Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 5 Jul 1962

Vol. 196 No. 10

Committee on Finance. - Vote 41—Fisheries (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following motion:
"That the Estimate be referred back for reconsideration."—(Deputy O.J. Flanagan.)

The first thing that strikes me about this Estimate is that in an overall Budget of £163,000,000 we can apparently only afford £380,000 for the development of fisheries. Any Deputy associated with a maritime county will appreciate the fact that fisheries form one of the facets of our economy that can be considerably advanced. While the Parliamentary Secretary may have done his best to get the money out of the Government it seems to me that expansion within the confines of that amount must be considerably limited.

In his opening statement in the House made some weeks ago it seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary indicated that a certain amount of progress had been made with the inland fisheries which, incidentally, were started by Deputy Dillon when he was Minister for Agriculture, but I cannot see that any advance has been made with sea fisheries. That is due to the fact that they are undercapitalised. It is also a known fact that when we have heavy fishing here, a heavy flow of herring off the coast, we have all the fishing vessels of the world competing for that harvest. One of the reasons why we are not able to compete with these other countries is that we are undercapitalised.

To capitalise our fisheries properly we have to start at the other end of the story. Fishermen cannot increase the size of their boats unless they have safe anchorage. So that the first thing necessary is to have extensions of safe anchorage for the fishermen not only on the coast but in the places where the fish are. In recent years there has been a very rich harvest of fish particularly around the coast of Wexford and Waterford and along the south-east coast generally. Successive Parliamentary Secretaries have come to Wexford and interviewed fishermen and local representatives and expressed sympathy but nothing has been done.

I questioned the Parliamentary Secretary last week with regard to the provision of safe anchorages in Wexford, where there is no safe anchorage at all, and I am glad to know that Kilmore Quay is at last being considered. It is five or six years now since the Kilmore fishermen took the initiative and formed a co-operative; they catch their own fish, transport it and sell it themselves. The people of Kilmore are very up-to-date and go-ahead. There are a good many fishing boats in and around Kilmore but, again, they are limited as to size because there is no safe anchorage. Indeed, there is no safe anchorage anywhere between Dublin and Waterford. It is an appalling state of affairs that no one has given active consideration to that aspect of the situation. The Kilmore fishermen, and others who fish in that area, have been complaining and making representations to their local representatives and to succeeding Parliamentary Secretaries and Ministers in charge of fisheries in reference to the lack of safe anchorage. Nothing has been done. I am glad the Parliamentary Secretary is now giving sympathetic consideration to that, but, if he wants to increase the production of fish, and it should be very easy to increase it here, and prevent foreign trawlers taking so much away from us, then several essentials are called for.

As I have said, first of all, there will have to be better harbour accommodation. If better harbour accommodation is provided, it will be possible to operate bigger and better boats. A few years ago, I spent a holiday in Ballycotton. While I was there, a big foreign trawler came in with all the latest equipment. I think it was a French boat. That boat was able to anchor in the harbour. We have no harbour in which any trawler of any size could anchor, no harbour into which a trawler could come for the night. I do not mean to say we should encourage foreign trawlers to come in; I am merely making the case that we have no proper anchorage for any decentsized ship at all. That is the first essential.

The second essential is a matter that has been referred to extensively on this Estimate, although it is really a matter for negotiation and germane to the Department of External Affairs rather than the Department of Lands. I refer to the three mile limit. If we continue with the present three mile limit, the fish breeding grounds will inevitably be destroyed. The big foreign trawlers coming in are destroying the breeding grounds with their powerful nets and the time will come, if some steps are not taken now to remedy the situation, when there will be no fish at all off the south-east coast. Everybody will then be wondering why that should have happened.

I understand that the negotiations in this matter have broken down because of objecions raised on the other side of the Atlantic. I believe the Parliamentary Secretary should, through his Minister, make representations to the Minister for External Affairs to have this matter raised again in order that some bilateral or multilateral agreement may be reached among the European nations for an extension of our fishery limits in order to save our breeding grounds. It is agreed that we have one of the richest fish harvests in Europe. That is true not alone of my part of the country but also of Donegal. There the same situation obtains. Representations should be made immediately and some agreement reached at an early date. If that is not done, in another few years, that rich harvest will have disappeared. These are matters worthy of consideration by the Parliamentary Secretary and I ask him to give his attention to them.

With regard to the allocation of boats, whenever questions are asked here—Deputy Lynch is very active in asking questions in relation to the protection and furtherance of the fishing industry in his area—the experience is that we get, at most, one boat. It does not make sense to me. It goes back to the argument again as to why, when we have the fish, we should not also have the boats. We have, as I said, an active co-operative society very interested in the development of the fishing industry. These are worthy of consideration. I often have representations made to me on behalf of people looking for a boat. I pass those on, but there always seems to be some snag or other to prevent them getting a boat.

It is very important for us to develop our potential. In this particular facet of our economy, we have the raw material. In order to develop the industry, vast sums will have to be invested in it. It is just as important to invest money in the fishing industry as it is to invest money in heavy industry. Development of our fishing industry would be a natural development. Less than .5 per cent. of the overall income of the country is invested in fisheries. If any other country in Europe had the potential we have, they would invest vast sums in its development. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to assert all the authority he has with his Minister and the Government to see that there is a substantially increased investment in our fishing industry.

Many Deputies have referred to the question of the distribution of fish throughout the country. I understand Bord Iascaigh Mhara are, in the main, responsible for the buying and, to a large extent, for the commercialisation of fish here. It is a well-known fact that it is practically impossible to obtain fresh fish anywhere in rural Ireland. Two things strike me with regard to the distribution of fish. First of all, we must be able to get the fish and, secondly, the fish must be properly cooked. Of all the things man eats, fish is the one thing in regard to which it is absolutely necessary to have really first-class cooking in order to make it palatable. As I have said before on so many occasions, apart from the fact that it is necessary to have ice plants and refrigerators in order to preserve the fish, it should be possible to distribute fish throughout rural areas in co-operation with the Irish creameries. The Irish creameries have ice and storage facilities available. If that suggestion were adopted, I believe fish could be made readily available all over the country.

As far as I understand the situation obtaining at the moment, the bulk of the fish comes to Dublin. It is bought in Dublin by those who want it and sent back again down the country to the particular areas interested in having fish. It may be a matter of 24 hours, sometimes 48 hours, before the fish is available. To me, that is a quite unnecessary time-lag. Any fish that does not come to Dublin is the spent fish or the poor quality fish. That is the only fish immediately available in some rural towns. If we intend to develop our fishing industry, we will have to have a proper domestic market—a market is the first essential for the development of any industry—and the fish will have to be properly distributed.

Deputy P. O'Donnell, speaking here a fortnight ago, made a scathing indictment of the whole system of fish distribution here. The Minister would do well to consider the facts Deputy O'Donnell put before the House because he displayed a first-class knowledge of the subject. It is an education to read the speech he made. With regard to the cooking of fish—I mentioned this before—there should be some liaison between the Minister's Department and the Department of Education to ensure that some instruction is given in the vocational schools on the preparation and cooking of fish. In other countries, one can get all types of fish, really palatable and well cooked. Here, that is virtually impossible except in certain first-class establishments. In the countries I refer to the fish has often to travel a long way before it reaches the table. I do not see why, island nation as we are, we could not do something about serving fish here, varied and well cooked, to encourage people to eat it. Only when it is really palatable will people be encouraged to eat it. If steps are taken to remedy the present situation, I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will find that he will have a much bigger domestic market, a market hungry for fish. Such a market would be a tremendous fillip to the fishing industry as a whole.

With regard to inland fisheries, we have shown considerable progress. Inland fisheries are extremely helpful from two angles. There is the coarse fishing that has been developed as a very useful off-season tourist potential. Apart from that, one of the greatest dangers to our freshwater lake and river fish has been the marauding of the trout and salmon by pike. Coarse fishing is useful in cleaning up these rivers and lakes and allowing small trout to breed and multiply.

That in itself is very desirable but I wonder, in regard to the co-operation between Bord Fáilte and the Fisheries Division, whether there is sufficient advertisement of the fact that these coarse fisheries are available here. Admittedly, quite a few Continental people and British people have been coming here for this purpose. There is a tremendous shortage of fishing grounds of any sort in practically every country in Europe. We seem to be able to offer these fishing facilities. I do not think the advertising of these facilities is a matter for the Parliamentary Secretary himself but I understand from his opening statement that he has a relationship with Bord Fáilte in trying to promulgate the existence of this amenity. Larger sums of money should be spent for this purpose, to the advantage of many sections of the community.

In my opening remarks, I referred to the harbours in my part of the country. I do not know what the outcome of the examination of Kilmore Quay will be. If it is anything like the outcome of the previous examination there, there will be a negative result. However, we hope for better things from the encouraging reply the Parliamentary Secretary gave the other day to a Parliamentary Question. In the event of the experts deciding that it is not possible to make an all-weather harbour out of Kilmore Quay I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to consider a place called Beg and Bun which, according to my information, has all-weather, deep anchorage. I believe that in the First World War fighting ships went in there where they had a safe anchorage and were protected from all weathers. It is a famous place. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give that suggestion due consideration.

I should like to compare the development which is taking place in agriculture and manufacturing industry with that in fishing. I am afraid the fishing industry is lagging very much behind the progress that has been made in both agriculture and industry, with the result that we shall have to have some new thinking and copy the modern methods which have been employed to advance both agriculture and manufacturing industry.

Up to now we have been slow to adopt modern methods in the fishing industry. That is a pity because the raw material is there and a market can be developed. There is a very wide opening for the development of a market within the country for fish both for human consumption and the manufacture of fishmeal and so on. There is also the possibility of developing an export market. What is lacking is the application of modern methods. Fishermen themselves should be better trained in the art of fishing. From past experience we know they are capable of hard work. They are used to a hard life but hard work is not enough in the modern world. They need knowledge of new techniques and they need better boats, equipped with modern devices for locating fishing shoals, radar and all the other appliances which go to make fishing easier. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary is thinking along those lines and that he is capable of applying modern methods and standards to the fishing industry.

I thought all the new boats had radar fish-finding apparatus. I was putting it in seven years ago.

Having taken this step in regard to the catching of fish, we should see to it that the home market is fully covered. The consumption of fish has increased in this country but there are many towns and villages where, due to the intermittent supplies available, people have not developed the habit of using fish even on a Friday. They have to turn to eggs or some other non-meat dish.

There is plenty of deep-frozen fish in every country town in Ireland.

The difficulty of distribution is not so great. Many firms send frozen vegetables and ice cream to the remotest parts of the country. Every town and village has its regular caller by van for the sale of ice-cream, frozen vegetables, etc.

And fish.

There is no reason why the sale of fish should not be pushed in a similar manner.

There is an unlimited supply of deep-frozen fish in every country town in Ireland.

Development of some of our major harbours has been planned and I understand that work is about to commence in some cases.

I understand, also, that it is proposed to make improvements in some of the secondary or minor harbours. In that respect, I would appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to consider the proposals put forward by the latest deputation received in respect of the harbour at Glengad. This harbour was surveyed. A cost of something over £250,000 was estimated in respect of major repairs or a major scheme there. Even the fishermen understood that such a sum could not be expended in a place like Glengad. They are prepared to reduce their demands and have put up proposals for an improvement of the pier and an improvement of the basin beside the pier. I am hopeful that a grant will be given towards carrying out those proposals.

If those proposals were carried out, it would make fishing in that place much easier. It would make it much easier for the fishermen to go out and to land their catches. If such an improvement took place, we could and would have an extension of the fishing industry there and a higher landing of what is regarded as the best class of fish in Ireland. It is well known that the major part of the fish landed there is white fish of a very high quality. Therefore I would guarantee that increased landings would take place if the proposals put forward were carried out.

Over the past few years, a great development has taken place in regard to sea angling festivals. Those festivals up and down the country have attracted very many tourists outside the ordinary tourist season. They have attracted especially British and Scotch tourists. But, like everything else, after the first flush of newness has worn off, it is not easy to keep these going. I fear there may be a slackening-off. The Parliamentary Secretary and his Department would be very wise to give some further encouragement to the organisers of these festivals to keep them going and to get other festivals organised where they do not now take place.

Over the past six months or so, both in this House and at meetings with the Foyle Fishery Commission, we had many discussions and debates and proposals put forward. We met representatives of the fishermen and some public representatives locally met all the members of the Foyle Commission and put certain proposals forward. The proposals were very reasonable and I will say that the attitude of the Foyle net fishermen, down the years, has been reasonable.

This year, a regulation which has affected them in a major way has been brought into operation. I refer to the cutting down of the fishing from five to four days. The draft net men on the Derry stretch of the Foyle are operating on Monday whereas, up the river at Carrigans, St. Johnston, Port Hall, the draft net men are not allowed to commence the fishing week until Tuesday. I do not think it is of any benefit to the commission themselves that that should be the position. In the interests of harmony, goodwill and co-operation from the fishermen, I suggest that the times should be synchronised.

