Written Answers. - Marine Jobs Plan.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

56 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for the Marine the progress, if any, which has been made with regard to the implementation of the proposals announced by his predecessor in August 1992 which he stated could lead to the creation of an additional 3,000 jobs in the marine area; when it is expected that these jobs will come on stream; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Good progress has been made in connection with the marine jobs plans. First, detailed implementation proposals have been drawn up and published by BIM and the Central Fisheries Board, in conjunction with my Department, to cover the aquaculture and inland fisheries sectors respectively. Jobs in the sea fisheries sector will be covered by a joint development strategy to be agreed in the context of the new national plan.

The programmes aquaculture and inland fisheries cover the period 1993 to 1997 and will dovetail with the National Development Plan proposals. The development programme for aquaculture involves the investment in aquaculture projects of £46 million which has the potential to create over 1,000 extra jobs directly in aquaculture. The programme targets the shellfish sector in particular, this is an area where this country is uniquely positioned by virtue of its national environment to tap into buoyant markets abroad.
The inland fisheries sector is already an important contributor to tourism earnings. There is a growing demand worldwide for good quality angling and our fisheries have good potential for the further development of tourist angling. The development programme envisages an investment of £17 million involving stock enhancement, access to fisheries and offer improvements in the product. It is designed to generate a substantial number of new jobs in the medium term, both directly and indirectly.
It is estimated that some 3,400 people are currently employed in the fish processing sector which has a production value of £200 million. Most of the fish processing currently taking place is to a low level with less than 20 per cent of the fish being processed to a secondary level. An investment programme to increase added value production, develop the scale and specialisation to allow the industry to compete effectively and grow, develop the processing and marketing for non quota species and develop shellfish processing has been prepared and is designed to generate a subsantial number of new jobs in the coming years.
The investment and job creation programmes outlined above have already commenced. This year a number of projects in each area are being brought on stream. Many of these projects have been approved for grant aid within the current EC Structural Funds framework.
Most of the projects for development will come on stream over the next few years. We are in discussion with our colleagues in the Government regarding the allocation of funding for this sector under the new national plan. I consider that the job creation potential in this sector is substantial and to realise this I will be seeking a level of EC funding consistent with the development potential of the sector as outlined above over the coming years.