As indicated in reply to previous questions on this topic on 24 February 1993, a comprehensive programme of measures to implement the recommendations in the Ballycotton report has been adopted. These include such operational matters as the operation of RIBS only in pairs when at sea, the adoption of detailed operational criteria for the operation of RIBS, the wearing by staff of the recommended types of survival suits and automatically inflating lifejackets while on sea-going duties, the marking of all boats and equipment, the training of all sea staff in sea survival, first aid and radio communications and the adoption of a training syllabus for sea going crews.
Additional funding of £580,000 has been made available to the fisheries boards since 1990 to enable them to purchase personal and communications equipment and extra RIBS and cover the cost of training in order to carry out this programme.
Since I came into office I have been making strenuous efforts to secure extra staff for the fisheries boards in key areas as recommended by the report, in particular the appointment of deputy managers. The Department is also pursuing the question of finance for mother ships for salmon protection work in the context of our application for funds from the EC surveillance programme.
The question of changing the law to extend to fishery officers the same protection as applies to members of the Garda Síochána is still being pursued and will be dealt with as soon as a suitable opportunity presents itself of introducing the necessary amending legislation.