Whale Fisheries Bill, 1936—Final Stages.

I move that the Bill be received for final consideration.

Question agreed to.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I oppose the passing of this measure on three grounds. First, the Bill does not assert the authority of this House to legislate when it purports to legislate extra-territorially. Secondly, the Bill contains a series of contradictions. Thirdly, practically throughout the whole Bill it indicates ignorance on the part of the Department and the Minister of its contents.

I submitted a series of amendments and the Chair gave some of them a sudden death. I was particularly concerned about the definition section which, I think, strikes at the root of the whole Bill. In that section we purport to legislate with regard to the exclusive fisheries of this State and then, under a section to which I will refer later, we purport to legislate extra-territorially. I feel there is a contradiction there. I submit that if we legislate territorially and define what are territorial waters, it is illogical to proceed then to legislate extra-territorially. I submit there is a contradiction there.

Deputy Dillon and myself have endeavoured to get some indication from the Minister of the contents of this Bill, the main contents. On the Second Reading the Minister admitted he did not know what were the objects of the Bill, what they meant. I take it then the officers of the Department do not know and that those who drafted the Bill do not know.

The Deputy must assume that the Minister is responsible.

I am only dealing with his admissions.

But not, I take it, with the officials. The Minister is responsible to this House.

I have looked through the Statutes since this State was created and there is no declaratory statement anywhere as to what are the territorial waters of the State. There is this ambiguous thing:

"The exclusive fisheries limit of Saorstát Eireann means the portion of the seas within which citizens of Saorstát Eireann have, by international law, the exclusive right of fishing and where such portion is defined by the terms of any convention, treaty or arrangement for the time being in force."

You ruled, Sir, that a declaratory amendment of mine was not in order on the ground that this was an international convention and we have either to accept or reject it. Having got that ruling, I was bound by it, but while accepting it, I proceeded to do some research work and I found in the English Statute in which this convention was implemented a declaratory definition something on the lines of what I purported to put into this Bill. Clause 17 of the Whaling Industry (Regulation) Act, 1934, 24 and 25 George V, Chapter 49, states:

"In this Act the following expressions have the meanings hereby respectively assigned to them, that is to say:—

(c) India:

‘coastal waters' means, in relation to any country or territory, waters within a distance of three nautical miles from any point on the coast or any part of that country or territory, as the case may be, measured from low water mark of ordinary spring tides."

I am sorry I was not here when Deputy Dillon, apparently, was ruled out of order on the amendment I put in.

Is the Deputy endeavouring to bring it into order now?

No, Sir. The purpose of the amendment was to raise a particular question. That inference can be drawn from it, but really what I had in mind is what I have discovered in that clause, namely, to get a declaratory statement as to what are the exclusive fisheries of citizens of this State. It is rather contradictory, I think, to refuse to do that and then to impose on our inspectors and citizens the task of discharging duties outside the exclusive fisheries when we do not know, and the fisheries inspectors do not know, and the fishermen do not know, what are the specific exclusive fisheries of this State. We endeavoured to get from the Minister some idea as to what was meant by the contents of Section 4 of this Bill and also the Schedules. Really, I think that it is sheer waste to go to the expense of printing and publishing this Bill and occupying the House with it in the face of its contents, because the House and the Minister do not know what they mean. The Minister told us on the Second Reading that the expressions used were seamen's terms. I submit that they are not seamen's terms. They may be whale-fishermen's terms, but not seamen's terms.

I should like to know how the Minister is going to ask an inspector to prosecute somebody for having killed a whale as defined in Section 4 (3) (c): "A female whale which is accompanied by a calf or suckling whale." The House can imagine an inspector, who has had no experience of the sea beyond that of a trip to the Isle of Man, being asked to prosecute some citizen for having killed "a female whale which is accompanied by a calf or suckling whale." I think there is no citizen who, if he saw a whale of any kind or anything of the proportions of a whale, would not clear away as quickly as he could to the mainland, and who would not look to see whether it was accompanied by a calf or otherwise. And this Bill is going to be very rigidly enforced!

Section 15 is highly amusing. Sub-section (1) states: "There shall be kept at or in every factory licensed under this Act a record, in such form as the Minister may require, of (a) the date and place of capture, the species, sex and length measured in the prescribed manner of each whale treated at such factory..." I wonder what rule of measurement the Minister is going to employ. Is it a yard-stick or a pot-stick or a walking-stick will be used? This is the amusing part: "and such other measurements and information (including information as to the contents of the internal organs) in relation to each such whale as the Minister may require." When I read that my mind went back to Lougn Swilly, where the "Laurentic" is lying, which was supposed to be sunk with an enormous quantity of gold on board. If a whale fisherman captured a whale in the neck of Lough Swilly, and the whale had swallowed half a dozen bars of gold, apparently he will have to record that. Apparently the Minister hopes there will be another miracle and that another Jonah will be found somewhere within the ambit of the inspectorship of this State.

