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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 10 Jun 1925

Vol. 5 No. 6


A Chathaoirligh, níor bhfada dhom i bhfeidhil 'san Roinn Iascaigh nuair cuireadh ós mo chomhair ceist iascaireachta abhann, agus a bhfeadfaí iad do leathnú.

D'féachas isteach go géur sa sgeul agus sé mo thuairim féin, tréis an méid scruduighthe a dheineas, gur féidir a bhfad níos mó a dheunamh de'n iasgaraireacht san ná mar a comhaltar a dheunamh fé láthair. An Bille atá anois ós bhur gcóir tugann sé fé na lochtaí atá 'sa dlighe fé láthair do leigheas agus 'na chuma san cabhair do thabhairt d'obair thábhachtach san iascach fíor-uisce do chaomhnadh agus do shaothrú.

The object of the Bill before the Seanad is to improve the foundation upon which rests the administration of the law that governs our fresh water fisheries. The fishery laws, as they stand, date as far back as 1848, and were framed in very different circumstances to the conditions that obtain at the present time.

Speaking to the Seanad, I need not dwell upon the importance or the possibilities of our fresh water fisheries as a national asset. The export value of our fresh water fish in 1924 as between salmon, eel and trout alone was something over £240,000. It was actually more than one-half of our whole fishery export for the year. Now, that is one side of it. Then you have to consider the possibilities of our fresh water fisheries from an angling point of view. It attracts to us a big number of visitors from other countries, and this forms indirectly a big money value for the State. Now, I feel that it is possible to increase very greatly the value we derive from our fresh water fisheries, and the present Bill is aimed at getting that further value from our fresh water fisheries.

The Act of 1848 divided the country into districts, and in each district it provided for a Board of Conservators. Some of those conservators were elected by the licence holders, whether the rod licence holders or the drift-net licence holders or the draft-net licence holders. Some were appointed because of their possession of proprietary fisheries, and some were ex officio from another aspect. The Act laid down at that time a scale of licences to be levied on the different engines, whether rod, net and so on. These duties so paid as licences formed the main revenue of the Board of Conservators for fishery protection. The functions of the Board were, of course, chiefly the protection of the fisheries, and the payment of the bailiffs to look after the rivers, and especially to look after the rivers during the spawning season. The Board of Conservators under that Act and up to now have been rather extremely autonomous; the central department had very little control over the Board of Conservators. We hold that the Bill before the Seanad removes the defects which the experience gained from the administration of the fishery laws has revealed in the constitution of the local Board of Conservators. It also aims at increasing the revenue of the boards so that they may be able to carry on their duties more efficiently.

Coming to the Bill itself, Part 1 deals with the elections and membership of the Board of Conservators. It deals with the constitution of the boards by extending, first of all, the resident qualifications for members. Formerly a man could not become a member of the Board of Conservators unless he resided in the district. We are extending that qualification for members, so that whereas formerly a person in order to become a member of a Board of Conservators had to be resident in the electoral division in the district for which he was going up, we now provide in this Bill that if he is resident in any part of the district he may be elected to the Board of Conservators for that district, perhaps even in a different electoral division to that in which he resides. That is the difficulty we met.

We have also reduced the property qualification from £100 to £50 and we have modified the voting power of the licence holders. We also provide for the filling of casual vacancies by cooption. It is an extraordinary thing about the former Acts that there was no provision for filling a vacancy caused by death or otherwise on a Board of Conservators. Once a man was elected he could not resign; he remained until the next election. If a man died there was no way of filling the vacancy created by his death. We have met that in this Bill.

Part 2 of the Bill is probably the most important. It deals with the finance question of the boards. We are proposing to increase the revenue of the boards by two means; number one being the increase of the licence duty on rods, nets, and eel-weirs, and secondly by relief for a period of ten years—it actually works out 9½ years— of all valued fisheries from their liability for local rates and diverting the rates that would be so imposed to the pockets of the conservators for fishery purposes, that is, the preservation of the fisheries. At present privately-owned fisheries are like any other property valued for rates on the local valuation. We have felt—the Local Government Department thinks otherwise—that fisheries get very little in return for the amount of money paid out in that way through rates from the revenue derived from valued fisheries. We are now proposing to stop the rates from the local authority for a period of ten years and divert those rates towards the Boards of Conservators for fishery purposes. The local authorities will not lose very much on the whole. Each individual local authority will lose comparatively little, while the fisheries will gain considerably. The total rated value of private fisheries in the Saorstát is only £18,884, whereas the whole rated valuation of the Saorstát is something over £11,000,000. That will show how negligible the whole thing is from the point of view of income. We have taken cognisance of the fact that there may be a few places where the provision under this Bill will fall rather heavier on the local authorities, as, for instance, such places as Galway and Ballina.

