Fisheries Protection

Questions (191)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

191. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which the conservation of fish stocks is likely to accrue from the agreements he has achieved at EU level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29642/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The reforms agreed under the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), secured after many months of complex negotiations with the European Parliament, represent a significant achievement for the Irish EU Presidency team. These reforms once implemented will support the rebuilding of fish stocks in our waters as Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas are set to deliver maximum sustainable yield by 2015, where possible and by 2020 for all stocks and the wasteful practice of discarding fish is phased out. The reform will also, for the first time, facilitate real and meaningful regional decision making under the CFP and will give stakeholders a greater say in how their fisheries are managed. The changes once implemented will mean, real, meaningful reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and will determine European fisheries policy for the next decade and beyond.

Among the most significant aspects of the reforms for Irish fishermen are:

- A central role for the fishing industry through new more regionalised approaches to decision making. It will empower fishermen by giving them a key role in the decision making for their fisheries.

- This reform places long term sustainability at the core of fisheries policy with annual fishing quotas based, in future, on sound scientific advice. Rebuilding of fish stocks so that fishing levels are based on Maximum Sustainable Yield; leading to potentially higher quotas for fishermen over time.

- Practical and phased discards policy where in early years of implementation, TACs and quotas will be set to take account of current levels of discards - this should see quotas for Irish fishermen increase in the short term.

- Technical measures to avoid and minimise catches of juvenile fish.

- It also involves a strong commitment to protect juvenile fish and spawning grounds and to develop and strengthen biologically sensitive areas; it commits to continue and further strengthen conservation measures in the biologically sensitive area which includes the BSA off the South and West coast of Ireland (new Irish box).

- The Hague Preferences are maintained and given increased reference. These are critically important for Ireland and each December have given us an increased share of traditional whitefish stocks such as cod, haddock and whiting in the waters off our coast when stock levels are decreasing.

I strongly believe that these reforms once implemented and embedded will provide the basis for a significant period of growth in our Irish fishing industry.

Animal Welfare Issues

Questions (192)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

192. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which pig producers have been in a position to meet the requirements of animal welfare legislation within the prescribed time and in accordance with conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29643/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

New EU Animal Welfare rules in relation to the loose housing of sows came into force on 1 January 2013 pursuant to Council Directive 2008/120/EC. The vast majority of pig producers have undertaken the necessary work to comply with the new rules and Department Veterinary Inspectors are following up with the remaining producers in order to ensure full compliance at an early date.

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

Questions (193)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

193. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he proposes to take in conjunction with his EU colleagues to protect the concept of the viability of the family farm enterprise throughout Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29644/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am satisfied that the progress we have made to date on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy will provide the appropriate policy framework to protect the viability of the family farm enterprise throughout Europe. To start with, the European Council agreement on 7/8 February on the next EU multiannual financial framework secures the necessary funding for the continuation of a strong CAP. Moreover, the agreement last March of the 27 Member States in the EU Council of Ministers represents an important stepping stone to securing final agreement on this reform. We are now in the final phase of negotiations with the aim of full political agreement between the three institutions of the EU on the reform of the CAP.

Fish Quotas

Questions (194)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

194. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent, if known, to which all EU countries including Ireland continue to enforce fishing quotas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29645/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Ireland manages and enforces its Fishing quotas in accordance with the specifications of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This involves regular consultation with fishing industry interests. Our existing quota management system is designed to ensure the rational management of the available quotas, having regard to fishing patterns and market conditions, the best possible spread both between fishermen and also in terms of take up of quota during the year. A key objective is the avoidance of very early closure of fisheries through rapid exhaustion of quota. Under the current arrangements, fishing industry representatives are consulted formally through the Whitefish Quota Management Advisory Committee on a monthly basis and their views are taken into account as far as possible in the determination of monthly regimes for particular stocks. The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority is the national body for the control and enforcement of sea fisheries law and work with the Naval Service to control and enforce compliance with quota management arrangements and accurate reporting of landings.

The CFP reform has been completed over recent weeks under the Irish EU Presidency. The Reform agreed does not impose a requirement to privatise quotas as had been proposed by the EU Commission and vigorously opposed by Ireland. Under the new CFP, Member States retain full responsibility for implementing systems that are appropriate for their industry and I have consistently argued that in Ireland, quotas must remain a public resource. On a similar basis, individual EU Member States have responsibilities for the management of their own fisheries quotas and each Member State has primary responsibility for the control and enforcement of these arrangements. However, catch reporting and other restrictions within the 200 mile Exclusive Fisheries zone are a matter for the control authorities of the Coastal Member State.

