Written Answers. - Fisheries Protection.

John McGuinness

Question:

176 Mr. J. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources if his Department's attention has been drawn to the poachers activities on the Nore, County Kilkenny; if he has received a report in this regard; and, if so, the action, if any, he will take in relation to the names submitted. [28290/98]

John McGuinness

Question:

177 Mr. J. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the number of poachers prosecuted in the Inistioge New Ross region of the Nore Estuary; his views on the number of prosecutions; and if he has satisfied himself in this regard. [28295/98]

John McGuinness

Question:

178 Mr. J. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources if he will increase the amount of funding available to the Southern Fisheries Board in 1999 to ensure that adequate protection is extended to the Nore Estuary, County Kilkenny. [28296/98]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 to 178, inclusive, together.

The Southern Regional Fisheries Board has advised that illegal fishing continues to be a significant problem in the lower Nore Estuary and has confirmed to me its ongoing commitment to tackling illegal fishing throughout the southern region.
The Southern Regional Fisheries Board will receive increased funding in 1999 giving it a budget of over £1 million. This will directly assist continued enhancement of the board's fisheries protection programmes which have accounted latterly for over half of the board's activity and expenditure. In 1998, board staff carried out over 680 vehicle and boat patrols in the Barrow and Nore (Waterford) area as well as increasing stakeouts on the ground, an increase of 57 per cent in protection activity over 1997. This level of effort and dedication by the protection staff of the board is paying dividends. Over 100 illegal nets were seized last year and 16 prosecutions are pending.
While poaching remains a serious problem in the southern region, I am satisfied that the commitment and dedication of the Southern Regional Fisheries Board staff backed up by increased funding will continue to show results in the campaign to eliminate illegal fishing in the region.

John McGuinness

Question:

179 Mr. J. McGuinness asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the policy of his Department in relation to sprat weirs; and if it is the intention of his Department to make sprat weirs illegal. [28297/98]

There are no plans to make the use of sprat weirs illegal. The Department is currently considering an application from the Southern Regional Fisheries Board to restrict the use of these weirs during the annual smolt migration. I will consider the views received from all interested parties before I make a final decision in the matter.