In these places the transference of the rates on the fisheries from the local authority to the Board of Conservators may mean a serious imposition on the other ratepayers in these particular districts. We provide for that in this Bill. In the case of any particular local authority where the operations of this Bill would amount to more than a penny in the pound on the other ratepayers we meet the balance over a penny in the pound. If you take an urban district with the rateable valuation of £120,000 and suppose that the poundage in that district is 15/- in the pound, the return from the rates there would be about £90,000. Supposing in that district you have a fishery valued at £1,000, the rate on that would be £750. That actually works out, on a rateable valuation of £120,000, at three halfpence in the pound. The local people have to bear the penny. We make up the halfpenny, which means from us in that case £250. In other words, from my Department the local authority would be subsidised to the extent of £250 in cases such as this. The total revenue from all sources of the twenty-one Boards of Conservators in the Saorstát in 1923 was £10,000. It is obvious that that is entirely insufficient for the proper patrolling and policing of our inland rivers and lakes.

Under the provisions of this Bill we hope that the amount will be doubled. Given that revenue, we hope that it will be possible for the conservators to employ a better type of bailiff than they have been able to employ in the past, and that they will employ more of them. The amount capable of being devoted to the payment of watchers and bailiffs in 1923 was £5,200. There were something like 340 of them, and that worked out that these officials were paid at something like £16 a year. You will not get a proper type of man for that amount. A man does not feel that the job is something that he would be worried about if he lost it, and if a man feels like that, he is not going to do the job very well. In speaking on this point I think I should pay a tribute to the Gárda Síochána. The new as well as the old bailiffs will have their willing co-operation. Since they went into the country the Gárda Síochána have done extraordinary work, considering the fact that they were an unarmed force at a time when poachers generally were not unarmed, and they have been doing extraordinary work towards fishery preservation. The new type of bailiff which we hope to have as a result of the new finances will be willingly helped by the Gárda Síochána.

Now we come to Part 3 of the Bill, which is aimed at restrictions on the disposal of illegally-caught fish. In last year's Act we got after the poacher with fairly stringent penalties, but we have found that they are not sufficient. You will not kill the poacher until you kill the person who buys his fish. In this Bill we are trying to get after the dealer. We insist in Part 3 that any person who deals in salmon or trout must be licensed, and in order to get a licence he must get a certificate from the local district justice as to character and so on. We retain power to withdraw licences in certain conditions, and we insist that when a person holds a licence he shall keep a register of his sales, which can be examined at any time by the officials of the Board or by the Gárda Síochána. We think that that is a very important part of the Bill, and we believe that by it we are going to make poaching less attractive to the poacher, because it will be more difficult for him to get rid of his illegal catch. Now, as regards the clauses in Part 4, many of the persons who have not been disposing of their fish locally have been sending it across Channel. We are trying to close that loophole by insisting on packages being marked "salmon" or "trout," and we are getting after the carriers. That is Section 22. The other clauses of the Bill deal purely with details of administration, such, for instance, as one empowering me to make bye-laws.

Through a flaw in the Ministers and Secretaries Act, the Department of Lands and Agriculture still retains power to make bye-laws on fishery matters. This Bill gives me that power. It is the same as regards regulations and other matters. The Boards of Conservators have, on the whole, considering the finances at their disposal, done their work rather well in the past. We cannot, of course, excuse the fact that our rivers have not had the care which they should have had, and as a result they have not been the valuable asset to the nation which they might have been. We hope that the Bill now before you will remedy these things, and will put our inland fisheries on a footing which they have not been on in the past.

I congratulate the Minister on the Bill, which, I am quite sure, will go far in attaining the objects which he has explained, and which should put the fisheries of the Saorstát in a much better position than they have been in before as regards preservation and conservation. I would, however, like to ask the Minister a question. I see in Clause 13 that it is provided that the conservators are empowered to strike a rate on all fisheries within their district rated for the relief of the poor. That means, of course, on all fisheries which are already rated. I would like to know what the procedure would be in the case of fisheries not already rated.

