Members have raised a number of issues. I will read my speaking notes and then address the issues raised.
I thank Senator O'Donovan for tabling the motion and Senator Carroll for seconding it. The cross-party support it has received is very welcome. This was very noticeable when I travelled to the European Union on my first and second visits when I had the opportunity to meet the MEPs of the various parties. It is important that any actions we take or any discussions on the fishing sector receive cross-party support and are in the national interest. I, therefore, welcome the motion and the fact that it has received cross-party support.
I thank Members for giving me the opportunity to address the House at this time. As they are no doubt aware, an agreement on fishing opportunities in 2011 was brokered early this morning, at approximately 3.30 a.m., after two days and one night of intensive discussions at the Council of Fisheries Ministers in Brussels. It is timely, therefore, that I have an opportunity to report back on what was a very difficult set of negotiations carried out with a new Commissioner and Cabinet and with a Commission which was adopting a very conservative and precautionary position on the total allowable catches, TACs, for 2011.
Before I proceed, I thank all of the stakeholders, including industry representatives, who made themselves available to me for advice during the course of the negotiations in Brussels and at other times in the run-up to the Council during which there were a number of consultative meetings. I also had meetings with the environmental NGOs to listen to their concerns about the proposals made. The representatives of the NGOs were present in Brussels for the first time and I was able to meet them during the discussions and believe they appreciated my taking the time to meet them. I value these contributions and firmly believe it is only through dialogue that we can come to a common and pragmatic understanding of the most appropriate course of action to take. This morning, as early as 4.30 a.m., the industry was waiting to be briefed once we had the press releases prepared after the meeting. We spent from 4.30 a.m. until 5.45 a.m. going through the share-out and the overall agreement reached.
There is no doubt that the science on many of the stocks in which we have an interest was a source of concern for Ireland, but I did take issue with the positions adopted by the Commission on a number of stocks where the proposals it was supporting went beyond the scientific advice. The negotiations are always going to be difficult, with member states having different agendas in defending their own interests. Striking a balance always requires compromise and this year reaching a compromise proved difficult and, at times, challenging. That said, I am satisfied that the final set of arrangements agreed for next year represent, on balance, a very good deal for Irish fishermen.
I would like to outline the scenario we were facing before the December Council in order that the result can be taken in its true context. To concentrate on whitefish stocks first, I carefully examined the proposals and, taking account of the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, ICES, and the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, STECF, and the views of the fishing industry, I determined the amendments I was seeking in response to the Commission's proposal published in November. That proposal was the subject of detailed and protracted discussions in the last few weeks with the Commission and other member states and here at home with industry representatives and other stakeholders. It involved reductions in the TACs of many of the whitefish stocks of economic importance to our fleet and also envisaged other measures which would adversely impact on our fishing industry such as the rearrangement of TAC areas for prawn, or nephrops, stocks in the north Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and the Aran grounds and a proposed regime to cap, for the first time, the fishing effort of the whitefish fleet in the Celtic Sea off the south-east coast.
There is justifiable concern about the poor state of certain whitefish stocks targeted by the Irish fishing fleet and this is clearly reflected in the reductions proposed by the Commission for 2011. Sweeping and excessive cuts of up to 50% in cod stocks in the waters west of Scotland and in the Irish Sea — ICES areas VIa and VIIa — were proposed, in addition to cuts of 25% in fishing effort in the whitefish and prawn fisheries in these areas in 2011, on top of similar cuts implemented in the last two years. It should be noted that the cuts in fishing effort would not be applied to vessels using fishing gear that aims to avoid catches of cod.
Whiting stocks in these areas were also targeted, with the area VI stock being reduced by 50% and the Irish Sea stock cut by 25%. In addition, TACs for haddock stocks were to be reduced, with a 25% cut recommended for haddock stocks in area VI and a 15% cut for haddock stocks in the Irish Sea. The Commission also proposed 15% reductions in a number of other stocks, including — in area VI — monkfish, prawns, plaice, pollack and sole. In the Irish Sea sole stocks were to be cut by 20%, while the figure for plaice was to stay the same as in 2010. These were the original proposals. In the Celtic Sea, for the whitefish fleet, 15% cuts in the stocks of cod, megrims, monkfish, plaice, pollack and saithe were on the table.
