I want to refer to a minor point regarding the protection of molluscs which I neglected to mention on Second Stage and which relates to the proliferation of zebra mussels. Signs are posted on the great western lakes, for instance, warning people to ensure their boats are properly cleaned. However, I am not sure whether the level of observance is adequate. I visited North Carolina last year where rangers patrol the lakeshores inspecting people's boats. I am not suggesting that would be possible here but I wonder what measures can be taken to ensure that this pest does not proliferate further.
Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1999: Committee Stage.
This is a hugely important issue. It is too late to talk about the mussels not proliferating because there are already bucket loads of them in evidence along the Shannon's tributaries and they may proceed to the lakes. An environmental balance must be struck at some stage whereby the mussels will reach a level of equilibrium with their environment. That must have happened in other places. There must come a stage at which the mussels will no longer continue to increase in numbers because the environment will be unable to sustain them. The mussels have carried out one great job – they have cleaned the Shannon's waters to an unprecedented level of visibility. It is now possible to see clearly ten feet down to the bottom of the river. That is the only positive comment I can make about the mussels. It seems to me that if the ecosystems have been damaged by the mussels, as they certainly have with the resultant lack of coarse fish, in particular, in many places, nature will fight back at some point, the ecosystems will find a new balance and the mussels will no longer increase at their current level. Would such an event improve other elements of the ecosystem and could the zebra mussels have a positive influence in that regard?
Zebra mussels can cause major problems for some people. Guidelines are in place on this matter and they must be checked frequently and be properly implemented. Senator Dardis expressed concern about the level of observance of warnings. It seems to me from parliamentary questions that the situation is reasonably well under control and that the zebra mussels are not spreading too rapidly. The Marine Institute has produced some reports on the situation to date. I will ask it to produce a comprehensive report which will take the Senators' concerns into account, particularly in regard to whether the mussels may have any beneficial, as opposed detrimental, effects and on how it might be possible to keep the mussels under control.
I am somewhat confused. In terms of the Central Fisheries Board's powers and functions, the 1980 Act states that the central board shall co-ordinate, where it considers necessary so to do, and direct the performance by regional boards of their functions. I cannot find any authority given here to the Central Fisheries Board to direct a regional board. Perhaps it is included in the Bill but there is a contrast here with the explicit power given to the Minister in section 10 of the Bill to issue directives. I am not particularly keen about the kind of decentralising which leaves powers in the Minister's hands to give orders and takes powers away from the centralised body. That is not necessarily decentralisation. In fact, many would see it as the opposite of decentralisation.
This is a very essential element. If the power to direct were left with the central board, everything would have to be cleared by it before it could go anywhere else. That would mean that all the time of the central board would be taken up with that kind of activity. We are devolving that type of responsibility to the regional boards. However, having devolved responsibility, we have provided for a situation in which the central board advises the Minister that there is a problem and wants the Minister to give a direction. It is common in legislation to have a function in reserve, for example, the function of giving a direction where that is required. The board has the function of advising the Minister in that regard. The Senator has put his finger on the kernel of the Bill. This is something that was debated considerably beforehand. Power cannot be devolved without involving authority, and if authority is involved, it means that the regional board directs, and that it has responsibility for management and control in that region. However, if the central board feels, on any issue, that the board is being unreasonable, it is open to it to advise the Minister and request him or her to give a direction to the regional board. That is why that function is kept in reserve with the Minister.
One can understand the logic of that, except that section 10 makes no reference to who would advise the Minister.
It is one of the functions of the central board to advise the Minister.
Who would advise the Minister to give a direction to the central board?
If there was a need for the Minister to give a direction to the central board, the officials in the Department would advise him or her of the need for the central board to take a particular action. That is included in the legislation. The Minister can request or direct the central board to undertake some action. In a way it is management by exception. Let us not forget what the alternative was, which was the problem. The alternative was that the central board had the power to direct everything, which meant it was responsible for that direction. One cannot have one without the other in that respect. That meant the central board would be involved in clearing everything, which meant the regional boards had little authority in their own right. That authority has now been devolved to the regional boards. In response to the concerns of the central board where there is a need for direction, we introduced that measure which is included in other legislation, that the Minister can, on the advice of the board, give that type of direction.
