That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for the issuing of heritage licences to island fishermen to facilitate the continuance of traditional fishing practices on Ireland’s offshore islands; and to provide for related matters.
I will share time with Deputy Martin Kenny. Over recent years we have become acquainted with the situation in rural Ireland, particularly our coastal communities. While they are suffering terribly, our island communities are suffering even more. The way of life of island communities has survived by means of fishing and farming, and much of their fishery included drift netting for salmon, potting for crayfish and lobster, some trawling, gill netting for various species and fishing for pollock, spurdog and bass. In recent years, the island communities have become detached from the Common Fisheries Policy quotas and now receive little, if any, quota apart from some in the whitefish sector. There is a European ban on spurdog, despite that many fishermen in our coastal communities say there is an abundance. They are no longer allowed to fish bass, even though fishing trawlers and boats from other EU countries are allowed to do so. The biggest hit of all was the banning of the drift net for salmon. Fishing and farming were a way of life in our coastal communities and they managed to survive in a sustainable way.
Before we prepared this Bill, Deputies Martin Kenny and Pearse Doherty and I met the island communities, and it is conjunction with them that this Bill has come forward. We need a sustainable way of life and the Island Fisheries (Heritage Licence) Bill 2017 is one way to bring that about. I ask the House to support it because it will go some way to address the terrible imbalance between our island and coastal communities and the rest of the country.