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Special Committee Fisheries Bill, 1938 debate -
Tuesday, 13 Jun 1939


(1) The board of conservators for each fishery district shall, as soon as may be after the commencement of this section, by order declare that any rivers or lakes or portions thereof situate in such district, which such board considers should be scheduled as trout waters, shall be scheduled trout waters for the purposes of this section and may from time to time thereafter by further orders declare that any other rivers or lakes or portions thereof situate in such district, which such board considers should also be scheduled as trout waters, shall be scheduled trout waters for the said purposes, and any rivers or lakes or portions thereof in respect of which an order hasbeen made under this sub-section shall so long as such order remains in force be scheduled trout waters for the said purposes.
(2) A board of conservators may, at any time, revoke any order made by it under the immediately preceding sub-section.
(3) Every order made under either of the immediately preceding sub-sections shall be in such form and shall be published in such manner as the Minister may direct.
(4) Trout rod licences shall be of three kinds, namely—
(a) trout rod (general) licences,
(b) trout rod (riparian owner's) licences,
(c) trout rod (juvenile) licences.
(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 21 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1848, there shall be payable on—
(a) a trout rod (general) licence, a licence duty of 5/-,
(b) a trout rod (riparian owner's) licence, a licence duty of 6d,
(c) a trout rod (juvenile) licence, a licence duty of 6d.
(6) Any person may obtain a trout rod (general) licence and such licence shall be valid throughout the State.
(7) Any person who satisfies the board of conservators for a fishery district that he is the occupier of any land contiguous to any portion of scheduled trout waters in such district in which he is entitled to fishing rights may obtain a trout rod (riparian owner's) licence and such licence shall be valid only in the portion of such scheduled trout waters in which such fishing rights exist.
(8) Any person who satisfies the board of conservators of a fishery district that he is for the time being under the age of seventeen years may obtain from such board a trout rod (juvenile) licence, and such licence shall be valid only in such fishery district.
(9) Sections 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1848, and Section 17 of the Fisheries (Ireland) Act, 1869, shall (subject to such modifications therein as are, having regard to the preceding provisions of this section, necessary) apply to trout rod licences.
(10) It shall not be lawful for any person to fish for trout with a single rod and line in any scheduled trout waters situate in a fishery district unless—
(a) such person is the holder of a trout rod (general) licence for the time being in force, or
(b) such person is the occupier of land contiguous to the portion of such scheduled trout waters in which he is found fishing and is entitled to fishing rights in that portion and is the holder of a trout rod (riparian owner's) licence for the time being in force issued by the board of conservators for such fishery district and valid for that portion, or
(c) such person is a member of the family of the occupier of land contiguous to the portion of such scheduled trout waters in which such person is found fishing and such occupier is entitled to fishing rights in that portion and is the holder of a trout rod (riparian owner's) licence for the time being in force issued by the board of conservators for such fishery district and valid for that portion, or
(d) such person is the holder of a trout rod (juvenile) licence for the time being in force issued by such board of conservators.
(11) If any person acts in contravention of sub-section (10) of this section such person shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding one pound.

On this section generally and before moving my amendments, perhaps the Minister would give us some idea of the amount which the proposed 5/- licence duty is going to bring in and also what sort of income he expects to get from the 6d. licences. I raise this pointbecause, until we have some indication of what the licence is going to produce, one really cannot say whether the licence should be 5/- or 3/- or 1/-. If the Minister has any calculation of the number of trout anglers there are in the country perhaps he would tell us.

I think, Senator, it is more usual to take the amendments first and have a general discussion afterwards. Amendment No. 2.

The McGillycuddy

My two amendments, Nos. 2 and 4, should, I think, come together, if the Committee will agree to take them in that way.

I take it that we can discuss Nos. 2 and 4 together.


The McGillycuddy

I move amendments Nos. 2 and 4 :—

2. In sub-section (5), line 29, to delete the words " of five shillings " and substitute the words " in the case of a citizen of Eire, of two shillings and sixpence, and in the case of all other persons of five shillings."