I would suggest that, whatever day the week opens for draft net fishermen, all draft net men should commence on the same day, be it on a Monday or on a Tuesday. It is unfair of the Commission themselves to fish their draft nets on Monday, before the other draft net men who are not permitted to start until Tuesday. Furthermore, commencing a four-day week on Tuesday means that Friday is one of the fishing days. Salmon caught on Friday do not realise the same prices over the week-end as they would if the fishermen were allowed to start the week on Monday and to finish on Thursday, which facility the commission have reserved for their own draft net fishermen.

Such anomalies cause discontent amongst fishermen. I would say it is necessary and important for the commission to meet the net fishermen in a fair way and to remove any cause of grievance which they may have, provided it is in keeping with the major policy of the commission. I am quite sure that my suggestion that the times for draft net fishing should be synchronised would not have any major effect on the overall policy of the Foyle Fishery Commission.

I noticed during the week that estuary fishing is permitted on the River Erne due to the fact that the number of salmon going up the Erne this year has reached a certain figure. That figure, which was a target in the minds of the people there, has been reached and they are satisfied that sufficient fish have gone up for spawning and that any fishing now taking place will not do any damage. The same applies on the River Foyle. We have been assured that if sufficient fish pass up to the three rivers concerned, the tributaries of the Foyle, the commission can and will revert to the five-day week.

Unfortunately there is no method of counting the run of fish. Mechanical counters have been adopted in other places and why not here? As far as the Commissioners are concerned counting the number of fish which have gone up is purely guess work. There is no accurate method of determining the number. I would say it is a matter of opinion. We have a very accurate regulation based on an inaccurate method of determining the number of fish. If we are to have such a regulation and if the fishermen can expect to go back to a five-day week, the Foyle Commission should at least have a mechanical fish counter on the river and arrange in advance that after a certain number of fish have gone up, the reversion to the five-day week will take place so that the fishermen will be happy that the target has been reached and the Commission will be in the same position. Recently I made representations regarding synchronising the opening season and I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to use his influence with the Commission to see that that minor point which is annoying to the fishermen will be straightened out.

I am mainly concerned with sea fisheries and therefore I propose to confine my remarks to sea fishing. In any case, it seems to me that the inland fisheries are being improved from year to year. I suppose one can tie that up with the fact that we place so much importance on the tourist and the tourist industry generally. As I say, there seems to be an improvement year after year.

Initiated by our Government.

Take a bow. It may be unfair to say this to the Parliamentary Secretary as this is his first Estimate, but we have read his introductory speech before and it does not seem to me, if we are to continue the same practice as in former years, we will have any real improvement in the fishing industry around our coast. The Parliamentary Secretary is as full of optimism for the fishing industry as his predecessor, the Minister for Lands, was last year. He forecast a vast improvement in the sea fishing industry but I am afraid it has not taken place. It is not just that I say it has not taken place but the figures are there to show that it has not.

There has been no improvement in the landings of fish and there has been no improvement in the number employed in the sea fishing industry. From the Parliamentary Secretary's figures we see that in 1960 landings amounted to £1,612,000. In 1961 they fell to £1,357,000. Year after year we talk about the potential that exists in sea fishing around the coast but we do not seem to get any distance at all. Deputy Esmonde referred to the small sum of money we are prepared to invest year after year in the sea fishing industry. It seems to me that despite the grandiose plans we announce we are not in earnest in our efforts to develop the sea fishing industry. The primary objective of course is to provide employment and our record in that regard is pretty dismal. I would hazard a guess that there are up to 3,000 miles of coast around the whole of Ireland, including the Six Counties. With that coastline, we could provide in 1961 employment for a miserable 1,631 people. The position was better in 1960 when we provided employment for 1,764. Therefore, despite what was said last year, despite the plans announced by the Minister for Lands who was then in charge of Fisheries, there was a drop in employment in 1961 compared with 1960.

It is safe to say there were more people employed in the fishing industry in 1959. Despite our White Papers, despite new plans for the purchase of boats, despite the plans announced for the development of harbours etc., we find that over the last three years there were fewer men employed in the sea fishing industry in each year. The Parliamentary Secretary should remember that it is not sufficient to be optimistic; it is not sufficient to announce plans; it is not sufficient for the Government to produce White Papers on the sea fishing industry. Results are more important. It seems to me that the White Papers and the grandiose plans have had no effect whatsoever. I am prepared to give the Parliamentary Secretary a chance as he has only been in the job a short six months. He has been going around the country interviewing fishermen and various people, seeing harbours and so on and I hope there will be some results in a reasonable time because his immediate predecessor, the Minister for Lands, Deputy Moran, did the same thing and I suppose all he did was to incur travelling expenses. His predecessor, Deputy Childers, now Minister for Transport and Power, did the thing in excelsis and he even went to various other countries in Europe but the result, as I have shown, is that there are fewer people employed in the industry. Deputy Esmonde is correct when he says that we do not put enough money into the sea fishing industry.

That is the point.

A miserable few hundred pounds are put into the industry which we say should be second to the agricultural industry. The reason there are not sufficient men employed in it and why we do not land sufficient fish is because the men have not got the facilities, the gear or the boats. Unless we are prepared to put much more capital into our sea fishing industry we will not get a return from it. The Parliamentary Secretary in his opening speech said at column 178 of the Official Report of 13th June last:

Perhaps it would be convenient for Deputies if I recall briefly the revised conditions applying to the purchase of fishing boats from the beginning of April last.

These were found very attractive. They might be attractive to people who had the initial capital to avail of the facilities the Parliamentary Secretary speaks of. Let me quote the Parliamentary Secretary again on the revised conditions for the purchase of boats:

(1) All accounts for boats then on hire purchase have been recast; the repayment period has been extended by up to five years and the rate of interest has been reduced to 4 per cent.

(2) An additional financial incentive is available for those who complete their repayments in less than the extended period now allowed; up to 10 per cent. of the initial cost of a boat may be refunded to a purchaser, depending on how fast he clears his debt.

(3) Capital grants for new boats are now at the rate of 25 per cent. of the cost; the repayment period is 15 years, the interest rate is 4 per cent. and the incentive refund up to 10 per cent. of the cost applies on early completion of repayment.

(4) Grants of 25 per cent. of the approved cost of installing new engines are being awarded.

(5) Hire purchase facilities, including interest at 4 per cent., are available for suitable second-hand boats.

I admit that they are attractive terms. They are attractive terms for people who have a certain amount of money. As the Parliamentary Secretary can understand they have not the initial capital to avail of what might otherwise be regarded as generous facilities. Whilst those who have money are not prepared to invest in the fishing industry, it is the responsibility of the Government to provide the capital for people who have only a small amount of money and who are prepared to engage in the sea fishing industry. Otherwise it seems to me that we can never develop this potentially very good industry.

I suppose many millions of money can be derived from the sea but, as I pointed out last year, the landings in this country amount to something like £1½ million. The agricultural industry, as far as I know, employs something like half a million people. In the sea fishing industry something like 1,700 are employed. Therefore, it might well be described as the Cinderella industry of the country.

Whole time.

Whole time. I think we could employ many more people whole time in the fishing industry. Deputy Cunningham and other people say that the fishermen work hard. That can be said again. Any person who lives at a sea-side town can testify to the hard work they have to endure. They never stop doing some kind of work, whether it is mending or painting their boats or repairing their nets. They always seem to be working. They are a hardworking set of men who do not seem to get an adequate return for the work they put into their business. For that reason it must be made much more attractive for them in the return they get for their fishing. It must be heartbreaking for them sometimes to come in quite happy to harbour with a boat load of fish to discover there is a glut of fish and they have to sell their catch at throwaway prices or dump it back in the sea again. For that reason also the Minister must concentrate upon the distribution and marketing of fish. Perhaps, I will say more about that later.

Other Deputies referred to the question of the territorial limit of waters. It seems to me that the Minister for External Affairs is not showing a great deal of initiative or enthusiasm in this matter. The livelihood and the interests of the fishermen are very much bound up in it. I asked the Minister for External Affairs on a few occasions about the extension of the limit of our territorial waters. He talked vaguely about some committee that was meeting on this matter and he said it would not meet for a long time. He did confess recently that this country could take the initiative in convening such a meeting but he said the time was not opportune for Ireland to take the first step in that respect. I think the time is opportune because this matter has been a very sore point with the fishermen round the coast of this country for very many years. Other countries have solved their problem in regard to the limit of territorial waters in various ways but I do not suggest that we should do likewise. We should press for a solution of the problem as quickly as possible. I would, therefore, suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Lands that he should try to use his influence with the Government to stir the Minister for External Affairs to take the initiative in convening a conference that will at least discuss the possibility of the extension of the limit of our territorial waters in a very short time.

I suppose it could be said that foreign trawlers have done very grave damage at least in my part of the country. I can only speak in respect of the south-east coast. There has been grave trouble amongst the fishermen down there who have been annoyed with the meagre protection they get from the Department of Defence. At times they have been tempted to take the law into their own hands.

I do not think I should dwell for any length of time on the allegation that was made by the namesake of the Parliamentary Secretary in the accusation he made against the light-house keepers of this country. He alleged they were giving signals to some of the foreign trawlers as to when the corvettes would be around. He has not got any support in that. He has not substantiated any of the allegations he made. I do not think there is any member of this House who would support him in the blackguardly allegation he made against a very fine body of men. That is as much as I want to say about that.

Again, the Parliamentary Secretary talks about improving home marketing and encouraging increased consumption of fish. I think it is true to say that, as compared with Great Britain, we do not eat any fish. Why they are such a fish eating country, I do not know.

Fish and chips.

They eat fish and chips in this country as well.

But not on the same scale.

These are the sort of phrases we have heard—at least I have heard—for the past 16 years. Deputy MacCarthy has heard them for as long as he has been here and Deputy Dillon has heard them for as long as he has been here but nothing ever seems to happen. Would it be too much to hope that Deputy Lenihan, the Parliamentary Secretary, who seems to be an active man, in any case, whether his activity is going to get him anywhere I do not know, would do something in respect of the marketing of fish in this country and the encouragement of consumption? I think it is true, as has been said here, that in the case of many of our seaside towns the fish landed goes up to Dublin and is sent back for sale again to the seaside town. That seems to me to be a roundabout and expensive way of encouraging the consumption of fish. It is certainly not an economic method of marketing the fish.

The Parliamentary Secretary should seriously consider whether An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should be scrapped or not. I do not know if many people are satisfied with it. I know many of our fishermen who are not satisfied with it. Whether it is because there is not proper representation or whether all sections of the community interested in the fishing industry are represented or not on it I do not know. They do not seem to have a tremendous amount of confidence in it. They did not have it in the Sea Fisheries Association and they do not seem to have it in An Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

At Column 180 on 30th June, the Parliamentary Secretary said:

It is essential that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara be adequately geared to play an important rôle in the intensified development programme. To that end, a necessary reorganisation of the Board will shortly be undertaken.

Perhaps, in his reply, the Parliamentary Secretary would tell us what sort of reorganisation he contemplates. The inference I take from that is that he is not quite happy about An Bord Iascaigh Mhara as well. He says: "It is essential that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara be adequately geared to play an important rôle in the intensified development programme". I trust he has made a beginning and that its development will be intensified and that when he comes to select the personnel of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, he will bear in mind those who have the biggest stake in the fishing industry— the sea fishermen.

I was very disappointed recently to learn that one of our fish factories had closed down, or was on the point of doing so. I have never been in Kinsale in my life, but I have used the products of the fish canning factory there and though they were not 100 per cent. comparable with some of the produce of the Norwegian factories, the effort there could have been developed. It is a pity that a factory engaged in the canning of such fish as mackerel and herring should be allowed to close down. I know the main responsibility in this respect rests with the Minister for Industry and Commerce but I should have thought the Parliamentary Secretary would take an interest in it to the extent of seeing it got all the help necessary in order to keep going, not alone from the point of view of giving employment to Kinsale people but of preserving a factory where Irish fish could be processed and sold.

I trust that when the Parliamentary Secretary comes to the House with his Estimate next year, we will not have the same sort of speech. I say this without disrespect to him or any of his predecessors in the recent past, but we have had this sort of thing every year—references to great plans, to White Papers, better conditions for the fishermen, better marketing facilities, encouragement of increased consumption. But the results have been shown in the decreased value of landings and in the smaller number of workers engaged in the industry. The Parliamentary Secretary will have earned the gratitude of fishermen throughout the country if he shows some results from the plans he announced here on 30th June last.

This is not my line of country since I know less about fishing possibly than any member. I did sympathise with the Parliamentary Secretary recently and wished him luck because this seems to be a Department which drags men down.

That may be why Deputy Childers got out of it.

