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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 5 Dec 1962

Vol. 55 No. 18

Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1962— Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I wish to avail of the opportunity presented by this Bill to welcome to the House the Parliamentary Secretary because it is his first appearance here since he has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary. We all have pleasant memories of Senator Lenihan, as he then was, in this House and his many useful contributions to debates here. Consequently, we wish him well and have every confidence that he will do a first-class job in his present appointment.

The Bill brought before us is a very comprehensive measure and the Parliamentary Secretary, in introducing it, hinted that he intends that this will be followed by further legislation in regard to fisheries. We would all welcome such legislation in an effort to make fisheries worthy of the fact that they are linked with our primary industry when we speak of agriculture and fisheries.

In his effort to develop fisheries, I would suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary has taken a very wise step in the establishment of a marine biological station in Galway. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to exercise his good judgment and tact in ensuring that all the university departments in the country contribute to the success of this station, not merely the one at which it is located, but that all the others, if they have members interested in this work, will be given facilities in this station to make their contributions to the national effort in regard to fisheries. I have no doubt that that co-operation will be forthcoming from the universities and, I therefore, look forward to the success of this new station. I again welcome the Bill and express satisfaction at seeing the Parliamentary Secretary back in the House with us once more.

In common with other speakers, I should like to welcome this Bill as I feel the new provisions in it will serve their purpose of ensuring that the age-old game of poaching will more or less be forced to die out. There is one other thing to which I should like to draw to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary. I feel his Department should endeavour to ensure that a proper wholesale distribution system will be established throughout the country so that there will be a proper market for the produce caught by fishermen.

I cannot understand why wholesale fishmongers should be allowed such outrageous profits on fish. Often one hears the fish market reports on Radio Éireann, yet on the same day we find that the price of fish, quoted at so much per stone in the morning broadcast, has reached the same price per pound in country towns by the afternoon. I would, indeed, be very glad if the Parliamentary Secretary could look into this matter since it appears most unjust to me that an industrious fisherman, who almost risks his life to land a commodity, should find that commodity on sale at 14 times the price he realised on it. I feel that if a proper wholesale system were introduced under An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, there would be a larger sale for fish throughout rural Ireland and villages and towns, particularly in the Midlands, would not be completely without fish as they are now.

As a member of a board of fishery conservators for many years and a person who has devoted considerable time to the work of developing and protecting fisheries in my own district, I should like to say a few words on this Bill. At the outset, I welcome the Bill as a forward step. I realise the Parliamentary Secretary has stated that the Bill itself has no pretensions to being anything other than a measure for the introduction of important reforms in respect to the administration of our inland fisheries, and the remarks I have to make will be directed almost entirely to those inland fisheries.

I think the potential value of our inland fisheries is not very well appreciated generally. I have read the debate on this Bill in the Dáil. I have no hesitation in giving credit where it is due, to Deputy Dillon and Deputy Oliver Flanagan and to any other persons who, down through the years, have interested themselves in the protection and development of our inland fisheries, the value of which becomes more and more apparent to more and more people every day from the point of view of a national asset. I should also like to pay a tribute to Senator L'Estrange——

That is the first tribute I have ever got from the Senator. I really must examine my conscience.

I know very well the Senator does not come from a district where fisheries are as common and important as they are in other areas in the country and I must say his approach to the Bill was one of reasoned support. He was at a disadvantage in not coming from a typical fishing district. There are, in general, three types of inland fisheries in this country. The first is our free fisheries which mostly cover the great lakes in which we have stocks of coarse fish and, in many instances, stocks of brown trout as well. At the present time every person, whether a native of this country or a visitor, can go to those lakes and fish to his heart's content, freely. Such people do not have to pay licence fees; their only responsibility is to provide themselves with the necessary tackle and to pay a boatman.

There are other fisheries, mostly salmon and sea-trout fisheries, which are either in private ownership or are owned by the Land Commission. I have no great love or regard for foreigners in this country but I realise that when a man possesses property, whether it be a fishery or land, whether a house or a factory, that property is entitled to the same measure of protection as the property of any other person in the State. Those private fisheries are saleable assets. In fact some of them which have come on the market recently have been bought for very considerable sums of money.

Some people frown on that and say it would be better that we should have all those fisheries under the control of our own people. That is a matter I shall deal with later on. In any case, insofar as these people become the owners of certain property, insofar as they purchase such fisheries and pay money for them, those fisheries are an asset to those people and they are entitled to protection. Therefore, anything in this Bill or in other measures which I expect the Minister has in contemplation for the adequate protection of such fisheries, will be very welcome here.

The third type of fishery is in the hands of the Land Commission and is generally leased either to private individuals or to clubs. Such fisheries are leased at quite considerable sums of money and they become quite valuable to the people who leased them. Obviously these people are entitled to the full protection afforded to any other type of property under our law. If those fisheries are despoiled and robbed there is an absolute analogy between such offences and those which occur if a farmer's land is spiked or if a shop is broken and entered and property stolen. All of it may be described as robbery with violence and the owners or lessees of fisheries are as much entitled to protection as the farmer whose cattle are driven off his lands or who suffers through the wholesale spiking of his arable land.

Some people may look rather lightly on this matter but, having first established that our fisheries are a valuable asset, we must realise that as such they are entitled to adequate protection.

I want to draw a parallel in this respect between what would be the outcry in this country if any other type of property — land, buildings, stealing of motor cars or anything else —were involved. What would be the position with regard to those vis-á-vis the poaching and the despoiling and destruction of the asset of fisheries? Fisheries have the same right to protection as any other property. We desire some more active steps for the protection of that property.

As far as it goes, this Bill makes a reasonable attempt towards increasing the fines on people guilty of offences under the Fisheries Act. Very often, when people are brought to court it appears as if the courts also take a very light and lenient view of offences under the Fisheries Act. Lip service or the passing of legislation is not quite sufficient. The implementation of that legislation is of the greatest importance. Any Acts passed for the protection of fisheries are entitled to be regarded with the same concern and gravity in the courts as Acts in relation to any other offences.

In order to ensure that these regulations, rules and Acts are carried out, different types of people are employed. The officers of the State—the Gardaí —should have the same concern in the enforcement of fisheries laws and in the maintenance and protection of fisheries as they have in relation to any other property. I have had the experience of going to the sergeant of the Gardaí and telling him that at the particular time I was speaking to him poaching was going on in the river less than three-quarters of a mile from the barracks. The sergeant said to me, in effect: "We have other things to do, Mr. Flanagan, rather than the protection of fisheries. We can give only as much time as we can spare from other duties." I wonder if that answer would be given to a person whose land was spiked, to a person whose cattle were driven off a farm or a person whose car was stolen. I do not think it would.

