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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 6 Jul 1983

Vol. 344 No. 8

Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1983: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

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.

They must get a licence first.

Section (4) refers to conservation of fish stocks. The importance of conservation cannot be overstressed. I said earlier that we were ill advised in relation to herrings. We were given the clear and distinct impression that there were no difficulties as far as herrings were concerned but we found a few years ago that the stocks were depleted.

It is also important that salmon stocks are conserved to ensure they are there for generations to come. The only way to conserve salmon stocks is to allow fishermen to fish during the day and to prohibit them from fishing at night and weekends. They should have a five-day week and control their gear. It is interesting to note that the Minister said that there are more effective type of nets which could be used, such as the multi-strand and the super nylon. If the Minister is suggesting that there are more effective and better nets would it not be right and proper to consider using them? I hope in relation to conservation, especially salmon, that the Minister will invite representatives of fishing organisations to discuss this serious problem. I am sure the problems could be overcome by discussions, which could take place from August onwards. Fishermen are, and have every right to be, as interested in conservation as the officials and the Minister.

Section 5 allows the Minister to make regulations to give effect to EEC arrangements. It is a straightforward section which gives the Minister more power to enforce penalties and is to be welcomed.

Section 7 worries me in so far as there are severe penalties envisaged in relation to a second offence, but only if it is the same owner. It is highly improbable that owners of boats, having been caught once, would return without having changed the owner's name. We should consider penalising these people on the first offence, confiscating their boat and gear and imposing a very severe fine of as high as £250,000. A fine of £10,000 is not sufficient where there is an insurance company to pay. Perhaps the Minister could clarify whether this section, in relation to the second offence, also refers to Irish boats.

As regards the question of boats having to obtain a licence from the Minister of Fisheries and Forestry before they are registered, is it intended to make all these licences and registrations retrospective? We have heard about the historical rights of other member states in our waters. But the fishermen also have historical rights, and if this legislation is introduced the Minister should consider having it in operation from a certain date rather than asking all boats which are already operating here to apply for a licence and to register. If the Minister decides that this must be done by all boats and that it must be retrospective then the size of the boat should not be under 65 feet. Perhaps the Minister will consider that on Committee Stage.

In conclusion, I would like the Minister to advise us as to the effectiveness of the legislation introduced in Britain at the end of March. This is a cleverly worded Bill and we welcome its repair aspects. Here the Minister is endeavouring to ensure that non-national boats do not continue to plunder our waters. In a way this is stop-gap legilation and at some time in the future an effort should be made to codify our fishery laws. We have had a great many Acts since 1884 and there is need for codification.

I am delighted to have an opportunity of speaking on this Bill. I was delighted to hear the contributions of the Deputies from Cork, Kerry, Mayo and Donegal. I am awaiting a contribution from Galway and I would be particularly interested in a contribution from my fellow Deputy in Clare.

Basically the Bill is a good one. It is designed to preserve our fish stock. That is commendable and laudable. However, the rush in which it is presented to us is neither commendable nor laudable. Because of proposed developments in the south-west Clare area by a group of businessmen based in England, with Spanish involvement, the IFO and a number of Deputies created a great deal of fuss and the result was the Department was bullied into a situation in which they were forced to present this Bill as an emergency. That is not the best way in which to present legislation.

The contributions of Deputy Begley, Deputy Sheehan, Deputy Denis Gallagher and Deputy Pat Gallagher were interesting. In particular, the references to the activities of the navy and the corvettes in recent weeks were very appropriate because I think they are the foundation of the real issue involved. The navy has been doing its legal duties. That was something that was not done for quite a long time and the result is that some salmon fishermen in the Clare area are now better protected than they were in the recent past. Would it not be better to have the corvettes out 70 and 80 miles attacking the Spanish and the Russian factory ships and let our Irish fishermen fish here and there? The reality is they have been fishing here and there and many have been illegally fishing in grounds around Clare and many of the Clare people feel the opposition raised to the proposed development in Cappagh-Kilrush was by fishermen who were afraid their illegal fishing activities would be stopped as a result of the Spanish boats coming in and out of the Shannon estuary. That view is held strongly by people in Clare and it is one I want to put on record.

It is absolutely essential that our fish stocks are protected. It is also essential that they be used to the maximum national advantage. If that is done employment will be created in an area in which it is badly needed through the economic development of our fisheries. The Minister has responsibility in that area and he has a duty to ensure greater development of our national resources. In Clare we have had very little assistance in the past and I ask the Minister to take steps to ensure some major developments in the fishing industry there. Over the years the Clare coast has been exploited, not just by non-nationals but by Irish fishermen as well. We must get every assistance from the Department to encourage young people anxious to make fishing a livelihood and who have neither the facilities nor the experience at the moment to follow that particular calling. The real threat is not just the Spaniards. The Norwegians and the Danes pose an even greater threat.

Within the next two years Spain will be a member of the EEC and entitled to the same treatment as the other members. In the proposed development in south-west Clare the Spaniards were going to deal in hake, mackerel and monk fish. We have no quotas in that area and so the proposed development would not affect our position within the EEC. That is something that should be considered.

