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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 27 Apr 2005

Vol. 601 No. 3

Sea Pollution (Hazardous Substances) (Compensation) Bill 2000 changed from Sea Pollution (Hazardous and Noxious Substances) (Civil Liability and Compensation) Bill 2000: Report and Final Stages.

Amendment No. 1 arises out of Committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are alternatives to amendment No. 1. Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 8, to delete lines 7 to 17.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 were tabled by Deputies Broughan and Perry on Committee Stage. I have given much consideration to the contributions made by the Deputies and amendment No. 1 in my name incorporates the intention of amendments Nos. 2 and 3. My amendment deletes the section which the Deputies favoured.

I warmly welcome the Minister of State's decision to delete section 4 which would effectively have given the Minister the power to make regulations in regard to the operation of the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances By Sea 1996 done at London and the protocol of 1996 to amend the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976 and 1996 and to effectively amend the Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability and Compensation) Act.

On Committee Stage, Deputy Perry and I argued strongly that this section would effectively give the Minister the power to legislate without reference to this House. That is not the appropriate way to administer the country and the marine area. Deputy Perry's amendment went further than mine in regard to the section. I was trying to reflect the recent Supreme Court decision in the Carrickmines case which seems to hold that modification of Acts of the Oireachtas by ministerial regulation is constitutionally dubious. The type of difficulties which arose in the Carrickmines case and in other cases could be avoided. I am glad the Minister of State has gone that extra mile. He said it was a standard provision but it is one which legislators would prefer not to be included in legislation because it has got us into serious trouble in other areas of legislation.

Five years after this Bill was introduced, I welcome the fact we have brought forward a tranche of legislation which transposes international conventions, including the Sea Pollution (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and the Maritime Security Bill. I commend the Minister of State and his predecessor on trying to protect our coastline. Perhaps we will have a chance to briefly refer to some of the outstanding issues the Opposition has repeatedly raised on Question Time before we finish Report and Final Stages. I welcome the Minister of State's decision to remove this section.

I concur with Deputy Broughan and congratulate the Minister of State on having the vision to table an amendment incorporating our amendments. It is commendable and, as Deputy Broughan said, is a major consideration of coastal communities and will have a huge impact on the livelihood of the sector. It is the role of the Opposition to debate such issues on Committee Stage and the fact the Minister of State had the backbone to table an amendment is acknowledged.

I commend Deputies Perry and Broughan on tabling the amendments on Committee Stage and the Minister of State on accepting the argument made and deleting a section which, as Deputy Broughan clearly said, would have been in contravention of the recent Supreme Court decision. However, it raises questions about the nature of the legislative process in that a Bill drafted seven or eight years ago is only reaching Report Stage now.

That is a problem in that as constitutional arrangements change such sections become out of date, even though they have not yet been implemented. It raises questions about how we allow our business to be ordered such that it takes so long for a Bill to proceed from initial drafting to Report Stage. However, I welcome the Minister's amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are consequential on amendment No. 6 and therefore amendments Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive, can be taken together.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 8, line 29, after "section” to insert “9 or”.

Section 4 deals with what is known as the Henry VIII provision. Article 15.2° of the Constitution provides that the sole and exclusive power of making laws is vested in the Oireachtas. To seek to confer a power on a Minister which would allow him or her to make regulations which would amend an Act is fundamentally wrong. The High Court decision in the Mulcreavy case and the LiuChang case last year should have focused the minds of the Minister and his officials as to the danger of proceeding down the Henry VIII route. I ask the Minister of State to reconsider what he is proposing in this section. I would be surprised if he were to tell me that the Attorney General is in favour of it.

The Deputy should speak on amendment No. 9, his main amendment.

The amendment dealing with bilge discharge?

The amendment proposes to insert the following:

"9. (1)—The owner, master, or crew member of a ship shall not cause or permit the discharge of a bilge containing oil, waste, noxious substances or any cargo without the consent of the Minister.