The Commission also proposed significant changes to the management of prawn stocks in area VII, with the introduction of new management areas or "functional units". The proposal would have had a detrimental impact on current fishing patterns and limited the flexibility available to our vessels which allowed the fleet the flexibility to operate over a wide area with a single TAC. In addition to the new management arrangements, we faced a potential cut of 17% in the TAC which would have added greatly to the negative impacts on the fleet.
Of equal importance was the proposal to introduce an effort management regime in part of the Celtic Sea, in areas VIIf and VIIg. The introduction of this effort regime in an area of mixed fisheries would have had a significant impact on fishing patterns and led to displacement of fishing effort without giving an assurance on the appropriateness of the regime to deliver on the objectives set.
Having outlined the potentially very serious scenario we were facing at the start of this process, I am happy to relate that we were successful in mitigating most of the elements contained in the original proposals which were not necessary or involved excessive cuts. We made some important gains in some key areas where amendments were justified from a scientific perspective.
It should be noted that at the Council I was supported by experts from the Marine Institute and Bord lascaigh Mhara who provided expert advice on many of the scientific and technical issues which arose during the course of the negotiations. I also acknowledge the role played by my officials who worked tirelessly and provided fantastic support, as well as by the DPR and staff in Brussels. They worked around the clock and were important in providing advice for me and stating our position.
Agreement was reached at the Council after two days of talks in Brussels which ended this morning at around 3.30 a.m. The final agreement will deliver whitefish quotas worth some €116 million and provide for the protection of Ireland's €54 million prawn fishery. There will be a 15% increase in haddock and whiting stocks in the Celtic Sea, while the quotas for cod stocks off the north west and the Irish Sea will be reduced by 25% in line with the recovery plan for these stocks. For Celtic Sea cod stocks,the current quota level has been maintained for 2011 on the basis of new survey results from the State's research vesselCeltic Explorer, to which some Senators referred.
There is also good news about haddock stocks, with exceptionally high recruitment in 2009. On this basis I secured an increase of 15% in the TAC. There will also be a 15% increase in the TAC for Celtic Sea whiting. Member states committed to applying improved gear selectivity criteria in conducting fisheries for haddock and whiting in the Celtic Sea. This commitment will seek to reduce catches of juvenile fish and tackle the terrible issue of discards. By introducing new information on Celtic Sea cod stocks I secured agreement that the current TAC level will continue into 2011 and may be increased during the year if the new survey results are confirmed by the scientists. However, given the poor state of cod stocks off the north west and in the Irish Sea, cuts were necessary.
All around our coastline prawns are the most valuable catch for the Irish whitefish fleet with a value of €54 million. The Commission originally proposed a 17% cut, but I secured a 3% decrease on the basis of a strong scientific case.
We succeeded in removing the proposal for functional unit management of nephrops by persuading the Commission that this was not the best way to manage the stocks — this was one of our top priorities. In that regard, I secured the agreement of the Council on restrictions on the outtake from the Porcupine Bank, in addition to a seasonal closure, as proposed by Irish fishermen. The scientific advice was that the Porcupine Bank was in need of recovery and I am satisfied the measures now in place will be effective. We also secured the removal of the proposal in respect of an effort regime in the Celtic Sea which was inappropriate, counter-productive and would have created unnecessary bureaucracy for fishermen and the State.
Turning to the pelagic sector, we have had a mixed bag of results. We secured the majority share in the new fishery for boarfish developed by Irish fishermen in the past ten years. Boarfish is a mid-water pelagic shoaling species; they are small and found in large volumes off the south west coast of Ireland. The fishing fleet developed the fishery in the past ten years and has increased catches in recent years. Denmark has also been a key player in the development of the fishery; therefore, both Irish and Danish fishermen invested in new techniques to successfully catch and land the stock which has unusual characteristics. Irish fishermen invested in scientific research to increase our knowledge of the biology and dynamics of the resource. We pooled our knowledge with Denmark and developed a management plan which we submitted to the Commission. At the Council it was accepted and will involve limiting catches in order to ensure sustainability of the stock. Of critical importance in this case is ensuring Ireland receives a fair share of the stock in 2011 and future years. Despite major efforts by certain other member states for a share based on equal shares between five or more member states, I argued successfully that Ireland should be given the majority share to respect our major input and commitment to the development of the fishery. In the end, after lengthy and difficult negotiations, I secured a share of 67.3% of this stock. This offers excellent fishing opportunities for our pelagic fleet into the future and will secure our majority position in this new fishery for boarfish which will be worth just under €4 million in 2011. I expect this figure to substantially increase in subsequent years as the science begins to confirm the size of the stock. This is an example of a successful investment in scientific research by the State and the industry. We have opened up a new fishery in which we have permanently secured the major stake. This will ensure a new revenue stream for the industry into the future and we believe we can develop a significant and sustainable fishery, in which we will continue to hold the largest share of this stock.