We want to ensure that in general the Gardaí will pay more attention to the fisheries and will regard them more and more as being part of their ordinary duties. There are critical times during the season when the presence of the Gardaí would be of the greatest possible advantage. Some people say that the boards of conservators have their own service, that they have their own waterkeepers and that they pay people for the protection of fisheries. However, everybody knows that the presence of one or two uniformed men on any river will have a greater effect than the presence of half a dozen local partly interested waterkeepers. I say "partly interested" for the reason that the amount of money they are getting is not sufficient to make the job entirely one into which they would put their whole energy and enthusiasm and, furthermore, they are dealing mostly with their neighbours, sometimes with their own friends and relations.

Therefore, in the first place, we want more Gardaí, especially at particular times—during the time fish are running and particularly when the rivers are low. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary very wisely made provision for dealing especially with the situation when rivers are low, even to the extent of extending the winter closed season to cover such periods. In addition, we want more protection during the spawning season. If you destroy the parent stock then all forms of protection are useless and become unnecessary in the end because your stock of fish can be completely wiped out.

We want to urge that the Parliamentary Secretary should come to the assistance of the boards of conservators by providing more money to enable them to employ men at reasonable terms. The present system, which I think operates probably in every fishery district in Ireland, is that there are not more than a few full time people—the clerk inspector and maybe one or two inspectors. Only a few people are employed during a limited period, at scandalously low wages, with no continuity of employment and no pensionable service. They are really an excuse and the system is not effective.

Therefore, we want, again, as I mentioned, a more reasonable approach to those cases in the courts. I remember one occasion when there was a fishery prosecution in my district. The man who was responsible for the poaching was, indeed, a noted professional poacher. He had all the local circumstances pretty well in mind. On the day of the local court he realised that the sergeant and Gardaí would be engaged there. He did not bother about turning up in court. He went down to the river and he poached more fish than were sufficient to pay off whatever the fine was. That is a fact.

He had not contempt for the fish whatever about contempt for the court.

Our fisheries are not inconsiderable. I should like to quote from the reply in the Dáil of the Parliamentary Secretary on the debate on the Second Stage of this Bill. As reported at column 240 of the Official Report of Wednesday, 31st October, 1962, the Parliamentary Secretary is reported as saying:

So far this year, the figure in regard to salmon exports for the first eight months of the year is £700,000 —quite a substantial figure. In addition, exports of sea fish are in the region of £1,200,000, and the income from our angling tourists comes to another £1,200,000 approximately, so the figure in relation to visible and invisible exports in regard to fish in round figures is in the region of £3,000,000.

The total of £3,000,000 might be put down as a reasonable annual value of the potential of our fisheries. In that same reply, the Parliamentary Secretary stated that the number employed either directly or indirectly in fisheries is 10,512. The Parliamentary Secretary would quite possibly not have included in that figure all the boatmen and ghillies employed in fresh waters. From the beginning to the end of the fishing season, these people find very important and lucrative employment. Fishing provides them and their families with the difference in money to supplement the earning from their land that they would have to make up by emigration if that were not available to them.

The last return I have in respect of the amount of money available to all the boards of conservators is for the year 1960. The total amount of grants from the conservancy fund to all the boards of conservators, according to the official report of 1960, was £20,112. The amount from licence duties in the same year was £27,061 and the amount from fishery rates was £31,763. In other words the amount that was received by the boards of conservators from the conservancy fund and for moneys voted by the Oireachtas was actually less than the total amount contributed in licences and less than the total amount contributed in rates.

During the course of the debate in the Dáil, reference was made to the fact that some of our fisheries are owned by foreign colonels and other foreigners. As I mentioned earlier, I do not welcome those people into the country any more than any other person does but they may have a more than ordinary value. We ought to appreciate that those people buy the fisheries and apart from the boards of conservators or the Gardaí, keepers or any other persons, in very many cases they have their own private employees to protect those fisheries. They employ waterkeepers and in many ways they give employment. Another asset is that they fish less intensively than those who fish in leasehold or free waters. The result is that in many cases you have to depend for your stock of fish on the stock that remains in the waters which are owned by those people and which are not so intensively fished.

We have the same problem in connection with game. Everybody knows that with the breaking up of the large estates, with the passing away of these landed gentry and owners, with the breaking up of farms into small parcels, there came a free-for-all in the shooting down of game so that game stocks were reduced to such a level that now a frantic effort is being made by game protection societies to bring back to the country a stock of game which will afford reasonable enjoyment and prove an attraction to tourists. We should be very careful before we criticise unduly people who have ownership in large fisheries, lest driving them out of the country we find ourselves in the same position in regard to fish as we now find ourselves in regard to game.

In many of our fishing districts in the west of Ireland, whether it is because we have become more law-abiding or because of the forces arising out of emigration, many Garda stations are being closed down. Generally a kindly old Guard is left in possession. It would be considered unkind or uncharitable to move him out of the place and he is left holding the fort. I can assure you he is the least effective person in the district from the point of view of fishery protection. I would suggest that where there are only a few Gardaí left in a station, those who are left should be active, energetic, young people, people with ambition. It would be an excellent training ground for people who have passed the examination for Garda sergeant and who would be able to show, by their enthusiasm and application to duty in the protection of fisheries and other Garda duties, that they have qualifications for early promotion.

In addition, the Garda who are left have no means of locomotion except the ordinary bicycle. One of the things that has destroyed our game and also tends to destroy our fisheries is the motor car, the ease of passing from one place to another, and the speed with which those people can put their spoil into the back of a car and get away. Garda who are left at these stations get no inducement whatever for taking on the arduous and sometimes dangerous work of fishery protection. If a Garda earnestly does his duty and, in the protection of fisheries goes along into a mountain stream or into a mountainous district, and if, in the course of carrying out his duty, there is some wear and tear on his uniform and it is damaged, he gets no replacement of uniform, nor has he any special uniform. Even the boards of conservators, realising that the Garda are placed at a disadvantage, have been anxious where a successful prosecution has been brought—it may be wrong in principle but human nature is human nature even amongst Garda—that part of the fine should go to the Garda who brought the prosecution. That was put up to the Fisheries Division some time ago and it was turned down.

I should like to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the illegal fishing that goes on in the estuaries of rivers. In my part of the country, it is quite a common thing for boats to go out and fish in the estuaries during the weekly close season. Whereas special exemption is made in this Bill for people who fish outside territorial limits, I have heard a criticism recently of a measure which was introduced in Britain where a licence of £10 has to be taken out for fishing within international waters. Even the length and size of nets used for fishing outside territorial waters or in international waters are limited. I do not think it is entirely necessary here, that the fishing in international waters is so great as to be a danger at present but I direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the fact that that is a matter of concern in Britain.

There is also a new definition in the Bill of deleterious matter and it covers the growing practice of dynamiting and poisoning the rivers. However, I should like to direct the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to the damage that has been done by Bord na Mona and the ESB, particularly in places where blanket bogs are being developed for the purpose of producing milled peat. Those areas are intensively drained.