(2) When considering a request under subsection (1), the Minister shall have regard to the welfare of the:

(a) passengers;

(b) crew;

(c) ship;

(d) sealife; and

(e) the potential for pollution.”.

This amendment is intended to make specific provision to punish those who deliberately dump waste from the bilge of a ship into the ocean. The bilge is the receptacle that stores waste material from oil, diesel and so on and from which material is often leaked. If such a leak occurs the captain may decide to simply empty the contents of the bilge into the ocean. This happens rarely but with Ireland holding 12% of the total waters of the EU and our policing capability being somewhat restricted this could be an issue; indeed, it is an issue given that we have 12% of EU waters. International bilge discharge is an issue worldwide. The Minister of State gave a commitment in this regard on Committee Stage. He might agree to incorporate the proposed wording.

A Ceann Comhairle——

The Deputy has already spoken on this.

No. We are dealing with amendment No. 9.

We are dealing with amendment No. 4.

The Deputy may proceed.

I thought amendments Nos. 4 and 5 were consequent on——

Amendments Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive are being taken together.

I wish to address amendment No. 6. I commend Deputy Perry for tabling this amendment dealing with international bilge discharge. We are the most vulnerable of the EU member states to this form of pollution. The Minister of State said on Committee Stage that regarding the protocol, the fund and the international convention we have limited room for manoeuvre to amend these instruments. How many countries have yet to pass this legislation for it to become active? The attachment to the instrument indicates there are 12 countries. At what stage are we in that regard? In other words, will this legislation have an impact on the protection of our coastal area?

Regarding the important point Deputy Perry rightly made, since we have been trying to invigilate the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources we have been told repeatedly about the discussions at international level on the particularly sensitive sea areas, PSSAs. The Minister of State's predecessor, the then Minister of State, Deputy Browne, rightly highlighted Ireland's interest in proceeding with PSSAs at an early stage. I understood that most coastal nations of the EU were prepared to move on this matter in regard to the passage of single hulled ships through their waters, the monitoring of pollution and the imposing of a much stricter regime, including punishment, for masters and crews who disregard the ecosystem of the North Atlantic and the Irish Sea and adjoining seas. What is happening in this respect?

Since I was elected to the Dáil, the leader of the Green Party, Deputy Sargent, has been asking about the introduction of the foreshore Bill. We have had endless discussions on it and it was on the clár during the last Dáil. The Deputy, I and other Deputies asked about it occasionally. We were told a number of sessions ago that the foreshore Bill was being revamped and the introduction of a coastal protection and development type legislation was being examined. Such legislation would be important for the Minister of State's constituency, my constituency and many other constituencies.

Regarding the insertion of the section rightly proposed by Deputy Perry, are we any closer to creating a better monitoring regime for the seas around our country, given that we have had many close calls? When we discussed the oil pollution Bill, one of the Minister of State's colleagues told us that 0.25% to 0.50% of oil production in the world ends up in the seas of the world. We had a number of close calls with ships like the Princess Eva and so on where our maritime protection agency, coastguard and, in the Minister of State’s, case, Donegal County Council did well to protect the country from a disaster. As Deputy Eamon Ryan rightly said, if it will be five years before this measure has an impact, does the exercise in which we are engaged not show the level of importance that the country sadly attaches to maritime affairs? We do not have a Minister at Cabinet with responsibility for this area, although I commend the Minister of State for actions he has taken. We do not take this issue seriously enough. In regard to marine pollution, is it not true that having regard to issues such as the particularly sensitive sea areas and the strict invigilation of our waters, we are still not taking this issue seriously enough? The Minister of State needs to take some dramatic action in this area over the next few years.

I will deal first with amendment No. 6 which is being taken with amendments Nos. 4 and 5. When requested by Deputy Perry on Committee Stage, I said I would examine this issue. However, I clarified at that time that I would examine it but I drew his attention to the fact that the necessary aspects of the 1981 Act are included in the Bill. Having received clarification and advice on this, I repeat that it would not be proper to insert sections of Acts into this Bill. The type of incidents to which Deputy Perry referred can be dealt with under the Sea Pollution Act 1991. This Bill deals with liability, compensation and insurance in regard to incidents of hazardous and noxious substances pollution. It does not deal with the pollution incident. The pollution incident is dealt with under the Sea Pollution Act 1991. There is protection in that respect. However, considering this Bill in the cold light of day I appreciate that it may appear that it does not cover that, but there is a link. I ask the Deputies to take this into consideration.

In regard to incorporating some of the provisions of the 1991 Act into this Bill as proposed by Deputy Perry, this is not necessary. In addition, the owners of vessels that carry hazardous and noxious substances are big shipping companies and should be aware of all the legislation applying to them. It is a matter for them to uphold the law and abide by the relevant legislation. Otherwise, they would be open to prosecution.

I accept what Deputy Broughan said. It is important for us to have the necessary legislation in place to protect our environment, including the marine environment. Deputy Ryan referred to the delay involved. The Bill was published in April 2000 and it has been meandering its way through the House since. Second Stage commenced in this House in February 2001. After the election in June 2002, it was restored to the Dáil Order Paper. Second Stage was passed in the Dáil in 2002. Committee Stage was taken in November 2004. On the presumption that the Bill will go through Report and Final Stages today, I will be anxious to introduce Second Stage in the Seanad as quickly as possible to ensure the Bill is enacted.

Are we the last country?

Not necessarily. At least 12 states must express consent to be bound by the convention through ratification or accession. Incorporated in that must be four states, each with a registered fleet of at least 2 million units of gross tonnage. To put it in perspective, this is more than ten times the size of the Irish fleet. I doubt if we will make a contribution there, but we will make a contribution as far as the additional figures are concerned. I cannot give the Deputy a definite figure. It will be up to me to obtain the facts from the IMO. I will make the Deputies who are interested aware of the facts when I get them.

The regulation will not enter into force until 18 months after both criteria are met. Contributors in the states that have ratified or acceded to the convention must receive a minimum of 40 million tonnes of contributing cargo covered by the general account. If Ireland was the last country to have signed off, it would still take 18 months to put the regulation in place. I will be in touch with the IMO and I hope progress will be made.

Deputy Broughan referred to the foreshore Bill, which is being revamped. I would like to use it as a vehicle to introduce other aspects which may not have been included in the legislation. I draw the attention of the House to various legislation introduced over a number of years which are relevant to the marine environment. These include the Sea Pollution (Amendment) Act 1999, the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993, a number of EU regulations, which give effect to directives on facilities for ship generated waste and cargo residues, the EU vessel traffic monitoring and information system and the Sea Pollution (Miscellaneous) Bill 2003, which is before the Oireachtas. I hope I can move it on as quickly as possible.

The sensitive areas regulation will come into force on 1 July 2005 for single hull vessels carrying heavy fuel. They must report 24 hours in advance of entering the sensitive areas. I hope I have clarified the situation in regard to amendment No. 6. It is not weakening the legislation in any way. It stands alone in regard to the discharge of oil under the Sea Pollution Act 1991. This deals with liability and compensation in regard to incidents of hazardous waste.

I am disappointed because the Minister of State should examine the Sea Pollution Bill 1991. Perhaps he will clarify if there were any breaches of the legislation. We all hear about legislation being enacted, but if there are breaches of the legislation, very often there are no prosecutions or follow-up. We are all aware of the aquaculture Bill. When it comes to hazardous waste and substance, given that the Bill goes back to 1996, and was introduced in 2000, one is talking about a process of approximately 15 years. There is a difficulty with pollution in coastal areas because the bilge from ships is being discharged into estuaries. It is regrettable that the Bill is being brought through the House in 2005. While the Minister of State said the substance of the Bill was covered in the Sea Pollution Bill 1991, have there been any irregularities or prosecutions during that 14 year period? Have there been difficulties in the past 14 years where there have been breaches of the regulations and no prosecutions? Perhaps Deputy Broughan will refer to the area of aquaculture development. There have been several breaches of the regulations in this area but there have been no prosecutions, penalties or fines. While debate has taken place in the Oireachtas, it is regrettable that there is no follow-up by way of penalties and fines for breaches of the regulations.

