Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 5 Jun 1980

Vol. 321 No. 11

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dumping of Fish.


asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry if he will set up a fish marketing board to avoid a recurrence of the recent situation whereby fishermen were forced to dump fish due to lack of buyers.

Existing market outlets for our fish landings as secured by private enterprise with market promotion assistance from Bord Iascaigh Mhara are normally adequate to dispose of such landings. In the circumstances I do not see the need to establish a fish marketing board as suggested by the Deputy.

Under EEC regulations certain species of fish which do not reach a minimum price level are withdrawn from the market. Fish so withdrawn cannot be sold for human consumption and must be disposed of for other purposes such as fishmeal, or dumped. The quantity of landings may at times exceed demand in which event some limited dumping may be unavoidable. This system assists in the stabilisation of prices and guarantees as far as possible a fair income to fishermen.

Is the Minister satisfied that BIM are doing enough to look for new markets abroad? Even though the Minister states that there is minimum dumping, he must agree that, since January, the amount of fish being dumped is very serious.

I am happy that BIM are doing a good job and I am confident that they will secure new markets. Some factual information may be helpful. In the past three months the number of tons of fish withdrawn was 1,508.63 tons. That was all paid for by EEC money. One thousand, two hundred and fifteen tons found their way into fishmeal or animal feed and the amount dumped, which was paid for too, of course, was less than 300 tons. One would want to be careful about hysterical figures plucked out of the air by people to bolster a case. It may be irritating, but it is not as serious as they would like to make out.

In regard to the payment to which the Minister refers, is it correct to say that the payment made was a very nominal amount?

The withdrawal price is lower than we would like but, when one considers that, of the amount of fish landed, something over 1 per cent and less than 2 per cent has to be dumped, it is not a serious problem.

Is it not unacceptable to fishermen who spend their time catching fish that it cannot be disposed of and, from the point of view of the hunger in the world, is it not a disgraceful spectacle to see food being dumped when people are starving?

The Deputy is making a statement instead of asking a question.

The fact that fish are bought at a certain agreed price, even though it is a low price, must be a source of some consolation to fishermen in so far as they are assured of a price. The withdrawal price may be low, but they are happy in the knowledge that the fish they catch will be disposed of. With regard to dumping of fish, I indicated to the House before that it could be given to charity. I made inquiries in my Department as to whether there was a single request for fish from a charitable organisation since this was last raised in the Dáil and there was no such request.

Do people have to beg?

We went on the Gay Byrne Hour and offered the fish free to anyone who would like it.

Why use the Gay Byrne Hour? Why not have a policy?

Would the Minister consider it wise and proper to have some established policy in his Department to ensure that fish would not be dumped and that some arrangements would be made to give it to people who need it?

If the Deputy can come up with suggestions that would be helpful, I will be prepared to pursue them.

If the Minister wants a suggestion, he could send it to the poorest parts of the different cities and provincial towns. They did it once with free beef. Why not free fish?

There would be an outcry from people in the Deputy's own area who are making their living from fishing. They would say we were interfering with the market.

Does the Minister think that over 1,500 tons is a very serious proportion, whether this fish is dumped or put into a fishmeal factory? Could he tell us what markets BIM have abroad, or what they are doing to promote and market this fish that is making an extremely low price? This is uneconomical for the fishermen.

May I correct Deputy White? The 1,500 tons were withdrawn and paid for. One thousand, two hundred and fifteen of those tons found their way into fishmeal or animal feed and the amount dumped was less than 300 tons.