Written Answers. - International Fisheries Conference.

Pat Cox

Question:

59 Mr. Cox asked the Minister for the Marine if he will make a statement on the economic model for fisheries propounded by his senior staff at Sherkin Island Marine Station International Conference on Fisheries on 15 May 1993.

Helen Keogh

Question:

63 Ms Keogh asked the Minister for the Marine if the views expressed by a senior member of his staff at Sherkin Island Marine Station International Conference on Fisheries on 15 May 1993, to the effect that there would be less than at the moment and possibly considerably less ports, vessels and people employed in the fisheries, referred to other countries in the European Community and not to Ireland.

I propose to take Oral Questions Nos. 59 and 63 together.

The first point I wish to make is that it is my policy to encourage the staff of the Department of the Marine to partake in conferences and to debate in an open way at a technical level all relevant issues. This is a two way process which enables the administrators to communicate emerging Departmental thinking and also, and perhaps more importantly, exposes the administrator to the views and perception of industry organisations and individual fishermen.

Views expressed by officials on such occasions are given in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect either the view of the Minister or the Department. Policy decisions are a matter for Ministers.

As regards the specific questions raised by the Deputies, I can certainly assure Deputy Keogh that the analysis given of the European Community catching sector and its supporting infrastructure is not applicable to Ireland, where it remains a firm aim of policy to develop these sectors further. Indeed this was highlighted in the paper. The following extract demonstrates the point:

A significant weight is attached to supporting the development of coastal areas and communities. Given the key role of fishing in many of these areas, and the lack of other economic opportunities, it follows that policies, especially in relation to the provision of infrastructure, are geared, in so far as resources allow, to giving this continued support. When taken together with other economic and social requirements and the priority attached to sustaining coastal communities, there is a clear rationale for positive policies to support the fishing sector in local areas.

As regards Deputy Cox's question, the key point I would draw from the paper concerned is that while pure economic criteria, such as maximum economic efficiency, cannot be ignored in policy making, regional and social goals are also of critical importance.

I believe that the fishing sector offers considerable potential for further growth and to play a significant role in development and sustaining coastal communities. The draft plans for the fisheries sector which have been drawn up for the utilisation of structural funds are directed at tapping this potential and creating significant additional employment, especially in the aquaculture and fish processing sectors.