My object in asking that question is that I know quite a good many small fisheries which I believe are not rated at all. I cannot help thinking that it would be a very good thing if they paid their quota, however small, towards the preservation of fish in their districts. It is quite true that in the past it might be said that some of these fisheries were looked after by some private keeper. Many of those have now disappeared and the preservation of the fish has to be looked after by the Boards of Conservators. If the Conservators of the district are in charge of the preservation of a fishery, it seems to me that it is only right and fair that the owner of that fishery should contribute by a rate, however small. I want to know how that can be done, whether the conservators can get the fishery rated if they think fit to do so, or whether they can approach the county authorities to get it rated in the first instance.

I pass from that to a subject on which the Minister has been good enough to listen to some suggestions of mine, which I made some time back. That is on the matter of poisoning of fish. He pointed out at the time that the points I made were already embodied in this Bill. There are two or three ways in which it might be possible to strengthen still further these provisions. I will put these down in the form of amendments which I hope will in time receive the Minister's favourable consideration. I only now want to touch on the matter in a general way. I do not know whether everyone here realises that the poisoning of rivers may be safely said to be the most insidious and the most deadly form of poaching which exists. Probably most of us, especially those of us who fish, have some sympathy with the poacher who goes out with a rod and line, braves the law, and tries to catch fish, or even the gentleman who with a triangle and a piece of lead, manages to snatch a fish which he sees lying in the pool, but I think none of us have any sympathy with the poisoner of fish who destroys fish in this brutal and wholesale manner. Perhaps I might say something as to the way in which poisoning is carried out. It is all too simple. The poison employed may be, of course, something which is like lime, but the thing which is almost always used is spurge, which I believe to naturalists is known by the name of euphorbia. It grows in parts of Cork and Kerry where this system of poaching is carried on. A child goes out and gets a certain amount of these roots and pulls them up. When you have got a sufficient quantity you take a little at dead of night and put it in a ripple at the top of the pool. In two or three hours, every fish in that pool, big and little, will be dead.

The next item on the programme is the collection of the fish so poisoned. This is generally done by a considerable party of men, very often armed, who go at the first streak of dawn and collect these fish which are floating about on the top of the river. They bring them to their destination before anyone is about.

All that is very simple, but very hard to check. The point I want to make is that this poisoning, although prevalent only in a small part of the country. is particularly dangerous because it is done in small rivers, and small rivers, as everyone knows, are the favourite nurseries of salmon and sea trout. The fish prefer to spawn in the shallow water with a gravelly bottom. The fish come up these rivers in numbers out of all proportion to the size of these rivers in order to propagate their species. The poisoning destroys not only the fish which are in the river at the time, the matured fish, but also the future fish, because the poison does not respect age or sex, and all these small fry come up dead, even before the larger fish. Anyone who knows anything about salmon knows that these small fry are the result of spawn which has been hatched out perhaps that year or the year before. They are working down to the sea, and they would in due course come up again, many of them, up that same river. If you continue to poison the river systematically you destroy the entire population, present and future, of that river. I think that that proves another point, that the poisoning of one river affects many other rivers in the same district, possibly even rivers in other districts.

I know a particular river—other members of the Seanad may know the same river—which runs into the Kenmare Estuary. It has been quite consistently poisoned in years past. By right there should not be any fish in that river. The fish keep on coming, and there is as much fish in that river as you get in other rivers. Consequently it follows that fish bred in that river would, if they were allowed, spread over a large area, and that the stock of young salmon must be more or less of a common pool, out of which all the fisheries at particular parts of the coast are fed. That shows that it is not a matter merely of poisoning one small river, which might be somewhat negligible, but that it is a question of this general stock of fish along the sea coast being destroyed. From what I have said as to how this poisoning is carried out, it follows that it is extremely hard to catch the actual poisoner. I have heard of one case where the person putting in the poison was caught red-handed, but when you think that a young child can put it in, that it is a matter of only a few seconds, and that it is done always in the dead of night, you can hardly expect the very efficient Gárda Síochána —and I know they have been working very hard for the preservation of fisheries—to catch the actual person who does the deed.