During stormy weather milled peat is blown into the drains and, in heavy rainfall, there is a tremendous run down stream carrying peat in suspension. All fishing in those areas downstream from one of those development areas by rod and line is out. Worse than that, as the floods go down, the velocity of the water is reduced and the solid matter is precipitated and forms quite a coating on the bed of the river. This is a matter which my own board of conservators took up with Bord na Móna, and we got a certain way with them, but fishing downstream from one of those bog development areas is out.

I welcome the tightening up of the purchase of poached fish. As Deputy Dillon said in the other House, the persons or the hotel, lodging house or boarding house who purchase poached fish, are equally guilty with the poachers. If there was no market then there would not be the same inducement. Anybody who has anything to do with boards of conservators or with fishing in general will welcome the tightening up of the regulations in connection with the purchase of poached fish. We also welcome the steps which the Parliamentary Secretary has taken himself in varying the weekly close season in exceptional circumstances. That is a very wise precaution and I am sure it will be used with great judgment. It is a matter of the greatest importance.

I would suggest that there is another matter which might also be considered by the Parliamentary Secretary, and that is altering the open season. In very many cases of our free fisheries, for instance, the open season commences on the 13th February and many fish are only after spawning and are not mended. You often see fish on sale in Dublin that should not be offered for sale and are not fit to consume as food. Again, is the extension of the salmon season into late October in the interests of anybody, because the fish are in poor condition and should not be taken out of the water at the time? In addition to that, fish at that time are inclined to rise and catches are bigger, and a shortening of the open season would be of advantage.

In putting forward this case I am only making the case that my board of conservators have considered and agreed on. I can say also that my Board are working in closest co-operation and harmony with the Council of the boards of conservators, who have made many suggestions to the Minister in connection with the preparation of this Bill. The man who goes out to fish for salmon must, in the first place, have ownership of a place or else be a lessee either himself or with others of a fishery or in partnership in a club. Where salmon fishing is involved there is involved an annual payment of not less than £25. Next he has to pay his £4 fishing licence, and very many of those owners make private subscriptions to the boards of conservators to enable the boards to employ men whole-time on fishery protection. In return for that, the average catch per rod works out, according to the latest return in the 1960 report, at 3½ salmon or, say, four salmon. If, therefore, we say a word on behalf of the man who is laying out his money and getting back on average four salmon a year, a word spoken on his behalf is fully justified.

The next point I should like to put to the Parliamentary Secretary is the question of the seven day licences for the taking of salmon or trout. The amount of abuses in connection with that justifies me in asking the Parliamentary Secretary to abolish the seven day licences, because in the first place people do not take out the licence until they have fished for a day or so with somebody, and afterwards they are very liberal in allowing themselves an interpretation of when seven days have ended. You have the 21 day licence for £2 which should be enforced rather than the seven day licence.

In connection with free fisheries, tributes have been paid to the work being done by the Inland Fisheries Trust. I think the Trust was set up and not given proper financing. It was envisaged at the beginning that people fishing for brown trout would have to pay an annual licence of 5/-, which is a ridiculous figure in the present day money values. If you take it that any person who goes out to fish can increase his catch by two per week, I would certainly feel that he would be amply compensated even if he had to pay a 10/- licence. It should not be applied to people whose land was adjoining any fishery, but, apart from that, it might be enforced.

Section 5 of the Bill deals with the qualifications of members of Boards of Conservators. As drafted at the present time, I think it will operate entirely in the opposite direction to what was in mind. The section says that "A person shall not be eligible at any particular time for the office of conservator for any electoral division unless (a) he resides or possesses real property in the fishery district which includes that electoral division," and other things.

A sine qua non is that he must reside in or have property in the fishery district. I am a member of a club which has leased a fishery from the Land Commission over a time which is now in its third period of 15 years. We are in possession of that for more than 32 years at the moment. Not one member of the club lives in the fishery district although we live just immediately outside it.

In order to become eligible to sit on the board of conservators it was necessary for certain members to buy property. That club had held a fishery for 32 years and during that 32 years, long before any Fisheries Bill was introduced, the members had been operating a private hatchery. I should pay tribute in this House to Dean Jackson, an uncle of Senator Stanford, who ran that hatchery in his own private yard for years and years, on behalf of the club. All the fingerlings from that private hatchery were thrown into the fishery district, which was outside the area in which all the members of the club lived, and in connection with which none of the members of the club was eligible to be a member of the board of conservators and will not be eligible under this Bill.

I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that this section should be amended by substituting the word "or" for "and" in line 39 so that he could either reside in the district, have property in the district or, if elected for that electoral division, would be entitled to vote because he was a licensed holder or is the rated occupier of a fishery in the fishery district, the rateable value of which is less than fifty pounds, and so on. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can introduce "a rated occupier by way of being a lessee or a board". I want him to bear in mind that the purpose he has in mind is not brought out in this section but rather the reverse.

There is another section to which I should like to direct attention. It is the section dealing with disqualification of members of boards of conservators. The members of every board of conservators are not at loggerheads with one another. Some boards that I know have been working very assiduously in the interests of the protection and development of fisheries and there has never been any question of difference between the rod men and the net men. They have been equally interested.

If the stock of fish in a fishery district is increased, they are there for the rod men and also for the people fishing in the estuary.

The Principal Act states that a person who absents himself during a period of six consecutive months from all meetings of the board shall be disqualified for the whole of that period for which he was elected. The period for a board of conservators is now increased from three to five years. In general, not more than four meetings are necessary in a year and it is always possible that a person might miss a meeting for business or health reasons or other causes. He might be attending the Seanad, as I am here, doing what he thinks is public business, and might miss a meeting of the board of conservators and thereby disqualify himself for the whole of the period of that board.

I would again refer to the subsection (3) in Section 7. I think a member of a board of conservators who is disqualified more than twice in any period of office, under Section 31, shall not be eligible for re-election. In other words, if a man missed one meeting through reasons of health or otherwise, that would be quite all right but if he missed more than two meetings in a five-year period—mind you—which would be reasonable enough, he is disqualified. If left as it stands, you are liable to have some boards without any members.

There is another matter that I should like to bring to the Parliamentary Secretary's notice, that is, the possibility for very extensive development in propagation in my district. There is a fresh water lake there. Some years ago fishing on fresh water was prohibited by law. There went into that lake each year from 1,000 to 1,200 salmon. It is an extraordinary lake, for the reason that fish do not rise to the fly or the bait. It is Lake Carramore. When the fish get into that lake, they pass up and if there is an early run of fish from February to March they are completely useless. They would be excellent stock for a hatchery in that district. There are from 1,000 to 1,200 fish. You may not get them all but you would get sufficient to be able to produce 2 million or 3 million fish to plant out into the various streams and rivers in that fishery district. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the development of Carramore Lake as a hatchery.

