to get to Castletownbere is out of the question. This is one reason why I make the point that a major development harbour is necessary on the Kerry coast. I think Valentia harbour is ideally suited for this. It has a very long reach of water extending far beyond the pier, beyond Knightstown. We have the pier at Portmagee within the harbour and the pier in Valentia itself and with little development these can be adjuncts to a massive central pier which should exist at Renard Point, to be extended further and enlarged so as to take the many boats that could come in with their catches there.

I do not see great difficulty in finding money for trawlers or to equip ourselves with trawlers. I know that many family-owned trawlers in Europe would be very anxious to get over here provided we had crews to man them. We would have the expertise of the skipper with a total of 11 personnel so that if we could provide 12 trained personnel here to operate that trawler we would have the intake of fish plus the expertise of the trawler owner concerned. Many of them have told me they would be very glad to find their permanent boat here and to take out naturalisation papers so as to avail of the work that can be provided here. This would suffice for opening up the position and as our young people acquired expertise and as we could provide the money they could in time become owners of further trawlers by purchasing them, thus expanding the fleet to land the type of wealth I have in mind.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will carry this message to the Government. There is a ripe harvest ready to be gathered. Much courage will be needed to launch the project and put it before the nation but nobody ever succeeded by being squeamish. One must go in bull-headed; it is the only way to achieve success. I cannot see any possibility of failure here. We have the energy, the ability and the driving power to do this given the courage to go ahead and get it under way.

I should also like to comment on the position in Caherciveen. About five years ago we were listed for a development grant for that pier to help moor the smaller boats that come up there and land what fish they have. Certain plans had to be prepared but even after all this time work has not even started. If this is the type of thinking in the two departments concerned, one of which does not move, one is entitled to say derisively they probably do not get up until after lunch. That is the type of thinking that one feels affects such projects— after five years we have not even made a start on this pier which is so essential to all the fishermen operating into it. Surely, in 1975 something can be done to get an immediate start and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to examine the situation at this stage to see if something can be done in that regard.

When I was in Europe I had to attend a fishery committee meeting in Ankara in Turkey and I was invited to stay over for three days by the Turkish Government and the experts concerned. They showed me massive plans they had on their drawing boards to have huge ocean-going trawlers fishing the Atlantic coast mainly off our own coast and in the North Sea. They asked what I thought about it. I said that because of the distance involved I thought every type of difficulty would develop and I gave them the figures I had got out of Europe about the position of the trawling fleet there and their approaches to the North Sea and around our coast. I mention this to make the point that if a nation like Turkey, no more wealthy than ourselves—if they have as much—are prepared to sink colossal sums of money into trying to fish off our coast, it is a sorry state of affairs if we cannot see the wealth they believe they saw there and if we cannot devise ways and means of reaping that wealth in our own backyard, so to speak, which the Turks are prepared to travel hundreds of miles to reach.

Facing 1975 I should like to see some national thinking directed towards the development of this source of wealth and the landing of that wealth for the benefit of our country as a whole and towards giving the maximum injection of money because by and large this would be all for export and would give us great earning power abroad while providing massive employment at home in areas where there is no employment and which always are and have been a worry to the different Governments through the years. In the past we had to build up our inland industries to try to produce wealth and give employment needed within our shores but now that we have advanced reasonably well, it is time to look at the wealth in our own back yard and to try to develop it. There is terrific excitement throughout the nation about the oil and gas finds around the coast but in our fisheries we have a never-ending source of wealth if we can only get men of vision and of standing to develop them.

The only way I can see it being done is through the establishment of a board—call it the Fishery Development Authority. Give them the same money and other backing that the IDA have got, let them set up harbours here and there throughout the country, let them have the necessary trained personnel to man our fishery vessels and to staff fish processing plants and let them establish a first-class sales organisation. In this way we shall be taking a step towards proving to the world that we are an island nation capable of reaping the benefits of the resources that Almighty God provided for us around our shores.

I should like to voice my appreciation of the constructive nature of the discussion on the Bill. Many useful suggestions were made by Deputies and I have no doubt they will be helpful to the Department in formulating new policies or revising existing ones.