The substance of the Bill is needed, of which section 9 is the backbone.

I appreciate the sincere case made by Deputy Perry. If I thought for one moment that accepting the amendment would improve the Bill, I would have no hesitation in doing so. However, I am advised it is not necessary because we can draw clear water, to use the pun, between the Sea Pollution Act 1991 and the Bill we are debating. This Bill deals with compensation and liability while the Sea Pollution Act deals with pollution incidents. Over the last number of years, there were approximately 40 incidents of pollution, which were not possible to trace. There was one incident last year, which is currently being dealt with by the Garda. It is a matter for the Garda and the authorities to decide whether there will be a prosecution. Even if this Bill was in place, it would not make a difference. I appreciate the Deputy's sincerity in this regard but I am advised otherwise.

We are referring to compensation and liability, which is very important. Compensation is based on a charge. I would like to know if prosecutions were brought under the 1991 legislation. There have been several offenders but few or no prosecutions. We are talking about compensation but the Bill deals mainly with giving effect to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea 1996. This must be based on a charge of discharge of bilge containing oil waste and noxious substances. This type of sea pollution should be enshrined in the legislation. Compensation should be based on the fact that there has been a breach of the law. It is regrettable that the number of prosecutions in the State for such breaches has been abysmally low. That is the main issue.

Although compensation should be based on a charge, there has been inaction and an absence of policing. This is where the problem lies. I will press my amendment.

Is the Minister of State accepting the amendment?

No. There is no necessity for cutting and pasting.

We have finished the debate on the amendment and must make a decision thereon.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 51; Níl, 65.

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Breen, James.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Padraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairi.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Upton, Mary.


  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg; Níl, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.

Amendment No. 7 in the name of the Minister and Deputy Broughan arises out of Committee proceedings. I call on the Minister of State to move the amendment.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 16, line 15, to delete "inspector," and substitute "inspector".

This is merely an amendment to correct a grammatical error in the text of the Bill.

This amendment is intended to correct a grammatical error and I thank the Minister of State for accepting it.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 are related and will be taken together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 16, line 15, after "who" to insert "reasonably".

These small, technical amendments, which are interrelated, seek to change the conditions under which an inspector may invigilate and detain a ship. I put the argument forcibly on Committee Stage that to insert "reasonable" as opposed to "just" before "suspicion" in the legislation would better cover the convention whereby arrests are made. The amendments impose the same condition on the inspector because under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, there is a requirement that any arrests be grounded on "reasonable" suspicion as opposed to mere suspicion.

We also indicated on Committee Stage that there is a contradiction in the Bill between subsections 25(1) and 24(3). Under section 24(3) an inspector cannot exercise his functions on the basis of mere suspicion or even reasonable suspicion. He must have "reasonable grounds for believing that an offence has been committed" which is a much higher test than suspicion or reasonable suspicion. The lack of the adjective to describe the actions of an inspector in section 25(1) does not therefore make sense. It seems contradictory for mere suspicion to be a sufficient basis for arresting individuals and or ships under section 25(1).

The Minister for State made the point on Committee Stage that section 25 will come into play only after the suspicion in section 24 has been formed. That point explains the anomaly in part. However, the inspector who forms a suspicion under section 25 may be a different person from the person who forms the suspicion under section 24. The court which makes the order under section 25(1) needs to be satisfied that the suspicion is reasonable.

On those grounds, therefore, I seek to amend line 15 by referring to an inspector who "reasonably" suspects that an offence has been committed under sections 16 or 24. At the end of the subsection I seek to insert a phrase that will change the text to the effect that "if he or she is satisfied that the applicant inspector has reasonable grounds for such a suspicion as aforementioned". It is an effort to tighten the framework of the legislation and to ensure the Legislature and legislation arm the inspector in cases that are prosecuted.