I have lived up to the reputation that has been established by the engineer members of the Seanad and have spoken at great length but I hope I will not have to be persuasive about the points I have made, which are self-evident. I have intervened in this debate because I know quite a considerable amount in connection with the operation of boards of conservators and, on their behalf, I welcome the Bill. Indeed, I and the members of the board that I represent would welcome any Bill that would be introduced by any person at any time which would tend to protect and improve the fisheries of the district.

I can assure the Parliamentary Secretary that it is the desire of my board to give him every possible assistance. My own desire is, remembering the many happy hours I spent angling, that when I pass on I shall leave the fisheries in my district in a better condition than I found them.

I should like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his campaign to make us more fish conscious in this country and I hope his efforts to provide the fish will be successful. My main concern on this Bill is with inland fisheries. I should like to make a special plea for the much-maligned pike. Pike seems to be outlawed in this country. I do not entirely agree with the policy of the Inland Fisheries Trust in completely wiping out coarse fish in order to develop game fish. Figures given by Senator Flanagan have proved that the amount being gained from coarse-fishing tourists is in excess of that which was gained this year, which was a good year for salmon, from salmon fishing.

The Parliamentary Secretary, in his campaign to get the people to eat more fish, could include the pike because pike is a very nice dish if served properly. Many anglers come from the Continent to the area from which I come. They are more interested in catching pike than they are in catching trout. In view of the advent of the Common Market and our entry therein, it would be a good idea if we had dishes prepared based on pike.

In conjunction with Senator Flanagan I would appeal for the protection of the coarse fish stocks of the country. It is time that steps were taken to ensure that stocks would be maintained because most of the people who come amongst us tell us that, at the rate at which coarse fish are being taken out, we will find ourselves in the same position as the English angler now finds himself in, that he has to go abroad to get coarse fish.

In this country, coarse fishing has not had the same appeal to the ordinary angler. Consequently, most of us who have walked along the banks of either river or lake have had the experience of coming across bream or other course fish taken from the lake or river and just left there. Coarse fish is sacred to the English angler who comes over here. He regards it as a dreadful state of affairs if a fish taken from the water, is not used, is not put back again, because he knows there would be no fish eventually if that is not done.

I should also like to appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to provide legislation limiting the size of coarse fish which may be taken from the water. Such a limitation exists in the matter of game fish and I cannot see any reason why the same should not apply to the other type.

I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to indicate what the position is in regard to commercial fishing in our inland waterways. In my part of the country there has been an enormous increase in the number of fish taken out in what I would call midnight raids. I am talking about coarse fish and therefore do not know whether to call those people poachers. Commercial fishermen of this type have completely denuded a particular lake in my district of fish. They may fish for else but any other type of fish which happens into their nets is just left there on the banks.

Those people arrive at night and set their nets. I am not against their earning a living but they should treat fish of a species other than that which they are aiming at with respect because otherwise our waterways will be completely without coarse fish in a few years. Over 600 eels were taken from from a lake within 12 miles of where I live in one night and it is possible that trout fry was used as bait. I had hoped that some measure of protection in that respect would have been provided in this Bill. This type of thing is not restricted to our own fishermen. It is done quite largely by people from outside, from an area over which we have no constitutional control at the moment.

One thing which struck me quite forcibly during the salmon glut this year was that the abundance of salmon was not reflected on hotel menu prices. I do not attempt here to go into hotel prices but I think it is a duty of the Parliamentary Secretary to ensure there should be some control over prices in such cases. Somebody this year said the salmon gave themselves up. It did not look as if they did to me because, when you went into a hotel and paid your bill, you could have bought two or three salmon for the price you paid for one portion. That is a matter that should be considered by the Parliamentary Secretary.

I am not completely in agreement with Senator Flanagan when he suggested we should leave control of our fishing waters to such bodies as angling clubs. These clubs preclude from fishing certain stretches all people who cannot become members because they have not the wherewithal to do so. These people become ostracised from fishing waters in their own areas. I know a case in which a local man fished a stretch in which it was known that salmon fed. He was caught by the Garda and brought before the court. He was defended by a member of the other House and it transpired that the Garda officer who caught him was a member of the club by which he was prosecuted. I was present in court and I recall the defending solicitor describing the Garda sergeant who gave evidence as a Judas. That is an instance of where a club had control of fishing waters and where a local man was prosecuted for fishing them.

The same situation arises where the ESB have control of rivers. They prefer to negotiate agency agreements whenever they can and, of course, those agencies preclude from participating in fishing local people who cannot afford to join them. Talking about the ESB, I should like to say that although it is desirable they should have some control, they should not have complete control in respect to the lowering or raisng of water levels if this affects fish life. In my part of the country, there is a long stretch of the Shannon which may abound in fish at certain periods. Then the time comes when the ESB want more water down at Ardnacrusha. They lower the level of the water above and the fish go off. I submit the ESB should consider the question of fish life when regulating the level of the water in areas under their control.

As I said before, the fisheries of this country should be taken out of the control of all such bodies and handed over to a single body such as the Inland Fisheries Trust. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will endeavour, in a subsequent Bill, to ensure that such a situation is brought about. In conclusion I would reiterate my interest in the development of pike fishing since, as I have stated, it is such a big part of our tourist attraction. I know many people who come here every year for the pike fishing. We advertised catches of pike, weighing 30 to 40 pounds each, and I think such advertisements have had a great influence on the amount of money we take from tourists.

I should like mainly to speak on one matter of general policy. I have stated before, others have stated before, and I venture to say again, that we need a separate Department of Fisheries in this country. It has always been a need; it has always been neglected and it is becoming an even more demanding need at the moment because within the next few years we will be harvesting not merely the animal life of the seas but probably vegetable life from the seas too. The population of the world is growing so rapidly that our fields, our forests and our lands will not be able to sustain the people of the world. We will have to turn more and more to our seas.

I do not think the Department of Lands is capable, despite its efficiency and ability, of coping with the future policy of fisheries. This would demand more and more technical knowledge and will control the future of the cultivation of our seas. In 10 years' time we will, perhaps, be reaping harvests from our territorial waters. All this needs careful planning. It needs progressive policy, and I do not think the Department of Lands is the proper place for that policy to be worked out. We have at the moment agriculture and fisheries working side by side. That is fair enough, perhaps, for our inland fisheries — streams, lakes and rivers. However, how can the Department of Lands, at the top, divide their mind between the demands of our fields and the demands of our seas?

We must have a more progressive policy from the very top. May I at this point add my congratulations to the Parliamentary Secretary, a former member of this House? We know his energy and his ability from the debates in this House. I should like to see him at the head of a Department. The country needs such a Department, and I think he would be very fully competent to manage one.

We shall have to face some very pressing questions about the use of our seas within the next five or ten or 15 years. We need a Minister at the head of a Department to fight his corner against other Departments. Take an example. At the moment, our seas are being defiled and our fisheries are being damaged to some extent by sewage which is being discharged into the sea at various points, which is doing damage to our harvest of the seas. If we had a Minister for Fisheries, he could negotiate with the Minister for Health on this matter and get some improvement. I think, as a matter of general policy and for the welfare of the country, the time has come when we must have a Minister for Fisheries and a Department of Fisheries.