Whatever is to be said about agriculture or other matters, apparently you cannot do anything at all about the fishing industry. We have heard stories about the teeming wealth around our shores. I do not know anything about it but I know that things can be done by countries as small as ours which we are not doing. My contribution to this debate will be confined to asking the Minister a question, the subject matter of which Deputy Corish referred to. I go to Kinsale quite regularly. It is a very pleasant resort, a great centre of sport fishing, and I was delighted when the fish cannery was established there some years ago because it seemed to be a rational kind of development.

This is a traditional fishing town. I remember a Leas-Cheann Comhairle in this House at one time telling me that you could walk from one side of the harbour in Kinsale to the other on the decks of fishing trawlers. That was a colourful description perhaps but at any rate it suggested that many men fished from the port. I take it this canning factory was fairly well conceived—that they had good plant, that the workers were there—and I am assuming the fishing grounds were near. I do know that throughout last year from 18 to 20 Norwegian vessels sheltered in the harbour and fished out of it for shark. If seafaring men come from the Arctic Circle and can make a success of their trip, would one not think it possible for our own people to do so? Apparently they do not.

As I said, I am assuming everything was right about the factory—that they had the plant, that the workers were there—yet with the fishing tradition of the town apparently they had everything except the fish. That would seem to me to be symbolic of our whole failure to deal with this potentially great industry around our coasts. I would ask the Minister if it is possible to have that project saved, to have it re-established. I take it the Parliamentary Secretary is not directly involved, that it is a matter for the Department, but I should think the Parliamentary Secretary would be able to make very effective representations about it. When people ask me, a public representative for many years, about it, I am not able to give them an answer. I do not know what went wrong. Everything is there except the fish and that would seem to be elementary. Surely we should be able to make a success of such a plant as the Portuguese have done, as the French and the Norwegians have done. What seems to have happened in this instance is that we started off only at half cock and now it is dead. It is a standing indictment of our effort and makes nonsense of all the talk about our sea fisheries. It would seem to be a reproach to every one of us in this House and outside it.

In my area, the main part of the fishing industry has to do with the tourist trade and I would emphasise the necessity for the Department to see that there are plenty of fish in these rivers and lakes. Two years ago, I saw a live programme on angling on the BBC. It was at 7 o'clock on a bank holiday evening and they were able to bring their cameras to the bank of this river with near assurance that during the half hour programme they could show some fish being caught. In fact, there were three fish caught by the expert on whom the cameras were focussed. There was a fisherman every 50 or 60 yards along either bank of this river.

In this country, gone are the days when a man is prepared to fish every week-end and bank holiday off our river banks and be satisfied if he catches one or two trout or salmon by the end of the season. As time goes by, everything is moving faster and when a man has an hour or two to spare and goes off to fish, he wants to be sure he will catch some. The tourist or the man coming out from the city is not too particular whether it is the aristocrats of the fishing world, the trout and the salmon, he nets. He is prepared to accept any fish, so long as he catches some. It does not matter so much whether it is perch or pike or any other coarse fish.

Great credit is due to places like Kinsale and Westport. In Kinsale, they have developed shark fishing as a tourist attraction, and a man can go out in an afternoon and be reasonably sure that he will catch fish. He can then be photographed with it so that, when he goes home, he need not have any worries about telling lies about the size of the fish he caught. All most people require is to be able to go out, catch a fish and talk about it. In most cases, the tourists are prepared to let the fish back, once it is weighed and they have been, possibly, photographed with it.

In Westport, they have developed on similar lines. There also you can be sure of catching fish. When Princess Grace came over, she went out in a boat and caught three fish within two hours. That is the type of thing we require. Whether we develop trout and salmon or coarse fish, particular lakes and rivers should be intensively developed. The one fundamental requirement is a sufficient quantity of fish so that persons who come here will be able to catch fish. Fish farms have been developed here and there are nurseries on some of our smaller lakes and rivers to supply the fish. That should be pushed to the utmost. If we are to develop this industry from the tourist point of view, we will need plenty of fish.

The salmon fishing in the upper reaches of the Boyne in my own area is being upset by turf mould going down from the Bord na Móna works. I would like the Department to do something to remedy that situation. Bord na Móna have gone out of their way to build silt pools, but they are not sufficient. Something more is needed, and the Department and Bord na Móna ought to be able to devise some way of preventing this silt going down the river. The salmon fishing has definitely deteriorated in my area on account of this.

In the Programme for Economic Expansion, the development and encouragement of fish farming is mentioned. This has been going on for some time in the Scandinavian countries, particularly the development of rainbow trout. Here are some figures which give some idea of the expansion. In 1939, Germany produced 280 tons of this fish and in 1959, 1,000 tons; in 1939, Denmark produced 1,000 tons and in 1959, 3,900 tons; in 1939, France produced 500 tons and in 1959, 1,600 tons. I have heard of a place on the Continent where you can choose your fish swimming in a glass case and in half an hour it is served up to you.

Since the rainbow trout has been introduced here, it has not compared in flavour with the ordinary trout and, on that account, has not been as popular in hotels and restaurants as was expected. In the past three years, however, a Norwegian botanist has discovered a way of bringing out the flavour of the rainbow trout to compare with that of ordinary trout and salmon. This is done by rearing it in salt water and not alone does it make it more palatable, but the rate of growth is about twice that of fish in fresh water. Important also from the production point of view is this. In fresh water, the conversion rate is from seven to ten to one. That is, 7 lbs. to 10 lbs. of food supplied result in a conversion rate of 1 lb. of flesh. With the new method of rearing the fish in salt water, the conversion rate is four to one. That makes this a very worthwhile proposition.

A constituent of mine has been considering such a development here and an official of the Department and an engineer went over last November to inspect the work in Norway. They returned with a favourable report. An application has been made to An Foras Talúntais but it has been passing between An Foras Talúntais and the Department since then. This is a very praiseworthy development. One of the directors is the man who developed salt water rearing of rainbow trout in Norway, who brought it to a fine art and made a success of it. Another is a man who owned a number of restaurants and hotels in England, a sufficient number to take all the produce of this fish farm.

All they are asking is that they be treated in the same way as an ordinary factory in the West of Ireland and given grants to set up a fish farm so that they will be able to export their products. They have an assured market, and with the help of the Fisheries Division of the Department, they have found a very nice river in Galway.

It is very important that they should have both fresh water and sea water, because the fish are reared in the first months in the fresh water and then transferred gradually into sea water. They have picked an ideal site in which there is no fear of pollution of the water from factories in time to come. There is a plentiful supply of water. They intend to get going on this project and it is wrong that it should be held up so long, because there is great danger now that they will be at a complete loss if a decision is not reached in the not too distant future.

It may be said that this fish farm will not give much employment, but they have an idea that during the initial period 25 men will be employed, and when it is fully developed, over 50 will be employed. At least two of them will have to be sent away to Norway for training. The capital that has been put up is Irish and the only outside capital will be in the form of technical knowledge.

They have an assured export market and they have all the raw materials. The fish will be fed on surplus fish left over from the factories. It is a very praiseworthy enterprise. It is nothing new to the Continent. In the past few years, Denmark alone has set up 40 new firms to engage in this system of fish farming. They are reared in big ponds, artificially made. The amount of ground which will be taken up by this factory is less than 25 acres all together, and the potential is that they will be able to export over £78,000 worth of fish each year.

I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will use his good offices to speed up the application for the grants required because it has been discovered with this rainbow trout development in salt water, the trout can grow as large as a salmon. He can grow to 18 or 20 lbs. weight, and he has exactly the same taste as the salmon we are used to getting from the sea, from the Atlantic, the Boyne or the Liffey. This is an industrial project which is well worth examining. The fish can be reared in captivity because their conversion rate is so much better than the conversion rate of an ordinary trout or salmon. It is one hybrid fish that can be developed and will have a market all the year round.

We all know that we can get trout and salmon at particular times of the year only, but with this fish farming, we can have trout the whole year round, at Christmas and in the middle of the summer. That will bring down the price to a certain extent and there will not be any of the luxury prices of 15/- or £1 a lb. There will be a level price the whole year round. That will help sales and consumption and it will mean that more people will be using fish. That will create a bigger market. The same will apply to the export market which is an assured market and could be developed because we are one of the few countries in Europe with good fresh-flowing streams running into the sea.

We are ideally situated, particularly on the west coast where we have the advantage of the Gulf Stream. We will be using the natural resources which God sent us. I again ask the Parliamentary Secretary to use his good offices to speed up this project.

Is any of that potential the Deputy speaks of due to the combination of rainbow trout and salt water? Is that the situation? Is salt water the new element in this? Rainbow trout reared in fresh water ponds is not a very exciting prospect.

I suggest that the Deputy should read this document.

I believe in having an open mind about everything. I think it is an illusion to believe that rainbow trout fed on fish offal in a fresh water pond is an acceptable product. It may be a desirable procedure if they are transferred to their natural habitat wherein they acquire quite a different character. However, I am not very much interested in the rainbow trout business. I believe it could be developed but I think it is illusory to imagine that it is easy and facile to get such fish fed on fish offal in fresh water ponds.

I should be glad to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary what the experience has been of these rainbow trout on fish farms because my impression is that the output of an artificiallyfed pond is radically different from the rainbow trout caught in their natural habitat such as Aranmore Island, off the coast of Donegal. The rainbow trout from such waters is an excellent fish, and it would be a pity, if there is a market, as I believe there is, for trout on a commercial scale, that it should be spoiled by allowing rainbow trout improperly produced to be put upon that market.

I have listened to debates on the Fisheries Estimate for a good many years, and a state of mental confusion always exists in the House when Fisheries come to be discussed. The fundamental question on which you have to make up your mind in regard to sea fisheries is: do you want to hand over sea fisheries to trawlers or do you want to preserve in existence the boat-owning fishermen on our coasts? You can have one or the other but you cannot have both. I have always held, and the Government with which I was associated always held, that the fishing industry should be the prerogative of our own people, the boat-owning fishermen living all round our sea coasts.

The case was often put to me as to why could we not have both a trawler company and the boat-owning fishermen. If you establish a Grimsby or Yarmouth type trawler company in this country, and there is no difficulty about doing it, the trawlers will flood the domestic market for fish and the boat-owning fishermen will disappear irrevocably and for all time within two years. You have got to face that decision and it is a very grave decision. If you wipe out the boat-owning fishermen of our western and south-western coasts, they are gone forever. It is a pattern of life that has grown up there. It has a high value and fits in with the whole social concept of maintaining the population of the sea coast of this country.

If you are going to talk solely and exclusively in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, then the economic solution would be to clear these coasts of the people living on them and abandon the whole of that area. I do not believe that any sane community should allow pounds, shillings and pence so to dominate its soul as to persuade it to accept a proposition of that kind. I have always believed in maintaining our own boat-owning fishermen, operating their own boats and supplying the domestic market.

Fianna Fáil have repeatedly made futile efforts to establish trawlers and have lost thousands of pounds in doing so. We have three old hulks floating around the North Wall at present. They were bought in Germany and the engine fell out of one of them.

I did my best to make the wretched things float and they would not. That was not the first time that Fianna Fáil had a rattle at it. Some 20 years ago, some other enterprising Fianna Fáil man introduced trawlers and again they lost money because they fell between two stools. They could not make up their minds one way or the other; they lost public money and made damn fools of themselves and eventually they had to sell the boats.

I had no difficulty in making up my mind in this matter. Several large trawler companies came to me. They did not want any grants or protection. All they wanted was the right to set up a trawler fishery in this country and I would not let them do it. If I have to choose between a Yarmouth in Ireland and the existing pattern of boat-owning fishermen, I will choose the boat-owning fishermen and I realise there is no room in this country for the two of them. I am as convinced today of the soundness of that policy in our conditions as I was when I was Minister for Fisheries in two Governments in the recent past.

A lot of eyewash goes on about this matter of fishing. Sometimes I think it it is pure ignorance. People compare our circumstances with those of Norway or Scandinavia but if they knew anything about sea fishing, they would not fall into that error. The really rich fishing grounds of the world are along the Continental Shelf. It is there, where the deep water begins, that the great congregations of sea fish exist. The Continental Shelf lies about 150 miles off the coast of Ireland and that is why we find the Spanish trawlers trawling there. The reason they come into our ports is that they hear the weather forecasts and they know there is going to be a storm. They want to get out of the storm and they come into our ports. They do not come in to fish, although it is true that they frequently throw out a trawl when going back to the fishing grounds and get caught. They hate coming into our ports because it puts a journey of about 250 miles on them to get back to the fishing grounds. The Continental Shelf lies within about two miles of the Norwegian coast, with the result that they have immensely rich fishing grounds and a vast sea fishing industry which is mainly based on cod. For us to get cod would mean that our fishermen would have to travel about 400 miles.

Another old stock point frequently made here is that you cannot get fresh fish in rural Ireland. That used to be true but with the coming of deep freeze, it is no longer true. It is silly to go on repeating the parrot cries of 20 years ago which have ceased to be relevant. Twenty years ago, you could not get fish in rural Ireland. The fish went bad and it could not be kept in hot weather. All that has gone now. In any country town or village, you will find three or four shops with deep-freeze cabinets and you can get any fish you want. You can get a whole range of fish.