Deputy Begley referred to Spanish boats fishing 70 or 80 miles off our coast. Would it not be a good idea to allow them in? Surely we could gain some advantage out of their fishing outside our territorial waters. We should be more open to joint ventures even with those outside the EEC.

Section 6 provides that a fishing vessel may not be registered in the State unless a fishing licence has been granted by the Minister in respect of the vessel. I do not know what kind of economic sense that makes. Unless someone can be assured of obtaining a licence to fish he will naturally not purchase a vessel and so I do not understand how this section will work in practice. This is something that should be reconsidered. I welcome the issue of licences and the registering of vessels, because that will make for better order in the industry. It is the manner of doing it that needs to be considered.

The Minister mentioned the strong reaction to the proposed venture on the Clare coast from the fishing industry here. What strong reaction did he get from Clare? He also said claims had been made that landings by such vessels would make a significant contribution to the economy in general and to the local economy in the vicinity of the ports concerned in particular. The experience of the ports in Britain over the past few years does not bear out such claims. That may very well be but that, combined with the experience in Castletownbere, may make the Department very wary of proposals like this. The reality is that you cannot tar all the people with the same brush. There are many Irish people whose activities in other countries we may not be very proud of, whether it is business or otherwise, but one cannot assume that the entire people of any nation are automatically of the same standing as one particular group, especially if one has had a bad experience. We should be more open-minded on the issue and should be prepared to consider in a far more open-minded fashion proposals put before us, as a potential for economic development or anything else.

The Minister has responsibility to ensure that our fishing industry is developed to its full potential. As was stated earlier today, the land and the sea of this country are our greatest natural assets. The sea has not been developed at all. There has not been any specific fishing development policy. The Minister could set up a development task force in his Department to train young people and provide more facilities particularly in the counties where there has not been any great fishing development over the years. There are about five major ports in the country and the amount of fishing activity outside that is very limited. It is unfortunate that people in those particular counties have had their fishing stocks exploited by people of other counties and have not had the opportunity of availing of those fishing stocks themselves. If this Bill in some way impedes the development in Kilrush I ask the Minister to make immediate overtures to BIM and the officials of his Department to ensure that some major fishing development takes place in the very near future in the Clare region. It is absolutely essential that this takes place. If this Bill is to curb the potential for creating jobs in the region the onus is on the Minister to compensate that region by starting a movement to see that jobs are created for the same natural resource. I will not delay the House any further because I know there are a number of speakers who wish to contribute.

I welcome this Bill particularly because it will tighten up the operations of the Spanish fishing vessels especially off the south west coast with which I am familiar. I hope, as I said some time ago in the Dáil, that it will not seriously affect the fish processing activity down there, the Eirenova plant, because it employs 28 people. The Minister should do everything possible to develop the fishing industry. I hope, for the first time in the history of the State, that the Minister will say that this is a natural resource industry that can be developed. There are approximately 10,000 people employed in fishing and there are only about 100 people employed in processing that fish. That is a very bad ratio. I believe that, with some effort by the Minister and by the people involved, that figure of 100 people employed in the processing of a food product in which 10,000 people are involved in the fishing operation, could at least be four to one, which would mean jobs for 40,000 people. That would be a bonus to the whole economy with the difficult job situation we have at the moment.

I am very concerned about the lack of research and development in the industry. Any industry, particularly a food industry, will not go anywhere without research and development. There is only one fishing research vessel, the Loch Beltra. After some considerable hesitation £60,000 was spent on it a few months ago. It was about to be laid up a few weeks ago when another £10,000 was given by the National Board of Science and Technology to keep it going for about four weeks. When we have a native industry employing 10,000 people and we cannot afford even one research vessel, there is something very wrong with the situation. I am glad the Minister for Finance is in the House at the moment. I hope he will try to get some money under some subhead to keep that fishery research vessel in operation.

We have not had a hydrographic survey since 1850. The old British admiralty charts are out of date. It is about time the hydrographic charts around our coasts were updated. Would the Minister please have a look at that particular matter? I asked him during the debate on the Estimate to have a look at the establishment of a fishery research field station at Kinsale, County Cork. I have been asking different Ministers since 1977 if they would look seriously at this matter and on each occasion I was told that there is a difficulty with the landowner. As late as today I got a reply from the Minister stating that there is still a difficulty with the landowner, who is not co-operating. Would the Minister please ask the Land Commission to acquire that little parcel of land in Kinsale for the establishment of a fishery research field station which after the visit of the late President Kennedy to this country 20 years ago, was recognised as probably one of the most outstanding locations for a fishery research field station in the whole of Europe. Would the Minister please consult the Land Commission again and ask them to do something about acquiring this land so that this field station can be got off the ground.

I am also concerned about the importation of fish products. One has only to go into any chipper in any city or town in the country and one will find imported fish used. That should not be the case. I believe about £26 million of such fish products were imported in the last 12 months. Something radical should be done about that matter. The officials of the Department of Fisheries should make some contact with the people in Erin Foods who have capitulated regarding the importation of vegetables and other processed food products and ask them to use their technology and some of their unused factories and equipment to process fish products. There is no great difference between the protein in fish and the protein in other foods. Surely it is not beyond the ingenuity of the food processers in Erin Foods and in the food industry generally to take a hold of the fish processing sector of the industy and do something radical about it.