4. In sub-section (5) to delete lines 30, 31 and 32.

There has been a lot of discussion about trout licences, and, personally, I think that if the money is used for the propagation of trout it is an excellent thing ; and I think trout anglers should take their share in the expense. I am very doubtful as to whether it is worth charging money for the juvenile and riparian owners' licences unless it is going to bring in a big income. My proposal to meet the objections against a 5/- licence is to go half-way and charge 2/6 for residents of the country and 5/- for persons who come in. In the latter case, these people only come to this country for their own advantage, and they get fishing here much cheaper than anywhere else—in England at any rate. In England many of the boards charge 10/- for a licence, and trout fishing costs a great deal of money. You will find that in the South of England people pay £70 for a mile of good trout fishing for three days in the week and to be allowed to take out six fish only. I think they would not have the slightest objection to paying 5/- and that they would not consider it as overcharging in any sort of way.

And do you think 2/6 would make very much difference to the individual ?

The McGillycuddy

When Senator Honan raised that point in the Seanad last week he said that lots of people who would pay 2/6 would hesitate about paying 5/-. This would be a compromise.

If they are already paying 5/- and in addition to that they will have to pay the other 5/-, that will be 10/-. In my own case, in my district, men have to take out a 5/- licence on the Devonshire Estate before being allowed to fish in the river, and in addition to that they will have to pay this State levy as well.

Dr. Ryan

I think we should deal with the point raised by Senator Goulding. We should be very clear about two very different points there. One must have a licence from the State to fish for salmon, but that does not at all entitle a person to fish anywhere he likes. He must obtain permission of the fishery owner, unless it is a public fishery. We, of course, have no control over the cost as far as the owner is concerned : it varies very, very much in different parts ; so that the point raised by Deputy Goulding is not, I think, one that we could take into consideration at all as to what the owner of the fishery might charge, or what the board of conservators may charge for a licence. The money would provide some income for the conservators.

Senator The McGillycuddy asked if we could get an estimate, and I must admit that we have failed to get any estimate whatever of the proceeds from these licences. The commission that examined this question and recommended a 5/- licence went into it fairly fully, but in their report they did not make any estimate of what the yield would be. We would have to have the scheme working for a yearor two before we could come to any conclusion at all or be able to form an opinion of what it might bring in eventually. The commission recommended 5/-; I could not recollect their reasons, at this stage, but I suppose that they had some discussion, and it is just as good an amount as any other that might be suggested. As far as I can see, there are no very strong arguments in favour of a change.

We have, as you will see in the Bill, exempted fairly big classes. First of all, as far as we can see under this Bill, the conservators will only schedule the larger rivers and larger lakes. Smaller streams will be left absolutely free for brown trout fishing. Even in the scheduled waters the holders of 6d. licences—and riparian owners, with their families and juveniles—will be entitled to fish, as the Bill stands now. The Bill has been very much amended in the Dáil to benefit those who want to do some brown trout fishing, and I do not think that a case can be made for reducing the licence fee from 5/- to 2/6.

Since I became responsible for fisheries, I may say that I have got more requests from brown trout anglers for grants and so on for the development of brown trout fisheries than from any other body of people ; and it is only just that these people should contribute something themselves in the way of licence fees for the upkeep and protection of these fisheries. If the conservators had some income from the brown trout anglers, I think they might put up a better case to me for a grant for the development and protection of the brown trout fisheries, and I might then be able to make a better case to the Minister for Finance. I am, therefore, very keen that this licence fee be left as it is.

There is nothing in the Bill giving powers to protect brown trout fisheries.

Dr. Ryan

No, that is quite true. However, the conservators, at the beginning of each year, must submit their finance scheme to the Department, and I think we might take it for granted that their scheme of expenditure would not be sanctioned unless they were fair to the brown trout fishers. Of course, a good deal of the protection would be protection common to both brown trout, white trout and salmon : it would apply to all at the same time. Yet if the case arose that there was strong complaint that a particular stream in a district was a good stream for brown trout fishing and was being neglected by the board it might be taken that the Department would not sanction the board's scheme.

