Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (136, 151)

Noel Harrington

Question:

136. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his efforts to improve safety at sea; the consultations he has had with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8395/13]

View answer

Joe McHugh

Question:

151. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his efforts to improve safety at sea; the consultations that he has had with the Department of Agriculture and Marine in this area; the consultations he has had with his Ministerial counterparts in Stormont and at Westminster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8382/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 151 together.

I am committed to the ongoing planning and delivery of an integrated package of maritime safety measures that will enhance safety and promote a culture of high safety standards within all sectors of the maritime community. Our Safety at Sea agenda is constantly being developed in line with developments across the maritime sector in terms of internationally recognised safety Conventions, safety standards, Codes of Practice, and the promotion of a culture of safety among those who go to sea for leisure or to earn their living. The importance of ensuring the provision of search and rescue response capability is also vital.

Most recently, I have been working with my colleague Simon Coveney TD Minister for Agriculture and the Marine on the development of measures aimed at improving safety at sea for the fishing industry. Our Departments are working together with the relevant Agencies to bring forward proposals for an Enhanced Safety Equipment and Training Scheme for Fishermen. Options on grant-aid of safety equipment,  such as Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons, Personal Locator Beacons, are being assessed. Stronger enforcement of safety regulations and more comprehensive safety training requirements in this scheme will deliver a significant positive change in relation to  safety in the fishing sector.

However maritime safety concerns are not just confined to the fishing industry. My Department seeks to promote safety on an on-going basis right across the maritime sector. There is a lot of good work going on in this area across Government and also from non-governmental organisations. As part of my consideration on how to enhance Ireland's maritime safety services in general, I am reviewing the need for a Governmental strategy on maritime safety and how such a strategy could be progressed in an integrated way for the  sector.

In such a strategy, consideration has to be given to the crucial role of regulation, particularly in relation to vessel inspection and certification, the certification and training of seafarers and the implications of national and international safety standards as they develop over time. These issues have just as critical a role to play in the prevention of accidents and the saving of lives at sea as do campaigns on lifesaving equipment and training.

On the issue of working with my Ministerial counterparts in Stormont and Westminster, there is of course co-operation on maritime safety matters between Ministers as such matters arise in North /South and Ireland /UK  Ministerial contexts.