To come down to details on the Bill: the Minister in his introductory remarks stated that this Bill will tighten up the law and increase the penalties in respect of the discharge of deleterious matter into our waters. I have looked very carefully at Section 16. Frankly, I find the drafting there rather inadequate as far as I can judge. It provides:

"(1) if any person uses in any waters any deleterious matter for the capture, destruction or injury of fish he shall be guilty of an offence under this section."

Perhaps I am wrong; if so, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me immediately. However, as far as I can see, that is the only clause which prevents the discharge of deleterious matter into our streams and lakes. If so, it is a very oblique way of saying it is forbidden to discharge deleterious matter into our waters.

I think it is capable of being argued in law that in the phrase: "If any person uses in any waters any deleterious matter for the capture, destruction or injury of fish..." the word "uses" implies deliberate intention. I see that the Parliamentary Secretary is examining the point. Am I wrong about this? Is there any other clause in the Bill which plainly and openly forbids the discharge of deleterious substances? I cannot see it.

There is a governing section in the Principal Act.

They can be caught under that? Is that the position?

Then I am quite satisfied, because it could be argued that they could not be caught under this. I am very well satisfied with the assurance of the Parliamentary Secretary.

Perhaps I may refer to the rather peculiar discharge of a substance into one of our major rivers, the River Suir? The Minister no doubt knows about this: perhaps the House does not. It has the happy effect of producing unique delicacy from among our fishes. Into the River Suir is discharged the effluent of a chocolate crumb factory. Some of the fish of the River Suir eat that discharge apparently with great delight. I have, in turn, eaten some of the fish which have eaten the products of the chocolate crumb factory. I can assure the House and anyone else interested in epicurean matters that they are excellent fish. If the Parliamentary Secretary could encourage that kind of rare discharge I think it would be very advantageous for the country. However, that is beside the question.

I should like to support Senator Flanagan—and to congratulate him on a most helpful and most informative speech—in his complaint about the effect of milled peat on the waters in the West of Ireland.

You mean the Oranmore.

In general, the damage to the water itself and in particular to the spawning beds. I urge the Minister to look into that question. There is a good deal of indignation amongst fishermen in the West in this respect.

Again, I should like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary and his Section of the Department—if I may use that phrase—on the decision about Dunmore East. I have spent a good deal of my summers in that beautiful port in the South of Ireland. There was great apprehension about the initial decision to transfer the chief fishing centre from Dunmore East to Passage East on the river Suir. That, I understand, is now abandoned and I am quite certain that the very large majority of the people of County Waterford will welcome that decision. I think it took some courage to pull back at this stage, so I congratulate the Department on that.

One other point which Senator Flanagan mentioned I should like to support. I think he has made a very strong case for the amendment of Sections 5 and 7. We want the best possible people, public-spirited people, as conservators of our fisheries. I agree with Senator Flanagan that the qualifications here are rather too stringent. We may well be deprived of the services of well qualified and very useful people unless we relax these qualifications a little. I appeal to the Minister to consider amending these sections so that we may cast the net wider in bringing in conservators.

Once again, I should like to emphasise that as a matter of general policy we need a Department of Fisheries. The sooner the Government face that need and give us a separate Department of Fisheries the better for the country. Every year, the position falls further back—falling back both technologically and from the point of view of planning. I am convinced that a new Department might do a very great deal for the welfare of the future, especially if we enter the Common Market. There is at present an enormous demand for our sea fisheries but at the moment we are not technologically equipped to supply it fully.

I am very glad that a highly constructive debate has taken place in the Seanad on this measure. I should like to emphasise initially that this Bill was carefully examined and that its provisions in the drafting stage were very carefully gone into. At all stages of its planning this measure was examined by myself and the officials in the Fisheries Division in conjunction with the various interests concerned in fisheries development and fisheries protection. I wish to pay tribute here to the boards of conservators, to the Salmon Anglers' Federation and to the other groups associated with inland fisheries who submitted constructive memoranda on this matter and whose views were very helpful indeed in enabling us to formulate the provisions before the House.

Senator L'Estrange, in opening this debate, made one very good point when he welcomed the fact that we were reforming the system of election to boards of conservators. This was one matter which was pressed on me very strongly and I could see very real merit in it. Heretofore, the procedure in regard to nomination and the procedure for balloting in respect of election to boards of conservators has been very haphazard, to put it mildly, and has lent itself to abuse in some cases. We are now rectifying that by providing a section which will enable us to make regulations providing for proper nomination and proper balloting. It has been particularly mentioned to me that postal voting would be desirable in some cases. At any rate we are now making proper regulations for each board area which should make for proper nominations and a proper system of election.

Pádraig Ó Siochfhradha and Senator McDonald dealt largely with the sea fisheries aspect of the fisheries development which strictly is not included in this measure but is of course a matter of very great importance. An Seabhach, Pádraig Ó Siochfhradha in particular, was concerned with the question of providing boats of proper size and power to negotiate the waters of our western and south western coasts. At the moment we have decided on the 65-foot boat. A prototype of it is under construction at the moment in An Bord Iascaigh Mhara's yard in Killybegs, as the best type of boat for these waters. With the encouragement of the great incentives we are making available, the fishermen off the western and south western coasts will be able to improve their livelihood and their catching power.

Senator McDonald also largely concentrated on the sea fisheries side and spoke about the desirability of improving the distribution system in Ireland. That is a matter which we are entrusting to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara; and as the House may have noticed we are reorganising that board with a view to its engaging in planned marketing development both at home and abroad. The organisation of a distribution system in relation to fish will also be one of the functions of that board.

Senator Flanagan, as a member of a board of conservators, gave us very detailed and specialised knowledge and insight into the whole question of the protection and development of our inland fisheries. There is one matter which he emphasised and which I should like to reiterate, that is, the question of penalties for poaching offences. We are increasing those penalties under this measure to a £100 fine and six months' imprisonment. We are also enlarging the offence in connection with poaching by making it an offence to have any vehicle, machine or boat used in conjunction with a fishing offence. We are also providing for severe penalties in the case of poisoning and dynamiting which are reprehensible poaching activities.

I agree with Senator Flanagan that some of our district courts take rather too lenient a view of these offences. We have done our best by making it a very positive policy not to mitigate any penalties in respect of these offences. The Fisheries Division of the Department of Lands is always asked for its views in respect of any such penalties imposed and, where a case is submitted to the Department of Justice, we have made it our policy to recommend no mitigation in this regard. That is as far as we can go and I would only suggest that, in the case of these offences, some of them reprehensible, as I say, as severe a penalty as possible be imposed, as too lenient a view in some cases has been taken of these offences.