The Bill was generally welcomed and I could glean from the debate that one of the main reasons for it was the faith and the confidence Members of the House have in BIM. That was expressed in no uncertain terms today. There was also commendation of the personnel of the Fisheries Division and I agree wholeheartedly with that: during my close association with the Division as Parliamentary Secretary I have found the personnel always ready, always at the disposal of our fishermen and all those associated with the industry with a view to its advancement.

A question arose about the functions of BIM. They are clearly set down in the regulations governing the board's establishment. I always like to see Deputies displaying inquiring minds in so far as the board's activities are concerned. It is desirable that elected representatives should have as much information as it is possible to get from such a board, and BIM are favourably disposed towards making available to Deputies all the information they have.

What I want to see firmly established in the not too distant future is a united front between our fishermen, our fish processors and others associated with the industry, BIM and the Department. I do not see any great dividing line between BIM and the Department. Their work is of a similar nature, if you cut away the jargon utilised in statutes and so on. Their work is the development of our fisheries, and whether it is the personnel of the Department or the officers of BIM, their aim is the same.

I said here on previous occasions that what I hope to see emerge in the not too distant future is a comprehensive up-to-date report on our fisheries generally, not that we have had many reports already, not that there is a great deal of filed information in the Department. I should like to see a situation evolving through which the representatives of the fishermen, the Department and BIM would sit down at regular intervals, say quarterly, to discuss problems common to the industry—all the difficulties, all the credits and debits —and try to formulate policies generally helpful to the industry. In the light of our EEC membership and of the changes that take place rapidly from time to time, we must always be ready to adapt and to revise systems which may not be measuring up to present-day requirements in the industry. Therefore, it would be helpful to have such a co-ordinating body. Frequently I use the term "involve". I am a great believer in the involvement of all the people concerned in an industry.

To comment on Deputies' contributions, I do not think it is necessary to go along with the suggestion made by the last speaker to the effect that a new board should be set up to do what I have mentioned, to assemble all the information available from all possible sources and to make a comprehensive report. I particularly do not wish to see further boards being set up. The work can be usefully continued by BIM. I agree that it is necessary to revise and update information but it can be done by the existing board, the Department and the fishermen.

One of the main points that arose in the debate and that was adverted to by a number of Deputies was that there was not sufficient money available for fisheries. I thoroughly agree. I do not think that there is sufficient money available for fisheries. We are an island country. I said in Opposition and I say now from the Government benches that our fisheries need further development and further injections of public money than they are getting. That is self-evident. I can assure the House that whether the funds are available from the Irish Exchequer or from the EEC or from any other source it will be the objective of the Government to make as much money as possible available for the further development of fisheries.

The report contained in my introductory statement indicated a reasonably bright picture so far as our fishing fleet is concerned. The report indicated that the fleet contained a total of 1,126 motor vessels of which 138 were larger boats. I am very pleased that the number of larger boats is on an upward trend and I hope that position will continue.

Everybody here recognises the adductor vantage in having our own boat yards. I make no distinction between privately owned boat yards and BIM boat yards. Because of the association of BIM with the Department and its dependence on public funds we must address ourselves to the question of BIM boat yards in the first instance. I have no doubt that the BIM yards will continue to expand and that the employment in them will continue. I have no doubt that BIM will have sufficient orders for their yards. It is pleasing to note that the work produced in the yards is of excellent quality. Every person who got a boat provided by the yards is satisfied that the boat is a good one and as good as, if not better, than what can be obtained elsewhere. The same satisfactory account can be heard from those who acquired boats from private yards here. It is a pleasing feature that the various yards are capable of turning out an excellent product. The bigger boats now cost almost £200,000. In view of the high cost, persons will place orders only with those yards from whom they can be reasonably sure of getting value for money.