I do not want to pursue this too far. The Minister said it is management by exception. However, what is to prevent a Minister – not this Minister obviously – from making a stupid direction to the central board? There is no procedure whereby he must take advice. The central board can give advice, and I am quite happy with the principle of decentralising power to the regional boards. I do not want to jump to section 10 lest the Chair remind me that I should not, but it is difficult to discuss this without reference to section 10. Section 10 is fairly bald. It says that "the Minister may, from time to time, give to the central board . . . directions for the management, conservation, protection, development or improvement of fisheries. . . ". That is a fair mouthful. I could understand a provision that the Minister may give directions to regional boards on the advice of the central board. However, it appears that there is hardly a function of the central board where the Minister, without any accountability other than to the Oireachtas or to a committee of the House, can give a direction, and these directions are not even subject to scrutiny as statutory instruments. It is a classic bit of Irish decentralisation where we give power but, just in case it is not exercised in the way we want, we reserve the right to stop it being exercised. I am not madly keen on that.
Directions can be in relation to positive as well as what might be called negative events. The fishermen who spoke to me had almost the opposite view. They did not want too much power in the local region – on the catchment side particularly – preferring the Minister to look after matters rather than local interests who might make decisions they would not like. We discussed this ad nauseam with the board. The central board wants to keep power. However, the whole purpose of this is to devolve power. Having done that, and to meet its concerns, we made sure that directions can be given by the Minister. The Senator said that the Minister is not accountable, but the Minister is responsible to both Houses of the Oireachtas and has to answer questions in the Houses, on the Adjournment, on special notice, during ordinary Question Time, in relation to the making of orders, etc. One finds that, from time to time, it is necessary to make things happen in particular areas. For instance, it may be a question of devolving power and authority in relation to a particular river. This arose in the case of the Moy. Everybody was happy to devolve authority in respect of the Moy. However, there were certain people who were not too happy about it. I could go into the reasons, but one does or does not devolve authority, and the people on the ground in that region wanted it devolved and had done a huge amount of work to make sure everything was right. However, up to the day it happened there was resistance. This will clarify situations like that. There is no need for worry about that because a Minister, in any situation in the future, will have to come before the House, and the House has the widest possible involvement and supervision of the actions of a Minister. If things were happening where there was no relationship, that would be different. The central board wanted, in exceptional situations, to be able to advise the Minister if it was concerned about something and ask him to give a direction. That is reasonable.
The central board seems unhappy with the inclusion of the words "where necessary", but I see the Minister's point in relation to it.
I am trying to meet the Senator's concerns, but only where necessary.
There seems to be a certain amount of ambiguity if the words "where necessary" are included. The board might ask the Minister to give a direction where there is friction between the central board and the regional boards. Perhaps it might be better if the words "where necessary" were left out. I can see the Minister's point, but if he could give the necessary assurances for which the central board is looking, we might be able to get over the issue. It seems there are certain reservations about the words "where necessary" in this section.
The concern was about who would consider it necessary. In other words, would the Central Fisheries Board take action where necessary on its own initiative or would the Minister? I know there were some suggestions that the Bill might be amended to say "where necessary the central board considers", but I am not sure that is required because the legislation is reasonably clear. However, it would be no harm for the Minister to elaborate on it.
I am still confused about the relationship between the Bill and the implementation bodies. I am aware of the decision taken this week in relation to Carlingford and Irish Lights, however, that is not what I am talking about. My understanding is that there is a further development in the North-South Implementation Bodies in terms of inland waterways which will give a North-South body authority to implement certain things regarding—
I apologise for interrupting the Senator, but does this relate to section 5?
Yes it does. It also relates to what I said earlier. The functions of the central board are outlined in section 5 and include administering "schemes, grants and other financial facilities requiring the disbursement of European Union and such other funds" under the new section 8(2)(c) and having "regard to the need for the sustainable development of the inland fisheries resource", etc., under the new section 8(2)(f). Subsection (4) of the new section gives authority to the central board to charge fees for certain services. There are many other functions, but in regard to these examples there will be a conflict between the board and the North-South Implementation Body dealing with certain inland waterways in places such as the Shannon and the Erne.