Some people say they do not like deep-freeze food. I used to think that myself but the techniques have become so highly developed that now women are selling their fowl in the streets and going into the shops and buying deep-frozen chickens from the deep-freeze. To me it is an extraordinary thing that in country towns like Ballybay, Clones or Carrickmacross, you can sell hundreds of frozen chickens, while women are selling fowl in the streets. It has become the custom to get your chicken from the Cootehill Co-op. and the main reason for that is that the women have not the trouble of plucking and cleaning the fowl.

They are not deep-frozen fowl that you get from the Co-op.

What is it?

It is a milk-fed chicken reared in the creamery. It is not deep-freeze.

What happens to the chicken after it is killed and plucked and cleaned?

It is put into cellophane paper and thrown into the market.

I am afraid we are getting away from fish.

No, Sir. Deep-freeze has completely revolutionised the picture with regard to the problem of fish distribution in this country. There would never have been fish distribution on a satisfactory basis without that innovation, for the reason that iced fish was a smelly and a dirty commodity. Frozen fish is like any other packaged product. I am particularly interested in frozen fish; it used to be felt that frozen fish was a tasteless and an undesirable product. I want to direct the attention of the House to the fact that the improvements in the techniques are such that that is no longer true.

I am not prepared to say that deep-freeze fish for a connoisseur is identical with fresh fish, but the difference is wellnigh indistinguishable for 85 per cent. of all persons who consume fish and, therefore, the distribution problem no longer exists at home. But the fact remains that we are 98.5 per cent. a Roman Catholic people and so, from the time of our birth, we undergo the penitential exercise every Friday of eating fish; and when Quarter Tense comes around, we eat it four times in the year on Wednesdays as well because one of the penitential exercises of Quarter Tense is to eat fish. Having the nature we have, that which is a penitential exercise does not become popular and, to this day, if I see a man or woman eating fish on a day other than Friday, my first instinct is to ask: "Is this a fast day? Why are you eating fish?" That is one of the facts of life, and it is silly to ignore it.

You find people who like fish, but there is in this country undoubtedly nothing like the tendency to eat fish that exists in Great Britain and in many Continental countries, particularly those Continental countries in which fish is scarce and difficult to get. That seems to make it desired. For us, the taste is not there. We cannot underestimate the fact that in Great Britain fish and chips is a national dish. There are fish and chip shops in this country but on nothing like the same scale as in Great Britain where every town, sea-side and country, is full of fish and chip shops. That creates a vast demand which helps the big trawler fleets to operate because most of the fish used in the fish and chip shops is of a kind not readily saleable on the retail market.

I could go on discoursing upon the fishing industry for hours if I wanted to, because I know a great deal about it, having been a member for Donegal for several years and having been Minister in charge of Fisheries twice. What I am anxious about is that we should not stumble blindly into any programme which will destroy our own boat-owning fishermen because if that is done, it cannot be undone. I have undone a great many Fianna Fáil follies in my time but I am always anxious about this because, if they perpetrate this folly, it is one folly I could not undo since it would involve the irrevocable destruction of what I consider to be a very precious asset to the State.

I want to ask one other question relating to sea fisheries. I remember when I was Minister, I tried to establish an oyster bed in Killary Bay. I think it was near Recess.

Clew Bay.

Was it Clew Bay? I have forgotten whether it was Clew Bay or Killary Bay. You have a situation in which there is an unlimited demand for oysters in Great Britain. In fact, there is an almost unlimited market for them here, too, because of the demand. A variety of circumstances operating in the 19th century, and in the beginning of this century, exterminated several oyster beds. Those beds had been very fruitful. They were overfished and, as well as that, some obscure oyster disease invaded them at some stage, with the result that we are now left with only a few oyster beds. But those we have produce a very fine quality oyster.

I remember, shortly before I left office in my last period in Government, I said to the scientific section of the Department: "Now you have all got degrees and qualifications. You are fit to give lectures, publish articles, and so forth. I should like to see a little practical results from your operations. You are all telling everybody else how to do things. What about doing something yourselves now? Why not establish an oyster bed? I will provide the funds. Let us see what our own experts can do". It is, I know, a slow process, but I have not heard any report recently as to what became of it and I doubt if the present Parliamentary Secretary ever heard that some section of the Department is physically engaged in establishing an oyster bed. If he does not know about it, he ought to inquire into it and find out how it has been getting on because, mark you, if it were successful, and could be repeated, it would prove a very valuable asset to this country, with oysters selling at their present price and with the tendency for the supply of oysters to decline while the demand for them continues to rise.

Now I should like to talk with satisfaction on the fact that we established the Inland Fisheries Trust and that it has directed the attention of our people to the immense potential for tourist attraction that the trout fishing and coarse fishing of this country present. I remember with satisfaction —I have mentioned this to the House before—that Bord Fáilte readily recognised that potential and helped materially with the early days of the Inland Fisheries Trust. Now the Government are making substantial grants to carry on the good work that has been done. The Inland Fisheries Trust are doing a good job and I think they are rarely placed in the staff they have. They have been fortunate enough to find men who have a real vocation for fishing and a dedicated interest in supporting fishing, whether it is for trout, or salmon, or what are commonly called coarse fish. The Government are very wise to back them up to the limits because I believe they are doing a good job.

There is one thing, however, to which I can never get a fully satisfactory answer either from the Minister for Transport and Power or the Minister in charge of fisheries. Yet I am convinced that I am right, and that it is something that is being overlooked because there is some vested interest concerned to obstruct it. We have in this country two canals, the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal. They travel, with a level bank and a towpath, right through the midlands, one going down to Carrick-on-Shannon and the other going down to the Shannon at Limerick. Both of these canals have a vast coarse fishing potential. That would bring a type of tourist who does not want the luxury-hotel type of accommodation and in many cases cannot afford it but who wants accommodation in a comfortable guest house or to be taken in as a guest in a country house.

If these canals were carefully developed for their fishing amenity and publicised, they would bring a very considerable volume of desirable tourist traffic to a section of the country which ordinarily does not get much benefit from the tourist trade. Most of the tourists are inclined to go to a seaside resort but in the middle of the country, unless people have some specialised interest such as hunting or fishing, there is nothing for them. However, there are thousands and thousands of enthusiastic coarse fishermen in the midlands and northern part of England who engage in their sport there under the most extraordinary conditions and yet remain loyal to it. I have described in this House before fellows fishing on the Manchester Ship Canal, one fisherman about every five yards. If you catch a perch on the Manchester Ship Canal and do not take it off the hook and put it back like a baby into its cradle, all the fishermen on the canal bank will tear you to pieces. It is regarded as de rigueur if you catch a fish in the canals of England that you put it back. That kind of fishing is not necessary here. The canals and coarse fishing lakes in this country can be so developed——

They let the water out of the canals.

In this country.

That is what I want to come to. Instead of their realising the huge tourist potential of the canals, I have a feeling there is some racket going on between CIE and the Minister for Transport and Power, that they want to abandon the canals. I would advise the Parliamentary Secretary to look into this.

We are on to it, actually.

I am glad to hear it, but there is some racket going on in which the canals are to be abandoned. Whether it is that CIE want to shake off their responsibility or the Minister for Transport and Power feels that he is too heavily burdened to be bothering about them, I do not know, but I want the House and the Parliamentary Secretary to be on their guard, lest we wake up some morning to be told that the canals have to be closed down, that the canals have to be got rid of and are being turned into autobahns or something of that kind. There is plenty of room for autobahns without interfering with the canals and for bathing and fishing I regard them as a very real and valuable asset.

In County Monaghan, there was very little tourist activity until the Inland Fisheries Trust attended to the lakes of the county, reserving some of them as trout lakes and others as coarse fishing lakes. There is now a very substantial annual tourist income into Clones, Monaghan, Ballybay, Carrickmacross and Castleblayney, which has been of great value to the county as a whole. I believe the canals could present as great an advantage to the midlands of the country as the lakes of Monaghan have provided for County Monaghan. As I say, I could talk on these topics almost indefinitely but I attach so much importance to this particular one of the potential of the canals as a fishing amenity that I shall just confine myself to that point on this Estimate. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will give it special attention and at some future date we can celebrate the declaration of the international significance of his labours on the canals whatever else he may achieve in the course of his career as Parliamentary Secretary.

I have not spoken on this Estimate previously, the reason being that fish is not my dish. The only time I eat fish is on a Friday and the only thing I know about it is what I learned from going to the canal when I was young to get pinkeens. What I wanted to say has been said by Deputy Dillon. I wanted to speak on the canal potential but I am more concerned with the canals within the ambit of the city or on the city perimeter. I should like to see the canals developed along the lines Deputy Dillon suggested so that the children of Dublin might develop a liking for the sport.

And swim.

And swim, but at the moment the canals are becoming derelict sites. Under the Derelict Sites Act, I understand a canal can be a derelict site. They are becoming white elephants and they are not wanted by CIE. If a little money were spent in cleaning them and if occasionally some person were engaged to look after them and put fish into them, instead of being a derelict site, they would be a sight to look at and admire and children could learn to fish there. Children love fishing for pinkeens and if they can bring one back in a jar, it is a topic of conversation among all the other children. If plenty of fish were put into the canals, they would be something to be proud of rather than something to be ashamed of. It is only a question of spending some money.

My only other interest in fish is when I get it on Friday. However, I do eat fish now and again with chips and I have a lot of looking to see the bit of fish I get. It has occurred to me that if you have to pay 1/- or 1/6 for a piece of fish you can hardly see, there must be money in fish. Whether it is that the fish and chip shops rub it in and look for 1,000 per cent. profit or that fish is very expensive, I do not know, but if fish is very expensive, it can only be if fish is short in the market. When fish is plentiful, it is cheap. If fish were cheaper in the fish and chip shops, there would be more of a demand for it. If people could get a fish for 4d. or 6d., they would eat it more often.

I stay in Portmarnock in the summer as I have done for the past 25 years. At one time, a hawker used to come around with fish but for some years there has been no hawker going there and people get no fish in Portmarnock. If there is no fish in Portmarnock, a short distance from Howth, are there not thousands of villages throughout the country where there is no fish? Is there not a market there? There is no fishmonger's shop in Portmarnock and nobody comes around, to my knowledge, on Fridays. The market is there if the fish can be delivered. Could the Minister not consider subsidising people to set up fishmongers' shops or at least to include fish in their sales? I am sure if people were subsidised to do such a thing, there would always be fish and if there were fish, there would be buyers.

I am quite certain there is a big loss to the fishing industry because fish cannot be had in many towns and villages. I am quite sure of that, when I see that in Portmarnock there is no fish available, although the village is only two or three miles from Howth.

One of the snags about the fishing industry is that fish gets stale too quickly and there is nothing as bad as the smell of stale fish. Quick transit to places of demand is important. Could helicopters not be used for that purpose? The difficulty is to get the fish inland. That often means time and expense. That is why people do not think the game worth the candle. I am sure that as time goes on, this form of transport will be developed and we should think along those lines.

I am sure helicopters could be got for the transit of fish right into the interior. It could even be dropped in large plastic bags, without suffering any damage. That sort of thing was done during the War when munitions were dropped on mountains everywhere. I cannot see why fish cannot be transferred to every village with any sort of population at all. It should be possible to drop fish in all parts of the country and that could be done if people were given some little help. I am sure the demand is there. It would be well to consider subsidising people a little in relation to the sale of fish.

I am not a fish man. I more or less wanted to refer to the development of the canals around the city on which Deputy Dillon touched. The Minister should do something about it. The canals should be cleaned. Some people should be encouraged to look after the canals and fish should be pumped into them, not so much for the tourists as for the children of the city.

Everybody inside and outside the House appreciates very much the active interest the Parliamentary Secretary has been taking in the fishing industry and all its subsidiary potentials. No doubt there is a lot of leeway to be made up. If we consider the industry as it is, we see at once that it is a very important national asset. We have been told that 1,650 people are regularly employed in this industry— mostly men and youths, of course— which is a big advantage to our population.

If we had three industries—say, one on the west coast, one on the south coast and one on the east coast—each employing 550 men, there would be a considerable interest in them and in their value to the country. When we have an industry which is of even greater advantage, due to the fact that the workers are scattered all over our coasts and are also small landowners who are employed in many other ways, we see the importance of the industry with which we are dealing. In consequence, great interest should be taken in it.

Reference has been made in the first instance to the inshore fishermen and protection for their boats in the small harbours they use. Most people realise that these little piers are the ends of terminal roads under the control of county councils. If some improvement is to be made, there has to be communication with the county council, sometimes, as to who actually owns this pier or who is responsible for its upkeep. That has to go perhaps to the Office of Public Works or somewhere else. By the time it is all over, much useful time has been lost and perhaps the fishermen interested in the matter have become discouraged.