One point made by Senator Flanagan has been adopted in regard to the section dealing with poisoning and dynamiting, in that we specifically include in that section a prohibition against the Probation of Offenders Act being applied to any first offender under that section. That is as far as we can go and it is a matter for the courts to go the rest of the way.

Senator Flanagan rightly emphasised the importance of protection generally. This is the basic duty of our boards of conservators, the protection of our fisheries and, no matter what development takes place, if our protection measures do not keep pace with that development the whole work is futile. In that connection we have decided to examine the position in regard to the key personnel of boards of conservators. It is our belief that these people should be given greater permanency of tenure in their office, greater independence, and should be appointed on a proper basis under some system such as operates in the Local Appointments Commission. I feel rather strongly that we would get much better protection if we had men independently and permanently appointed, properly paid and on a proper superannuation basis. We are examining the financial implications of such a scheme. I agree fully with it and in principle I think it is very desirable.

Senator Flanagan also referred to the question of the purchase of poached fish and very rightly laid stress on the fact that if the outlet in respect of poached fish is circumscribed we shall be going a greater distance towards curbing this practice. There is a section in the Bill which provides for the right of search in regard to hotels and restaurants and enables officers of boards of conservators or Garda to go in and investigate and make enquiries in regard to the fish held on such premises. Unfortunately, in some areas hotels and restaurants are the outlet used for the poacher's product. It is necessary, therefore, to provide these additional powers. We are also providing that a register must be kept for six months back by anyone dealing in salmon, a register which can be examined immediately by any investigating officer so as to ascertain what fish was recorded in the register.

Senator Mooney raised the question of the Inland Fisheries Trust policy in regard to predators, particularly pike. Although I understand his fears in this respect, I think he has overstressed the case. There are luckily large areas of inland waters in Ireland. Most of these inland waters are coarse fishing waters.

I feel that it is doing no damage whatever to the overall position when only a very small minority of these coarse fishing waters are developed by the Trust for trout fishing. In other words, there is no conflict between the two developments. We have ample coarse fishing waters and it is a necessary amenity also to have trout fishing, with neither upsetting the other. There is no question of the Inland Fisheries Trust embarking on any wholesale clearance of predators. It is only done in selected areas where lakes are suitable for trout fishing development.

Might I make an intervention to point out that they may in fact be removing fishing which certain users of a lake and their grandfathers before them have used without fee or hindrance, free of charge? When this is done, does it become a vested interest, so that certain people, who had what I might call a squatter's title in taking coarse fish on such waters, would be prevented from doing so?

In regard to that matter, it can be agreed by the Seanad and by people outside that the Inland Fisheries Trust have always operated on the basis of co-operation with local people concerned, and there is no occasion on record where they have moved in to develop a lake without the co-operation of local people and in fact without the invitation of the local people. They have always made it a general policy to move in in that fashion only after an invitation from all the people with interests in the particular lake.

You will never get all the people to agree on anything.

That is true enough. If we adopted that attitude, we would sit on the fence and do nothing. The Inland Fisheries Trust have made clear their attitude in this respect. There is no real conflict between developing trout and coarse fishing waters. You can have the amenity of trout fishing, and coarse fishing is another amenity, and in a particular area, both can be made available for home anglers and as an attraction for visiting tourists.

Senator Flanagan made a point about the financing of the Trust. The Trust have been assured of a definite guaranteed sum for the next five years. This is the first time on record on which it has been put on this basis. Heretofore, it has operated on the basis of an annual grant, first of all, from Bord Fáilte and the Exchequer, and last year, directly from the Exchequer. We have now secured sanction to put the Trust on a more permanent basis, and for the next five years, the trust are guaranteed the sum of £363,000 to plan ahead in the development of inland fisheries, that is, £63,000 in the current year and £75,000 for each of the next four years following next April, giving a total of £300,000 on which they can plan ahead from March next. This is a rather important development, because it ensures the proper long-term planning so essential for the development of fisheries, which is not a day-to-day matter, and the Trust can embark on such a plan secure in the knowledge that they will have available for the next four years from that source, apart from their own sources of revenue, a State guarantee of £300,000.

I feel also that the key personnel of the Inland Fisheries Trust should be put on the permanent basis to which I referred when speaking of the personnel of the boards of conservators. That matter is also being examined at the moment.

Senator Mooney made a point in regard to the ESB, that large numbers of waters, particularly in the Shannon basin, are held by the ESB. We have now provision whereby the ESB can let these waters to the Inland Fisheries Trust on an agency basis. In fact, some of these waters have passed by way of agency letting from the ESB to the Trust. We have made provision for a liaison committee between the Trust, the ESB and the Department to administer these lettings. We feel that this will have very fruitful results in the Shannon and in any other waters also where they have control. The ESB acknowledge the Inland Fisheries Trust as a specialised body in these problems and are making lettings of waters under their control to the Trust so that the Trust can embark on proper fishery development.

These are among a number of very constructive points made by various speakers. Senator Stanford, in concluding, spoke of the administrative necessity of having fisheries a separate Department. In fact, it is a separate division operating with its own administrative structure within the Department of Lands and to that extent his point is met.

Both Senator Stanford and Senator Flanagan were concerned about a point which they thought might involve hardship, where a person who became disqualified through lack of attendance at board meetings is prevented from being co-opted until the term of the board expires. There is provision under subsection (2) of Section 31 of the Principal Act whereby an order can be made by the Minister in such hardship cases providing for the liquidation of the disqualification period.

That is going to be carried on?

It is being maintained. That largely meets the point. The intention of the section is to prevent any people not paying any attention to their duties as members of boards from being co-opted ad lib and to ensure that only people paying attention to their duties as members are retained. We wish to defeat any casual co-option of people disqualified through non-attendance. We want people paying attention to their duties to remain on these boards. There may be exceptional cases where a member may become disqualified for lack of attendance because of illness or some other reason, but there is that provision in Section 31 of the Principal Act for making an order liquidating the disqualification and enabling him to resume his duties as a member of the board.

Another point made by Senator Flanagan and, I think, Senator Stanford was in relation to Section 5. Apprehension was expressed, and, I think, rightly so, regarding the position of some body or group who might have contributed to the development of fisheries within a board area not qualifying for membership of that board. Senator Flanagan had occasion to mention this matter to me informally before he spoke on the Second Reading here. I saw that there was very real merit in the point of view advanced by him. The section as it stands at present makes a person ineligible for the office of conservator for any electoral division, unless he resides in or possesses real property in the fishery district which includes that electoral division. That phrasing is a take-over from a very old fishery Act of 1863. To meet the point, we propose to bring in an amendment on Committee Stage which, I think, has been circulated to Senators, providing that anybody who has paid his fishery rate in respect of the fishery year immediately preceding the year in which the election of conservators takes place can be eligble for election.

We have not got copies of that amendment.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The amendment will be circulated on Committee Stage.