You have perhaps a better chance to catch those who come to take the fish out of the river next morning. They are generally operating in gangs. The poisoning of the river is done when it is very low. The men who take the salmon away can wade across it then and escape in that way. I might mention that these men are generally armed, and it has been suggested, although I have not an amendment down to that effect, that in dealing with such cases the guards should also be armed. I should think that that would be a very desirable thing. There is a third party to the contract, if one may so describe it. The people who take the fish, who, as the Minister told us, are the people it is possible to get at. There again it is rather difficult in the case of poisoned fish, which is very often disposed of from house to house in backward parts of the country where, unless you put some obligation on the receiver of the fish as well as the seller, you will find it very difficult to catch them. I have an amendment down to meet that case, and to make such people more easily amenable to the law. I venture to make these remarks on this subject because it is one on which I claim to know something, and I reside in a district where fishing prevails. I hope when my amendments come on for discussion the Minister may see his way to accept some of them.

I would like to begin by saying that when I spoke at great length on the Fisheries Bill that was before the Seanad last year I made one or two mistakes that I now take the opportunity of correcting. I said that salmon shed from 100,000 to 200,000 ova. That was an error. What I meant was from 10,000 to 20,000. As a matter of fact the Minister has stated and made it clear that salmon shed 1,000 eggs per lb of the female weight. The Bill of last year made it definitely clear that it aimed at the preservation of spawning fish. It had my most unbounded sympathy. If there were things with which I did not agree in the Bill I saw that its object was really to preserve salmon, and that the only way to do that was to preserve the spawning fish. With most of what Senator the Earl of Kerry said I am in agreement. I have no sympathy with the poacher. I would not have the slightest compunction in dealing with an offender. There are a class of men who are bona fide fishermen, who fish for a living and whose families have done so for hundreds of years. These men are, by a bye-law, often by misnomer, called poachers. They merely break a law which was a penal one, and I hope the Minister will introduce a section in the Bill to relieve these men from such penal conditions. The Minister told us that the total value of fishing in Ireland was £240,000.

For export.

Most of the salmon caught in this country is exported, for the simple reason that salmon fetches a very big price in England. In the English rivers salmon have become almost extinct, and that is due to the fact that England has become a great industrial country since 1848. The rivers there are so polluted that salmon could not live in them. The are polluted by matter cast off from manufacturing establishments along the banks, with the result that salmon fishing has fallen away greatly. The year 1848 was a memorable year in this country. I think the Minister will agree that people who have anything to do with Salmon fishing know that what many of the authorities held then about salmon and the propagation of its species has been completely exploded by the advance of science. In 1860 I think there was a Royal Commission in England set up for the purpose of enquiring into the fishing conditions of English rivers, and the result is, the law which governs salmon fishing to-day. That Act was made applicable to this country, but very strangely it occurs that in this country by that Act we have a close season of 48 hours. In England there is a close season of 36 hours, and in Scotland a close season of 24 hours. Of course, the effect is to deprive the working fisherman of one clear day in each week. The salmon is peculiar, and requires certain conditions of weather to come along. It may be, and probably is, the close day in the week when they are fishing in England that salmon come along, and the poor fisherman for the time being becomes a poacher. If he is caught he suffers all the penalties. I hope later on to move an amendment dealing with that, and I will ask the Minister to look at it from an angle that will be more favourable to the working fisherman. I sincerely trust the Minister will do something in the Bill to try and elevate the lot of fishermen who are badly treated.

It is more on the general aspect of fishing that I now speak. I believe myself that there is only the faintest and vaguest idea in this country as to the value of our inland fisheries. I am not now speaking of sea fisheries, but of the inland fisheries, with which the Bill proposes to deal. As Senator the Earl of Kerry has told us for years and years, one particular river has been "spurged." He told us how these rivers were "spurged" and how deleterious it was to the rivers and killed everything that came within the radius of it, and even spread to other rivers. Yet to show how wonderfully gifted we are by nature, notwithstanding that persistent onslaught there are salmon still to be found on that particular river in Kerry. I do not want to argue for the poacher. He may be quite as bad as Senator the Earl of Kerry paints him, but I want to mention the wonderful wealth Ireland has in fisheries, which, if propagated and preserved, will bring back our fisheries to the very apex of their usefulness and revenue-returning capacity.