As has been said, if we break the tradition along the coast, and our fishermen go off because they are not able to fish, and go into some other type of industry, then there will be a great loss to our country. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to try to have a survey of these little bays, ports and landing places that are partly the responsibility of the local authority and partly the responsibility of the Office of Public Works, or of somebody else, to see if there could be some co-ordination of effort for the improvement of the piers and the protection of the ports. Some of these piers are used in other ways—for the shipping of barytes, of sand for manurial purposes, and all the rest. However, the main interest in this debate is in their use for the fishing industry.

The provision of good, seagoing boats is very important. I am sure the Department is doing its best in that regard. A disappointing thing about it, from my viewpoint, is that notwithstanding the attractive conditions that have been provided, there has been a poor response from those who have been asked to qualify as captains or otherwise of these boats because they must have proper and capable management if they are to be of any use at all. If those going out in them are not to run a greater risk in their way of life, they must be properly trained and competently equipped for their work. That is another important point.

When the fish is landed, it is a primary product that must be handled quickly, consumed, preserved or processed so as to be of any use. That is the important factor. If fish is landed in some little bays and ports where there are very few or only primitive facilities, there must be adequate transport so that those who have gone to the expense, and so on, of landing the fish will get a market for it in our cities and towns and out in the rural villages. Transport is a very important factor.

The fact seems to be that very few people in our inland towns are interested in fish. We have quick-freeze, and so on, to deal with it now. However, if people have a quick-freeze installation, it very often happens that they are not prepared to mix fish with other produce in it. They want to keep it apart and deal with it separately it is such a perishable commodity. It is not easy to organise the internal marketing of fish. The difficulty in regard to transport and ready markets is responsible for the fact that we must have more fishmeal and other industries. Otherwise the fish has to be discarded and thrown back into the sea, which is undesirable and should not happen. It will take time to organise all aspects of the industry. I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary, as a result of the consultations he has had and from his experience of the position obtaining on the Shannon, will appreciate the importance of inland fisheries from the point of view of tourism.

Reference was made to the extension of territorial waters which is a matter to be taken up at high level by the Fisheries Branch and the Department of External Affairs. As the fishermen are stressing its importance, no time should be wasted in trying to do something effective in that regard. We have an export market of £1,500,000 worth of fish but against that must be put large imports of fish. One should be checked against the other to see if the markets into which the imports go could be supplied by our own fishermen. Our asset would then be developed in a proper way. The fact that processing and preserving plants are not adequate, and that transport is limited, is a big handicap to the development of the fishing industry.

Reference was made to the cannery at Kinsale and the fact that it does not operate at the moment. There was a substantial French interest in that industry. The French brought their technical skill and in addition invested money in the cannery to supplement the investments by local subscribers. For a time all went well. The market was there. Originally, 60 per cent. of the produce was to be exported and 40 per cent. consumed on the home market. The French have good markets abroad, already established, but it appears that when they entered into the Common Market it was part of the French Government's policy that they should amalgamate and combine their resources and work to the best advantage of the whole industry and the whole nation. Consequently they withdrew their technical skill from Kinsale in some measure but still left their investment. The local people, who had a certain amount of training, had to carry on as best they could and have done so with some success with what has been left to them. The difficulty was in not getting into the established markets in Italy but transport costs prevented the sale of fish in a competitive way on that market. These problems have still to be overcome. I hope the Fisheries Branch and the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to preserve that industry for its original purpose because processing of fish is traditional in Kinsale and the facilities there are adequate. Everybody hopes that the technical skill that has been developed and the achievements there will not be lost. Various parts of the country have their own developments, and their problems. We hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to co-ordinate the various developments for the general good of the nation.

I should like to speak first on behalf of the inland fisheries and the anglers. We have the tragic situation that the inland fisheries of the Shannon and its tributaries were handed over to the ESB. To my mind and to the people connected with angling, fishing and tourism, while the ESB are certainly doing a good job in generating and supplying current, as far as salmon and trout fishing are concerned on the Shannon and its tributaries they have ruined whatever attraction was there prior to their taking them over. We have a situation in Limerick which must be unique. We have an ESB weir across the Shannon at Limerick without a single fish pass. It is the only such weir in existance in Europe and because of the absence of a fish pass we get some kind of guarantee from the ESB that a certain percentage of the fish are allowed up after each catch. There is nobody there to prove it and nobody there to say yes or no——

I wonder would the Parliamentary Secretary have any responsibility in the matter or would it be a matter for the ESB?

I want him to consider the matter from the tourist point of view and from the anglers' point of view. The Parliamentary Secretary said that he intends to reorganise Bord Iascaigh Mhara. We are all grateful to hear that. I go to West Kerry each year and I find in Dingle a situation in which the fish are landed at the pier, boxed and iced by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara and then transported overland to Dublin. It is over 200 miles from Dingle to Dublin and the ridiculous situation then arises that some of that fish is re-transported back to Tralee which is only 30 miles from Dingle. I cannot understand the economics of such an arrangement.

I do not speak only in terms of £ s. d. in this matter; I speak in terms of supplying the people with fresh fish. As we all know, there is a very big difference in a one day old fish and a three day old fish, because the fish loses its oily flavour and also the phosphorus, which is most important in the skin of the fish. That situation should not arise. To counteract that, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara have gone into deep-frozen fish about which we heard Deputy Dillon speak. I have tasted all kinds of fish caught immediately at sea, gutted at sea and eaten at sea. I have also experience of the day old fish and the frozen fish of which Deputy Dillon spoke. To me, as to all Irishmen generally, the frozen fish has the same appeal as the frozen beef or mutton—a negligible appeal. We just have not cultivated a taste for it. We just have not cultivated the habit of consuming any frozen food, so far anyway. While it may be a suitable dish for people in the midland counties, it certainly does not appeal to people who have been in the habit of eating the fresh-caught fish.

With regard to the development of sea fishing, I, like many more, am all for looking after the local boatmen but, unfortunately—and I speak particularly for the counties of Clare and Kerry—my experience has been that the provision of boats in the past has been more or less on a political basis. That cannot be denied.

That is a wrong statement.

Does the Deputy know anything about West Kerry or West Clare? I do.

Stating that a man got a boat on a political basis is all eyewash.

What does the Deputy know about it?

I know plenty.

You might know about Dublin.


Dublin county.

The statement is made and the statement stands. To avoid all that, I should like to see boats provided not only for the one-man crew but also on a company basis whereby the captain and his crew of three or four would partake of ownership and the interest in the boats. That is the only way to get the traditional fishermen organised along the west coast of Kerry and the coast of Clare.

While there are traditional fishermen in these areas, they lack the technical knowledge. I am glad to see from the Parliamentary Secretary's White Paper that he intends educating these fishermen on a technical basis. I would suggest to him that in the coves along Kerry and Clare, where there are, perhaps, one or two boats, vocational classes should be held and instructors sent from the Department of Education to hold nightly classes in the different areas embracing courses from the skipper's course down to courses for the men on the engines and the nets. Such courses should be made available even where there is only one boat employed from a small cove in a particular area along the coast.

The Minister in his White Paper makes provision for a certain type of boat for lobster fishing. Lobster fishing is a very lucrative business when times are good because lobster make a good price on the market. In the Mediterranean and other southern European areas, lobster does not exist because they do not live in hot water. They thrive along our coasts. This lobster fishing should be developed to the very greatest extent but the provision of the type of lobster boat which the Parliamentary Secretary proposes will not suffice for the mackerel and the herring fishermen. There is no existence from lobster fishing only. The fishermen have to revert to herring, mackerel and other types of sea fishing. With the type of boat the Minister intends to provide, there is a left-side engine. The wheel is on the left side. Provision should be made whereby the nets should be thrown from the back on the end of the boat. There has to be a protection over the propeller to avoid the fouling of the nets. This is a very important issue, particularly in west Kerry about which I know something.

I would suggest that an annual inspection of these boats be carried out, particularly with a view to having the engines geared up and the boats kept in a clean condition. Certainly plenty of paint should be used on these vessels because they are allowed to deteriorate. That could be very easily avoided by having this annual inspection to see that everything is kept in ship-shape order.

Deputy Dillon made great play with fishing in the canals. Fishing in the canals is certainly an attraction for the tourist because his type of fishing and our type of fishing are two different things altogether. We more or less go in for the live, natural fishing such as trout, salmon and that type of fish. We do not confine ourselves to coarse fish which is a great attraction to English visitors. I have seen these tourists sitting side by side and shoulder to shoulder along a canal bank with rods, sitting all day, waiting for the fish to give a pull. We could develop that type of fishing on our canals. I would advise the Parliamentary Secretary to confine the canals to fishing only. The canals have been suggested as swimming pools for children but the water in our canals is so stagnant that you would get yourself into trouble with the Department of Health.

I should like to see a general reorganisation of An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to ensure a better distribution of fish. I cannot understand why the fish caught in Kerry should be transported first to Dublin, then re-shipped to Limerick and even back down to Tralee. It is the most stupid thing about this whole question. If we had quicker distribution of fish, there is little doubt our people would become fish conscious because there is a big difference as far as the palate is concerned between a fish which is a day old and one which is two days old, between a fish a few hours old and one 12 hours old. We will increase home consumption and consequently make the fishing industry pay, if we give our people the fresh article.

There is great potential for our economy in the fishing industry and because of that it deserves to be taken up in a very big way. I believe An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should be remodelled on the lines of our other semi-State bodies—the ESB, Bord na Móna and Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann —with, for the time being, a senior official of the Department in charge. Bord Fáilte and the Inland Fisheries Trust should be in a position adequately to deal with our inland fisheries. One problem requiring solution in this respect is that at the moment parts of our rivers touching on farmers' holdings are reserved for outsiders and the farmers who own the land extending down to these rivers are prevented from fishing them, unless they resort to poaching. The Parliamentary Secretary should do something about that because it is shocking to see people whose holdings border the flowing rivers unable to fish them.

However, I am interested more in our sea fisheries. If run on a proper business line, our sea fisheries could be of inestimable value to the country's economy. We shall look to the young Parliamentary Secretary therefore with hopes that he will implement some of the plans he propounded when introducing this Estimate. I hope to see big changes in this respect during the present year for the benefit of the fishermen and the others who make their living from this industry. At this point, I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to stress, at every possible opportunity, our argument in favour of the extension of our fishing limits to 12 miles. Apparently we are not pressing this matter to the best possible advantage.

During the past year an effort was made here to prevent fishermen from the Six-Counties coming to fish in our waters. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to ensure that any firm, or any men employed by any firm which is not British owned, should be allowed to fish off our coasts. There should be no limit and no partition as far as Six-County-based firms and their employees are concerned. They should be free at all times to fish off our coasts.

To improve our sea fisheries, it is, first of all, necessary to have boats. Then we must have crews, and piers for the reception of the boats. Therefore, all those small fishing centres around our coasts should be attended to and put into proper condition. I notice that here and there around our coasts, at different times in different ports, gluts of fish occur. When that happens at a port, the fishermen are reluctant to go out next day. Proper distribution methods by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara would eliminate that. If there were a glut in one port today, the fish could be transported elsewhere where there was a scarcity, or to the fish processing factories we are supposed to have set up. Deputy Sherwin suggested the purchase of a helicopter for this purpose. I do not know whether that would be feasible, but certainly a helicopter could be utilised to help our patrol fleet to deal with foreign trawlers which steal into our waters to fish illegally. There is no doubt these trawlers often scrape the pot.

Returning to the problem of distribution, I would re-emphasise how important this is and suggest that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara adopt the same media as the ESB to popularise their products. The ESB makes frequent use of Radio Éireann and now Telefís Éireann to advertise, and I suggest An Bord Iascaigh Mhara do the same to publicise our fish products. If we had our fisheries properly developed, there would be no need for us to import any fish. I understand that fish to the value of £697,536 was imported during the year 1961. People may look for "John West Middle Cut", of course, but I see no reason why we could not can Irish salmon. I would ask the Minister to look into that and also into the question of the distribution of fish, so that the people in the inland towns will have a plentiful supply of fresh fish. In conclusion, may I say that I hope we will have some nice things to say about the Parliamentary Secretary at the end of his first year of office?

First, I should like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on the publication of the White Paper and to join with the last speaker in expressing the hope that we will have something nice to say about him at the end of the year and that most of his programme will have been put into effect. I have no reason to doubt that it will. I welcomed the appointment of Deputy Lenihan as Parliamentary Secretary because I knew that, in him, we had a young man of calibre and dynamic drive who would make a decent effort in his difficult task.

As far as I am concerned, Bord Iascaigh Mhara might as well have been in fairyland over the years. We have had a call for the complete reorganisation of the Board, which should be called on to give an account of its activities such as that given by the ESB, Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann and Bord na Móna. I have no doubt that the Parliamentary Secretary has in mind a complete reorganisation of Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

One of the factors which should not be lost sight of is the development of the home market. Our exports of fish in the last financial year amounted to £1½ million and imports amounted to £697,000, half of which was accounted for by tinned salmon, which is not produced here. We have no reason to be perturbed about the market for salmon because we have not sufficient fish for the markets we already have, both here and abroad. I shall try to correlate the value of salmon fishing with the question of stocking and preserving our inland rivers.