Down through the years the State, having regard to the value of a boat, the importance of a boat to an approved applicant, did not place any barrier in respect of where the applicant would purchase the boat. If the applicant thought he could get a better boat outside the country he was free to do so. Fortunately, the number who availed of that accommodation is very small. Possibly the reason why even a small number did so was that the Irish yards were unable to supply them within a reasonable time.

I am mindful of the role played by boat building yards in the development of fisheries. I am mindful of the employment they provide. I appreciate the skills of the craftsmen working in the yards. I think I could with safety dispel any doubts expressed by Deputies on the future of the yards.

Valuable suggestions were made during the debate by a number of Deputies. I cannot adopt the suggestion made by Deputy Kenneally regarding a Ministry of Fisheries. That is a constitutional matter and is outside the range of discussion on this Bill.

I mentioned the employment content in fisheries. It starts with the boat builder and then takes in the man who takes the boat out to sea, who does the fishing, then it takes in the man who may buy the fish at the pier and who sells it around the country or who may process the fish. Deputies stressed the desirability of processing the fish caught by our fishermen because of the additional employment involved. I thoroughly agree with that point of view. Naturally, we try to supply our own people first and then we like to have some fish for the export market but we would like to have that fish processed here. Processing plants are not established by the Department. A fish processor has the same right as any other industrialist has to apply to the Department of Industry and Commerce or to the IDA for a grant.

Deputy Gallagher referred to the group who operate fish auctions and he spoke about abuses. I have been at the auctions but I would inform the Deputy that we must have further information regarding the alleged abuses. I believe that every man who handles fish should get a fair slice but I do not think that some people, such as those mentioned by Deputy Gallagher, should get two slices. If the system operates whereby a man actually sells fish to himself and then collects auctioneer's fees on the sale, it is obvious the system needs reviewing. It is not fair to the man who catches the fish and who transports it to Dublin. However, without further inquiries and evidence being available, I do not want to reflect on any section. Every man is entitled to his fair share but I am afraid there are a few people in this industry who are getting more than they are entitled to. It will be necessary to carry out further inquiries.

Deputy Fahey mentioned the responsibility of BIM for training and he said that organisation should have wider responsibility. I answered that point before the Deputy came into the House when I said I did not see any great dividing line between the activities of the Department and BIM. All of them are there to cope with all aspects of the industry whether it is harbour works, the training of fishermen, the provision of boats or the administration of the marine industrial plan. The Deputy mentioned that BIM have no responsibility for harbour works. It is only fair to say they are consulted on the development and improvement of harbours. I would emphasise that we must operate as a united team.

The training scheme for young fishermen was commented on quite favourably by many Deputies. Deputy Gallagher emphasised the desirability of education. He said we are moving into a modern age and that it was highly desirable that people who are in control of equipment costing approximately £200,000 should be properly trained to manage it to their best advantage and that of the country generally. That is desirable and it is being implemented. There is the new school at Greencastle, County Donegal, where a number of boys are accommodated each year and where they have comprehensive courses. Subsequently if the examiner considers they are entitled to certification they get it, but if they do not reach a standard of efficiency that warrants certification they are deemed to fail.

I support the ideas of Deputy Gallagher and other speakers on this subject. To date there have not been any young women applicants for boats but the young men who wish to be considered for grants or boats by BIM or other State agencies must realise that unless they take steps to attend the courses available their chances of being allocated either grants or boats are minimal. We must be mindful of our resources and if there is an adequate number of trained people who are fully competent naturally they must get priority.

The question of fishermen's organisations was mentioned by a number of Deputies. We know there are a number of such organisations but the statements emanating from the Department referred mainly to the producer organisation that would fit in with EEC requirements. That was our main worry but, according to the information available to me, through the efforts of the IAOS and BIM working in partnership a producer organisation is expected to be formed early next year. Both of the organisations mentioned have been working in partnership to bring about this result and I am sure that the new organisation will measure up to what is required.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary state if it will be one organisation or a number?

It will be one producer organisation for a start. It is our hope that it will measure up to the requirements of the EEC.

Herring fisheries were referred to by a number of Deputies. Herring is the most important species of all so far as the income level of our fishermen is concerned.

Debate adjourned.