There are two other matters I would like to ask the Minister to do something about. The first is the old problem of Schull pier. I am a bit bored at this stage with raising this matter with various Ministers. Prior to my interest in this, the former Deputy Michael Pat Murphy spent 30 years—28 of them in this House — raising this matter. The last I heard about it was that a number of individuals were under water down there surveying the base of the pier. That is a dangerous occupation and I would ask the Minister to tell those gentlemen to get out and get a bit of work done on the pier. I regret the cutback in the money for harbour development. Perhaps before the Minister's term of office ends the project at Schull pier will be started and completed.

There is a valuable boat building industry in Baltimore, West Cork, where about 80 people are employed full time. The boat building industry is going through difficult times and I would urge the Minister to see that BIM process the grant applications and make the term payments expeditiously so as to preserve this traditional industry.

In supporting this Bill I compliment the Minister and the Naval Service for doing a fantastic job in fishery protection. The success of the action in fish conservation was reflected in the increased numbers of salmon which got up to the spawning beds in the Maigue and the Shannon. Inshore fishermen in this area have been involved in the salmon industry going back for 800 years. The first charter in my city in 1197 makes reference to the fishing stocks in Limerick city. Limerick city has been involved in salmon fishing and has been renowned for it throughout the world. If we are serious about our fishing policy we should not allow the depredation that has been wrought over the last 12 years by home grown pirates. I sincerely compliment the Minister and the Naval Service for dealing for the first time in years with this blackguardism by our own people.

Even if they have to shoot men in the process?

I can do without assistance from Deputy Gallagher. I did not interfere with him.

The Deputy should know the facts.


The people who are doing this are no better than the gombeen men who preyed on the miseries of our people. People engaged in that activity remind me of people in a concentration camp——

I would prefer if the Deputy would not refer to a concentration camp. That is an infamous phrase.

Because of the activities of the Naval Service these pirates are now behaving themselves. My information is that the naval authorities were engaged in a celebration last weekend and while they were thus engaged the pirates were back again at the mouth of the Shannon, as a result of which nothing got up to the inshore fishermen who depend on fishing for their livelihood the same as people along the coast. These inshore fishermen have been involved in fishing for centuries. That fact is well documented. There were the battles with the ESB in 1936 of the Abbey fishermen of the Guild of Saint Francis and Peadar O'Donnell. This is one of the oldest guilds in the country. The law requires that inshore fishermen be off the river from 6.00 hours on Saturday morning until 6.00 hours on Monday morning. The purpose of that is to allow the fish to the spawning beds. Through greed we are killing the goose that lays the golden egg. A famous English economist, killed a couple of years ago, talking about resources said that the fossil recources like coal and fuel would be used up even if we discover oil off our coasts. That is the law of diminishing returns. This economist also referred to resources which reproduce themselves such as forests, fisheries, agricultural crops and so on. We are destroying indigenous resources. Some species of fish are already gone because of short-sighted greed. I compliment the Minister on the courageous steps he has taken. I gather that over 20 miles of monofilament net was confiscated from salmon poachers. Was there a commensurate return of income tax in relation to the fish plundered? I believe people are now using a type of monofilament net which can change with the colour of the water and this is causing untold damage. The people who are fishing for these fish inside the forbidden times are traitors to their own. They are selling the fish to the foreign factory trawlers off our coast. These people behave themselves when the navy are around and I call on the navy for increased vigilance in that respect.

We all pay lip service to the task of finding employment for our young people. We are either crazy or hypocrites. We have at our disposal a great natural resource, a self-perpetuating resources, God-given riches. We could capitalise on that and turn it into valuable labour intensive employment for our young people along the western sea-board, an area most deficient in terms of turning the rural imbalance of our population. Bord lascaigh Mhara are not doing the job they are supposed to do. We are not using our full potential in research development and marketing. There is a big shortfall there. We are not even filling the markets we can fill and we talk about research and development.

These resources are on our doorstep and we are not exploiting them. I give an example. The Alcan construction operation has ceased but when I was in that vicininty a couple of months ago on another project the management brought me out to show me a new development. They had built an 800 metre jetty out into the Shannon Estuary and the pylons on which the jetty is raised had already become a breeding ground for mussels or cockles — I forget which species — as a result of which four of the people who were made redundant used their redundancy payments to form a company. Alcan were very genorous in helping them on this and now they have gone into the export market. This is on the mud flats in the Shannon Estuary.

This human interest story shows what can be done in the area of research in mariculture. All our Governments have been criminal in their neglect of that area as a means of creating employment, and the best of all types of employment. Telesis in their report criticised our industrial policy. We were giving too much money to foreign countries and not getting sufficient feedback in terms of research and development here. We can do it for our own people and keep the money in Irish hands. We saw what happened a few years ago when a small fishing co-operative in Rossaveal broke into the Danish supermarket chain and got valuable fishing contracts there. The Government and the Minister involved in this area should examine the matter seriously with a view to creating valuable employment. The Third World are screaming for protein from fish offal as a corrective to the vitamin deficiencies which are the basis of many diseases. We can produce that here for nothing and thereby create valuable jobs and earn money for our economy. It has not even been looked at. We should be taken out and shot. Any other nation having the resources that we have would exploit them.