Perhaps I have a fundamental misunderstanding of the provisions, but it seems there is a serious conflict between the responsibilities outlined in the Bill for the central board and the authority of the North-South Implementation Body concerned with inland waterways. This is only an opinion as I have not heard enough detail regarding the North-South Implementation Bodies and the extent of their authority. In fact, I have asked on three or four occasions in the House for a detailed explanation in this regard.
We are dealing with fish while the body responsible for waterways is dealing with canals. The relationship will be similar to that which exists in terms of ourselves and the Office of Public Works. The implementation body will be participating in some of the functions of the Office of Public Works, but that is not a matter for this Bill. Rather it is a matter which concerns the Office of Public Works and the body responsible for inland waterways, which is not part of our remit. The position is very clear in terms of our remit.
As mentioned by the Senator, there has been a demarcation with regard to Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough. There will be no change in terms of my Department and the inland waterways, but there will be a change in so far as we will relate to whatever arrangements are arrived at by the implementation body responsible for inland waterways, just as we currently relate to the Office of Public Works. That is a matter which falls outside the Bill. It is a parallel issue but does not change the position for us, except that we could be dealing with the Office of Public Works and a body in Northern Ireland.
We have yet to see how the legislation in that regard will be designed, but I see no problem with it. We are dealing with fish and inland fisheries throughout the country, with the exclusion of Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle – that is very clear cut. It will be more difficult to design legislation for the inland waterways, but whatever the final outcome we will relate to the relevant body in the same way we currently relate to the Office of Public Works.
I am glad the Cathaoirleach has returned. He will be aware and can confirm for the Minister that not a month has gone by in the past four years that I have not raised the confusion and conflict of interest arising from the dozens of different bodies having authority over certain elements of our waterways. With due respect to the Minister, it does not matter whether we are talking about a canal or an inland waterway as fish are part of both. I understand the point made by the Minister and agree that the function of the Office of Public Works might be transferred to a new body. This Bill further complicates the issue. A precise example of what I am saying can be found in the new section 8(2)(f) of the 1980 Act which is outlined in section 5 of the Bill. It provides that the central board shall
in the performance of its functions, have regard to the need for the sustainable development of the inland fisheries resource (including the conservation of fish and other species of fauna and flora habitats and the biodiversity of inland water ecosystems).
This is in conflict with or parallels the responsibilities which will be given to one of the other bodies. The new section 8(4) provides that
The Central Board may provide such services for the management, conservation . . . or promotion of fisheries or matters relating to fisheries, and charge such fees in respect of the provision of those services.
This is relevant to the operation of weirs and many matters which will impact on many other river users who will have nothing to do with fishing. There is a huge conflict in this regard and this will make the position worse.
Some years ago, under the tutelage of Fianna Fáil, the House introduced the Shannon River Council Bill, the aim of which was to get rid of some of the complications. I put it to the Minister that this section creates a further complication in terms of specifying the authorities of the central board. There is nothing wrong with the responsibilities outlined, but it is a formula for conflict which will give rise to difficulties of interpretation. There will be people running up and down both sides of the river, people from inland fisheries and river wardens, with different conclusions being arrived at – I cannot see it being otherwise. Responsibility for flora, fauna, etc. must rest with whoever has overall control.
Overall control will not change. That is why I said the inland waterways and the Office of Public Works currently have responsibility for navigational channels, including canals. We were requested by the National Safety Council, and the Government agreed during the summer, to take over responsibility for the safety of our inland waterways and rivers. That is an evolution in the way we approach such issues. We have the professionalism to do it.
From whom will responsibility be taken?
The Garda and voluntary groups were responsible for a certain amount of policing but it was not co-ordinated. We will now do that. My Department, through the marine emergency services, is setting up groups in different areas along the Shannon.
The Senator mentioned biodiversity, which is more in keeping with our responsibilities. We must be concerned about the "conservation of fish and other species of fauna and flora habitats and the biodiversity of inland water eco systems". This gives us a statutory involvement in something which is crucial to the fishing and angling sectors. It has been suggested that a Shannon authority should be set up to look after everything.
That is a great idea.
I agree, as I am sure others do, but it is not covered by the Bill.
I appreciate the points made by Senators but there is no conflict.
I do not disagree with the Minister that these are good things to do. However, we are adding to the conflict of who is in charge. When everybody is in charge, nobody is in charge.