We cannot debate the pelagic sector in an Irish context without mentioning the coastal states process in which the TACs are set for blue whiting, Atlanto-Scandian herring and mackerel. Of equal importance in this is our relationship with Norway and the Faroe Islands through the fishery bilateral meetings with these countries. The collapse of the blue whiting stock has been well documented and resulted in a reduction of 93% in the international blue whiting TAC this year. By stopping transfers from the European Union to Norway the reduction in Ireland's quota was slightly less, at some 80%, giving an Irish quota of 1,187 tonnes in 2011. The Atlanto-Scandian herring also saw a reduction in TAC via the coastal states process of over 30%. These two reductions are, to say the least, not welcome and impact on our vessels and processors. However, they were fully supported by the science and could not be avoided if we were to have any chance of securing these stocks for the future.
There is good news on the TAC for mackerel, with an expected 10% increase in Ireland's quota in 2011 when fully confirmed. We await confirmation of this share. The increase will result in an increase of approximately €6.5 million in the value of landings for this stock. This increase was agreed at a bilateral meeting between the European Union and Norway after the failure of the four-party talks with Iceland and the Faroe Islands which went to four rounds but did not secure agreement. In overall value terms, landings of pelagic stocks will contribute €107 million to the economy and support jobs in processing factories in coastal areas.
Unfortunately, it was impossible to allocate the full amount of the total allowable catch available to member states because of a technical difficulty in regard to the mathematical methodology of integrating the southern component of the mackerel stock, as agreed with Norway last January. In addition, technical difficulties arose with the mechanism to deal with the implications of the European Union-Norway and Norway-European Union transfers as a result of the integration. While a significant amount of work has been done on this issue — the Marine Institute has been heavily involved — the Commission was not in a position to finalise the work in time for the Council. It is, however, convening an expert group in January with a view to finalising the matter as soon as possible and allowing for a full allocation as early as possible in 2011.
On the normal bilateral fisheries agreements, we concluded our annual agreement withNorway, including the transfer of fishing opportunities, in Bergen, Norway, on 4 December. With blue whiting out of the equation as a currency stock, there was pressure to include other pelagic species to swap for Norwegian cod on offer to the European Union from Norway. I am pleased Ireland's opposition to this proposal prevailed and no additional pelagic stocks and no increases in the horse mackerel stock were used in the transfer. There was a small decrease in the horse mackerel swapped.
The European Union-Faroe Islands bilateral efforts ended in failure in Copenhagen on 8 December, predominantly owing to the failure to agree to a mackerel deal between the Faroe Islands, Norway and the European Union. The European Union was not prepared to have it as business as usual with the Faroe Islands in terms of the traditional swapping of fishing opportunities in circumstances in which the Faroe Islands were irresponsibly fishing for mackerel, a stock which was integral to the bilateral deal. The Union has left the door open until the end of March, with the possibility of resuming talks in the new year. Ireland has little interest in this bilateral, except to keep the transfer of pelagic stocks in which we have an interest to a minimum. However, my position has not changed and I will not accept any deal that includes mackerel or any additional pelagic contributions in a scenario in which the Faroe Islands continue to fish for mackerel outside the proper formal international management arrangement. In this regard, I fully support the Commissioner's statement at the Council on Monday outlining the steps she intends to take to prevent the landing of fish or fish products from countries engaged in unsustainable fisheries outside of agreed and recognised international management arrangements.
I hope I have fully set down the main issues at the December Council and in the setting of the 2011 total allowable catches. I now propose to address the crucial issue of the review of the Common Fisheries Policy. I consider the review the most important item on the fisheries agenda and its adoption in 2012 will form the strategic blueprint for European fisheries for the immediate future and the years to come. It is clear the review will be high on the agenda in 2011.
