Does a harbourmaster have any jurisdiction under this section?
Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Committee and Final Stages.
Wexford): A harbourmaster does not have a duty in relation to the sale or catching of fish. However, he has a duty as regards the conduct of vessels and the owners of vessels.
As regards the confiscation and forfeiture of boats, is it possible that the licence of the boat owner could be endorsed and carried continuously, regardless of a change of ownership? Changes in the ownership of boats are often dubious and it would be difficult to pin this down. If a licence was endorsed, the owner would have to carry it if a serious offence was committed.
(Wexford): There would be difficulties if a Spanish boat was involved because that licence would be issued by the Spanish authorities. The Irish courts would have no jurisdiction to endorse such a licence because it would not have been issued in the State.
Section 17 relates to the payment to local authorities in lieu of rates. I would like to know whether boats will receive money from rates. How will that be arranged? Under the new provisions will the fisheries boards be able to go directly to the rated occupiers and collect from them? There is always concern about the finances of the board which have not been healthy for a number of years.
I would prefer a provision whereby the finances of the board would be sounder under the new arrangements than they were heretofore. I would be concerned about a provision which might leave the boards worse off financially than they were under the old arrangement. Under the old arrangement, the fisheries were valued and the rates were levied by the council which gave a grant. It was a very complicated and complex system.
The new arrangement under section 17 is designed to simplify the system but, at the end of the day, the fisheries boards will want to know whether it will enhance their financial position. Will it be more difficult or will they not be able to get anything from rates? I am a bit confused.
(Wexford): The fishery rates yield an average of £180,000 to the fisheries boards each year. In 1993 the boards received £201,000 which included some arrears. The boards will continue to receive a reasonable amount. Last year compensation to local authorities in respect of fishery rates amounted to £594,000. The difference between this amount and the amount collected by the boards is due to the fact that fishery rates have lagged behind local authority rates for a number of years. A figure in the region of £180,000 will still go to the boards.
Both the Department of the Marine and the Department of the Environment agree that considerable administrative savings will accrue if this compensation is handled as part of the rate support grant. The necessary financial provision will be transferred from the Department of the Marine Vote to that of the Department of the Environment. Under the old system, the Department of the Marine transferred the money to the Department of the Environment who in turn transferred it to the local authorities. The Department of the Environment, under the rate support grant, will now pay the money directly to the local authorities but an amount in the region of £180,000 will still be collected by the fisheries boards from the commercial enterprises around the country.
I accept the point but I want to impress upon the Minister that there has been widespread dissatisfaction in the regional boards with the operation of the scheme. They were not getting the financial allocations to which they claimed they were entitled. I want to ensure that the changes will enhance the financial position of the boards. It is a very complex situation and I welcome anything that will simplify it.
(Wexford): The only way that could happen is if the rating system under the Department of the Marine or the fisheries boards was increased in line with the Department of the Environment and the county councils. There is a big difference between the rating system in the county councils and that of the fisheries boards. That is a matter for the Minister.
The Minister is aware that the same valuation office place the valuations.
(Wexford): I am not sure what system the fishery boards have but, obviously, they have a different system.
They apply to the county councils for a revised valuation where possible. They have not done that in many situations. It is also possible that some fisheries have declined in value. However, I reiterate that the maximum amount of money possible should be sent to the boards.
(Wexford): There is a big difference. Last year £180,000 was collected by the fisheries boards and yet £594,000 was paid to local authorities because of the differing rating systems.
The Eastern Regional Fisheries Board recommend that the Department tighten up the regulation which allows salmon to be smoked and sold legally when they have been caught illegally. It recommends that section 155 exclude smoked salmon. I would like to hear the views of the Minister on that.
The board also recommends that rainbow trout be redefined. Trout from cages can get up the rivers and be caught legally outside of the trout fishing season. Someone can catch a trout out of season and say he caught him by mistake. This regulation also needs to be tightened up as rainbow trout is getting up the streams and rivers and other species of trout is being caught out of season. The board recommend that rainbow trout should be included in section 3.
I agree with Senator Burke's point about smoked salmon. I also believe that the definition of rainbow trout is wrong. I was always under the impression that one did not need a licence to fish for rainbow trout. This legislation provides that the word "trout" includes fish commonly called or known as rainbow trout.
Senator Burke is correct, fish are escaping into rivers from trout farms. One cannot be choosy when fishing after a flood. The definition of trout is very loose. My view is that a trout is not a rainbow trout. A trout is generally a small fish. One can call any fish a trout. I do not agree with the definition in the Bill.
(Wexford): Senators Burke and Fitzgerald may have a point but it is not possible to amend section 55. I will ask the Minister to consider the proposals in the context of regulations. It is essential to have a dealer's licence for trout. Unfortunately, we cannot accept amendments today because the Bill would then have to be reintroduced in the Dáil which will not sit until next October. I will bring both Senators' views to the attention of the Minister and ask him to examine them.
I appreciate the difficulties but I ask the Minister of State to bring it to the attention of the Minister for the Marine and report back to the House.
I thank the Minister of State for taking this Bill in the absence of the Minister for the Marine and the Minister of State, Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan. We should send our best wishes to the Minister of State that he will be back to full health soon. I thank the Minister of State and his staff for being so courteous.
I join Senator Fitzgerald in thanking the Minister for his contribution and his replies to the matters raised. The fishing industry is entering a new phase; sea fishing is coming into a new era. As a small country controlling about 16 per cent of the fishing area of Europe, Ireland will face problems in future. Hopefully, the facilities and proper management will be put in place. I also thank the Minister for his interest in inland fishing. As Senator Cassidy pointed out, it is a potential growth area in the midlands and many of the angling clubs have done great work, in which they must be supported.
Wexford): I thank Senators for their contributions and their welcome for the Bill. The Minister for the Marine put a lot of thought and effort into the Bill which will be of major benefit to further development of the fishing industry which is valuable to coastal communities, in particular, for job creation and economic development.
I will, of course, ignore some of the comments made by Senator Fitzgerald in his contributions——
Every fisherman exaggerates.
(Wexford):——and I am sure the officials of the Department of the Marine——
I have retired, from fishing.
(Wexford):——who I have found helpful, will do likewise. I also join Senator Fitzgerald in wishing my colleague the Minister of State, Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan, a speedy recovery to full health. I hope he will be back with us in October when the Dáil resumes.
I wish to be associated with the good wishes to the Minister of State, Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan.