I have no proposals at present to abolish the regional fisheries boards. The Deputy will no doubt be aware, however, that the report of the independent estimates review committee to the Minister for Finance indicated in respect of the fisheries boards that: "there would seem to be scope for rationalising the existing structures of the central and regional fisheries boards" and questioned "whether the existing arrangements represent the most efficient means by which the functions in question can be discharged".
As the Deputy will also be aware, late last year I commissioned a consortium of consultants, led by Farrell Grant Sparks Consulting, who are undertaking a high level review of the inland fisheries sector in Ireland. This review will not, however, just look at the central and regional fisheries boards but will be a root and branch examination of my Department's and the Government's involvement in the governance of the sector as well as the involvement of other State agencies including the Marine Institute, BIM, ESB, Dúchas, EPA and Bord Fáilte.
The consultants will be required to evaluate the adequacy of the current model for the governance of the inlands fisheries sector; to define the current relationship between the Government, the Department(s) and the inland fisheries sector and suggest new, more effective models; and to recommend a structure which will contribute to the optimum development of the inland fisheries resource in Ireland.
This review is to be completed in two stages over six months and I understand that the consultants expect to be in a position to report to me on the first stage by late March.