It has been acknowledged across European Union member states that the current Common Fisheries Policy has not worked effectively and its total overhaul is essential for the future of the fishing industry. As Senators are probably aware, there has been a great deal of national consultation on reform of the policy and considerable background work has been carried out to date. In April 2009 the Commission published a Green Paper on the latest reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, with a view to launching a consultation process to initiate a broad public debate on future reform. The aim of the Green Paper was to stimulate a debate on the reform of the policy and provide the Commission with feedback to guide its work. Following publication of the Green Paper, a nationwide public consultation process continued throughout the autumn of 2009, culminating in the submission of Ireland's response to the Green Paper to the Commission in February this year. My strong view from the outset has been that the review must be informed by the views of the stakeholders.
The submission set out a number of informed recommendations to be incorporated in the new Common Fisheries Policy. The changes provide for a new focus on addressing the following matters: the discarding of fish at sea, with a complete ban being introduced for stocks in a depleted state; the retention of a management system based on national quotas supported by increased flexibility and a rejection of the mandatory privatisation of fish quotas or introduction of international trading of fish quotas, known as ITQs; new measures to strengthen the market for European Union producers and increase quayside prices; the reinvigoration of European aquaculture, with continued structural support and a roadmap that establishes a route for growth in harmony with Community environmental law; a new regional structure to decision making at EU level, with increasing industry responsibility; and the development of a culture of compliance.
We are in full agreement with the need to simplify the decision making process as regards fisheries management. While welcoming the earlier provision of scientific data for TACs and quotas, we need to be able to move towards a range of new measures which increase the involvement of fishermen in the Common Fisheries Policy and improve the ability of the policy to sustain and rebuild the fish stocks on which our industry is dependent.
From an Irish perspective, our long-term priority is to have a strong, sustainable and profitable seafood industry that supports fishing activities and related economic activity in coastal communities which need to maintain jobs in the catching, supply and processing sectors. To achieve this objective, coastal communities need to have access to the resources in Ireland's area.
Our coastal communities and family-owned fleet have traditionally been sustained by our available national quotas which were granted under the Common Fisheries Policy as public goods to the member states, based on traditional levels of activity in member states' fleets and for the purpose of protecting fleets and communities. In Ireland quotas have in the past quarter century been distributed as public goods to meet the seasonal, regional and local needs of the fleet. Without access to quotas, the fleet and local fishing ports would wither and die. Hence, we need in the reform process to ensure the future access of the fleet to resources is sustained. This access to resources needs to grow substantially as stocks are rebuilt. It is vital that the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy does not result in the outcome for which some are actively pressing, namely, large European fishing companies being able to concentrate fish quotas and fishing effort to the detriment of family-owned fleets and traditional coastal communities.
Our main purpose must be to create and retain jobs and industrial opportunities in coastal areas. This imperative is doubly important, given the current economic climate. To maintain the social and economic fabric of fishing communities, quotas and fishing effort should be retained at a national level. Suggestions that promote internationalisation, individual transferable quotas and transferable effort, as well as the concentration of activity among large European companies, are counter productive and would ultimately result in the loss of jobs in local coastal economies.
Irish fishing communities are dependent on all of the fleet, both large and small vessels. Hence, we do not accept the view expressed by some that only small inshore fleets are socio-economically important and that the larger fleets and the resources they access can be internationalised into a European fleet. In Ireland a large proportion of onshore employment in the seafood sector is dependent on the largest vessels operating from and landing in Irish ports. This is critical in areas such as County Donegal and the south west. If the vessels and quotas in question were transferred away from the country or into freezer vessels, Ireland would lose a large part of the economic benefit and jobs it derives from the seafood sector. We will endeavour to protect against this in the reform process.
Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is a major issue for all of Europe and we, in Ireland, are committed to working closely with the Federation of Irish Fishermen, other stakeholders, our member state colleagues and the Commission to strengthen the current policy for the betterment of fisheries as a whole and the traditional coastal communities dependent on them. We will work to have a Common Fisheries Policy that takes account of the unique structure of the fishing industry.
