Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Drogheda Fishmeal Factory.

26.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if sufficient fish is being delivered to the Drogheda fishmeal factory to produce the tonnage of fishmeal indicated as the proper production capacity of this factory when applying for grant.

The factory to which the Deputy refers is privately owned and so it would not be proper for me to disclose information as to its day-to-day operations.

Surely it is of interest whether or not it would be proper for the Minister to give grants and loans to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to provide more fishing vessels in that area if there is a factory there not getting its full tonnage of fish out of which to manufacture fishmeal? The report of the Minister's consultants in Denmark said there was 40 years supply of sprats in the Irish Sea from which to manufacture fishmeal. Surely this is a political matter and something the Minister should consider. I put down the question because I want to find out whether there should be more grants and loans for boats; we have the fishermen. Will the Parliamentary Secretary let us know if the Minister will provide more grants and loans for boats in the Clogherhead area?

That is a separate question.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary consider it is good economics to fish only for catches for fishmeal, and is he aware of the fact that sprats at the moment are fetching £100 per ton in Hamburg, whereas we are only getting in the neighbourhood of £10 per ton for them for fishmeal? In view of that and because of the general scarcity of fish would he ensure that only immature fish and fish offal are used in these factories?

Could the Parliamentary Secretary say whether the boats working there at the moment are getting full and satisfactory catches or is there a shortage of fish or a shortage of landing craft? Before this industry got a grant there was ample evidence from Bord Iascaigh Mhara that there was an ample supply of both sprat and sand eel in that general area to keep an industry of that kind going.

I would require notice of that question.

Surely when a grant has been given out of the taxpayers' money the provision of raw materials should be of interest to this House.

Is the Deputy against it?

I am for it.