I would ask the Senator to withdraw his first amendment, and get the Minister to agree to the second one. I think that it would be hopeless to try to enforce the 6d. licences, and would ask Senator The McGillycuddy to withdraw the amendment proposing the reduction of the 5/- licences to 2/6. I know that in the River Liffey the Trout Anglers' Association go to a lot of trouble to stock that river and members have to pay a subscription to the association, and in that way I think the 5/- licence would make no difference and they would be inclined to pay it. It is a cheap sport, particularly when the money is going to increase the brown trout in the river.

Is that so, that the licence fees will be used for that purpose ?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, it is for the development and protection of the brown trout fisheries.

The word " protection " has been used in reference to brown trout fisheries. What is the protection in that case ? It is not covered by any statute. There is nothing in this to define the protection of brown trout fisheries, except in cases of extreme pollution or poisoning.

Dr. Ryan

The Senator must remember that a great many points not in this Bill are provided for already. The duties of the conservators in regard to protection of rivers and so on are laid down in other Acts.

With regard to sub-section (b), many persons own land on the banks of rivers who have no fishing rights.

Dr. Ryan

That is also a very different point.

Does Senator The McGillycuddy wish to press this amendment.

The McGillycuddy

No. The Minister does not think we have given sufficient reasons. Let him try it and see how he gets on.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Does that apply to amendment No. 4?

I think there is more common sense in amendment No. 4 than in amendment No. 2. The 6d. licence will represent a lot of money, but will it be collected ? Many juveniles will not pay the 6d. and, if you try to enforce it, it will lead to prosecutions. Is it worth going to all that trouble ? I think Senator The McGillycuddy was right in raising objections to it.

The McGillycuddy

I have made my case, and if the Minister thinks it wise, I do not wish to press it. Let us see it work out and see what happens. Personally, I think it most undesirable, but I cannot say any more.

Dr. Ryan

I think it is quite workable. Senator Counihan's idea is that there should be free fishing for juveniles ?

Dr. Ryan

That would make enforcement of the provision very difficult. Take the case of boys between the ages of 16 and 24. Such a boy will say: " I am a juvenile," and the only way in which we think we can enforce it is to make them have some licence.

The McGillycuddy

They have to have a licence, but there is no duty on it.

Dr. Ryan

Sixpence is a very small sum. It is just to cover expenses.

A good many people will not do it, and it is bad policy to have a law which you do not enforce. This, I am afraid, cannot be enforced.

Senator The McGillycuddy's suggestion would not meet Senator Counihan's point. He does not say that they should not have a licence. All he says is that they should not have to pay for it, so that the cure is as bad as the disease.

They should have a licence, but not pay for it ?

The McGillycuddy

If they are under 17.

The position will be that they will fish without a licence, and you cannot enforce this provision.

You might as well say that a grown-up will do the same.

Dr. Ryan

No, you cannot. I think it will work in this way, that the water-keeper will come along and find some boys fishing and say to them: " Do you not know that it is illegal to fish without a licence ?" He will have these licences actually with him and will say: "I am prepared to overlook it, if you take out a licence now." I think it will work out all right.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I formally move amendment No. 3, on behalf of Senator Mac Fhionnlaoich :

In sub-sections (4), (5), (7) and (10), to delete the words "riparian owner's" and substitute therefor in each place the words "person in his native parish."

Dr. Ryan

A somewhat similar suggestion was put up in the Dáil, that there should be a district limit, say, three miles, where a person could fish, but we thought that that would bealmost impossible to administer because you may meet dishonest people, as I said in the Dáil, who would say that they lived within the three mile limit or in the parish. It would be extremely difficult for the water-keeper, or whatever person might be there, to prove otherwise. I think the arrangement in the Bill is as far as we can go.

I am afraid it would not work because the majority of trout anglers now very often cycle to a river ten miles from where they live, on Sundays.

Amendment declared negatived.

I formally move amendment No. 5 :

5. In sub-section (6), page 7, after the word "licence" in line 33, to insert the words "at any post office."

I think that would be a good idea. It would make it easier for a person to obtain a licence and he would not have to go looking for a water-keeper.

The only point is that the Minister says that the water-keeper will have the licences in his possession.

Dr. Ryan

The 6d licences.