Ireland shoulders a large burden in the management and policing of the Common Fisheries Policy in our zone. This was recognised in the founding documents of the policy and set out as a consideration in the unanimous Hague declaration in 1976 which granted Ireland the Hague preferences as part of the integral structure of the Common Fisheries Policy. In return, Ireland gave its support for the extension of the exclusive economic zones, EEZs, of the European states which enabled the birth of the Common Fisheries Policy. In the intervening decades Ireland has done its part in administering the Common Fisheries Policy in its zone. As long as we retain a viable fishing industry, with access to and dependent on the resources in our zone, we will endeavour to the best of our ability to continue to fully protect and sustain the stocks in our area and administer a reformed Common Fisheries Policy that ensures the future prosperity of the seafood sector at sea and on land. As was recognised at the outset in the European Union, there will always have to be a relationship between the amount a member state contributes to the administration of the Common Fisheries Policy and the benefit it derives from it.
I propose to address some of the issues raised by Senators, several of which I have touched on. On Senator Carroll's contribution, considerable work has been done and consultation is taking place on the Common Fisheries Policy and we expect the first Green Paper to be published in April or May 2011. It will feed into the process of developing the Common Fisheries Polichy and a new policy is expected to be in place at the end of 2012. This will require considerable work on reform of the policy to be done in the coming two years.
Tourism and the protection of coastal communities are being addressed in the process for the first time. I am anxious to ensure the issue of inshore fishermen is addressed. Having travelled around the coast, I acknowledge the work being done in fisheries. In Killybegs, for example, investments valued at more than €50 million have been made. I note also the work done in Rossaveal and Casteltownbere. In the case of the latter, a town with which Senators Mooney and O'Donovan have connections, a new harbour is due to open shortly.
From the perspective of the south east, I visited Dunmore East recently. Dredging the harbour will be critical and, provided sufficient funding is available, I hope we will be able to make a contribution towards starting the process. It is vital that the project advances because Dunmore East is the largest fishery harbour in the south east and requires some attention. I hope to be able to address this issue.
I spent a day in Dunmore East and met the fishermen, the local tourism association and residents of the area who raised a number of issues with me. We gave some money to the area in recent times and hope to be in a position to deliver more in the coming year. I would like to think that at some stage in the future my successor will continue to do this. I reiterate we spent a great deal of money and made an investment around the rest of the coast so the south east needs particular attention.
Senator O'Donovan raised a number of issues in regard to harbours and piers concerning which I touched on the larger examples. Some months ago I was in the happy position of being able to hand out more than €1 million for small harbours and piers when we introduced a grant scheme. Cork County Council did exceptionally well and County Wexford did not do so badly — we were ready and prepared but obviously not as much as Cork was. There is merit in our coastal communities, in particular coastal counties, preparing plans for their small harbours and piers. I awarded contributions of between €10,000 and €20,000 but these had a significant impact on harbours and piers which might not have received funding in the past 80 or 90 years. We received very positive feedback for that and depending on the amount of money in this year's Vote I hope we may be in a position to roll out a second round of grants early in the new year.
A number of speakers mentioned aquaculture which is a very important sector and it is important to touch on it briefly. There are 91 bays around the coast which are due to be licensed according to the Natura 2000 scheme of special areas of conservation. The Irish Government has a responsibility via various Departments to ensure we license these bays. An enormous amount of work has gone on in recent years and I acknowledge this. In the first quarter of 2011 we hope to be in a position to license the first of the bays. It will take approximately three weeks to license each bay. Once we have the methodology in place we hope to roll the others out in a process but I am concerned, given there are 91 bays, that it takes three weeks to roll each one out. One can do the mathematics — it might take 270 weeks or almost six years to license all the bays in the country. That is not acceptable in our current economic difficulty. I constantly push for more resources to be given to individual Departments so that we can speed up the process. Right now we are unable to license aquaculture developments in those bays. There are more than 200 projects pending, all offering high employment opportunities and significant export potential in the areas in question. I am giving a great deal of attention to this matter.
Tomorrow there is to be a marine co-ordination meeting. I am the only Minister who attends these meetings, along with the assistant secretaries general of the various Departments involved, which include Transport; Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and my Department. We are working to try to break down barriers and be able to move forward with the aquaculture sector. The co-ordination group is making good strides and meets monthly. Senator Keaveney mentioned that a number of Departments are involved because of the marine and leisure sector elements. It would be helpful in future if this development could be co-ordinated under one senior ministry. That is my personal view.