In conclusion, I ask the Minister to consider seriously extending the fishing season for inshore fishermen. At present it lasts from June to July and it is often extended from the salmon season. Fishermen in the Shannon Estuary and around and beyond Limerick agreed to forego their entitlement at the start of the season in February and did not fish then and in return the Minister extended the season. The same thing happened this year. I ask that the Minister agree to extend the fishing season to give them some chance. I have read in the papers — I do not know whether it is true — that some boats off the north-west coast have been catching fish to the value of £80,000 a week. The whole colony of fishermen that I represent along the Shannon river would not catch such an amount between them in the whole season.

That is a joke.

I am asking the Minister to consider that.

I wonder why the Deputy was so nice to them at the outset.


The Minister did a job and he should be given credit for it.

The Minister, according to his statement, introduced this Bill for the purpose of ensuring that the owners of Spanish fishing vessels would not be able to register their vessels here and thereby exploit further the resources which they have been exploiting in our waters for a considerable time. If the owners of those fishing vesels came into this debate today and listened to what has been said by speakers on both sides of the House up to the moment, they would be very reassured. The actions that the Minister is proposing to take with the full support of the House are obviously necessary, but they would equally confirm the view that those ship owners have already: that the best way to protect our resources against them is to develop our capacity to exploit what we have. It has been acknowledged on both sides of the House that it is perhaps, as Deputy Prendergast said, a national scandal that we have not up to this realised the potential that is there to be realised.

I want to extract some very telling figures from the Estimates for public expenditure through the years to show exactly where the fishing industry and what it represents to this economy stand in terms of potential for this country. I do not come in on this debate to offer anything of significance in the fishery area, but I endorse what our spokesman, Deputy Daly, said on the absolute need to have a clearly defined national policy, to identify the immediate opportunities and obligations as well as marketing research and development. I have heard those views re-echoed generally since I came into the House this afternoon, in particular having regard to the need throughout the world for the protein which fish provide. We might as well face the fact that some countries suggest that dairy products are not in the best interests of human health for one reason or another. They might even suggest the same about beef products because of their fat content. I do not accept those arguments, but everyone accepts that fish is the great protein food and its health value is enormous particularly in relation to developing countries.

In 1979, four years ago, the total Estimate for public expenditure was £2.4 billion and the amount for the Fisheries Vote then was £16 million. Now the total Estimate for public expenditure is a great source of concern for economists and Ministers for Finance and also spokesmen on Finance. The Minister for Finance visited the House for a few moments. I do not criticise him for not sitting in, but I regret that he is not here for this point. However, I am sure his colleague will bring it back to him. The total Estimate has grown from £2.4 billion to what is a matter of concern for all of us, £5.6 billion, a growth of almost 140 per cent over what it was. In 1983 the Estimate for fishery development is £18.75 million, approximately £2.75 million more than it was four years ago. When the growth in public expenditure has become a matter of great concern, from £2.4 billion to £5.6 billion, the best we can achieve by way of development of our resources in this major area of potential is an increase of £2.5 million or £2.7 million. In fact, it is worse, because the Estimate for public expenditure for 1983 is almost £1 million less than it was last year, 1982.

I share the views of all who have spoken so far who know far more than I do about the fishing industry and the impact it has on coastal areas in their constituencies. Coming as I do from a place that would not normally be associated with fishing, this should be of as much relevance for you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, and me and someone who represents Athlone in the centre of Ireland as for those from the coastal areas. The Spaniards, Norwegians and Danes must be laughing at us. Of course we need to protect ourselves further against them because they can travel thousands of miles to exploit our resources. The best we can do is make a genuine but not very effective attempt to protect stocks.

Let us compare the Fisheries Votes for this year and last year. Deputy Joe Walsh and others have spoken about research and development. There seems to be a question about whether we can give another £10,000 or £12,000 to keep the research vessel going. It must figure somewhere as an element in the Estimates. Sea fisheries development is down 13 per cent on last year and the provision for fishery harbour works is down by 14 per cent. The grant for BIM is reduced by 13 per cent. There is a story to tell to the Spaniards, Norwegians and Danes and anybody else who wishes to help themselves to our resources.

There are areas of growth in the Vote this year. The provision for Post Office services is up by 96 per cent and salaries are up by 13 per cent. These figures show how serious we are about trying to develop this extraordinary natural resource which could be exploited not just in the interests of the coastal areas but in the interests of the country in general.

We are so deficient in this area that we have no idea how to process for the market and we do not begin to look at market strategy. We are always concerned about preventing the marauding Danes from sweeping the seas. Their coastline would hardly compare with the coast of Clare but they have a huge processing industry.

The consensus today is that we must recognise where we have failed and make every effort to ensure our success. We must begin to look at the huge potential in forestry, fisheries and real agricultural development. The resources are enormous. It is not enough simply to give the figures and talk about the huge potential contribution these areas can make to our economy; we must motivate by example.

I hope I have not made any party political points in this connection. Our party have proposed a committee on maritime resources. Of the range of committees that have been proposed by all sides I would regard this as being of vital importance because it is an area where we can reach a consensus. There must be very little between us. I respect the efforts made by Ministers responsible for fisheries, sometimes without the support of Ministers for Finance. Fisheries could make a fantastic contribution to our balance of payments but the figures I have given show the failure so far as well as potential.