I am reluctant to intervene in the dialogue with Senator O'Toole. Efforts have been made to improve the Barrow by the Barrow Drainage Board, the Barrow Navigation Board, the New Ross Harbour Commissioners and the Office of Public Works. It is difficult to get a consensus on how things should be developed. I would like an overarching system which tells them to get their act together. I know that is not a prudent or politically correct thing to say when one is trying to get everyone on side, but otherwise it will become a recipe for doing nothing.
The Senator will have the full support of this side of the House.
But I agree with the Minister about devolving power to the regions, which the Bill does effectively and well. However, it could cause people to question the need for the central board and why the regions cannot report directly to the Minister. Can the central board direct itself or, if it considers it correct, can it proceed without any reference to the Minister?
Section 5(2)(f) relates to the protection of the national heritage within the meaning of the Heritage Act, 1995. The forestry people are active in Inchagoill in the middle of Lough Corrib, which is an important resource. I am unclear about how the various authorities interface with one another in protecting that natural resource. There are heritage items on the island, such as an early Christian church and one of the earliest Christian crosses in Ireland. I am unclear about the central board's role in this regard. It seems it should be the Office of Public Works and the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources which decide what needs to be done, almost without reference to the central board or to the Minister.
Nobody wants the central board to be a talking shop. It should promote, support, facilitate and co-ordinate activities in this area. Will the central board govern itself or will it be told what it should promote, support, facilitate and co-ordinate? Perhaps the Minister could clarify what is meant by "where necessary".
The phrase, "where necessary", means the central board will decide where it is necessary to promote, support, facilitate and co-ordinate. The issue only arises with ministerial directions. This is a different type of management. People understand the type of management where someone is told to do something and if they do not do it, their wages will be docked. Senator Burke is right that there are solid functions in co-ordinating and advising the Minister.
There are no strategic plans for all these developments. There are different studies for lakes in different parts of the country but we cannot base plans on those. We must have strategic plans for the development of the resource which are well worked out. That is the type of thing the board has not had the time or the opportunity with which to deal. By delegating functions to the regional boards, the central board can do more to support them and to help them to develop in different areas. Central board officials might become worried that it will just be a talking shop. However, that will not happen. If it does, it will not be doing the job we want it to do. We want it to support, promote, co-ordinate and develop these plans.
One of the first things I asked the board to do in 1992 when I became Minister for the Marine was to develop a plan. When I was Minister for Social Welfare, we put together a plan after arguments and debates so that at least we knew where we were going. Although the central board had experts and specialists, it did not have plans. It prepared an excellent short term plan on which we got £17.5 million or £18 million. One does not get that level of money unless there is a good plan.
I accept this is a new approach. I plan in the early part of the new year to meet the new board to ascertain how this will work. It needs to put new energy and drive into it. Why should I be faced with all the problems in the areas around Killarney or anywhere else? There are issues which should be resolved but that does not mean a local or regional board should deal with them from the first instance. There are issues which are not being resolved which must be pulled together and co-ordinated. That would allow us to see what is happening on the Moy and in Killarney and the lessons which can be learned. People would have to sit down and plan where they are going. We must also look at what we are doing in comparison to other countries and the lessons we can learn from them.
There is an exciting and interesting role for the central board but it must be developed. It will be a new role and it will answer many of the questions which are raised again and again but which are never resolved, leading to more debates and legislation. What else can I do? I cannot co-ordinate all these things; I work long days as it is. There is not enough time for me to do this. The central board will have to meet people, co-ordinate and develop. The people down the line will be responsible for their own expenditure. The central board will help them to install modern management and accounting techniques. One of the reports mentioned savaged the lack of accounting procedures. That must be put right. There is a lot of work to be done before the central board would run out of steam. It will have a creative role for a long time.
Section 5(5) explicitly prohibits the board from carrying out research or experimental work on any species of sea fish. Why?
This provision gives the board the authority that existed in the previous Act. It may investigate relevant fish but we do not want it to duplicate the work being done by the Marine Institute, our national fisheries research body.
Is the Marine Institute researching this area?
If the Government cared explicitly about avoiding duplication in the third level sector, our research would be much better.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 9, subsection (7)(b), between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:
"(G)organisations which, in the Minister's opinion, are concerned with the promotion and development of commercial eel fishing.".