Deputy Broughan has partially answered the case for me. I have not changed my views since Committee Stage apart from seeking further advice. The advice available to me is that the addition of the words "reasonably" and "reasonable grounds for" are unnecessary. Section 24(3) provides that an inspector, who could be a member of the Garda, Defence Forces, harbour authorities or such person or class of person that I or any Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources would consider appropriate to be inspectors for the purposes of this Act, may only detain a ship where he or she has reasonable grounds for believing an offence has been committed. By the time section 25 applies, the "reasonably" requirement will have been fulfilled.

The purpose of section 25 is to enable the court to make a determination in regard to the continued detention of the ship. Deputy Broughan is correct in saying that decision may be made by a person who was not an inspector. The application may be made by any inspector. It does not have to be made by the inspector who initially detained the ship. The advice available to me is that while that may be laudable it is not necessary as section 24 adequately covers this issue.

I am aware of the reference in section 24 to the inspector having reasonable grounds for believing an offence has been committed. Section 25 introduces a further act consequent on section 24 which is the detention of the ship. To insert the same phrase in both sections would make the legislation stronger and would strengthen the hands of the inspector. I still believe the reasonable case we have made to insert those two adjectives should be adhered to.

In case I do not get another opportunity at the end of the debate and if the Acting Chairman will allow us given that we have taken a relatively short time in the House to process this legislation, I wish to refer to a couple of points he made earlier.

The Deputy will be able to contribute at the end if he wishes.

If possible I would like to prosecute the amendments.

I support Deputy Broughan's amendment. The detention of ships is an important issue. Powers are being conferred on the authority, the inspectorate or whoever is policing this work. As the section is worded what is the definition of "suspects" and how is that assumption made? There has to be a certain caveat for suspecting that an offence has been committed. That the inspector must have an inclination that something is not right gives a certain discretion to the authorised officer. This is a big issue because of the level of trafficking into the ports of Ireland. Section 25(1) reads:

Where an inspector, in exercise of the powers conferred on him or her by this Act, detains a ship and the person on board the ship at a port or other place in the State, an inspector who suspects that an offence under section 16 or 24 has been committed in relation to the ship ...

This is the core of the prosecution. The Minister should take the amendment tabled by Deputy Broughan on board. It is reasonable and gives more powers to the officer.

I regret that I cannot accept it.

I thank Deputy Perry for his support. What we are seeking to avoid is when the inspector goes to the District Court that the legislation will not be found to have a lacuna that we should have anticipated from section 24. That was the concern of my legal adviser. He was anxious to ensure that section 25(1) was totally watertight.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 16, line 22, after "has" to insert "reasonable grounds for".

Amendment put and declared lost.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

The Minister raised a number of interesting issues. I commend the officials in the maritime safety division and the environment division of the Department for bringing forward the legislation. It is not their fault that the political administration failed to put this Bill through four or five years ago which is a remarkable amount of time. This happens all the time in the marine area as the Minister of State will have noticed. I hope in the next Government the marine will have a full Department. The Department that we three Deputies try to invigilate on the Opposition benches is three Departments in most countries — communications and broadcasting, energy and marine. For the island nation par excellence of the European Union, it is incumbent on us to elevate the Minister of State to the Cabinet in the sense that the marine is such an important and critical area on which many depend directly or indirectly. We can sometimes forget we are an island people. It is good to cross the Irish Sea or go out on the western sea.

The Minister of State made some interesting points when he said the Bill is part of a series. It would be helpful if the marine safety division could provide briefing material for the three Opposition parties on a number of outstanding convention protocols for which we should be legislating, what legislation it is intended to bring forward and what stage this is at. We had an interesting debate here on the Bunker Convention for a couple of days on the whole area of pollution. It would be appreciated if we could be informed as to what stages these are at and if we could have a few pages of briefing material which would inform our questions on Question Time and so on.