Fisheries represent 0.3 per cent of total public expenditure. Let us put that beside the amount we are providing for agencies of the Department of Labour, something in the region of £130 million. Next year that figure will be closer to £200 million. These agencies are doing a reasonably good job, but our priorities are on their heads if we continue to set up agencies of that kind while we neglect the various aspects of the fisheries industry. If we take the correct action now it is possible that in ten years time the Spaniards will be introducing legislation to protect themselves against what they see as the marauding Irishmen. We too have a tradition in fishing but anyone looking at the Estimates for this year would never guess it.

The Minister will have our full support in any plans to develop fisheries. The challenge is there and if the Government are serious about employment opportunities this is an opportunity to prove it. I wait to see what they will do in terms of the Fisheries Vote. Let us hope there will not be a reduction, as was the case last year. Let us hope it will be a measure of our commitment to an industry that will help to bring improvements not just around the coastal regions but throughout the country.

I will be brief for two reasons — first of all, some of my colleagues want to contribute, and, second, many of the points I wish to raise have been made by my more senior colleagues and Members of the Opposition. I should like to take a different tack, to use a nautical term, from my colleague and constituency neighbour Deputy Taylor-Quinn, the reason being that I was one of the people she mentioned who discussed with the IFO the establishment of a Spanish industry in Clare. I admit I was against it. However, I understood my colleague's chagrin because it is based on the same feelings all of us on the west coast have been expressing, the great degree of unemployment there and the other needs of the west. She saw this industry as an answer to her needs and I firmly did not, simply because I thought it was further exploitation of a resource which we should be exploiting, a resource which has been underutilised, undercapitalised and very inadequately marketed.

Each of us here, the Government and every member of the Government, must stand indicted in that respect. There must be more investment in the fishing industry. Deputy Prendergast pointed out, when talking about fossils and the discovery of oil, that at some stage that would run out but that our fishing resources, if properly maintained, would not. I agree wholeheartedly with him, and with many of the other points he raised.

I should like to turn for a moment to an aspect of the industry in which I have a particular interest, inshore fishing. I note that the aquaculture industry is worth between 10 and 12 per cent of the fish sales value of the total industry. Here again there is underutilisation, under exploitation and undercapitalisation. There should be investment in research and development because these are indigeneous industries in the west and are useful to the people there.

While I was pointing out that the fishing industry is undercapitalised I noticed a piece in The Irish Times which might be the light at the end of the tunnel. It states that the European Commission have announced grants totalling £5.5 million for agriculture and fish processing projects in Ireland. There is to be £127,000 for the fishing sector, for modernisation and the provision of fish processing facilities at Midleton in Cork and Finglas in Dublin, and a special grant for the west of Ireland of nearly £1 million for the modernisation of fish processing facilities at Killybegs and Ballina. I hope this it only the beginning of it. The only thing I am sorry about is that Galway was not mentioned. Perhaps the next time it will be, and I intend to put pressure on to see that it will be.

I agree with many of the things Deputies have said but I should like clarification from the Minister regarding the penalties. Deputy Gallagher spoke about the penalties that should be imposed for second offences. I agree with him, but I suggest they should be imposed not only on foreign vessels but on our own vessels. We cannot have this type of pirating, this abuse of the law. It is understandable that people are emotive about the issue, but the law should not be broken and the law should be firm.

Deputy Taylor-Quinn asked the Minister about Spanish EEC accession and what would happen then. It may not be next year because of Spain's economic circumstances, it may be the year after or even a year later, but when Spain accedes we must examine completely the Common Fisheries Policy and we must take a hard line regarding our quotas and our barriers.

The Minister is anxious to get in at 5.10. He would like to have time to answer the many important questions put to him. I hope there will be co-operation because there is no agreement on this.

We have been holding back speakers so that the Minister would have an opportunity to make a very comprehensive reply, and we would not wish that he would be left with only five minutes at the end. The Committee Stage will be taken tomorrow and on his reply will depend whether we table amendments. We do not intend to put in any more Deputies but if three or four from the opposite side are to speak, then we will put in more Deputies from this side.

It is time that this Government, more than any government, would give a lead and introduce a national campaign for Ireland. This is a small island and we must ask ourselves where we have arrived after 60 years of independence. What opportunities and hopes are we offering to our people, particularly our youth, to fulfil their aspirations? The Minister is from my county and he should play his part to the fullest extent in a national campaign. We must stand on our own feet and head and shoulders above any effort to drag us down. In the past we have had Ministers in charge of this Department from various parts of the country — Deputies Daly, Power, Lenihan, Donegan, and the Ceann Comhairle — and each of them in his own right wished to make a lasting name for himself. The present Minister, coming from a maritime county, born and reared in an area where fishing is indigenous, has the opportunity to go out and strike a blow for Ireland in terms of employment, production and conservation.

Under the terms of various EEC schemes, money is thrown away left, right and centre, for pilot schemes for research into all kinds of developments. There is no reason why we should not be able to get money from some fund in Brussels or Strasbourg to ensure that research will be carried on here.

