Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Salmon Stocks.

16.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries the steps he is taking to conserve salmon stocks; and if any of the recommendations of the Inland Fisheries Commission are being implemented.

The most farreaching measure which has been taken for the conservation of our salmon stocks is the Control of Fishing for Salmon Order, 1973, which prescribes the maximum number of net licences which may be issued for each fishery district. The order also lays down strict criteria of eligibility of applicants for licences that are aimed at ensuring that only bona fide fishermen are granted licences. Other measures which have been adopted to conserve salmon stocks involve the prescribing of an annual close season and a weekly close time, the prohibition of net fishing in certain areas and the prohibition of other methods of fishing including the use of nets in excess of prescribed lengths.

While the final report of the Inland Fisheries Commission has not yet come to hand three interim reports have been issued two of which relate to the regulation of netting for salmon at sea and in estuarine waters. The main recommendations in these reports have been implemented by the Control of Fishing for Salmon Order, 1973.

How does the Parliamentary Secretary view a statement recently made by fishermen on the islands that they can issue their own licences?

Nobody on islands or elsewhere has authority to issue licences, except the board of conservators and, in the case of County Cork, the administrator for the area.

Deputy Blaney.

Is the Minister satisfied——

I have called Deputy Blaney.

——that the licences now in operation, especially those governing fishing in the estuaries——

Deputy Blaney.

May I not ask a question?

The Chair is doing his best but getting little co-operation.

The Chair called me several times.

The regulations are reviewed annually.

Question No. 17.

May I not ask a supplementary?

The Chair has called the next question. Question No. 17. The Chair called the Deputy on a number of occasions.

I know you did.

I called the Deputy on a number of occasions.

I was talked down by another Deputy over here. Does the Parliamentary Secretary consider it is a wise or an accurate procedure to put into effect parts of various interim reports without awaiting the final report when the overall situation could be much better dealt with, more clearly defined and perhaps a better job done?

I hoped to have the reports long before now. As they are not available measures had to be taken for the interim period. This order relates to one year.

Could I ask that anything the Parliamentary Secretary may do as a result of the interim reports, while awaiting the final report, will not prejudice his overall consideration of the contents of the final report when he receives it?

The final report or any report submitted by anybody is only on an advisory basis for consideration by the Department. I have a reasonable knowledge of the position and so have my advisers.

(Interruptions.)

Question No. 17.

17.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if any plans are being considered to effect an increase of salmon stocks in the river Liffey and in Dublin Bay.

With a view to allowing an increased escape of salmon for spawning purposes the number of licences for commercial nets in Dublin and other fishery districts has been stabilised at the 1973 level of fishing which represents a reduction on that for the previous year.

In addition, I understand that the Dublin Board of Conservators propose to carry out certain improvements to the spawning beds in the river Liffey this year.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary say if he is quite happy with the fact that it was found necessary to limit the number of licences in the Liffey while the number elsewhere could be increased?

The number has not increased elsewhere and the number issued this year may not exceed the number issued last year.

Surely the Minister will agree it is not the number of licences that finally determines whether or not overfishing is taking place but rather the length of time allowed to those with nets and the manner in which they are allowed to use them? This business about reducing the number of nets is a lot of hooey.

As I indicated to the House on a number of occasions, the position is being reviewed continuously.