The reason I intervened was to draw attention to the River Feale in my constituency. This is one of the best salmon-rivers in the country, on a par with the Moy and the other great salmon rivers in the West. Some four years ago a big drainage scheme was carried out on the Feale by the Board of Works. It was a most essential operation and reclaimed thousands of acres of land that heretofore had been inundated for the greater part of the winter months. But in carrying out the work the architects and engineers of the Board of Works completely disregarded the traditional spawning and running patterns of the salmon. They completely destroyed the running passages of the fish to the upper reaches.

Not alone should provision be made to prevent valuable fisheries being destroyed in the future but, even at this stage, something should be done in this particular instance also. The widening of the river and the reduction of the overall level in the main running channel has destroyed the salmon fishing in the upper reaches and seriously interfered with the livelihood of about 300 rod fishermen. For these men fishing was not their pastime, but their livelihood. During dry spells of the year the fish may be seen in their thousands going around a proscribed area with the water barely covering the tops of their fins. That leads to all sorts of abuses and provides a happy hunting ground for poaching and the unlawful destruction of fish.

They would not poach salmon in Limerick surely?

When he goes for a walk along the river bank and sees hundreds of fish trying to hide in the shallow water, even with the best intentions in the world it is hard for a poor fellow to resist the temptation. Even at this stage, something should be done to open up the natural runing passage of the fish for 16 to 18 miles of the River Feale to the source.

Reference has been made to the reorganisation of Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the development of what should be a guaranteed market in this country. Deputy Coughlan outlined the position whereby fish are hauled from the ports and then brought back again from miles away. That problem should easily be solved by having depots in each of our big towns where the people would be assured of a continuous supply of freshly caught fish. It is true that you do not develop a taste for frozen or processed fish overnight. It is difficult to produce a flavour in frozen fish which would compare with the palatable taste of freshly caught fish.

I believe the Parliamentary Secretary in reorganising the board should arrange centres in all big inland towns. We have lost a potential home market over the years. The market was not developed primarily due to the fact that we never guaranteed a continuous supply. There is no use in trying to develop a home market, and a taste for fish, if there is not a continuous supply. That has been one of the main reasons for our failure to develop fully not only the home market but export markets. Because of our inability to provide a continuous supply of bacon and butter we also failed to develop a foreign market for them. We lost out there and we will assuredly lose out also if we fail to gear and fit the fishing industry for the home market and create centres and depots in all the big towns and cities. We can start in a small way and develop and spread inland when we see how the scheme is operating.

I want to impress on the Parliamentary Secretary that in carrying out major drainage schemes his Department should be careful and watchful to ensure that the natural traditional pattern of the runways for fish are not interfered with, and more especially that the spawning beds are not disturbed. Greater efforts should be made in regard to inland rivers by the organised fishermen's associations. All down the years we have heard of the depredations of poachers who poisoned and blasted the rivers. I am satisfied that that type of thing is disappearing.

We should feel proud of the fact that most of our rod men—and I speak for the rod men—and well organised now. They know that it means absolute explusion from some of those organisations if they are even suspected of fishing in any way other than is permitted by law.

With the development of our inland salmon fisheries, consideration should be given to restocking. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary will always be watchful and mindful of interference with the mouths of the rivers, and while I know great work will be carried on I would ask him to take special notice of the fact that we require further and continuous restocking in our inland salmon rivers. That is very important because the export of salmon is a most valuable industry. I hope that in any reorganisation, the Office of Public Works will not interfere with the natural traditional pattern of that industry. I do not know what some of those engineers know about fishing. I know they are trained to do their jobs, but in the widening of the main rivers, a little channel should be left, wide and deep enough to allow the fish to run through to their natural spawning beds.

It is a fact—and anyone interested in salmon fishing knows it—that if he gets a chance, and provided engineering works do not interfere, a salmon will always go back to almost the spot where he was spawned. On the 18 miles of the Feale where we have 316 licensed anglers, the amount of fish caught per man over the past few years was, I would say, 300 or 400 per cent. below the amount of fish they were able to catch during the season prior to the draining of the river. That means a lot to them because some of them fish more or less as a part-time means of making their livelihood.

I have utter and absolute confidence in the dynamic force and ability of the Parliamentary Secretary. I assure the previous speaker that when we come to the end of the financial year, I shall be one very disappointed member of the House if the Parliamentary Secretary has not put into effect everything he has mentioned.

The first point I want to make is in regard to inland fisheries. The improvement of the fishing facilities in the lakes of the midlands and the west of Ireland which has already started should continue. The most important part of the programme of the improvement of the lakes is restocking. I understand there are two methods of restocking. I think restocking with fingerlings is far and away more efficient than restocking with fish fry. Also in connection with the improvement of the lakes, we must not forget the improvement of the little streams leading into the lakes, the cleaning of those streams, and possibly gravelling them for spawning purposes.

This policy should take precedence over the policy of removing the coarse fish from the lakes and streams. There is a doubt as to whether the policy of removing the coarse fish from the lakes where trout fishing obtains was correct. I should like to deal especially with eels. Eels are heavy bottom feeders and if eels are removed to a great extent, the tendency appears to be that the big trout will go to the bottom to feed. They are not liable to come up to the top for the fly.

A very important point I should like to deal with is that of access to rivers and lakes. I do not think very much has been said about that matter so far. I am aware that efforts have been made to restrict the entry of fishermen to river banks and lakes. This tendency must be stopped at all costs. I believe the right to coarse fishing goes back for generations in every locality. That right should and must be preserved against all comers. It is very embarrassing for clubs and tourist associations that visitors coming into the country to fish a particular lake or river are faced with notices that trespassers will be prosecuted. Some of those people have been pestered by landowners who are unwilling to co-operate in the establishment of coarse fishing as an attraction to tourists. The fish are there; the boats are there; and the fishermen are there. It is too bad to have them pestered by the people who put up these notices.

There are a few cases that have come to my notice of people, and even clubs, attempting to prevent access by anglers to stretches of salmon water. We find similar notices being put up. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to see if there is anything he can do in that matter or any advice that he can give. I feel sure we will have his full co-operation in the matter.

There is one other point that has not been mentioned so far. I have heard this Department described as the cinderella of all the Departments. I hope that when the present Parliamentary Secretary has run his course the Fisheries Branch will have been taken out of that category. I should like to see vocational schools providing classes in fishing.

They could teach the tying of flies.

Yes, and even more than that. The pupils could be taught all the aspects of fishing, a knowledge of the varieties of fish, a knowledge of insect life, fishing gear, artificial baits and flies and everything in connection with river fishing. That would inculcate a desire to fish and when tourists interested in fishing come along these boys would be able to tell them where to get the type of fish they are looking for and the type of bait to use.

There is another matter in connection with boats for estuary and inshore sea angling. I was born on the seashore and have been estuary fishing all my life. In my young days I saw boats in operation all along the north Sligo coast and there is hardly one of them left there now. I should like to suggest that the body responsible should give substantial grants to people who are prepared to build their own boats. The difficulty appears to be that boat building is very costly. I built my own boat three years ago but I built it for inland fishing and I did not get a grant from the Inland Fishery Trust.

When a class for boat building was first formed under vocational guidance a grant was given for the first year but there was no grant for the second, third or fourth year. In spite of that I think the vocational schools, with assistance from the Inland Fishery Trust, have done a tremendous job. I understand that they have built over 1,000 boats over the last four or five years but that the grants are not available now. With regard to estuary fishing and inshore sea fishing I know there is a lack of boats all along the Sligo coast from Ballisodare, through Easkey to Enniscrone. The cost of building a boat there for sea fishing is far more than the cost of building one for lake fishing. I would suggest that a substantial grant be given and I know people who would construct their own boats if they got a fairly decent grant.

Some Deputies have mentioned the marketing of fish but you cannot market fish unless you catch them. There is a natural harbour between Easkey and Enniscrone. Potato boats have come in there, the Limerick Steamship Company have operated boats there and I do not see why we should not try to develop that harbour for commercial fishing. It is opposite Killybegs and is a natural harbour. I should like to see some interest taken in it with a view to the development of commercial fishing.

When you have caught the fish, how are you to market them? A suggestion came to me when listening to the debate. One Deputy remarked that the fish go from the coast to Dublin and back again to the west of Ireland. I have heard the lorries from Killybegs pass my house at 2 or 3 a.m. and they come back the following day. There is something wrong there. I suggest that these fish should be marketed through existing organisations, such as creameries. That would be a good idea. I am not sure how it would work out, but it is an idea which should, at least, be examined.

With regard to sport fishing, in Sligo Bay, there is a type of sport fishing that may not be found in other places around our shores. I refer to tope. The bay is full of tope, so full that a man fishing there recently for mackerel off the rocks caught a 35 lbs. tope and landed him on a 10 lbs. breaking strain line after 45 minutes play. Admittedly, the initiative may have to come locally, but I should like to tell the Parliamentary Secretary—he may not be aware of the position— that I have been going out in boats since I was a boy and I was often afraid of the numbers of tope around the boats. There are unlimited possibilities for pleasure fishing. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to remember that.

Finally, I wish the Parliamentary Secretary the very best of luck in the difficult task he has been given. In recent years, not much success has attended this facet of our economy. In the Parliamentary Secretary, I think we have the right man in the right place. I assure him of my full support and co-operation.

I desire to avail of this opportunity to make a few observations on this very important Estimate. I use the word "important" deliberately because I regard the potential in our fisheries as one of our greatest national assets, closely allied to agriculture. This facet of our economy could be a source of revenue for our Exchequer. It could be a source of secure and remunerative employment and livelihood for at least ten times as many people—some 1,600 persons—as are at present engaged in it.

The fact is, however, that our fishing industry, for anyone who examines it closely, is a source of disappointment and dismay. Despite the many natural advantages we have—a vast coastline, coastal waters abounding with fish of all kinds, natural safeguards since, on the whole, the waters are not dangerous, plus the willingness of our fishermen to avail of any opportunity afforded them—our fishing industry is in a very puny and backward state.

I wish the Parliamentary Secretary every success in grappling with the task and responsibility which now devolve upon him. I believe he will bring to the Department new energy and new enthusiasm but, while I admit that is so, we shall be seeking something more than just a White Paper or grandiose schemes incapable of implementation. We shall be looking to him for positive results in regard to all that is desired in this very important sector of our economy.

I support those of my colleagues who impressed upon the Parliamentary Secretary the desirability of extending the limits of our territorial waters. I admire the Icelandic people for their courage and their daring and the manner in which they won for themselves an extension of their territorial limits, an extension which has redounded to the benefit of their fishing industry. I would not thank the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister for External Affairs for taking like action to win for our fishermen the same security that the Icelandic fishermen now enjoy. Indeed, it would be an indication of goodwill and it would hearten and encourage our fishermen all round our coast if the Irish Government were to take similar action. It would be a clear indication that we were doing all in our power to shelter and protect them and to aid them in their arduous work. I shall be anxious to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary what positive steps the Government intend to take in relation to this very important matter.

I should like to stress the problems appertaining to the inshore fishermen and anglers. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to have particular regard to the views expressed by the various angling bodies, the Federation of Salmon Anglers and other kindred bodies. They represent the real people of Ireland. They represent the real sporting fraternity. They are gravely perturbed at the moment because of the amount of fishing waters being secured by outside interests.

The fishing waters of Ireland are becoming a great attraction to the people of Europe and America. Vast expanses of water are being bought up to the detriment of the native fishing clubs, including the trout clubs. Notices that trespassers will be prosecuted are appearing more and more frequently. "Keep Off" signs are going up on all the most important waters. That is a cause of great concern to anglers. The surprising thing is that there have not been incidents as a result of the encroachment by these people. May I say that all the angling clubs I know will offer a most hearty welcome to visitors who are interested in fishing, and will make them as happy and as comfortable as they possibly can, affording them the same rights as their members enjoy on our waters; but it must be understood that the waters of Ireland are for the Irish people and visitors are here only as visitors.

It would be interesting to ascertain the amount of water rights acquired by outside persons. You would find that what is left for the mere Irish is infinitesimal. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to take cognisance of this and not permit further encroachment on our waters. It is the best water rights which are being purchased. I want to see the situation very soon where the Irish angler and the Irish man and woman can walk unhindered to any bank and fish within the rights, duties and obligations laid down by the State and the various sporting bodies.

In relation to the marketing and export of fish I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he consider what the position is as regards ourselves and the European Economic Community. I am sure we have much to learn from the manner in which they operate especially in Scandinavian countries, for instance, Norway. I would ask him further to consider the carrying out of a survey of the Irish fishing industry on the lines of the survey carried out recently in regard to the cotton industry which the Parliamentary Secretary and his Government will agree brought about a fund of invaluable information. A survey of this kind would be very useful to all concerned.