Before I discuss the amendment, I have noticed that the phrase "as it thinks fit" is littered throughout the Bill. It is an unusual drafting device and its meaning is uncertain. Does that mean a decision must be taken at board level? I would also like to know the meaning of the letters (aa) before subparagraph (i) in section 7(1)(b).
The amendment proposes that organisations which are concerned with the promotion and development of commercial eel fishing are included among the bodies which can be represented. The Minister stated that the Bill is based on the principles of devolution, subsidiarity, partnership and quality of service. Those involved in eel fishing have a view different to the views of other groups. They feel they are victims of large bodies such as the ESB. I do not know if that is true but these people feel they have a problem and that their interests are very different to those of salmon fishermen, for instance. Their views should be heard.
They are also bothered that while great trouble has been gone to to mention many different kinds of fishing, eel fishing is not mentioned. It is different to coarse fishing and trout fishing and deserves a mention in the legislation. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment and to include those involved in the development of commercial eel fishing.
The Senator is concerned that eel fishermen are not mentioned in the Bill. Eel fishermen are already an electoral class for elections to the board. They are recognised. There are, however, problems on the River Shannon. The situation arises there because ESB holds the licence and the eel fishermen have an arrangement with it for a sub-licence.
There is another body for Senator Dardis to note.
I will establish an eel strategic review group to look at all the issues, including the strategic development and general regulation of the eel industry. The function already exists to preserve, develop and promote all fisheries, including eel fisheries. I explained this to eel fishermen at a meeting and they understood it.
I hope they understood it then because they were clean out of their minds last night.
It is difficult for the layman to understand legislation; it is difficult enough for us to pursue it, that is why we have the parliamentary draftsman and legal advisers. Both points are covered in the Bill. They have an entitlement in the elections and I explained that to them. Their difficulty, which we will examine and attempt to resolve, is that their licence comes from the ESB and, because the votes are related to licences, they do not have the number of licences they would otherwise have on the Shannon. We will look at that for them. The function already exists for the promotion and develop of all fisheries.
I support the amendment. It would put the Minister in a dilemma if he accepted an amendment because he would have to return to the Dáil with the Bill and he would not want to do that. There may, however, be an escape clause for him in section 7(1)(c). That allows the Minister to alter the number of elected members of a regional board by order. Under the 1980 Act the Minister can lay an order before both Houses of the Oireachtas when this legislation is implemented. He could alter or vary the number of elected members and he could also give effect to this amendment. I therefore support the amendment. The people concerned have made a good case for their representation on regional boards.
I do not understand the reasoning behind the amendment. The Minister has correctly pointed out that the categories are specified within the co-operatives and the other organisations. If one goes down the road suggested there is a need for consistency. It is suggested that some other group, say the coarse fishermen, should not have to jump the fence but should be able to get in at the first hurdle.
I accept the point made by both Senators. The problem only arises in the Shannon region because of the special circumstances applying there. There is no problem in other areas. The parliamentary draftsman will not accept this amendment because it is global in scope. That is covered, in terms of category, fishing types and elections. The only place where a problem with elections arises is in the Shannon region and that is because of the ESB. We must look at that separately and return to it.
Senator Burke mentioned other ways of inclusion and of getting more representation for the Shannon region in terms of individuals and numbers. We will look at that also. I am amenable to making whatever changes are necessary to ensure they have the representation their num bers merit in terms of elections. We will look at that separately.
I have listened carefully to the Minister. The people involved feel they are under the heavy hand of the ESB. We cannot say it is "only" the Shannon – it is only the longest inland waterway on this island or the one next to us.
The correct terminology is the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board.
That is correct and it covers a huge area. The strength of any democracy should be measured by how well it treats its minorities. I see the Minister's point about the representational area although I do not fully agree with it. In any event it is well balanced on the other side. The people concerned are dealing with large bodies and they feel they are not getting a fair deal from the largest body on the river, which controls everything on it, including the water levels. They already have an interest in salmon fishing and in this context the commercial eel fishermen believe they are losing out and that their voice is not being heard. I do not intend to press this amendment, but I will be taking a different view on amendment No. 2 because it takes a different approach in singling out specific areas of fishing.
When I referred to the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board I meant it specifically as opposed to the other boards.
I understand what the Minister means.
The matter is more complicated, which is why it needs further attention. I have given an undertaking here and to the eel fishermen that I will pursue that.
