Written Answers. - Fishing Vessel Licences.

Michael Ring

Question:

99 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, further to Parliamentary Question No. 62 of 12 June 2003, the person who made the strong representations to him not to proceed with a scheme that had been previously announced; and the name of the person he refers to in that reply. [17344/03]

Representatives of inshore fishermen around the country objected strongly to the 100% replacement tonnage requirement of the scheme announced in March 2002, even when modified to allow for the replacement tonnage to be acquired in three phases – one third up front, one third after one year, and the final one third after two years – rather than all together up front. They regarded that requirement as prohibitive.

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

100 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the position in relation to the proposed licence and register of small inshore fishing boats, which are not currently licensed or registered, and which have traditionally fished in inshore waters around the coast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17345/03]

Last December, the EU Commission agreed to increase Ireland's fleet capacity limits to provide for the licensing and registration of previously unregulated inshore fishing boats. Approval of a scheme was strictly on the basis that it would not lead to an increase in fishing effort in the existing polyvalent segment of the Irish fleet now or in the future. The scheme was approved by the Commission on the basis that the vessels involved targeted lobster, crab, crayfish and shrimp and would not target quota species.

Over recent months detailed consultations were undertaken with fishing organisations and interested parties. A discussion document was circulated to all representative fishing organisations for consideration. The Sea-Fishing Boat Licensing Policy Review Group on which there is representation from the inshore sector as well as the wider fishing sector also considered the document. In addition, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) organised regional information meetings to discuss the proposals. While some representatives considered that the scheme should cover all inshore fishing boats, there were strong representations that the scheme must be strictly limited to fishing boats using pots. In addition, as the terms agreed with the Commission required that the scheme did not include fishing boats targeting quota species and as gillnets are primarily used for the targeting of quota stocks, such as cod and pollock, it would have been difficult to include this type of gear within the scope of the scheme. It was decided, taking all positions into consideration, to confine the scheme to fishing boats using pots.
Details of the scheme including application forms were widely distributed and published on the Department's website. The closing date for applications was 18 June 2003. Applications will be processed as quickly as possible.