As regards the use of fish at home, it is rather strange that fish is not available on the buffets of CIE trains except on Fridays. I am partial to fish and on being asked for observations as to how CIE could improve the service, particularly the serving of meals, three out of five of us in one compartment indicated that fish should be on the menu. It is not so and it is a great pity. If you were to ask for fish for breakfast in most hotels in this country you would probably be regarded as a crank by the waitress concerned.

It is an indication of the utter disregard for the processing and canning of our fish that so many tins of foreign fish are to be seen in shops throughout our cities and towns. For every tin of Irish fish I am sure there are 100 tins of foreign fish available. It is by the diminution of imports of foreign tinned fish and the increasing availability of Irish branded tins that we shall be able to judge the progress made by the Parliamentary Secretary in relation to the fishing industry.

Comment has been made on the desirability of training our fishermen. I fully support the contention that every facility should be made available for such training. I am aware of the vocational school schemes for this purpose but I am more conscious still of the fact that very few boys are prepared to avail of them. In my constituency it may be due to the fact that it is an inland county that boys will not avail of this training. On the other hand, is it because the boys and their parents do not regard the career of a fisherman as a secure and lucrative one? There is something fundamentally wrong—and I shall be glad to hear the Parliamentary Secretary's observations on it—that despite all the best efforts of vocational teachers, and the lavish advertising in the local Press our boys are not taking up these careers to the extent we would wish.

In regard to the various rivers in this country, more inspectors and water-keepers need to be engaged. Under the Waterford Board of Conservators there is one inspector who has the responsibility of trying to cope with Tipperary, Waterford and Kilkenny, an almost impossible task to impose on one man. These men have a great deal to contend with nowadays. Apart from poaching, pollution and over-netting, there is the problem of actual violence being done to these inspectors and water-keepers. More of them are necessary in order to safeguard the interests of all concerned with freshwater fishing.

The fishery inspectors and their staffs ought to be made permanent and pensionable servants of the State. We deplore the fact that many of these people are appointed on a temporary basis. There is no incentive for these people to do a thoroughly responsible job. If these inspectors and their staffs were made pensionable servants of the State they would have greater incentive to work more vigorously and fearlessly and without any favour whatsoever. If they are given the necessary security and extra help, many of the crimes committed on our waters will disappear.

I should like the Parliamentary Secretary also to enlighten me as regards the Council of the Board of Conservators. Who are the members of the Council of the Board of Conservators? How many are on the Board? How many, for instance, are rod men as against net men? How many are ex-officio members of the Board and on what grounds are they ex-officio members? How many of these are alien as against Irish? My feeling in the matter is that the various angling bodies with whom I have some slight acquaintance have no confidence in the Board of Conservators as such, that the Board represent a definite vested interest, that they represent the water baron rather than the ordinary angler. I am not referring to any Deputy in this House.

On a point of correction, the Deputy means the joint Board?

The Board of Conservators.

That lets me out.

These people represent a vested interest. Many of them are alien and have no interest in Irish waters except to exploit them to their best advantage and the best advantage of their friends, with little regard to replenishing the waters.

A great deal of harm has been done to our fishing industry as a result of excavation work of various kinds carried out by the Board of Works, the drainage works in particular. When the Parliamentary Secretary is taking steps to penalise these people he will find he is penalising in the main State or semi-State bodies, such as Bord na Móna and the ESB, who are, I understand, guilty of pollution from time to time and of interfering with the fish content of our rivers. Any steps he takes in that regard will be very welcome.

In relation to illegal fishing, I think it is true to say that the rod man is not the greatest offender. Illegal fishing is mainly attributed to the use of the illegal net or the legal net illegally used. Over-netting, too, is a serious problem to which the Parliamentary Secretary should give his attention. It is felt that too many nets are allowed to operate and that this results in killing the occupation of the genuine traditional netsman. It also has the effect of depleting the stocks in our rivers.

There is a saying, attributed to Saint Columcille, that the rivers of Ireland would be denuded of fish. Unless the Parliamentary Secretary takes some steps, it would seem that that is happening in some of our rivers.

Not Saint Columcille.

It was attributed to some of our Saints: I thought to Saint Columcille. I know that the Parliamentary Secretary has taken some steps in this new Bill which he is about to introduce in the House to cope with the question of poaching and I understand that fines and penalties will be more severe. We will all welcome that. It is to be hoped that, as a result, there will be a diminution of these crimes.

One cormorant would do more damage than 40 poachers.

It is futile to lay down penalties for human beings in relation to poaching unless the Parliamentary Secretary gives increased bounties for cormorants and sharks which ravage our rivers and coasts. It am sure he will do something in that regard. By and large, we shall judge the outcome of this White Paper and this Estimate on the basis of the security given to our fishermen. We think that 1,600 persons engaged in Irish fishing is infinitesimal and is a very clear indictment of the disregard and indifference shown to this particular field of endeavour in the past. The rich harvest of fish abounding in our rivers and seas, if tackled properly, could be a boon to our economy. There is no doubt about that. We look with hope and enthusiasm to the Parliamentary Secretary to do something in that regard.

If it is permissible, I should like to refer to the aspect of equipment of boats, harbours, and so on. We want to see our fishermen get the necessary equipment to permit them to cope with foreign trawlers. It is good to hear that there will be a scheme whereby they can avail of the deferred payments system. Those of us who visit the fishing hamlets of our country are very disappointed and dismayed to observe the air of gloom which seems to pervade them. There seems to be an air of gloom and insecurity all round. The homes of our fishermen, obviously, have not the modern amenities we should like them to have. Their standard of living is low. Their boats are not in very good shape. I remember seeing Norwegian and Irish boats side by side in a certain harbour. I was appalled by the comparsion. The Irish boats were old—antiques, one might say—but the Norwegian boats were modern and reflected the atomic age in which we are living. The Parliamentary Secretary has a lot to cope with in that regard.

A very laudable scheme embarked upon by our vocational education committees is the building of boats. A previous speaker suggested that perhaps Bord Fáilte or some Department might make grants available to these persons to enable them to build their own boats. The vocational education committees carry out the work. In my constituency, we find that, having built the boats, we are obliged to transport them to places such as Helvick Head and, having got them there, it is difficult to obtain access to the small harbour. There is a conglomeration of boats there, between fishing boats and small pleasure craft. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary—if it falls within the scope of his Department—to see what he can do to improve the slipway at Helvick Head for the many boats coming down there from Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir, and other areas.

I wish the Parliamentary Secretary every success in his new sphere of office and assure him of the utmost support we can render to him in that regard. We look forward with hope and enthusiasm to better times for the Irish fishing fraternity and trust that the many hardships which beset them at present will gradually be overcome. Some of the matters outlined to us by the Parliamentary Secretary will be very welcome but there is a long way to go. Some of them are really stepping-stones to better days. I wish the Parliamentary Secretary every success in his endeavours.

I am very grateful for the many constructive suggestions made in the course of this debate and for the large number of contributions made by Deputies. I only hope that there will be a direct ratio between the number of contributions and the fish landed in the coming 12 months.

The objective of the terms introduced in the recent Government White Paper on Sea Fisheries is to ensure greater landings and a greater conping-stone tinuity of supply of fish. That is the whole kernel of and the key to improvement of our sea fishing industry —more landings and a greater continuity. In that regard, there is some hope, and confidence, indeed, as a result of the latest figures. In regard to landings, for the first quarter of 1962, their value is up by £37,000 on the corresponding quarter of last year. For the first quarter of this year the figure of £256,000 is an increase of £46,000 on the corresponding figure of exports of sea fish in 1961.

It was, I think, Deputy Dillon who emphasised that, basically, our sea fishing industry depends on the boat-owning fishermen around our coasts. I fully subscribe to that point of view. That is the whole purpose of policies pursued here in regard to the sea fishing industry by successive Governments. That is still the policy and that indeed is the main purpose of the increased grants and incentives outlined in the White Paper, to facilitate the boat-owning fishermen to purchase in future better boats and better equipped boats.

They have taken another leaf out of our policy. Running the Fianna Fáil Party is becoming the principal occupation of the Opposition in the House.

The important thing is to get the job done.

I suppose it is. That is my consolation.

The figure of 1,631 people employed whole time in the industry as fishermen has been mentioned. In order to get the full picture, I should mention that part-time fishermen around the coast number 4,000 odd. Inevitably, a large percentage of our inshore fishing is of such a character as to lend itself to part-time fishing. In the context of our situation, that should be emphasised so as to give the whole picture, that there are 4,000 odd part-time fishermen and 1,600 to 1,700 whole-time fishermen around the coast. Inevitably, a large amount of shell fishing, in particular for lobsters, prawns and so on, which has become of increasing value over recent years, will always be part-time, a supplementary income for the man with the small farm near the coast who can improve his standard of living by engaging in shell fishing and inshore fishing at certain times.

What would be the duration of this part-time fishing?

The particular season, three or four months. It varies with the different types of fishing. I mention that to give the whole picture as this other figure of 1,700 was bandied around and might give the impression that that was our only concern.

Has the Parliamentary Secretary got comparative figures, as he had for permanent fishermen, for the previous year? Has there been a reduction?

It is practically the same figure. The problem, looking at it as a whole, and like most problems in industry, agriculture, or any other aspect of economic activity, can be divided into two categories—production and marketing. On the production side, the objective is more landings. We have come down on the side of specialisation in regard to boats for the inshore man specialising in lobsters and shell fishing. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara have designed a 32-foot boat which costs about £3,000 and for which all the financial facilities and grants are available. Such a boat can be obtained for a deposit of five per cent. which, in the case of a £3,000 boat, is not an unduly excessive figure. In addition to that, the grants set out in the White Paper are available, the 25 per cent. initial deduction, plus a 15-year four per cent. interest loan, and the 10 per cent. incentive grant in the event of the repayment being effected in ten years. Those grants, loan facilities and incentives are also available for the larger boat in which An Bord Iascaigh Mhara are interested in getting our fishermen to specialise with regard to deeper sea fishing. This is the 65-foot boat costing in the region of £25,000. At the moment An Bord Iascaigh Mhara are in course of constructing this large 65-foot vessel in one of their boatyards. We feel our fishermen would do well to concentrate on these two types of boats, the 32-footer for the inshore fishing and shell fishing and the large 65-footer for the more regular fishing in deeper waters. The facilities I mentioned are available for all new boats.

I think it was Deputy Flanagan who criticised the extent of these grants and loan facilities and implied that they were not as good as those obtaining in Britain. I want to refute that categorically. The grants available in British for the purchase of boats by the British fishermen stand at 30 per cent. of the cost. Our grants under the recent scheme come to 35 per cent. of the cost. In addition, in Britain, the fishermen must pay a higher deposit and make loan arrangements at the ordinary interest rates obtaining there. Here, in addition to the 35 per cent. cash grant, we only ask the fisherman to pay interest at the rate of four per cent. over 15 years. The grants available to Irish fishermen, and the loan facilities, are a very real and concrete improvement on the facilities available to the British fishermen.

In regard to the fishermen around the coast, having considered that for the future they will be in a position to purchase boats which we feel are the proper types of boat for the fishing they undertake, we considered it is also necessary to provide for them an advisory service analogous to the agricultural advisory service. That aspect has been referred to in the White Paper and at the moment An Bord Iascaigh Mhara are preparing proposals along those lines. I would envisage a situation in which trained men would be located around the coast among our fishing communities and in a position to impart up to date advice on fishing techniques and other such matters to the fishermen in a particular area. As I say the Board are working on that matter at the moment and I hope in the coming months to be able to initiate that scheme.

In addition, it is proposed—and this matter was referred to by Deputy Coughlan—to initiate a regular inspection of boats whereby the engines will be checked regularly, and a repair service organised so that repairs and replacements can be carried out as quickly as possible. From our investigations, we are convinced that a large number of fishing days are lost every year by reason of engine breakdowns and lack of immediate replacements and repairs. The Board are working at the moment on proposals to extend their repair and replacement service so that fishermen can work to maximum efficiency by having well-equipped, properly-engined boats functioning for as long as possible throughout the year.

It is important to emphasise that any improvement in the facilities must rest fundamentally on those engaged in it. That is why we are setting up this advisory service, why we are making grants and other facilities available. It is appreciated that in many cases fishermen may not be able to enter into the financial commitments involved in purchasing new boats. For that reason, hire purchase facilities are now available for the purchase of secondhand boats: a ten per cent. initial deposit and extended payment period with the four per cent. interest rate apply to the purchase of these secondhand boats in order to enable the fisherman who is not able to enter into the financial commitment involved in purchasing a new boat to get himself started off with a secondhand boat.

Purchased from whom?

Wherever he may find one, for instance, in Scotland.

Who is going to value the boat?

The Board. The fisherman will make a deal with the owner of the boat and then the Board will inspect it and decide whether it is a sound boat—as they would as ordinary sensible people issuing a loan decide whether a boat would qualify for a loan—and then advance the loan, the fishermen having first made the deal.