Forestry Premium Payments

Questions (195)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

195. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a forestry premium payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29699/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A remedial works letter issued to the applicant in March 2013 because his plantation was not up to the required standard. A report confirming that works have been completed has been received from the applicant’s forester and the Forest Service District Inspector has been notified. A site inspection by the Forest Service Inspector is scheduled to take place in the week ending 28 June 2013. The subsequent premium for 2013 cannot be paid until the plantation is deemed by the Forest Service to be up to the required standard.

After-School Support Services

Questions (196)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

196. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in respect of the new after school child care scheme, if she will provide details of the selection process of participants; the manner in which child care places will be contracted; the way quality can be assured in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29568/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

As part of Budget 2013 I, together with my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, was pleased to announce a new After-school Childcare initiative which will be targeted at low-income parents availing of employment opportunities. Lack of access to affordable, quality childcare is a significant barrier to many low income and disadvantaged families seeking to avail of work opportunities. This initiative will provide an important support measure to enable parents to avail of job opportunities. This is in line with the Government's overall strategy to support parents of low income families to take up employment and demonstrates how Departments are working together to deliver the Government's agenda on promoting employment and supporting children's development.

The initiative is expected to receive full year funding of €14 million to provide over 6,000 after-school places for children attending primary school in order to support parents to take up employment. This funding has been made possible through savings from the Vote of the Department of Social Protection.

Eligibility for the new After-school Childcare programme is determined by the Department of Social Protection. Officials from the Department of Social Protection and my Department are continuing in close collaboration on the operation of the programme. The first pilot phase has commenced. Up to 500 childcare places are available with Department of Social Protection local offices in Tralee, Mullingar, Dundalk, Cork City, Finglas, Kings Inn and Limerick City participating. The second phase of the pilot will be rolled out in July, with the full roll-out of the programme in September 2013, to coincide with the new school year.

For the pilot phase of the programme, those service providers currently in contract with the DCYA in respect of Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) were offered the opportunity to provide for the new School Age Childcare service, by way of amendment to their existing contractual arrangements. Service providers not currently in contract with the DCYA and seeking to join the programme can apply to participate, with effect from September 2013, in the normal manner.

As you know the emphasis now in relation to all childcare support programmes is the delivery of easily accessible, affordable and quality childcare provision. The pilot programmes will assist both Departments in determining the procedural, quality and practical issues that require attention prior to the finalisation of the programme.

Missing Children

Questions (197)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

197. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding that will be made available to advertise and promote awareness of the 116000 number now in operation; if this will include promoting the 116000 number in schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29452/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The 116000 Missing Children Hotline is operated by the ISPCC in liaison with a cross-sectoral Project Team, chaired by the DCYA. The ISPCC has been successful in securing EU Daphne funding to support the establishment of the line. The ISPCC also submitted an application for funding to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to cover the establishment and running of the Hotline. This application has been approved for 2012 and 2013. Future applications for running costs will be considered in the context of the annual budget estimates process. The funding received from both the EU Daphne fund and from DCYA includes the establishment costs, the national promotion and advertisement of this Hotline service.

The promotion of the Hotline has been ongoing since the service opened in 2012. There have been numerous press releases issued by the DCYA and the ISPCC, the 116 000 Missing Children Hotline has been covered in the print (9 articles) and broadcast (6 radio stations) media since opening in May 2012. There has also been an on-going website and social media presence utilising ISPCC, Facebook and Twitter to highlight the service as well as information on missing children. ISPCC staff and volunteers have worked to disseminate posters in local areas and posters have been distributed nationally by the Gardaí.

Memoranda of understanding between the ISPCC and the HSE, my Department and the Gardaí, respectively were finalised in advance of the commencement of the pilot in December 2012. Following a phased implementation of the service, which commenced in December 2012, operating on a reduced hours pilot basis, the 116000 Hotline became a full-time 24/7 service since Monday the 22nd of April 2013. It was officially launched on 5 June 2013. The 116000 missing children website (www.missingchildrenshotline.ie) was also launched on 5 June. The ISPCC will now escalate the promotion of this service, which will include promotion in schools. The Project Team will be kept informed on an on-going basis of the ISPCC's plans and activities related to awareness raising.

It is important to note that the 116000 number is not an emergency number. Emergency calls should always be directed to the 999/112 number in the first instance, where the relevant emergency responses, including the recently launched Garda Missing Children Amber Alert mechanism, may be activated. The establishment of the 116000 line will, however, be of valuable support and assistance to families of missing children and to missing children themselves.