Before the adjournment of the debate I was the dealing with the competition we are experiencing not alone from third countries—the legislation before the House is meant to prevent boats from such countries fishing here— but from EEC countries also. The Dutch have a quota of 35,000 tons and they had a similar quota last year. They went to the Commission and said: "mea culpa we have landed 1,000 tons over and above; please forgive us". In fact, they claimed a subsidy from the EEC for £190,000. They appear to be in a position to ignore all rules, regulations and quotas set down by the EEC. We should expose this and I have no doubt that the Minister will. The Minister should endeavour to ascertain how the Dutch obtained the other 145,000 tons on which they claimed a subsidy from the EEC. In my view it amounts to a manipulation of figures only. We are obeying the rules and regulations and playing the game but they are working to our detriment.
Those involved in the industry should continue to take better care of the fish using the improved facilities which are available to them. The processors and exporters should be enticed to add greater value to their products thus creating more employment here. I am realistic enough not to accept the theory that all fish landed should be processed here. I can see valid reasons why cans of fish produced in other countries are displayed on supermarket shelves here. It must be remembered that our industry is in its infancy. We should do our utmost to work our way up the added-value scale until we are able to make such products available here. We must experience competition but I do not believe finished goods from other countries is the problem at present. Any business today has high powered marketing and the fishing industry has a marketing problem like any other developing. We are competing against the professionals and the multinationals. We must strive to improve our methods so that eventually we can produce commodities of the highest standard and we must make every effort to cut down on imports by substituting the home-produced product.
The Commission should consider a system of price support for the fishing industry, somewhat along the same lines as that given in respect of agriculture. In the debate on the Estimates for the Department I spoke about the need for greater co-ordination between the various bodies. For far too long the attitude between the fishermen and the processors was "us versus them". Things have changed for the better, but there is need for greater co-ordination and the Department must give the lead. The Minister should initiate talks between representatives of the fishermen, the processors and those involved in the marketing and service sectors. A council should be set up with power to deal with matters concerning the industry. Each sector needs the assistance of the others if the industry is to prosper. They should have at their disposal the expert advice of officials in the Department and of BIM. That organisation have been criticised here on numerous occasions but they have played an important role in the development of the fishing industry. Possibly BIM are somewhat confined because of their terms of reference and I suggest that the terms should be looked at again. BIM have the personnel to do the job if the terms of reference are changed.
Deputy Daly spoke about the round robin financial system used by some countries in the EEC. It is well known that penalties are not high enough. Even the penalties suggested today by the Minister in relation to third country boats would not be high enough if they related to boats of EEC countries because of the system that operates. The Dutch are building vessels for the specific purpose of fishing off the west coast. Their quota of 35,000 tonnes has been reduced by 25 per cent but one has to ask the question why are they building these super boats. It is to fish off our coasts. Their quota could be caught by two of the Irish refrigerated sea water vessels in a short period. A maximum penalty should be imposed to keep foreign vessels, including the Dutch, from raping our fisheries. The existing penalties are only a joke. The Dutch and other countries find it very cheap if a penalty is imposed on them here. Our laws are not stringent enough and the penalties are not high enough to deter them from coming here.
I welcome the introduction of the Common Fisheries Policy but that is only similar to outline planning permission. It is useless unless we are prepared to forge ahead with a national fisheries policy. It is regrettable that steps have not been taken up to now even to discuss the possibility of having such a policy. The common fisheries policy is only a base. I hope in the next few months the Minister and his officials will give consideration to a national fisheries policy, which I consider a necessity.
I wish to comment on the Department's management system which will be put into operation irrespective of our quota. I have had discussions with fishermen, particularly those who are finding the financial strain of repayments too much for them. Boats over 90 feet will be allowed only 500 tonnes per week. We cannot accept that system or the quotas to which I referred earlier.
I did not have an opportunity of speaking in the debate on the Estimate for the Department of Trade, Commerce and Tourism. There is an important link between that Department and the Department of Fisheries and Forestry. We became aware of that last November when it was obvious that boats would have to tie up because of problems in obtaining money from Nigeria. It transpired that it would take three or four months before the money came through. The then Minister, Deputy Daly, with Deputy MacSharry in the Department of Finance and Deputy Flynn, in the Department of Trade Commerce and Tourism did an excellent job. The Department of Trade, Commerce and Tourism with the ICC insured that facilities were made available to the processors and they did not have to stop freezing fish. However, what happened then should be enough warning to ensure that something similar does not happen this year. Apart from the officials in the Department and the Minister, I do not think anyone here realised the seriousness of the position.
I suggest that the Government provide credit guarantees to our exporters similar to those provided to our main competitors, particularly the Dutch and the British. This export credit could be provided by the Insurance Corporation of Ireland. The risk involved is minimal. In so far as Nigeria is concerned, at the end of the day the risk lies with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Nigerian market was opened by the then Minister, Deputy Daly, and I have no doubt that this Minister will continue that policy and ensure that we keep the market we have obtained there. I hope the Minister will go there at the first opportunity to ensure that the work initiated by Deputy Daly is continued and that the market share is increased. Without the provision of export credit the industry could come to a standstill. Our fleet would have no outlet for their fish apart from the 25 per cent taken by the freezer vessels and the floating factories that come here each winter.
The Bill is exceptionally clever. We asked the Government to introduce it to ensure that the Spanish or any other third country boats would not be allowed to operate the system which they operate in the UK at present. The UK introduced legislation in March to prevent this. It is only right and proper that we should also take similar steps but it would be interesting to know how effective this legislation is in the UK and if it has prevented these boats from continuing to fish there. I believe the UK were more specific at the time, although I am open to contradiction on this. We are doing this by the Minister making an order stating that a percentage of the crew members must be Irish. There is no reference to the actual percentage, although it should be the maximum percentage as introduced by the British of at least 75 per cent or more. The Bill refers to a percentage only and that section must be tightened up.
Section (2) of the Bill proposes that Irish registered fishing vessels can only fish in Irish waters in accordance with the terms of a licence issued by the Minister. This is a very serious matter because by implication—and I hope the Minister will clarify this—we are suggesting that Irish boats can only fish inside the 12-mile limit. I see the Minister shaking his head and I am sure he will place it on the record that it does not refer to Irish boats in Irish waters outside the 12-mile limit.
Section (3) provides for the Minister to make regulations specifying conditions and the nationality of crew members to which I referred earlier. There is a loophole in that section. It is vague and weak and the percentage of the crew members should be stated more clearly. It is also suggested in that section that the company may register here and operate from this country. I am anxious for clarification of whether this permits any of the third countries to register a company here and allows them to fish. If so, that section should be amended.