In that case, I suppose it would be better if the words were inserted.

I do not think that inserting the words would mean that he would not get them anywhere else. There would have to be a provision that you could get them at the post office.

Would the Minister consider inserting the words " or at any post office "?

Dr. Ryan

So far as I had time to investigate the working of the amendment, I find that the post office would charge for the service and I am afraid we would have very little left out of it. If every post office had to have the forms available, we would have very little out of it. In the bigger districts, there are convenient centres at which licences can be got and I think it is working all right in the case of salmon rod licences. I do not see why the trout rod licence should not work, too. In any case, I should like to have this left as it is until we bring in our consolidation Bill, which we hope to bring in next year or the year after. We will be dealing to a great extent in that Bill with the working of the boards of conservators and so on, and if we find that there has been any inconvenience with regard to the issue of these brown trout licences, we can deal with it then, I urge the Committee to leave this as it is at present.

If the post office would charge for the service, could we not substitute a Guard barracks ? There would be no charge in that case.

I, personally, am not impressed by the statement that the post office would charge because the money goes to State funds anyway.

Dr. Ryan

No, it is applied to the boards of conservators.

They would get that much less?

Dr. Ryan


If we substituted a Guard barracks, would not the position be met?

Dr. Ryan

I prefer to leave it as it is. The 6d. licence will be given out by the keepers on the banks and I think we can leave it as it is. I have never heard any complaints as to inconvenience in getting salmon rod licences.

Salmon licences have been very few, but you will have a multitude of people looking for this.

I should like to point out that an amendment negatived in Special Committee can be moved in the House again on Report. It is not the same as the Committee of a House and Senator Johnston or any other Senator is not prevented from bringing such an amendment forward on Report.

Amendment declared negatived.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In sub-section (8), page 7, line 41, to delete the word " of " where it secondly occurs and substitute the word " for."

Senators will see that this is merely a drafting amendment, to rectify a typographical error.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 7 is in the name of Senator Honan, who is not here. It does not require to be moved, for if you do not pass this section you delete it automatically. The amendment is: "To delete the section." If you pass the section you cannot have it deleted. The general question is: " That Section 9 stand part of the Bill."

Might I mention that there are many people through whose lands rivers are passing, and that these persons have no fishing rights? Are they to be considered at all?

Dr. Ryan

Generally speaking, the earlier Land Acts reserve the fishing and sporting rights to the landlords. When you come to the 1903 Land Act, there is a sort of half-and-half arrangement. In some cases the fishing rights were reserved to the landlords and in some cases they were given to the tenants.

Would not the Minister think that the riparian owners—the people whose lands adjoin the rivers—should be entitled to have votes for the boards of conservators?

The Land Bill is not before us. This is a Fishery Bill.

Dr. Ryan

Where the landlord has reserved the sporting rights, the owner of any land abutting a river should have the right to fish. But I do not think we could put that into this Bill. It is only in the Land Bill that that could be done. There is a distinction between fishing rights and sporting rights. That distinction is made clear in the Land Act of 1933.

Question—" That Section 9 stand part of the Bill "—put and agreed to.
Sections 10 and 11 put and agreed to.
Question proposed : "That Section 12 stand part of the Bill."

The McGillycuddy

There is a lot of sympathy which has arisen from want of knowledge. There is a clear division between net fishermen who are fishing in rated waters and those fishing in the estuaries where no rates are paid. There is a good case for charging the estuaries fishermen more for their licences than for reducing the licences down to £4. The fishermen in the estuaries get the first fish in the season. The people higher up have to pay their rates. There has been a lot of misplaced sympathy over that point. The estuaries fishermen really ought to pay more than the rated persons.

Dr. Ryan

The rated person has still a monopoly.

The McGillycuddy

He will not have a monopoly when the number of fish in the estuaries is limited.

Dr. Ryan

There will be less fish in the estuaries.

The McGillycuddy

There would probably be more because the estuaries men get their hold of them before they go up higher. However, it is only a minor point, and it might be noted by the Minister when we come to the consolidated Bill.

Section 12 put and agreed to.
Section 13 agreed to.