Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1996 [ Seanad ]: Report Stage.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 6, line 25, to delete "activity trials" and substitute "activity, trials".

This is a technical amendment designed to improve the working of the provision.

We will take the Minister of State's word for that.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 8, line 24, to delete "may be subject may include" and substitute "will be subject will include".

In the course of our lengthy discussion of this matter on Committee Stage I indicated that the Minister should retain discretion when deciding what conditions should be applied to individual licences. As applications will be dealt with on a site by site basis this long established discretion will be crucial to allow conditions circumscribing licensed operations to be tailored to individual sites and operations.

As this amendment would make the inclusion of all types of conditions listed in subsection (3) mandatory, it is neither necessary nor desirable and I do not propose to accept it.

I thank the Minister for that explanation.While awaiting the Minister's Report Stage amendments which were not available to me I resubmitted many of those I had tabled earlier to afford me an opportunity to hear his views on many of the issues I had raised in the course of our Committee Stage discussion bearing in mind that, in the interim, he would have had an opportunity of reflecting on them.

While I may not move all of these amendments I am anxious to know whether the Minister has had any change of mind since our Committee Stage discussions but shall not delay the House unduly in regard to most of them.

I gave a commitment on Committee Stage to respond to some six or seven different issues about which Deputies Molloy, Michael Smith and others were particularly concerned and these reflect that further consideration which I shall address seriatim.

There was not a great deal of dispute about this amendment. The Bill provides for conditions to be attached to licences, the type to be attached to each individual one being dependent on the type of licence involved. For example, that attached to a licence for a shellfish operation would be somewhat different from that attached to a licence for, say, salmon farming. Therefore, I do not consider it appropriate that there should be a requirement that conditions relating to the disposal of dead fish, preventing escapes and so on should necessarily be attached to every type of licence but rather dependent on the type of each individual one.

On the disposal of dead fish — for which provision must be made — the Minister of State will be aware that a large percentage of the aquaculture sea fishing industry is located in my constituency off the coast of Galway. Experience there has been that, from time to time, unfortunate incidents occur in a fish cage resulting in the need to dispose of a substantial quantity, in our case, mostly of salmon. An arrangement has been entered into by the fish farm owners and Galway Corporation which operates a public refuse dump at Carrabrown in the Galway County Council area. I understand a condition has been laid down recently that no further disposal of fish shall take place at the Galway city dump. Can the Minister give some indication of the arrangements he will make to facilitate the industry whenever the need arises to dispose of dead fish whenever the relevant local authority has no facilities available?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

What are the Deputy's intentions in regard to this amendment?

I accept what the Minister says and will withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 8, line 33, after "disease" to insert "and specific measures relating to the control of disease including sea lice".

Among the many conditions the Minister may require a licence holder to comply with is the reporting of instances of disease and the presence of parasites. The intent of my amendment is to add conditions in relation to the control of disease on the site. I should appreciate the Minister giving the House his views. Surely it would be necessary to require any licence holder to satisfy the Minister that he had made satisfactory provisions to control any disease affecting the fish cages for which he was responsible?

Whenever an incidence of disease arises, resulting in the need to dispose of fish and there is not a local facility available, what will happen?

Deputy Molloy will recall that on Committee Stage we amended this provision to include the phrase "the presence of parasites". which may be the subject of a condition attaching to a licence.

On the matter of the disposal of dead fish, my Department requires that such fish must be disposed of hygienically; fish waste can now be ensiled which means it can be reduced or converted into hygienic form suitable for disposal. In addition there is a provision under licence whereby fish wastes may be disposed of in certain circumstances at sea. The Bill provides for making conditions in issuing a licence relating to the disposal of dead fish. Those conditions will vary depending on the fish species involved and the type of licence issued.