On Second Stage I pointed out that there did not appear to be any local authorities represented on the regional boards. Will the Minister outline his intentions in this regard? Perhaps a chairperson of an SPC, a director of services or somebody in the regional area nominated by a local authority might be included on the board.
Surely an organisation concerned with the promotion and regional local development is a local authority. The Senator's concern would appear to be covered by that.
On the question of aquaculture I agree with the Minister's concern with balance, but it should weigh towards those who protect the resource. In the Bundorragh-Delphi Fishery near Lenaune fishermen are rearing salmon, going to sea and returning. The fish are being cropped by anglers within the system. Is that aquaculture or another activity? Perhaps it needs to be specified.
What about entitlement to join the IFA?
This is a different category to salmon farmers. Senator O'Toole correctly points out they are already within the IFA. I have referred to their role in this context. By contrast, these people ranch, which is different from salmon farming. They rear the fish, the fish then go to sea, return and are cropped. The other matter deals with aquaculture and the Minister kindly referred to the position of Teagasc. Organisations, professions or occupations relating to agriculture mean, by definition, the IFA and the ICMSA in addition to Teagasc. As a practising farmer I have problems with the involvement of farmers in the protection of this resource.
Section 7(1)(a) states: "in subsection (4), by the substitution of the following for subparagraph (ii)". In my version of the Bill, subsection (4) has a paragraph (a) and (b), both of which have a subparagraph (ii). It is not clear which subparagraph is being deleted.
On the question of the local and regional aspects, subsection (1)(b), subparagraph (F) covers the "organisations which, in the Minister's opinion, are concerned with the promotion or regional or local development". Our purpose there is to involve bona fide local people and those involved in local development. That is why it is included.
It is necessary to have a balance with aquaculture. The question here is to try and ensure it occurs from within. That is the purpose of having people on the board. The balance is very substantially in favour of the anglers because only a few people in total from areas such as aquaculture will be included. At least they will be included to help in development work. In this regard the Bundorragh-Delphi Fishery has been very successful, although it is a half-way house. Perhaps the Deputy believes the people involved should be included in the representation.
I was hoping Peter Mantle might qualify under aquaculture.
He has done a very good job. With regard to the point raised by Senator Ryan, it is proposed to delete subparagraph (ii) of subsection (4)(a), not subparagraph (i).
The Bill refers to subsection (4). It does not say subsection (4)(a). Subsection (4) has paragraphs (a) and (b).
Paragraph (a) is relevant here.
The (a) refers to a subsection of section 7. It is not a reference to paragraph (a) in subsection 10(4) of the Act of 1980. There should be an (a) after (4), in my opinion, as there is in subsection (b), which says, "in subsection (4), by the insertion of the following before paragraph (b): ".
It is in relation to (a) in subsection 10(4) and it replaces subparagraph (ii).
I support Senator Ryan. The Minister will recall that when I spoke earlier I pointed out how difficult it is to follow the numbering of legislation, so I am very clear about this. The reference in the main Bill is to a subsection, subsection (4), which has two paragraphs. The two paragraphs are (a) and (b) and each of the two paragraphs has at least two subparagraphs and there is a small number (ii) on both of them.
I suggest, Sir, that you use your power under Standing Order 121 and, taking Senator Ryan's point, insert an (a) after subsection (4). Otherwise there is a confusion in the Bill.
The Bill says, "Section 10 of the Act of 1980 is hereby amended–". It is (a) of subsection (4). Subsection (4) is here on line 45–
On a point of order, I draw the Minister's attention to the top of page 9, where there is a letter (b) on line 5. Let us be sure we understand what (b) on the top of page 9 is. That is section 7, subsection (1), paragraph (b).
In section 7, subsection (1), there are paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). Paragraph (c) refers to subsection (11) of section 10 of the 1980 Act. It has nothing to do with paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) in section 10(4) of the 1980 Act. This is a mistake and we should correct it.
I propose the mistake be corrected by the use of Standing Order 121. This is clearly a typographical error which Senator Ryan has pointed out.
I understand what Senator O'Toole is saying. I agree that (a) refers to a paragraph in section 7 of the Bill before us and not to a paragraph in the 1980 Act. I submit that it is specified that it is subparagraph (ii) of subsection (4) and therefore it is not necessary to specify it.