On one of the few occasions I went to Brussels on a deputation led by a former Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Clinton, a row broke out about various issues, and Deputy Bermingham, then a Labour backbencher, made the point that EEC legislation was of such a nature that people from many countries could come here to plunder our stocks, whether land, natural resources, or fish, and that we were getting very little in return. It is time we decided to strike a blow for our country.

The Minister has an ideal opportunity to do this. The legislation before us, one of whose purposes is to keep out the Spanish, is contradictory of the Minister's actions, because last week he attended an official opening of a plant in County Mayo which is sponsored by Spaniards and which gives employment to 52 people. Respect is hard earned, and I know the Minister will do his job properly.

One of the points I should like to make is that recently the Minister and I were in the Achill area and we saw on the pier between 300 and 400 boxes of fish which had been sprayed and were about to be dumped back into the ocean. In our part of the country we have heard that the Kerry people have brought the same fish in a few times. I cannot substantiate that allegation but it appears ridiculous that we have to send our fishermen out to catch such fish and when they are caught they must be inspected by a Department of Fisheries official, sprayed and dumped back into the ocean. Surely at a time of vitamin deficiency and poverty in many countries something could be done about such fish even though the intervention process works or does not work, as the case may be.

In regard to legalising of monofilament and the extension of the season, one of the first things the Minister should do is to have discussions with the fishermen. They are not all pirates as was stated. They are not piranha who prey on our stock. Most of them are decent people who adhere to the law and are not afraid to be stopped and searched by any naval vessel. They work in the interest of conservation and abiding by the law. If the Minister has not had discussions with the fishermen he should do so now.

With regard to Spanish entry into the EEC I am sure international agreements will apply in that case. If and when Spain becomes a full member I am sure the Department will have adopted a new high profile in terms of our assets. Deputy Walsh referred to the necessity to carry out a hydrographic survey and it is appropriate that that should be done. If Myles na gCopaleen was alive today he would probably write a story to prove that the salmon were being discriminated against because the water was deeper or shallower when their predecessors came to spawn 100 years ago. If he wrote an article on those lines the fishermen could then make a case that they wanted to keep them out.

There must be an EEC fund available for research work. I have seen developments on the west coast such as oyster growing, markets for winkles, mussels and cockles and I am convinced that there is a potential for such fish. We have the basic raw material and it is necessary only to market it. If that is done we will be giving our people a decent living. I should like to refer to the slaughter of seals on the west coast. Between now and the next seal season the Minister should have the situation monitored and consider the possibility of further licences for culling being issued so that we do not have the carry on and emotional hysteria that was raised in many quarters last year. I have seen half eaten salmon in many nets and those fish were eaten by seals. There is no doubt that seals have increased in numbers.

I should like to refer the Minister to the fact that extensions are needed to many piers on the west coast. Ballyglass is a fine example of what can be done. Other developments have to take place at Derby's Point in Achill, Carratigue and Porturlin. The Department's purchase of the State fisheries at Errif and Galway has provided a new source of income for many people in terms of river fishing. The vigilance of the people on the outside has allowed more salmon to get up the rivers. The research centre at Furnace outside Newport has done marvellous work in recent years. It is now a State owned centre. It is important that we educate our people in terms of the potential that exists through research for fishing development. That should be promoted by the Department and I hope the Minister instructs his officials to do this.

The Minister should strike a blow for his Department and the country by introducing effective legislation to keep the marauders out and promote the conservation of our fish stocks and the marketing of a valuable raw material. Such development would lead to an increased number of jobs on the ratio of land to sea as we should be doing. There is no reason why we should fall behind in this area.

Ar dtús ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis an Teachta Kenny as cúpla nóiméad den a chuid ama a thabhairt dom. An dara rud ar mhaith liom a dhéanamh ná fáilte a chur roimh an mBille seo mar sílim gur iarracht ionraic atá ann ar chosaint a dhéanamh ar ceann de na hachmhainní nádúrtha is fearr dá bhfuil againn. Sílim gur maith an rud gur thuig gach cainteoir dá labhair anseo inniu gur ceann de na achmhainní nádúrtha is fearr atá againn, iascaireacht. Ag dul trín Bhille seo sílim go n-éireoidh leis an Bhille é sin a dhéanamh san am i láthair.

Ba mhaith liom cur leis an rud a dúirt na cainteoirí eile agus is é sin, cad a tharlóidh nuair a bheas an Spáinn mar bhall de Chomhphobal Eacnamaíochta na hEorpa? An gcaithfear deireadh a chur leis an Bhille seo? Ba mhaith liom iarraidh ar an Aire nuair a bheas comhráití ar siúl idir an Chomhphobal agus an Spáinn go ndéantar iarracht speisialta an achmainn nádúrtha seo a chosaint, fiú amháin má éiríonn leis an Spáinn a bheith mar bhall den Chomhphobal Eacnamaíochta. Mar a dúirt mé, is é an iascaireacht an achmhainn nádúrtha is fearr atá againn agus tá súil agam, fad is a bheas an tAire i mbun dualgais, go dtabharfaidh sé tús áite do thionscal na hiascaireachta a fhorbairt agus go mor mhór an tionscal próiseála. Sílim gur féidir cuid mhór a dhéanamh in iarthar na hÉireann fá choinne fostaíocht a chur ar fáil do na daoine atá dífhostaithe sa cheantar sin má chuirtear ionad próiseála ar fáil. Tá a fhios againn go léir go bhfuil níos lú daoine i mbun na hoibre sin na sa tír seo ná mar atá in aon tír eile i gComhphobal Eacnamaíochta na hEorpa. Tá a fhios agam ó na cainteanna a bhí agam leis an Aire gur dócha go ndéanfaidh sé é sin. Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an Teachta Prendergast agus na focail a bhí le rá aige mar gheall ar chablach na tíre.