Now we come to the inspectors—God help them. Their job is to prosecute any citizen who catches any whale other than these "Atlantic right whale, Arctic right whale, Biscayan right whale, Bowhead, Greenland right whale, Greenland whale, Nordkaper, North Atlantic right whale, North Cape whale, Pacific right whale, Pigmy right whale, Southern Pigmy right whale, Southern right whale." I was told by you, Sir, that the reason my amendment was ruled out was that this was an international agreement and that we had either to accept or reject it. It is curious that in the English Bill the schedules contain a number of others. I had to accept your ruling, but I felt I was being rather——

There seems to be a qualifying "but" to your acceptance of my ruling.

I feel I have been harshly treated. I looked at the Schedules to see if there had been unanimity in this international agreement and whether it was one I should accept or reject. I discovered that the list of whales in the English Act does not seem to be on a par with ours. Apparently the adopting of a category of whales was left to the respective countries and there was no unanimity in the matter. My fundamental objection to the Bill is this, that I attempted to get this House to declare the territorial boundary of the State. While accepting your ruling, Sir, I felt that it was due to this State to protest against the power exercised by the British Parliament, and I submit here, as I will submit outside this House, that this State is as sovereign as the British Parliament. I shall assert that position both here and outside. I will take every step to assert that right ultimately somehow. In the Acts of George V, 24 and 25, Section 17, Chapter 49, the British Parliament has asserted that right. Here is an opportunity for us and we should take it. I regret that your ruling, Sir, prohibits us from doing so now, but I hope that at some time an opportunity will be granted this House of doing it.

Dr. Ryan

I wish to refer to a few matters that were raised by Deputy McMenamin. The Deputy stated that I admitted on the Second Reading that I did not know anything about the objects of the Bill. I confessed to certain ignorance about whales in general.

I do not blame you.

Dr. Ryan

I do not claim to know as much as Deputy McMenamin about whales.

It would be hard for you.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy has discussed whales at length, biologically and physiologically, and he has gone to the greatest trouble in research of international legislation on whales in general. The discussion would have been, perhaps, somewhat uninteresting but for the Deputy's intervention. I do know what the Bill is for.

Are you going to enforce it?

Dr. Ryan

It was not fair for the Deputy to say that I did not know the objects of the Bill. He evidently does not follow fully what our obligations are under the Bill. Our obligations are to protect the whaling industry inside our exclusive fishery limits.

What are they?

Dr. Ryan

I will come to that. They are to look after any Saorstát ships, and to see that they do not take whales prohibited by the Act. I do not see any objection if an inspector with a little knowledge of whales, or with as much knowledge as Deputy McMenamin, pointed out whether a whale is accompanied by a calf or not.

Is the Minister aware of that?

Dr. Ryan

I am not, but my inspectors will be. The Deputy entirely underestimates the courage and gallantry of my inspectors if he thinks they would be afraid to approach a whale. With regard to the contents of the internal organs of whales, all countries interested in this question have been trying to do a certain amount of study of the life habits of whales, where they get their principal feeding, and generally trying to find out what are the best conditions in regard to preserving whales in future. It is very important from that point of view that we should make returns to these countries studying the question on the contents of some of the internal organs. It is for that purpose science and research have been put into the Bill. As the Deputy has evidently read all the Bills about whales introduced in other countries, he must have seen that that particular clause is in all these Bills.

I would rather if the Minister looked after the intestines of the herring.

Or sharks!

Dr. Ryan

The other question was with regard to the exclusive fishery limits of Saorstát Eireann. If it is true, as the Deputy alleges, that I have not clearly defined what these exclusive fishery limits are——

I said that we had not declared that.

Dr. Ryan

Is it not all to the good that we should regulate both inside and outside these limits?

Inside and outside what?

Dr. Ryan

The exclusive fishery limits.

What are they?

Dr. Ryan

I will tell the Deputy. He has complained that we have not defined them, and, at the same time, he complains that we are trying to regulate whaling inside and outside these limits.

How can you do it?

Dr. Ryan

What is meant is that we are prohibiting whaling anywhere inside dry land.

If you catch a whale calf there you are.

Dr. Ryan

The exclusive fishery limits have been defined in the Bill. I will read the definition again so that the Deputy may realise that it is perfectly plain what the exclusive fishery limits are about which Deputy McMenamin is trying to raise some point that I cannot get at.

Is it what the British Parliament have declared them to be?

Dr. Ryan

This is the definition in the Bill:—

"The exclusive fishery limits of Saorstát Eireann" means that portion of the seas within which citizens of Saorstát Eireann have, by international law, the exclusive right of fishing and where such portion is defined by the terms of any convention, treaty or arrangement for the time being in force made between Saorstát Eireann and any other State includes as regards the ships and subjects of such State the portion so defined;

Where are you now?

Question put and declared carried.