I am conscious the Minister may not speak twice and, therefore, I will not get an answer to any further points. However, I ask him to take cognisance of the new situation that has arisen in the Galway area. It will be serious for the companies operating aquaculture licences which, from time to time, may have to dispose of fish in certain circumstances. Do I take it from what the Minister said that the reduction of fish in some mincing process facilitates their disposal at sea, and that the intention from now on is that the fish will be dumped at sea rather than placed in a landfill site or a bed of lime or some such arrangement that has existed up to now? Will the Minister take cognisance of what I have said in regard to difficulties that may confront the industry in Galway West?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

Is Deputy Molloy pressing the amendment?

Perhaps the Chair would allow the Minister to reply?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

A further two minute speaking arrangement has recently been introduced. Perhaps we can use that to allow the Minister to respond.

I take on board what Deputy Molloy has said about the disposal of fish. I am also aware that the practice of disposing of fish on landfill sites gave rise to some concern and I am aware of the decision of Galway County Council in the matter. There are certain circumstances where fish may be disposed of on land. There are also certain circumstances where fish may be disposed of at sea. In addition there is the practice whereby the fish — as Deputy Molloy put it — may be minced down into a form which is more suitable for disposal. That disposal can take place under certain conditions and controls. The intention is that the conditions relating to the species of fish — they will vary from species to species — will require the licence holder to comply with those conditions in the event of dead fish having to be disposed of.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 10, line 2, to delete "a licence to engage in aquaculture" and substitute "an aquaculture licence or trial licence".

On Committee Stage a number Deputies were concerned that trial licences would be granted without prior public notice. It has always been the intention that trial licences would be subject to public notice procedures as well as consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies under the application regulations provided for in section 10. I have tabled this amendment to make these provisions explicit, that is, that an applicant for a trial licence must comply with the requirements of the application regulations which will include public notice and consultation requirements.

I am grateful to the Minister for that amendment and the clarification he has given on a point raised during Committee Stage. The Minister seems to have met the point satisfactorily.

I thank the Minister for this amendment even though it may have been implicit in what was desired originally but it is crystal clear now.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 10, line 4, after "for" to insert "aquaculture or trial".

This amendment follows on from the last amendment.It makes explicit the obligation on the Minister to make application regulations which shall address the making of trial licence applications and the consideration of same.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 10, line 10, to delete "or" and substitute "and".

I do not accept that this amendment is warranted. I am anxious to maintain the maximum discretion in relation to public notice and notification procedures. As it stands, details of applications are published in a newspaper and the newspaper insertion indicates where the plans can be inspected, usually in the local Garda station. I do not envisage any change in the present notification procedures which have worked well.

Does the Minister see the point of the amendment in that it would require applicants to publish and give specified notices relating to their applications? The purpose of the amendment is to ensure the full information is published and the detail of the application is made available to the public or any interested bodies which wish to examine them. It would seem that as worded they are only required to publish but not required to give the specified notices to which the Minister refers. I am disappointed the Minister will not accept the amendment.

An applicant for a licence would be required to publish a notice that the application is being made and in the published notice to indicate where the plans can be inspected. That is the practice at present and I envisage it will continue after the passage of this Bill. I understand Deputy Molloy has tabled another amendment, to which this one probably relates, which suggests in addition to publishing a notice there should also be a requirement to place a notice, in much the same way, for example, as one places a notice on a site when a planning application is being made. The difficulty with an aquaculture licence is that there are obvious physical difficulties in placing a notice on the site and there are obvious difficulties in attempting to place a notice on, for example, a roadway approaching the site because the site may be out at sea and there may be a number of roadways. It is simpler and safer to require the applicant to publish a notice in a newspaper and to state where the plans can be inspected. The licence assessment process will have within it a requirement that the statutory bodies be formally consulted — the fisheries boards, local authorities, Bord Fáilte, the wildlife service and so on.

We are discussing amendment No. 6. In his reply the Minister referred to amendment No. 7. I have listened to what the Minister has said in regard to amendment No. 6 but I understand he will not accept it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Debate adjourned.