It is for that reason I congratulate the Minister upon the effort he is making—though it is not a fulfilment of the promise he gave to codify all fishery laws which I thought was more than he was able to do then—but he has certainly done well up to the present and I have no great fault to find with the Bill. With a few amendments, and perhaps a few additions, I think it will be a very good Bill. I would like to impress on the Seanad how little we know in Ireland of the value of our fisheries, and how, after years of persistent poisoning, we are still sending to the English market as much fish as England and Scotland together, and a bit more. That is one side of the fisheries question and we should remember, if we do suffer in this country from a lack of commercial progress, that we have some compensation left when we have so valuable a national asset as the fisheries of Ireland, almost as they were in the days of St. Patrick. I admit they are slightly hampered by the poacher, but nature if assisted and if spawning fish are preserved as this Bill intends, will provide a rich harvest from inland fisheries. Besides salmon, eels are very valuable. They fetch great prices. If people could only realise what can be done by fishing a great deal more employment would be given than at present.

I think, however, the poor fisherman has very rarely anybody to advocate his cause. He has been looked upon by everybody as a sort of criminal who is getting a little too much tether. The opposite is the case. In the debate in the Dáil we were told that the coast of Donegal was seething with drift nets. The Minister told us that these Donegal fishermen caught £40,000 worth of fish in five years. When you take the number of fishermen covering the whole coast of Donegal with nets there must have been at least five or six hundred fishermen engaged in the drift-net fishing. In five years they caught £41,000 worth of salmon. It is clear that the value of the annual capture of these Donegal fishermen was £8,000. I ask you to imagine, as it would be a difficult thing to calculate, what would one get out of £8,000 spread over six hundred fishermen. It would provide a breakfast, and probably no dinner or tea. There is plenty of room for the development of Irish fisheries from a commercial point of view, and for helping the fishermen to live and still have an abundance left for the rod fishermen. It is quite a mistake to imagine their interests clash with each other in any way. Again, I have to stress the importance of preserving the spawning salmon, and preserving the fish from October to December. The real problem is to deal with the spurge. The poisoner must be looked after. The same difficulties will occur as occurred in the past, but I really think that if the conditions of the Bill are carried out it will be a little more difficult for him to dispose of his fish than it has been in the past. Sub-section 3 of Section 16: "This section shall not apply to a fisherman selling fish of his own lawful capture," seems to me to be a little dangerous. How are you going to prove that fish sold by a fisherman is lawfully captured?

He will have to prove that the fish has been lawfully captured.

If he says he caught it you cannot prove it is the particular fish he caught. I think that sub-section is a little difficult, and I am sure the Minister will deal with it later on. I would like if he had given some further details about the value of fish. I know it is difficult and dangerous to rely too much on statistics, but still I think that great stress was laid on the necessity of giving the statistics, prices and costings in other Bills. This is a Bill which involves no secrets of State, and the State could not suffer in any way by giving us some information as to the value of the fish in Ireland, that is to say how much is to be made annually out of salmon; how much out of trout and how much out of fresh-water eels. Salmon would require to be subdivided according to the manner of their capture—so many caught by rod, so many by drift nets, and so on. In that way we would be able to form an opinion as to whether the drift net was causing the dreadful harm it is supposed to do. Personally, I do not think it would make any difference in the case of Donegal fishermen, who fish ten miles from the coast with a 1,500 yards net. I am sure they ought to be allowed bye-laws for the purpose of taking into account the width of an estuary in regard to fishing. I am also quite satisfied that if the Minister would do what I say, it would give the Senators a better view of the value of the fisheries, and it would make them understand, what I have been endeavouring to impress on them, that notwithstanding the havoc persistently inflicted for years on the fish, the present statistics, such as they are, give an incorrect or cloudy idea of the real value of our fishing. With these few remarks I will leave the other part of the Bill to be dealt with when we go into Committee. I share with Senator the Earl of Kerry the privilege of congratulating the Minister on his second Fisheries Bill.

I should like to ask the Minister one or two small questions, not in any spirit of opposition to his Bill, but simply for my own information. I should probably not require the information were it not for my own ignorance. I see it is provided in the Bill that all the licences are to be issued by conservators. Now, why should they not be issued from his own Ministry? It would cost something to the Board of Conservators to issue these licenses, and it would mean a duplicating of work which, I think, might be done centrally. I should have thought it would be more economical if the licences were issued by the Minister for Fisheries, and sold in the post offices in the same way as game licences are sold.

