Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 2002: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Government amendment No. 1:
In page 5, lines 26 to 30, to delete subsection (3).

It is proposed to delete section 1(3) in order that the Bill will be automatically operative on its enactment, thereby dispensing with the need for the Minister to make a commencement order. Moreover, this amendment will ensure the momentum of reform, as envisaged in the Bill, will not be lost.

I welcome the amendment for which I thank the Minister of State and compliment him on the thinking behind it. On a number of occasions Senators on this side of the House have complained about similar sections having the effect that a Bill is enacted which then takes several months to come into operation. I look forward to early enactment of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.
Government amendment No. 2:
In page 7, after line 48, to insert the following new subsection:
"(6) The licensing authority shall cause to be published by electronic means capable of being read in legible form–
(a) all applications received for sea-fishing boat licences on or after 1 January 2003, and
(b) all decisions made, on or after 1 January 2003, on any such application or to amend or revoke a sea-fishing boat licence.”.

This amendment is to facilitate in a practical way the appeals arrangements proposed in Part 2 of the Bill as I outlined on Second Stage. The amendment imposes a clear obligation on the licensing authority for sea-fishing boats to publish by electronic means such as the Department's website all applications for sea-fishing boat licences received on or after 1 January 2003. This will enable interested third parties to make submissions on such applications, if they wish, before a decision is made by the licensing authority. Only third parties who duly make a submission in relation to applications before a decision is made by the licensing authority can appeal a decision to the appeals officer as section 4(1)(b) stipulates. As a corollary, the amendment also obliges the licensing authority to publish by electronic means all decisions made on or after 1 January 2003 on sea-fishing boat licence applications and decisions to revoke or amend sea-fishing boat licences.

I support this amendment to facilitate publication by electronic means. The advantages of this form of publication were outlined very fully in the debate yesterday on the Digital Hub Development Agency Bill.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 5 to 26, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedules 1 to 3, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments and received for final consideration.

I do not oppose Report Stage being taken now. On previous occasions my party has not agreed with Committee and Report Stages of a Bill being taken on the same day. However, as we are not contesting this Bill or the amendments to it, I agree to all Stages being taken today. This will facilitate a longer debate on the national spatial strategy later this week.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank Senators for their contributions to the debate on this Bill. On Committee Stage we had a lively and interesting debate on many aspects of the fishing industry. I thank Opposition spokespersons for their support in ensuring the expeditious passage of the Bill through this House. I thank Senator Kenneally, in particular, for his contribution to the debate. It was part of An Agreed Programme for Government that an appeals system would be introduced without delay. We will have it up and running early in the new year.

I thank the Minister of State for his attendance in the House this morning. It is indicative of the merits of the Bill that there were so few amendments to it from either the Government or Opposition side of the House. I doubt if the Minister of State can count on having such an easy passage through the Seanad with any other Bill. I thank all Senators for their contributions to the debate. I am particularly pleased that my suggestion in relation to third party appeals has been taken on board.

The absence of Opposition amendments is indicative of our support for the Bill. From discussions with representative bodies in the fishing sector as to any areas of concern they might have, it emerged clearly that the provisions of the Bill were seen as a welcome response to what they had sought for a long time. The independent appeals system was particularly welcomed. As Opposition spokesperson on the marine and natural resources in the other House some years ago, I sought this provision which was promised by the Government at the time. Accordingly, I was pleased when it became part of the programme for Government and welcome its enactment in the Bill.

I echo the sentiments of my colleague, Senator Finucane. I wish the Minister of State well in taking the Bill to the Dáil and hope Members of that House will also treat it as an agreed, non-contentious Bill in order that its provisions will be up and running as soon as possible.

Question put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 11.20 a.m. and resumed at 6 p.m.