By reason of Senator Flanagan making his point informally, I was in the position of having it put right in the House. This amendment will result in any person or group who has a letting becoming eligible for election through a representative to the board of conservators. I think it meets the point that was made.

That covers largely the main points made in the course of the debate. If there were any points made that I have not covered I will be glad to hear from the particular Senator in regard to them at a later stage of the Bill's progress.

I feel this measure is a very necessary one. As I have stated, it is only the first measure of reform that we propose to introduce in regard to inland fisheries. Indeed, it was the first one that was possible because it is only since the Consolidation Act of 1959 that we have been able to take a real look at the fisheries code. Until 1959 the matter was so tangled, it was impossible to propose any reform in regard to the fisheries code by reason of the mass of legislation which was there. Under the Fisheries Consolidation Act, 1959, this legislation was brought together and since then we have been able to examine that legislation and decide on what reforms are necessary and should be brought in.

The reforms in this measure are but the first stage of that examination. We thought it better, rather than wait for a very full examination that might take some time, to bring in selected reforms that were apparent and obvious to us and these selected reforms are included in the measure before the House. As I say, it is the first stage of a number of reform measures we hope to bring in in regard to the inland fisheries code and which follow on the Consolidation Act of 1959.

I thank the House for the manner in which the Bill has been received on this Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take the remaining Stages today.
Bill considered in Committee.
Sections 1 to 4, inclusive agreed to.
Government amendment:
In page 4, to delete lines 36 to 51 and substitute the following:—
"‘25. A person shall not be eligible at any particular time for election to the office of conservator for any electoral division unless, either—
(a) he would, if an election for that electoral division were held at that particular time, be entitled under subsection (2) or (4) of section 24 to vote at the election, or
(b) (i) he is the rated occupier of a fishery of which the rateable value is less than fifty pounds and which is in the fishery district which includes that electoral division, and
(ii) he has paid the fishery rate in respect thereof for the fishery year immediately preceding the year in which the election for such office takes place and the amount thereof is not less than one pound.'"

This is the amendment to which I referred in the course of my Second Reading remarks. It deals with the matter which Senator Flanagan raised in the House and mentioned to me informally. The amendment meets the point of view he advanced in regard to people contributing to the development of a fisheries who are not rated occupiers or owners of fishery property within that district but who have such property rented and are contributing to its development. These people, in this amendment, particularly under subparagraph (b) (ii)——

Should the word "and" at the end of paragraph (b) (i) not be "or"?

He must qualify under two headings now. I think it should read "or".

The amendment as proposed now meets the case I had in mind fully.

That is what I thought.

I should simply like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his flexibility in this matter. Senator Flanagan put a very reasonable case and the Parliamentary Secretary has accepted it reasonably. Perhaps it is partly due to the happy apprenticeship he served in this House that he is meeting us so agreeably on this point.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: That Section 5, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

May I say I had thought it would not be one year but "the preceding three years," in the last paragraph of the amendment? It is rather hasty legislation. Some of us did not get time to read the amendment. We may read badly anyhow. I think one year is rather a big change and, if I had time to give an opinion to the Chair, I would suggest it should be three years rather than one.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The amendment has been agreed to.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 6 agreed to.
Question proposed: That Section 7 stand part of the Bill.

Section 31 of the Fisheries Consolidation Act, 1959, reads:

A conservator for an electoral division who absents himself during a period of six consecutive months from all meetings of the board for the fishery district which includes that electoral division and all meetings of the conservators for that electoral division shall be disqualified from continuing to be a member of such board and one fortnight after the expiration of such period his seat on such board shall, subject to this section, become and be vacant.

The section goes on to make provision that the Minister can extend the said period by such further period as he thinks proper but that no such period of six consecutive months shall be extended under the subsection more than once.

The subsection (3) which it is now proposed to introduce reads:

"(3) A member of a board of conservators who is disqualified under Section 31 shall not be eligible for election to any board of conservators under this section before the date of the election of conservators under Section 27 to the last mentioned board next following the date of the disqualification."

That subsection (3) now runs completely contrary to subsection (2) of Section 31 of the Principal Act. I know the Parliamentary Secretary is trying to meet us but I think it is not covered unless we specially write it in as a new amendment. I cannot see how subsection (2) of Section 31 of the principal Act can remain in force and subsection (3) of Section 7 of this Bill can be brought in at the same time. The two are completely opposed.

Subsection (2) of Section 31 refers to the case mentioned by Senator Flanagan. It is apart from elections. It is the hardship case that Senator Flanagan mentioned, where a person during a lifetime or term of a board may become disqualified. He may have his membership renewed by Order under Section 31, whereas the section in the Bill before the House refers to the actual election to a board of conservators. Section 31, subsection (2) meets Senator Flanagan's case, the hardship case, where a member of a board of conservators, due to illness or some other reason, has missed a few meetings. If he is a conscientious member, he can be brought on by way of Order under Section 31.

Section 7 in the Bill before the House deals with actual election to the office of board. "Election" is the word used in the section.

It means elected during the period or lifetime of the board?

Election for the filling of casual vacancies.

Oh—casual vacancies. Thank you.

That is the governing factor.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 8 to 15, inclusive, put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 16 stand part of the Bill."

I do not feel so happy about this section because of the penalties which may be imposed on certain people. I hold that if bodies are taking reasonable precautions to keep deleterious matter from going into rivers they should not be subjected to such heavy fines as are prescribed here. Bord na Móna were mentioned today, and coming from a Bord na Móna area where quite a lot of nuisance matter goes into the Boyne, despite great efforts by the board to avoid it, I can say that if this provision is invoked, Bord na Móna would be forced to close down their operations there. They have taken every precaution to prevent milled peat from getting into the river. I submit there should be something in the section to prevent anyone from taking serious legal action against the board in view of the fact that they take such genuine precautions.

I think subsection (3) meets the Senator's point. It says:

It shall be a good defence to a charge under subsection (2) for the defendant to prove that the deleterious matter was in his possession or under his control for an innocent purpose.

I should mention that Bord na Móna are co-operating very effectively with the Fisheries Division and with the Salmon Research Trust in investigating the effects of peat sediment. An investigation has been started with a view to determining what the harmful factors are and in fact a full-time biologist has been appointed. Bord na Móna and Messrs. Guinness are co-operating with the Fisheries Division and the Salmon Research Trust and their combined efforts should bring about results in the near future.

I should like to be quite clearly informed by the Parliamentary Secretary how deleterious waste flowing into a stream can be prevented or penalised under this section? It occurs to me that if Bord na Móna can plead subsection (3) of this section, so also could any factory which was discharging deleterious waste into a stream. I would be grateful if the Parliamentary Secretary could show why Bord na Móna could plead this subsection whereas an ordinary factory could not.

Nach iad na focail atá annseo ná: ‘If any person uses in any waters any deleterious matter for the capture, destruction or injury of fish he shall be guilty of an offence under this section?" Caitfidh sé goill a dhéanamh ar an iascaireacht.