There are two subparagraphs (ii) in section 10(4). There is a paragraph (a) and a paragraph (b), both of which have subparagraph (ii).
The Bill proposes "the substitution of the following for subparagraph (ii):". As that is written it can apply to two subparagraphs of the 1980 Act, either subparagraph 10(4)(a)(ii) or subparagraph 10(4)(b)(ii). The simple solution is to insert (a) after (4) in line 43. That can be done by Standing Order 121 which the Minister quoted to us earlier.
Yes, the Senator is right. It would certainly be clearer.
Senator O'Toole is enjoying himself enormously.
It is so good to catch out the draftsperson.
We are just doing our job.
This reminds me, Sir, of the days when you and I shared nasty rules changing meetings years ago.
I believe legislation should be clear and unambiguous. This is not a point of view I have come to recently. I have been saying it for the best part of 20 years.
I request the Cathaoirleach make the appropriate alteration to section 7, under Standing Order 121.
Can the Minister clarify the exact correction he wishes to have made?
I suggest that the Minister propose that in line 43, after (4) we include "(a)"
That is satisfactory.
As I have been requested by the Minister to direct the Clerk to make that formal correction in the Bill, I so direct, under Standing Order 121.
On section 7, I am disappointed in relation to local authorities. There is a huge interaction between local authority planning sections, sanitary services and the regional fishery boards. The Minister has said representation will be given to regional or local development. There is no such thing as a regional planning authority. I hope the Minister will appoint a representative from a local authority. Regional authorities do not have the same interaction with the fishery boards as the local authorities.
I am happy to do that. However, the Shannon, for instance, runs through many local authority areas but I accept the basic prem ise of what Senator Burke is saying. That would be my intention in so far as it is practicable.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 12, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:
"(f)encourage, promote and develop commercial eel fishing."
We are discussing what the regional board shall do. When I made an earlier proposal the Minister argued that the people I was seeking to have represented could find representation under other guises and were not, in fact, excluded. I wanted them specifically mentioned because I felt they were not being treated equally with other groups. Nevertheless, I agreed not to press that amendment.
They were all included.
Paragraph 8(1)(e) states that the regional board shall "ensure that any oyster or other mollusc fishery in its fisheries region is protected in accordance with such direction of the Minister as relates to a fishery of that kind".
Paragraph (f) states:
encourage, promote, market and develop angling for salmon, trout, coarse fish and sea-fish and, for the purposes of any or all of those kinds of angling, provide such facilities and amenities, if any, as it thinks fit,
We are back to that phrase "as it thinks fit". I wonder why it is repeatedly used in the Bill. There is no reference to eel. It is not covered. It is not referred to as a coarse fish, it is not necessarily a sea-fish and it is obviously not salmon or trout. It is the only fish excluded.
I could probably live with a single word amendment and the insertion of the word "eel". However, there is another issue. This is an industry. The commercial eel fishing industry is small but it is an industry. People are worried about it and they are simply seeking support. I propose that we insert a new paragraph to provide that one of its functions would be to "encourage, promote and develop commercial eel fishing". I do not believe that will happen under the Bill as it stands.
People in the industry believe it cannot develop because their relationship with the ESB is an unequal one. Now they see another body descending on them but they believe they will not have equality of treatment because their industry is not mentioned in the legislation. It is not included in section 8. A reference to eel fishing should be inserted either by including the word "eel" in paragraph (f) on Report Stage or by accepting the new paragraph to "encourage, promote and develop commercial eel fishing".
Paragraph (f) states "encourage, promote, market and develop angling for salmon, trout, coarse fish. . . . ". The paragraph refers to promoting angling, not commercial fishing. Earlier in the section there is the broader cover for encouraging, promoting and developing "in accordance with such development plan, promote and encourage the management, conservation, protection, development and improvement of the fisheries. . . " The issue is covered in the Bill. We have the power to do what the Senator seeks in his amendment. What needs to be done, particularly for the Shannon, is to look at what is needed for that area. We will meet the fishermen early in the new year to devise a plan to remove the problems they have and see what else needs to be done on their behalf. We will have to make further arrangements at that stage.