In regard to foreshores, going back over two Dála, the Bill was called the Coastal Zone Management Bill. What is the timeframe for the Bill and will we see it this year or next year?

The statement by the Minister of State in regard to the operation of the particularly sensitive sea areas was welcome news. At long last the country, through the IMO, is taking a step. I hope that is an issue the Minister and the Department will mark publicly when in a couple of months those single hull tankers will have to inform us they are entering sensitive areas. The Sea Pollution (Hazardous Substances) (Compensation) Bill 2000, sets up the liability regime but the substantive issue is critical to the ecosystem of our island nation. We have been lethargic about this whole area. I hope the Minister of State regards it as part of his period on the bridge or of his watch, so to speak, to ensure that this Bill will be the means of providing a serious mentoring and development of maritime resources. I encourage the Minister of State to come forward on those issues and update the House on the situation. I thank him for accepting amendments on Committee and Report Stages and commend the Bill.

I join Deputy Broughan in commending the Minister of State and his officials on bringing this legislation through. I add to his call for some review or clarification at a meeting of the joint committee. There has been a great deal of legislation in this area recently and perhaps it might have been possible to amalgamate some of those Bills.

I commend Deputy Broughan on his resilience and for agreeing with my deputy leader and me on the importance of a coastal zone management Bill. The Minister of State said he is considering a possible foreshore Bill to include new areas of responsibility. Some clarification would be useful in the debate on the subject. The fisheries management aspect is important given the difficulties with the European Commission and public controversy regarding breach of control procedures and quotas. New legislation is important to regulate and manage the fisheries quota system. I contend a certain amount of clarity is required as to the Government's position in the legislative process regarding the marine, such as the names of any new legislation. Many miscellaneous and different pieces of legislation have been passed in the marine area which makes it difficult to track and amend what has been proposed.

I commend the Minister of State and the previous Minister of State, Deputy Browne, on being willing to accept amendments. He has accepted a major Opposition amendment. Even a comma can make a difference in the High Court. I commend Deputies Broughan and Perry on their attention to detail in that regard.

Deputies must confine their comments to the content of the Bill.

I commend the Minister of State and his officials on their work on this Bill. The Minister has delegated responsibility for the marine to the Minister of State and he is doing a good job. Funding allocation from the Exchequer is required to implement change in the area of the marine. It is important that the provisions of this Bill are implemented and this will require the necessary funds.

In my limited time in this portfolio I have become aware that there is much regulation but scant regard for the law and dominant players in the aquaculture and maritime sectors can take advantage. I thank the Minister of State for accepting the amendment and agree with Deputy Broughan regarding the funding required for foreshore development and coastal zone management. These are important issues. The line Minister must endeavour to acquire the necessary increase in funding from the Exchequer which is critically required in every coastal community and maritime local authority to implement a policy in partnership with the Department.

Tight controls are required against the pollution of coastal areas. The coastal officers who will police these provisions must be given the necessary resources and facilities to ensure that Ireland will be a leader within the European Union on the implementation of the legislation.

I thank the Deputies for their co-operation. There is a place for the Opposition and this has been proven both on Committee and Report Stages. If I find an amendment will strengthen the Bill, I am only too pleased to accept it. I thank the Opposition Deputies for their kind comments, not necessarily directed at me but at the officials who work on all Bills. The Taoiseach and the Government are aware of the importance of the marine sector as a sector providing employment in areas with no alternative source of employment and in recognition of which the Government has delegated to me all the functions relating to the marine. This is an indication of the Government's commitment and interest in this sector.

I appreciate it is difficult to be familiar with the legislation which enables and gives effect to internationally agreed instruments. I am happy to respond positively to the Deputies. I will make the information on existing legislation and on the various international conventions which must be approved available to the Deputies as soon as possible. I will examine whether that legislation can be used as a vehicle to incorporate other legislation. I will keep the House informed at all times.

Question put and agreed to.