We could speak for two hours about the mackerel share out. A great deal of work has been carried out in recent years and I acknowledge the considerable effort made by my predecessor, now Minister for Defence, Deputy Tony Killeen, and others before him in office in trying to address this issue. Currently, the mackerel share out is broken down with 87% going to the pelagic fleet and 13% to the polyvalent sector. I will not go further into the matter other than to note that share outs are complex and there is much disagreement between the various sectors. In my dealings this year on the share out issue I introduced a measure whereby we no longer allow people to enter the sector. For a number of years people continued to be allowed do so with the result that the quotas and the share out were diminishing. Senator O'Donovan mentioned that people had a particular share five or seven years ago which has now been reduced. That is because others were allowed to come in but that situation ended this year. I accept there is more work to be done but it is a very complex situation.
Regarding the mackerel situation in Iceland and the Faroes, Iceland has declared its own tax and decided to fish large quantities of mackerel. To put this into perspective, Iceland is fishing approximately 130,000 tonnes this year. The Faroes declared it will fish the same amount next year. The European share out is 560,000 tonnes; therefore, between them Iceland and the Faroes are taking almost 50% of the mackerel share out. We have a problem and need to address it. Otherwise stocks will not be sustainable into the future. We are finding it difficult to bring both countries to the table at present. There have been several efforts at EU level. I welcome the strong statement by the Commissioner last Monday in regard to moves she will take to try to address the issue.
Concerning decommissioning, there is a problem in that a large number of older boats do not have certificates of compliance. That issue is dealt with by the marine surveyor's office in the Department of Transport. It has caused a great deal of difficulty for some people and will put some of them out of business. I cannot commit to a new decommissioning scheme right now. I need to consider what, if anything, can be done in that situation but I am not hopeful about it.
Crayfish were mentioned. I was in Dingle recently, on my lasttour de force. I forgot to mention Dingle in my tour of the fishery harbours and I had better not forget Howth. In Dingle the crayfish issue was mentioned. This country has a minimum size requirement of 110 mm which is a conservation measure. It was said that other European countries were allowing crayfish to a size of 95 mm to be taken. France recently joined Ireland in adopting the 110 mm requirement and I believe we will see a number of other countries doing the same. It is about sustaining the stock. Obviously, crayfish take a certain length of time to grow and by adopting a standard of 110 mm we believe there is potential for smaller fish to arrive at a decent size and for fishermen to get a better price, as one would hope.
Senator Coffey referred to the Hague preferences. I did not mention it but we have retained them again. They are important because they put a floor on the quotas we are awarded in the share out of fish. That was negotiated in the early 1970s. The Hague preferences are very important to Ireland and once again we were able to invoke them on the occasion in question, thereby benefiting. I hope we will continue to be able to do so.
I acknowledge again the work done in the seafood development centre in Clonakilty which was mentioned by a number of Senators. That is run by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, BIM, which does excellent work. Our fish is being promoted throughout Europe by Bord Bia which is also doing excellent work. Earlier this year, shortly after my appointment, I had the opportunity to open the Irish seafood stand in Brussels at the Seafood Expo in that city. As an Irishman, I was very proud to be there and to see the quality of the product we had on show.
I mentioned Dunmore East, quotas and we touched on the Common Fisheries Policy, CFP. Senator Keaveney mentioned Greencastle where certain issues are involved. An amount of work has taken place and millions of euro have been spent on the development of the pier. I am extremely concerned because the pier is exposed. We need to come to an arrangement whereby it will be finished to a level that will ensure it will not be washed away in a storm. I am giving this issue priority but until I have a plan for the year's funding I cannot commit to any step in that regard.
I echo the Senator's sympathies to the families of the late Eddie Doherty and Robert McLaughlin and I pass on my deepest sympathies to them. Senator Keaveney alluded to the accident report. Again, responsibility lies with the marine surveyor's office and is not within my remit.
All speakers mentioned discards of stock. We are doing our best to try to tackle this issue. The only way to do so in future is through selective gearing. There are items such as the Swedish grid which allow smaller fish to escape when fishing is taking place. Of course, such measures impose costs on fishermen and therefore there is some resistance but we must address this matter. The scandalous issue of discards is top of the agenda in the CFP reform. Local boats are used by the Marine Institute and others when the Department is preparing surveys in different areas.
