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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 24 Mar 1983

Vol. 341 No. 5

Ceisteanna—Questions . Oral Answers . - Sea Fisheries Protection .


asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry if there are any restrictions on the number of boats used by foreign countries in fishing inside our territorial waters.


asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry how catches of fish by vessels of foreign countries inside our territorial waters are monitored; and if he has satisfied himself that correct information is being made available to his Department on the amount of the various species being caught by them.

: I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 13 together. Foreign fishing vessels are not permitted to fish within our territorial waters and the question of monitoring of catches does not therefore arise.

: I do not know how the Minister can arrive at the EEC member states. My question related to the number of vessels fishing inside our six mile to 12 mile bands. Can the Minister give us any indication as the number of boats fishing our waters and the amount of fish being taken out by them?

: That is detailed information I have not got. The answer given was strictly in reply to the question put and properly the word used was "territorial". The Deputy will appreciate the shortness of the answer for that reason. I could give the Deputy the regulations governing the different areas but I have not got the information the Deputy requires.

: Has the Minister got information in relation to the number of prosecutions brought or breaches of the regulations?

: That is a different question. As far as I know, I think later on there is a question in relation to prosecutions.

: Who monitors the landings and what assurance can the Minister give us that no boats are fishing illegally inside our water?

: That is a separate question but later on there is a question dealing with the monitoring system.


asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry if officials of his Department have access to check the type of fishing gear used by foreign trawlers in order to ensure that serious damage is not being caused by using gear which would prove detrimental to our fishing stocks.

: All fishing vessels operating within the exclusive fishery limits of the State are liable to inspection by the Naval Service and officers of my Department to ensure compliance with the various conservation measures in operation including those relating to types of fishing gear.

: Is the Minister aware that foreign trawlers are using gear damaging to our stocks? It is necessary to have some method of having this checked, and would the Minister accept that our patrol boats and so on are at the moment adequate to have a proper check on the type of gear these boats may be using?

: Perhaps I could clarify the position. Fishing gear used within the fishery limits is checked by naval personnel when the vessels are boarded. The type of gear which may be legally used is specified in regulations. New regulations are pending in relation to the common fisheries policy and furthermore, as the Deputy is aware, there are fines of up to £10,000 on conviction for the use of illegal gear. With that goes the automatic forfeiture of the catch.

: Would the Minister accept that a fine of £10,000 is not adequate? Would he also accept that a number of these third country boats fishing illegally form a consortium and these fines of £10,000 come out of a fund and are paid by the consortium?

: I am glad the Deputy has given us that information but I am afraid it raises a different question.

: Does the Minister feel a fine of £10,000 is adequate?

: It is relative. It depends on the capacity of the convicted person to pay. In some cases it is adequate and in some not.

: Perhaps I did not make myself clear. These people form a consortium so, irrespective of their size, I believe the £10,000 is not adequate. It is not a deterrent.

: I am afraid I could not answer that.


asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry how it is proposed to control fishing by foreign trawlers inside our fishing limitations; and if he has satisfied himself that there are adequate resources available to the State to protect our valuable fishing stocks.

: The control of fishing by foreign trawlers other than those of members States of the EEC inside the exclusive fishery limits of the State is exercised by means of licences issued by the EEC. Under the recently agreed Common Fisheries Policy the vessels of member States may fish in the area outside 12 miles with limited access between six and 12 miles but each member State is subject to quota restrictions for certain species. Fishing operations within the exclusive fishery limits of the State are monitored by the Naval Service working in close co-operation with the Air Corps. The surveillance service will be augmented by the addition of a helicopter-bearing vessel next year, and I am satisfied that the addition of this further facility will provide adequate resources for the fishery surveillance service.

: Can the Minister honestly say he is satisfied that we have both in the EEC and in our own resources adequate services to check the stocks or the amount of fish being taken out? In the case of third countries what is the method of checking the quantity of fish taken out? Is it at the port of landing in the third country?

: A subsequent reply will outline the measures taken to check all catches in other countries. Within the resources available to us I am satisfied the facilities we have are as good as could be expected. Naturally I would prefer if more money could be made available to provide better surveillance in our waters.

: Are the same checks kept on boats from member states as are kept on foreign boats? Is there any differentiation between the checks kept?

: As far as I know there is not. Many of the member states are working within strict quota limits in our waters.

: How are these checks carried out? Is there a spot check from time to time? Is there any co-operation between other member states and ourselves in relation to stocks?

: Adherence to regulations and restrictions are enforced by the Naval Service in co-operation with the Air Corps.

: I can understand a situation where a spot check is carried out by the Air Corps. How can we find out the amount of fish which may be on a trawler?

: The question refers to the control of fishing. There are ways and means of checking the amount of fish on board a vessel if it is boarded. There are regulations in force under the common fisheries policy for dealing with checks at home ports to ascertain whether boats are staying within EEC regulations.