I agree with him that we all have great respect for the Naval Service as we have for the Army. It was most unfortunate that the incident occurred off the Donegal coast two weeks ago but the case of the fishermen should be understood and articulated. Their methods of fishing have been operated for some years and I am afraid they were allowed to carry on over the years. The gear being used by the vast majority of fishemen along the coast is imported freely. The Government get their cut from that importation and so also do the wholesalers and retailers but when the fishermen use them they get into trouble. When the fishing season is over the Minister should sit down with officials of his Department, representatives of the central fisheries board, the regional boards and the fishermen to discuss this matter. They should try to reach an arrangement so that we do not have a repetition of the unfortunate incident that occurred during the salmon season.

The Bill represents an attempt to close a loophole and put a stop to back door operators availing of one of our most important natural resources. It is a good measure and I hope that when Spain is admitted as a full member of the EEC the provisions of the Bill will continue to be enforced.

As Deputy Calleary wishes to speak, I am prepared to give him a few minutes to speak before me.

When we talk about Dáil reform we should at least come up with a system that will allow people who have been here all day to get in to speak in their turn. However, I will raise that matter in a more appropriate place.

I welcome the Bill but, unlike Deputy Taylor, I think it should have been introduced a long time ago. She said the Bill was introduced because of some activities in Clare but that is not so. It was introduced because the British saw fit to bring in legislation. We asked the Government to bring in legislation more quickly than they did. The Department and the Minister used the occasion to update some necessary provisions but I think it would have been preferable to introduce an enabling Bill and then to have a comprehensive Bill covering all aspects of fisheries and our fisheries policy.

I do not know what Deputy Taylor wanted the Minister to do. She could come to Killala and see what the community have done in the past few years. In the Killala Bay area fishing has been developed to the extent that it is now one of the five largest ports in terms of landings. The people in Killala have a special interest in this Bill. In the past few months hake has become an important ingredient in the catches landed in the area. I welcome the Bill, which has the full support of Deputies on this side of the House.

There has been much talk about fishing along the coast. My one comment on the matter is that monofilament netting should be banned. Shopkeepers should not be allowed to stock or to sell it. The blame should not be put on the poor fishermen. I realise there is a certain difficulty because this kind of net is used extensively in gardening. We must not forget that the Government are collecting their pound of flesh by way of VAT and I have not heard that the Minister for Finance has refused to accept VAT from the sale of this type of net. Unless it is banned we have no right to blame fishermen for using what they consider to be a good net. As the Minister knows, in certain conditions in Killala Bay that type of net is not worth a damn although it may be satisfactory on the high seas.

I ask the Minister to look slightly north-west to Killala and the Killala Bay area. Tremendous development is taking place and it is an example of what can be done in a few years virtually from scratch. The community there have been willing to learn. For years that area was used by other fishermen who then returned to their various home ports. However, as a result of the development in the area the fishermen are working and landing their catches in Killala and it is now among the five largest ports in the country.

Deputy Prendergast spoke about inshore fishermen. I have some sympathy for him. He referred to a type of fishing which is carried on in my constituency, particularly in the mouth of the Parmestown river. There the season runs for three or four weeks. I ask the Minister to consider extending the fishing for the five or six fishermen who traditionally have fished in this area. The season should be extended by a few weeks to give them some benefits.

I have some worries regarding licensing. I can visualise a situation where a boat and crew is ready but the problem is to get registered. That owner cannot get registered because he cannot get a licence. Will the Minister let us know how many boats he considers will be licensed? Will he give us an idea of the size of the boats? Does he consider that the traditional type boats used by the majority of fishermen along the Mayo coast will have to be licensed?

I will give the Deputy that information if I have the time.

I will conclude now. As I said earlier, I will raise in another place the matter of why I was not able to speak at an earlier stage in the debate.

I should like to thank the Deputies — Deputy Calleary was the 13th speaker — who spoke in the four-and-a-half hours debate. The flexibility which the Chair brought to the debate ensured a wide-ranging debate and matters were mentioned that had nothing to do with the Bill. I am glad I had the opportunity of hearing the speakers. Many of them did not have an opportunity to contribute in the debate on the Estimate but they spoke today.

I realise there is a problem of time but I should like to allay any fears in relation to the Bill and what it intends to do. It is an enabling Bill giving authority to the Minister to introduce measures to control fishing in our waters. I think it would be helpful if I outlined briefly what is intended to follow the passage of this enabling Bill.