Senator Norris mentioned the Dublin Bay prawn which, of course, is famous throughout the world. There is no better man than the Senator to promote Dublin. We were delighted to get a reduction of 3% in that quota and were particularly happy to be able to stay away from the introduction of functional units which would have had a significant impact on the area. I acknowledge the great work of the Marine Institute and its contribution to informing the Irish position. Last Thursday week, I launchedThe Stock Book, which was presented to me by Dr. Peter Heffernan of the Marine Institute. It provided us with information in regard to stating our case at the meetings. As an Irishman, I was delighted to be present to see others sharing our scientific results. We feed into ISIS, the international body on science. We have a magnificent institute. I regret that Senator Norris, unlike me, has not had an opportunity to visit the institute. Everyone who has not should take the time to do so. The institute has a small facility in Newport in County Mayo. The institute carries out extremely important work, not only scientific work but also work on wind energy and wave technology. The institute is at the cutting edge of all forms of marine developments.
We have two research vessels. Earlier this year, I was a signatory to the contract with Newfoundland which is to lease one of our vessels for specific work off its coast.
Senator Norris asked for the total value of fishing resources. I do not have the figure off the top of my head but will try to obtain it for him.
When the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority first started inspecting, my colleagues from coastal areas and I probably received many complaints. In fairness to the authority, things have settled down. The authority is doing a good job and is protecting the very important fishing resource.
Senator Norris took me back to my youth when he mentioned pinkeens. It is a long time since I heard that word. I remember catching pinkeens in a little net. It was a long time ago.
Senator Twomey and others mentioned rules and regulations. Both Houses have debated administrative sanctions on a number of occasions. The Attorney General's position and the advice we have is that we cannot move from our current position. Alternative sanctions are used in different countries but there are very substantial fines. One could move towards the imposition of fines but the industries in countries that have such a system will tell one they are punitive and could put a person out of business. There are a number of improvements to be introduced in the form of electronic log books and the new penalty points system for fishermen. We hope these will allow for more control, not only over Irish fishermen but also over fishermen from other countries who fish in Irish waters.
Trawlers are obliged to hail a port before landing there. I acknowledge the great array of restaurants, shops, factories and processing facilities in Wexford. Anyone who wants to visit us in Wexford, especially New Ross, will be more than welcome. We will be delighted to seethem.
Senator McCarthy also mentioned administrative sanctions. The number of prosecutions is quite small. I do not have the number for this year but believe the number for last year was approximately nine. I do not have a breakdown but know there were some foreign trawlers involved in those prosecutions.
Senator Mooney mentioned Beara, upon which I touched, and the great work taking place there. We are trying to address the issue of the discards. I am disappointed the Senator did not invite me to the prawn festival at Clogherhead. I am sure he had a wonderful time. He should keep up the good work. I am a big festival fan.
I have addressed the issue of the Faroe Islands and Iceland. Cod is a prime fish and that is why it has been overfished for many years. Everyone likes it. It really is a fantastic fish. There are a number of cod substitutes coming on the market in the form of dab and pangasius. The housewife and others, when buying cod, should make sure what they are buying is cod and ask for it. Dab and pangasius are not cod.
The boar fishery is new and I touched on it. I am very excited about it. Much boar is being used for fish meal but we have, through the Seafood Development Centre, the possibility of taking fillets off the two sides of the fish. It is a very specialist fish. If we are successful in converting the fish into a processed food, it will be a very valuable add-on for us. For every one job created on the sea, we could create four jobs on land were we to have added value.
There is a very bright future for the fishing sector. I am very excited and delighted, as Minister of State, to have had the opportunity during my term of office to engage with a fantastic industry. The fishermen and scientists do a huge amount of work.
A summary of the consultation process with member states was published in April 2010. There have been several meetings at EU level since then to discuss the various topics plus the differing views and proposals put forward by member states on the Common Fisheries Policy, CFP. I have availed of every opportunity to put forward Ireland's priorities in an effort to influence formally the direction and outcome of the reform. On the margins of these meetings, I have met other Ministers of similar views on aspects of the reform to form alliances to strengthen Ireland's case in the upcoming intensive negotiations on the reform of thispolicy.
I will continue to consult the Federation of Irish Fishermen and all the other stakeholders over the course of the reform process. I will continue to put forward Ireland's case and will endeavour to convince our member state colleagues and the Commission to strengthen the current CFP in line with Ireland's submission on the reform of the policy.
I hope I have set down clearly for Senators the important issues arising for the Irish fishing industry. While there are challenges to be met, I believe this industry is well placed to meet these and that it offers excellent opportunities generating additional income and job creation in our coastal communities dependent on fishing. I commend the motion to the House.