I commend the Parliamentary Secretary for it. I should like him to take care in regard to the men he will get to value the boats. Let us not forget the case of the trawlers.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that there is a danger?

There are dangers to it.

We had that trouble before.

I think the main thing is to build up the catching power of the industry. This is a step in that direction. It is an effort to enable many under-capitalised people in many cases to get into the catching end of the industry and make it a profitable engagement for themselves so that they can progress to buy the larger new boats.

Having said that in regard to our existing fishermen, let me say that we are also anxious to encourage for the future years an inflow of trained men, especially trained young men, into the industry. For that reason, some three years ago, a training scheme to induce young fishermen into the industry was initiated. The results for some time were not as good as we had anticipated. In fact, last January, the number who attended for interview had fallen as low as eight. However, the value of the publication of the White Paper on this matter and the attendant publicity can best be appreciated by figures which have just come to hand.

Since the publication of the White Paper, we announced a further training scheme with interviews to recruit young men into the industry. The number of applicants in the last week of June was 40. Thirty-six boys were interviewed and 32 were found suitable for training. They are being allotted to the various boats round the coast. There we have a practical example of and room for certain optimism and confidence as to the future of this scheme. The numbers which had fallen to as low as eight jumped to 36 in the last week of June and 32 boys between the ages of 16 and 18 are being allotted to boats. They will be paid at the rate of £5 per week for the next one-and-half to two years. At the end of that period, they will qualify for a share in the earnings of the boat and we hope they will continue in the industry and do the skipper's course and qualify for their own boats. I think there are certain grounds for hope in that direction. So much for the production side. On the marketing side of the problem, we have certain difficulties as well. Many of them were mentioned in the course of the debate.

May I ask a question about the boats? What about the regulation requiring a master's certificate in respect of a 65 ft. boat? Was there not a problem there? It was said that such boats would not be put out without a chief officer who had a master's certificate. How will these boys get a master's certificate?

Through the skipper's training course.

Will that give them a master's certificate?

It will give them the qualifying certificate which is necessary. On the marketing side, there are two aspects—the home market and the export market. On the home front, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara will continue to play its role in developing the market——

"Continue" is not the word, you know.

——I hope to a greater extent. Mention was made of the necessity for greater publicity work in regard to the promotion of fish consumption at home. I agree with many of the views advanced. Indeed, the Fishing Industry Development Committee, which administers the fund which has accrued from the contributions of the importers of fresh fish, has been working on that problem in recent months. It is proposed in the coming term, after the summer, to organise in the vocational schools throughout the country a fish cooking competition for girls. That will be organised on a country, regional and national basis so as to encourage and develop the cooking of fish among the young girls just leaving the vocational school who are in a position to put their attributes in that direction to good effect in future years. This competition is being organised by the Fishing Industry Development Committee. A public relations officer has been appointed to carry out this work which will receive due publicity in the coming months. The national fish cooking competition will induce housewives to cook fish and present it in better forms.

In addition to that, as set out in the White Paper, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara propose to provide help and advice towards suitable structural alterations and the provision of equipment for retailers throughout the country. It is proposed to ensure that at all centres throughout the country proper facilities for fresh and processed fish are available. We propose to devise a scheme through An Bord Iascaigh Mhara which will enable that to be done. The Board are at present working on such a scheme for retailers and the details will be announced, I hope, fairly shortly.

In regard to fish exports, I feel that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should and can play a more positive rôle in this respect. Heretofore, they have not been playing the sort of rôle in this direction that I would envisage them playing. For the future, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara propose to co-operate actively with our existing fish exporters in the promotion of exports. A concrete example of what I mean in this respect is the functioning of the Irish Herring Export Group in recent months. This group was set up towards the end of last year and comprises our principal exporters of processed herring. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara co-operated and, underpinned by State guarantee in respect of some financial losses, they got together and barrelled a substantial quantity of herrings which was disposed of in Czechoslovakia recently. This was disposed of under a single Irish brand. It was cured to a high quality and sold as an excellent product on the market in Czechoslovakia.

That group has done a market survey in regard to various countries in Europe recently. It is hoped to expand to a very considerable extent our herring exports in that direction in the future. I would envisage in many other fields of fish exports the same co-operation between our exporters here and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara in the future. Let An Bord Iascaigh Mhara play a positive part in bringing them together and in organising bulk exports of that nature under a single Irish brand and provide the necessary financial guarantee for that sort of development in the future. It will be an activity in which An Bord Iascaigh Mhara will engage to a greater extent.

Deputy Flanagan brought us on a grand tour of our fishing ports. I should like to reassure him in one respect. Even though we are concentrating to a certain extent on building up five major fishery harbours round the coast, there is no intention whatever of neglecting the smaller ports. Indeed works are in hand, or are proposed, for such places as Greencastle, Clogherhead and Kilmore Quay, to mention but a few. The small landing places will, of course, always have a place in the industry.

As to Deputy T. Lynch's queries about Passage East and its development as a major fishing centre I am not in a position to make any statement yet. As I said in answer to a Parliamentary Question put down by him, difficulties have arisen in respect to the development of Passage East as a major fishery harbour, and Mr. Bjuke, the advisory consultant, was brought over here recently and is preparing a report on Passage and on Dunmore East, and our decision as to the future development of that area will largely hinge on the advice he furnishes. That advice is not yet to hand.

Did he not make a report earlier?

A preliminary report only, but he is to make a more detailed one. We have a broad outline in his earlier report of the relative merits of Passage and Dunmore East but, when further investigations are completed, he will make a fuller report which we will be able to evaluate and appreciate. I hope a decision will be made in the matter within a few months.

Does that mean before September?

I will not be pinned down.

Why not? Business is business. We must be able to say we will deliver the fish at a certain date.

Certainly the Deputy can be assured there will be a major fishery development in the Waterford estuary.

I am very glad to hear that but at the same time, I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to say when this will be done because we have had this kind of talk for so many years. Every year, the statement is made that so much is to be spent on a port — Galway, Killybegs, Burtonport, Clogherhead. I should be obliged if the Parliamentary Secretary would state how much will be spent on the Waterford estuary.

The Deputy would not desire us to erect something there that would be a failure.

It could not be a failure there.

Practical difficulties arose in putting the harbour at Passage East as originally planned.

Having regard to all the mistakes the Department has made in this respect—I am not blaming the Parliamentary Secretary—it was a reasonable precaution to get a second report from the adviser.

References were made to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara. It is proposed, as I said in my opening speech, to re-organise the Board in the near future and I hope to be in a position to make an announcement on that matter fairly shortly. In view of the functions given to it in the White Paper, the Board will need to be re-organised and given a new slant, as it were. That view was expressed here by several Deputies and I agree with it.

On the question of the inland fisheries, I agree with what was said about the Inland Fisheries Trust— they are doing a magnificent job, particularly in the way they have secured co-operation at local level between the angling associations and the Trust themselves. They have set a headline on how big organisations should co-operate with small bodies. They are now in a position, as a result of a recent decision, to finance their operations entirely from a grant-in-aid from the Department. That will lead to better administration by the Trust in the future and they are now able to plan ahead, a matter which is essential in respect to inland fisheries.

They are now in the process of preparing a five-year angling plan to cover trout and coarse fishing development throughout the country and also sea angling. There should be no conflict at all as between trout fishing and coarse fishing, because we have ample waters and we can concentrate on trout fishing in one area and on coarse fishing in another area. Regarding Deputy Dillon's suggestion that the canals should be stocked with coarse fish, I agree with him to a large extent and consultations are going ahead with a view to determining the feasibility of some scheme.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary see that no more of the canals are drained dry?

I should like to get details of that.

The details have been published. They have been in the public press during the past couple of weeks.

It escaped my notice.

I shall give the Parliamentary Secretary a cutting. It happened beyond Mullingar.

I should be glad to get that information from the Deputy. We have had discussions and are having discussions in that matter and I hope the scheme suggested by Deputy Dillon may be feasible; it certainly would be attractive.

Another matter mentioned regarding inland fisheries generally is the problem in relation to the boards of conservators. Deputies Tully and Treacy suggested putting the staffs of boards of conservators on a more permanent basis. At the moment we are examining carefully the question of revising the administration of these boards with a view to eventually having the staffs put on a more permanent basis. That would be very desirable indeed.

Deputy Tully raised another matter which I had overlooked. It would apply more to the question of protection of our sea fisheries, but it is also relevant to inland fishing—poaching at the mouths of rivers and trawlers coming within out territorial waters to do so. He suggested that a helicopter would be useful in this respect. An inter-Departmental committee is examining the practicability of providing a helicopter service.

The Minister for Transport and Power will shoot you but we will stand up for you.

I am hoping that, if it were found practicable to provide a helicopter, it might, as well as participating in rescue operations, be of some help in the protection of our fisheries. It would, of course, be a purely ancillary operation in that the actual apprehension of the offenders would have to be carried out by the corvettes. Its main function would be of a deterrent nature.

It is an interesting way to hear of it, after three Ministers had told us nothing would induce them to get it.

I merely said the matter is being examined: its practicability is being investigated by an inter-Departmental committee.

At least the Parliamentary Secretary is examining it, which is more than the others did.

There is no danger of the lighthouse people losing their drop of brandy as a result?

I do not think there is anything further I need add beyond to emphasise that this was a very long debate.

What about the oyster beds?

The oyster bed experiment at Clew Bay did not prove successful for technical reasons. We now know that the methods adopted are not successful and we shall try other ways. The development of an oyster fishing industry here on a long term approach is highly desirable. The indications are that the Dutch oyster fisheries may be seriously affected in about ten years' time. If we plan ten years ahead, we may be in a position to fill a valuable market in that respect.

No comment on the mussel industry in the Boyne?

I want to have a discussion with the Deputy about that, too. I do not think there is anything more I need refer to. Because of the very long debate, a number of points were made and, if I have omitted to refer to some of them, I apologise; but when I get down to reading the full debate, I shall be glad to follow up the suggestions made and communicate with Deputies, if required.

May I remind the Parliamentary Secretary that I asked him a question which I have asked four of his predecessors? Who surveyed the three German trawlers and gave a certificate that they were sea-worthy?

I could not answer that now.

Why must the man who did away with £250,000 be hidden?

There is no point in restarting old hares.

Oh, yes, there is.

In fact, Deputy Dillon is so befogged in his thinking on this subject that he referred to "these three old warriors still in existence and under our care." They were disposed of two years ago.

Not two years ago. It took a long time hammering at the present Minister for Lands.

What we would like from the Fine Gael Party on fishery development is some forward thinking and not looking backwards.

I would like to have some looking backwards in order to make sure that when we are buying these new boats, this gentleman or these gentlemen will not have anything to do with the purchase.

Before I conclude, Deputy A. Barry and Deputy MacCarthy raised the question of the Kinsale cannery. I am keeping a close eye on the situation in regard to that matter. I cannot go any further than that.

Do not leave them closed.

As I said, I shall be glad to communicate with Deputies in regard to matters raised during the debate.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary communicate with me? I asked this question away back and I was told to wait until the Estimate.

That is a silly bit of information.

Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds would never be silly. It would build a fine harbour in Waterford estuary.

I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question. It has nothing to do with the trawlers. There are repeated reports appearing in the newspapers that the instalments due by fishermen purchasing their boats are falling more and more into arrears. I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary (1) is that true and (2) why should it be true, and is it associated with the practice of marketing the catch through an agency other than Bord Iascaigh Mhara, or what is the explanation of these growing arrears.

First, as regards what we are doing in that respect, one of the main incentives in the White Paper relates to this very problem. They were falling into arrears. We have decided to recast all hire purchase accounts and, from 1st April this year, there will be a new hire purchase arrangement which will include the arrears and extend by five years the existing period. They were generally on a ten years' deal. We are extending that by five years to make it, in effect, a 15 years' deal. All the outstanding arrears are being lumped into a re-cast hire purchase account from 1st April. As at that date, therefore, there are no arrears for any fishermen. The period will be extended by up to five years and all fishermen will be repaying at a rate of four per cent. That is provided for in the White Paper.

That is a nice way of getting rid of arrears, by announcing "They ain't arrears no more." But that does not alter the basic fact that the payments are not being made. Since the Parliamentary Secretary is being so frank and open, is this associated with the sell-out to the wholesale fish-mongers, where the fishermen, instead of marketing through Bord Iascaigh Mhara and having regular deductions made from the proceeds of their catches, market a great deal of fish through the wholesalers and do not bother to pay the instalments on their boats at all?

I do not think that is the position. The cause of the arrears may be unfavourable conditions over the years in the fishing industry. That is why we brought in these grants and incentives to enable fishermen in the future to make a sufficient living out of their landings to be able to meet the repayments.

By which time, I imagine, the Parliamentary Secretary hopes to have passed from his present office.

Question put and declared lost.
Vote put and agreed to.