The general concept of encouraging and promoting is included in the Bill and it can be done. If anything is missing, the Minister can direct that something is done. There is no way we will leave them out. They were extremely concerned, particularly the fishermen on the Shannon. I met them and told them we would take action on their behalf. That will involve changes with regard to the ESB and we will pursue that.
I support Senator O'Toole's amendment. As the Minister pointed out, there is a difficulty for eel fisheries on the Shannon with regard to the ESB's salmon fisheries. As a result, the eel fishermen consider themselves to be at a disadvantage and they believe the eel fishery in that area is being damaged.
While I appreciate that the Minister will meet them and put in place the necesssary arrangements to satisfy them, it would be a pity if anything in this Bill precluded such arrangements. Other fisheries are recognised in the Bill but the word "eel" does not feature. The fishermen might feel more protected if eel fishing were mentioned in the paragraph, as Senator O'Toole correctly suggested. In paragraph (f) it should be possible to insert the words "eel fisheries" after "trout" or "coarse fish". That might meet the difficulty.
They are commercial fishermen and they are looking to be treated and supported as commercial fishermen. This section is about angling. They are covered in the Bill as commercial fishermen and they are represented on the boards. There is a problem on the Shannon and we discussed it for some time earlier. I have given an undertaking to take action on their behalf.
I suggested inserting the words into paragraph (f) as an easy way to do it. I do not particularly want them in paragraph (f). I prefer to stick with my amendment. It is not enough for these people to have to find their way through the electoral system, if they can do that and earlier I accepted the Minister's point that they can do it. It is a small industry and people are depending on it. They see legislation being introduced which does not include them. The Minister said he wanted to do this in terms of partnership and quality service—
It includes them but it does not specify them.
Why not specify them?
It may include them but it does not specify them. If by saying they are not excluded they are therefore included—
All fisheries are included and they are one of the fisheries. They are definitely included—
The only group—
They are on the boards at present and that will continue. The only problem is in the Shannon area and that is an ESB problem which might require new legislation. I have met the fishermen and I told them we would take action on that early in the new year. There is nothing more I can do. I do not need the powers in this legislation to do anything more. In the new year we can see what legislative changes are needed. The problem relates to the legislation and the current position of the ESB and we will have to discuss that urgently. I said I would do that.
The problem might well be their relationship with the ESB but that is not the problem we are discussing here. The problem here is that the only aspect of fishing that is not mentioned is commercial eel fishing. There is no mention of eel. These people would feel—
This section is about angling, not commercial fishing.
It is not about angling. The only reference to angling is in paragraph (f). The Minister can ignore that paragraph because I only suggested it as a fall back solution. I accept the Minister's argument about that paragraph. I am proposing the insertion of a new paragraph after paragraph (e) which would state "encourage, promote and develop commercial eel fishing". I do not seek to replace the existing paragraph (f) but to insert a new paragraph which focuses on commercial eel fishing. It involves a small group of people in Senator Taylor-Quinn's constituency about whom many of us are concerned. They feel left out and I ask the Minister to accept that.
The Senator knows I cannot accept the amendment. It is not necessary especially when it is separate from a paragraph which is concerned with encouraging, promoting, marketing and developing sea-fish, coarse fish and the angling side generally. Putting it between the two means it is part of general fishing and, as such, it is already covered. If I included that paragraph, it would be necessary to include every other type of fishing and state the same with regard to each, which is unnecessary. Eel fishing is already covered in the legislation so I cannot accept the amendment.
Burke, Paddy.Coghlan, Paul.Coogan, Fintan.Cosgrave, Liam T.Henry, Mary.Jackman, Mary.McDonagh, Jarlath.
Manning, Maurice.O'Dowd, Fergus.O'Meara, Kathleen.O'Toole, Joe.Quinn, Feargal.Ryan, Brendan.Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
Bohan, Eddie.Bonner, Enda.Callanan, Peter.Cassidy, Donie.Chambers, Frank.Cox, Margaret.Cregan, John.Dardis, John.Farrell, Willie.Finneran, Michael.Fitzgerald, Liam.Fitzgerald, Tom.Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Gibbons, Jim.Glynn, Camillus.Keogh, Helen.Kiely, Daniel.Kiely, Rory.Lanigan, Mick.Lydon, Don.Mooney, Paschal.Moylan, Pat.O'Brien, Francis.O'Donovan, Denis.Quill, Máirín.Walsh, Jim.