Another point, which appeals to me more, is that the money coming from the licences would be always in the hands of the Ministry. It strikes me that there may be many districts where licences are collected, and which contribute a great deal of money, and that if such money was in the hands of the Minister he might be able to allocate some of it in poorer districts in a way which would greatly benefit the fisheries of the country as a whole. I really want to ask the Minister whether he thinks it good policy to charge fishermen who come over here in addition to £2 licence a further 10/-. We want to encourage the rod fishermen from over seas to come and fish here. It sems to me that it will be enough to charge one licence, which will cover the whole of the fisheries of the Free State. The Minister told us he was going to double the revenue of the Free State fisheries by this Bill. I wish he would explain that. I do not see where the double money is to come from. It might be done if he put up the price for licences for nets in the same proportion as he put up the licences for rods. I think a great deal more might be paid by owners of nets, considering the great proportion of salmon that they capture in comparison with the number caught by the owners of rods.

I would add a word of congratulation to the Minister on this Bill. It is a good Bill, but I think, with the Earl of Kerry, that it could be very much improved in one or two ways. I have some sympathy with a rod fisherman who comes over here and has to pay £2 under this Bill, and if he moves across the border to another district he has to pay 10/-. That is hard. The person I have the greatest sympathy for is the poor rod fishermen, a very large number of whom I know personally in County Kerry. There is a large number of small farmers whose farms adjoin the salmon rivers, and they have during the last few years been most loyal in the matter of taking out their £1 licences. They are poor men, and the additional £1 would be a very serious matter for some of them. I am afraid that some of them may give up taking the rod licences and resort to poaching as before. I think it would be well worth the Minister's while to consider if he could not bring the rod licences back to £1, or at any rate make some provision for a lower rate of licence in the case of small farmers and men of that kind, who are living near rivers on which they have been fishing all their lives. The other licence to which I intend to refer is the net licence. The net licence for drift nets has been reduced I understand.

It was not my fault.

I am not blaming the Minister, but that is a real defect in the Bill as it has come to us, that the licence which ought to be substantially increased has been reduced. If no one else will do it I will myself move an amendment on that matter. I have not yet seen the amendments. Might I also say this—the manner in which the Gárda Síochána are carrying out the protection of the rivers in the South of Ireland deserves the greatest possible credit. The greatest credit is due to them for the work they are doing in the County of Kerry, where they have practically put down poaching in the districts with which I am acquainted.

I will take the points in the order in which they have been made. The Earl of Kerry is right in stating that this Bill only deals with fisheries that are already rated. I will plead guilty to having in my mind what is partly in his mind, that it would be right that certain fisheries that have escaped being valued in the past, from the point of view of poor law valuation, should be valued especially with a view towards providing the revenue during these ten years. How we are going to do that is a thing that I cannot say at the moment. However, it is a matter for the Commissioners of Valuation. I think I know Kerry as well as the Earl of Kerry, and I agree with him, of course, that poisoning does undoubtedly go on there by the means that he mentioned —spurge. I really think that one can hardly go further than we went last year in the Act of 1924. We took steps in that Act to deal with poisoning. These are steps that we can hardly improve on. I forget the actual wording of the Bill now, as I have not read it for twelve months, but we got after the person who took the fish out of the river, no matter how the fish were killed. We assumed that they were killed illegally, and the person who took the fish out was very severely dealt with, and a very severe penalty imposed on him. We took the attitude that the person who took the fish out of the river was some person who was in collaboration with the person who poisoned the river, and we assumed that if we could not catch the poisoner, that if we could catch the person who took out the fish, that we would probably be getting near the mark. We inflicted a very severe penalty on the person who took the fish out. This bye-law that has been referred to affects certain people on the Lee. The bye-law can be changed without a particular Act of the Oireachtas. I am taking powers under the Bill to make bye-laws to change or revoke particular bye-laws. The particular bye-laws to which the Senator refers has nothing to do with the Bill. This is a matter that can be brought forward on request for an inquiry. The evidence from both sides will be heard. The inspector will report to me, and I will form my decision as to whether I should or should not change the bye-law which is in existence there.

Has not that enquiry taken place and has not the Chief Inspector of Fisheries reported absolutely in favour of making an amendment in the bye-law that I suggest?

I do not at all agree with the Senator. The facts are not so. Senator Love, of course, refers to the preservation of spawning salmon. I think last year's Act dealt with that as effectively as any Act possibly could deal with it. The penalties imposed were what you might call almost severe. They were certainly stringent to the point of severity. Further than that we cannot go. We have found that that Act has been working extremely well. It has been a very great deterrent with the amount of help that we have got from the Gárda Síochána. The Senator referred to one particular section, section 16, sub-section (3) of the Bill. That sub-section says that "this section shall not apply to a fisherman selling fish of his own lawful capture." That was changed from the original form. It originally stated: "this section shall not apply to a licensed fisherman selling fish of his own capture." I changed it to its present form because a brown trout fisherman is not licensed and we want to allow a brown trout fisherman to sell his capture as well as any other fisherman. So long as a fisherman is selling fish that has been lawfully captured, we are satisfied. I think the amendment is quite all right. I do, of course, admit that there is a loophole there for a person who pretends he is a fisherman himself and who sells the proceeds of the poacher. But I think that with the provisions of the Bill we will get after him. At most, the loophole is as small as we could make it at the moment. Now, then, he made the point as to who was to prove it. The onus of proof lies on the person. The man is charged; it is on him to prove that it was his own lawful capture, and if he cannot prove that it was his lawful capture, then he is convicted. Senator the Earl of Wicklow raised a question first of having these licences issued from the Central Department. There might be something to be said for that. I think there is a great deal to be said against it. We want to throw the responsibility for the finances on the local Boards of Conservators. Some person may say it is well to wipe out those Boards of Conservators altogether. I do not agree, and since we feel they should be there then we must throw some responsibility on them. Let them have the responsibility of gathering in the finances to help them to do their work and throw on them the responsibility of using the finances for the benefit of the locality of which they are the conservators. If people get funds rather freely from the State I am afraid their administration is loose. The more you tie them down by some responsibility the more satisfactory results you will have.

Senator Brown, I think, referred to the 10/- extra duty. I must say I am entirely in favour of the 10/- extra from a person going into a district different from that in which he took out his licence. In the past, anglers coming from England and other places passed through Dublin to fish in places like Kerry, Mayo or Donegal. They went down and bought some flies at Keegan's, and they bought their licence in the Dublin area. The Dublin Board of Conservators benefited by the fact that they bought their licence there. Then they went down and fished in Tirconaill. They never threw a fly in the Dublin area. Still, it was the Dublin Board of Conservators who were paid. That is inequitable. If they are going to fish in an area they should buy their licence in that area.

That would be right if you adopted my suggestion and issued your licence centrally. The Dublin area would not benefit.

I have dealt with the question of issuing licences centrally. I am talking of the extra 10/- of the person who has already got a licence to fish, but is going to a district different from that in which he got the licence.

If you control all the money you can regulate that.

I do not want to control all the money. I want to throw responsibility on the conservators. I was asked, I think, by the Earl of Wicklow as to how we were going to double the amount of revenue the conservators were going to get over this Bill. Take this rating provision alone, the revenue there represents £18,884. At 10/- in the £ that is over £9,000 plus the licences that they get, which will bring it up to about £20,000. The total amount of revenue for the year which I mentioned was £10,000. The rating alone will provide practically £10,000 under this Bill. Then you have the increased rod licence; the extra 10/- with which we have been dealing will bring in a little here and there. The increased licence for draft nets for the moment until Senator Brown's amendment is passed will make up the £10,000, and shows that we will double at least the amount of revenue they get. We have not doubled the money on nets and rods. The Senator mentioned that the draft net was £3 in 1898; we have fixed it at £4. The original proposal in my Bill when it was brought to the Dáil was to have £4 for the first 400 yards and 5/- extra for every 200 yards. Tirconaill drift-net men would be paying £5 10s. The Tirconaill drift-net men got me in the Dáil, and instead of increasing it succeeded in reducing the drift-net man for any length to £2. In other words, drift-net men with a 1,500 yard net pay the same licence duty as the man who throws a rod, even the poor rod man about whom Senator Brown speaks. I know some of the poor fishermen in Kerry about whom Senator Brown speaks. I am glad he chastised me for trying to impose penalties on persons in my own constituency. We are usually accused of doing the contrary. I have not a terrible lot of sympathy with him. The fact is, first of all, that the man who uses a rod is a sportsman, who, because he is poor, sells his fish. If he were a fisherman for the sake of the fish he caught he would use a net, but he is not. He pays £2 for a licence for his rod. He gets about at least two and a half times the price for salmon which he got six or seven years ago. The price of salmon has greatly increased. I think it is not inequitable to increase the licence on the salmon rod from £1 to £2, and anyhow, I would be entirely against differentiating as between one person and another. In legislation one should hardly start differentiating between one class of the community and another who are doing the same thing. The difficulty of drawing the line would be extremely great.

Question—"That the Bill be read a second time"—put and agreed to.