I think Senator Ó Siochfhradha has answered Senator Stanford's point.

This is a terribly important point because several of our rivers are being very seriously harmed by this type of waste discharge. Would the Parliamentary Secretary tell me in great simplicity for my simple mind, exactly what sections of this or the principal Act would be proceeded with against a factory which is allowing deleterious waste to flow into a river?

Under Sections 171 and 172 of the Fisheries Consolidation Act, 1959, we have specific provisions for dealing with effluent into rivers. This section of the Bill deals with a different question—that of maliciously using any sort of poison or explosive material to cause damage to fisheries. The provisions dealing with general factory effluent are in the principal Act.

Thank you. That is highly satisfactory.

There is just one point I should like to deal with. We have been dealing with subsection (3) and I should like to refer to the following subsection because I regard it as the most important provision in the whole Bill. The measure is, of course, in essence a protective one, aimed at the development of the fishing industry and, if the industry is properly protected, its development will automatically follow. For the first time under fishery legislation the Probation of Offenders Act, 1907, is being excluded from the discussion of the courts. That, in my opinion, is a very good provision. It is necessary and it is about time it was brought in. At the same time I feel it will not entirely stop the gap. Reference has been made to district justices and their manner of dealing with fishery prosecutions and we should consider paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (4) in this respect. Paragraph (a) says:

On summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

A fine of £100 looks formidable but, at the same time, there is still within the jurisdiction of the district justice the ability to impose a nominal fine of say £1 or £2. The same applies under paragraph (b) which envisages a more serious offence and provides for a fine of £500. That, too, looks formidable but the same discretion rests with the court.

A nominal fine. Is there any way we could deal with that? It is a bit late to suggest a way now but the Parliamentary Secretary has mentioned this is the first of many reforms that will be brought in. If there is to be another reform measure in the future, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will bear this in mind because we all realise the importance of proper protection for our fisheries. That is the main intention underlying this measure.

I am going to speak from the opposite viewpoint because it would be very bad legislation in which we would dictate to the courts what their duties would be. If fines and procedure are laid down we here should have ample confidence in the courts to carry out that procedure and it is a retrograde step to include subsection (5) which cuts off discretion from the courts. In these courts the State will be represented and will have ample opportunity of presenting their case. Very frequently there is a plea made by the prosecution for punitive fines because of the prevalence of certain types of offence in certain areas and quite often the courts listen to that plea. Therefore, I cannot see any reason for us to seek to deny the courts this discretion.

These are two points of view and two underlying principles and I have to hold the reins between the two. Senator Kissane's view was put to me by various fishery interests — in fact by all of them — and I was pressed very strongly to bring in a minimum penalty provision. I consider that to be too drastic a step. Instead we have gone out for higher limits both in respect of fines and other penalties and we appeal to the sense of district justices to consider these as very serious offences.

In particular, the offence envisaged in this section is the deliberate poisoning or the use of explosives in respect of fish poaching. I cannot imagine any offence more reprehensible than that. Straightforward poaching is bad enough but the malicious and wholesale destruction of fish through global poisoning and the use of explosives is a highly reprehensive offence. For that reason, we have taken this unusual step of bringing in this section which excludes the application of subsection (1) of Section 1 of the Probation of Offenders Act. This is the only place under the code where that exclusion exists. We introduced it by reason of the very drastic nature of the offence.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 17 stand part of the Bill."

I am disappointed with this section. It deals with instruments for taking fish. We have 24 such instruments on the rivers in Ireland for taking salmon. We call them salmon traps. We have three of them on the Boyne. The fishing on the Boyne is the worst in the country as a result of these traps. During the year, I made certain inquiries as to what compensation would likely be necessary in respect of the removal of these traps. The Parliamentary Secretary would not give that information. I do not know whether or not he had it but apparently he did not give that information. I was disappointed that he did not bring in some legislation that would give the Government power to give compensation to these people who have the traps so that the 24 that they have would be removed from the rivers of Ireland.

The Senator was in touch with me about this matter. We could not give the information because it is of a confidential nature. The principal cause, unfortunately, of the poor fishing in recent years on the Boyne is the organisation which the Senator was defending on a previous section, Bord na Móna. For good or ill, the fact is that peat silt from Bord na Móna operations is the principal cause of poor fishing on the Boyne at present.

I appreciate fully that in the national interest Bord na Móna have the predominant place and must continue operations from the point of view of national effort and employment. Bord na Móna recognise that and, in conjunction with us, are studying the matter. We have a whole-time geologist employed with a view to mitigating the principal cause of poor fishing on the Boyne which is Bord na Móna effluent, peat silt.

The Parliamentary Secretary would not put anything in the Bill to deal with the question of traps and compensation for the owners?

I am sorry. I am afraid not — not in this measure.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 18 to 27, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 28 stand part of the Bill."

I just want to raise a query as to what is meant by "bona fide purchase — by or on behalf of a person of salmon or trout”—subsection (2) (a).

As it states — a purchase by a person for use by himself in his house as opposed to purchase for the sake of disposing of it to somebody else.

Would "bona fide” in any way mean whether the fish was obtained legally or not?

No. It does not relate to that.

That would be all right. The only prohibition here is in regard to the sale of fish. That is what we are seeking to prevent. We are trying to close up any avenue for the illegal disposal for salmon and trout.

This section excludes from any such penal provisions any person who buys salmon for his own use or by way of gift to somebody else or any catering establishment that may purchase it for use in that catering establishment. We are seeking to prevent the disposal for profit of salmon or trout to a third party.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 29 to 33, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 34 stand part of the Bill."

Would you not think it desirable to extend our water limits here as in Iceland in order to protect our fishing grounds and our fishermen if they want, I suppose, a more secure livelihood? Many people claim it should be done. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary has more information than we have. Would he not think it desirable?

I certainly think it desirable. We participated in a very strong effort to get fishery limits extended at a world convention some two years ago. The provision, which we supported very strongly, to extend fishery limits was defeated by a very small margin — one vote. Particularly in view of our application for membership of the Common Market, we do not think it appropriate that we should take any unilateral action. We are continuing to examine ways and means and we are probing the possibility of resuming negotiations on a bilateral or multilateral basis for such extensions as the Senator mentioned.

An innósfhaidh an Rúnaí Pharlaiminte dúinn an í an dlí í go bhfuil teora iascaireachta trí mhíle ar báid iascaireachta? An í sin í an dlí fé láthair?

Tá sé sin i gceart.

Sin mar a tuigtear dúinn. Sin leasú a deineadh ar an dlí le roinnt bliain anuas, nach í? Istigh, agus trí mhíle amach ó'n dtráigh a bhí sé roimhe. Anois, tá sé trí mhíle amach ó cheann tíre.

Sin ceart.

Is maith an rud é sin.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 35 to 38, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.