The main reason for introducing the Bill at this time was in relation to ex-Spanish fishing boats. A Bill was introduced in the UK which sought to curb the activities of ex-Spanish boats flying the British flag and they high-tailed it into our waters. Deputies expressed some concern and disappointment that the Bill did not specify exactly what we intended to do. When the British legislation was introduced it did not specify the percentage of crew membership and so on which we now know to be the case. That was done subsequently by regulation.

Irish registered sea fishing vessels will require a licence to fish under section 2 of the Bill. In order to be eligible for a licence, a vessel will have to be owned by an Irish citizen or an Irish corporate body and I will be authorised to attach wide ranging conditions to the licences, including one in regard to the nationality of crews. These measures will apply to existing vessels registered in Ireland, including nine ex-Spanish boats owned by Irish companies. This will come into operation immediately. It is not my intention to include immediately conditions as to nationality in the licences to be issued in respect of existing Irish registered boats. I have no doubt that Deputies will agree that some breathing space ought to be given to enable the owners of these vessels to take steps to deal with the new situation. I think 12 months would be a reasonable period within which this category of boats would have the provisions of the regulation applied to them. That is something that could be looked at but that is the phasing-out time I have in mind.

The second measure included in the Bill is in section 3 in which I shall be empowered to make regulations concerning fishing. The landing and trans-shipment of fish by all vessels in Irish waters will be catered for and it is my intention to introduce regulations without delay providing that any vessel registered in the UK, whose crew is comprised of less than 75 per cent of EEC nationals, may not fish within our exclusive fishery limits or land or trans-ship fish which they have caught. Work is already in progress in framing the regulations and I hope they will be fully processed and in operation within two weeks. This will effectively exclude legally the 60 or so ex-Spanish vessels now registered in Britain for the purpose of circumventing existing EEC rules. These regulations can, if necessary, be extended to other EEC registered vessels. The same type of approach applied in the case of the British Bill except that, as Deputies know, our Bill will, I hope, be passed by the Seanad next week. After the President has signed the Bill, the regulations can be introduced.

All Irish owned fishing boats are required to be registered and there is also provision for the registration of vessels from reciprocating states. In order to make it more difficult for foreign fishing vessels to re-register in Ireland — and there is a strong possibility that attempts will be made to do this by Spanish interests now that the advantage gained by registering in Britain has been removed — a fishing vessel will, in future, require a licence from me as Minister for Fisheries and Forestry before it can be entered in the fishing boat register. This measure comes into effect with the passing of this Bill and I assure Deputies that vessels which, in my view, are not bona fide fishing vessels will not be granted licences and will be excluded from registration. To complement this measure there are also provisions for the cancellation of registration in the event of licence regulations being broken and for the exclusion of fishing vessels from the reciprocal arrangements currently being operated with a number of countries, including Britain. This latter provision will require a Government order which I expect to be introduced without delay. It is evident, therefore, that when the Bill becomes law the other measures which I have outlined will be brought in as quickly as possible.

Is there a size of boat specified?

As the Deputy knows, there is a provision for the registration and licensing of boats over 75 feet. I see this provision broadening that to reduce the size of boat. It is a matter for discretion and a sensible approach. I do not think that very small boats and currachs will need licences. Different categories of boats will also be exempted. Somebody mentioned boats for angling competitions. It is a question of tightening up the whole area in order to ensure that any loophole which might arise could be closed.

Members expressed disappointment at not having specific issues dealt with in the Bill. It is preferable to have regulations brought in afterwards because if you put something in a Bill it will take a further amending Bill in this House to close a loophole if it arises. You can close a loophole overnight by regulation. This Bill is a framework on which we can hang regulations governing the whole area. Members asked if this was a temporary measure: it will be a permanent part of our legislation.

I have not time to go through all the points raised by the 13 members in this debate. In relation to conservation of salmon, there is an underlying ambivalence — I am not pointing the finger at anyone in this regard — that we should, in some for or other, be prepared to close our eyes to breaches of current regulations in that regard. I would hate to think that is the case. I hope it is not because we have a solemn obligation, as Members of this House, to uphold the regulation and the laws which we enact in this House. I will not condone, in any circumstances, breaches of the law in regard to salmon fishing and I hope that no Member of the House will seek that kind of concession. It would be wrong to do so. The Naval Service are doing their job as they see fit. It is a very difficult job in emotive circumstances and I compliment them on what they are doing. I regret the circumstances which allow and promote the kind of environment where these incidents occur. Nobody, least of all the navy, wish to be involved but I will stand behind them in upholding the law.

Deputy Pat Cope Gallagher asked me if I would meet the fishermen. I have never yet refused to meet any group of fishermen. Of course I will meet them. I will listen to their proposals for changes. The last three weeks have not been happy weeks for me and I am hoping that, with the co-operation of Deputies, the next three weeks will be happier. The season will then be over and we can sit down and talk together rationally and sensibly to find out how we can best avoid a recurrence of what happened. The Department, the Naval Service and all concerned would like to see the situation resolved.

I have not time to reply to all the constructive suggestions and non-political contributions. In the not too distant future I hope we will have a chance to discuss this matter much more fully and to debate the major issues involved.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take the Committee Stage?

I understand the Committee Stage and the remaining Stages will be taken tomorrow from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Committee Stage ordered for Thursday 7 July 1983.