Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1981: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I welcome the decision to raise the amount of money being allocated from central funds to Bord Iascaigh Mhara from £15 million to £40 million. The Minister has described the Bill as a relatively small piece of legislation and felt it would not take a lot of time to pass through the House. In my view it is important, involving as it does a vast amount of money and increasing the allocation available to BIM for the provision of loans and grants by £25 million.

The Minister's speech contains a number of interesting items and overall gives a thorough rundown of the activities of BIM and the Irish fishing industry. He informed the House that the board had withdrawn completely from active participation in fish processing and marketing. He said that they now operate as a development body for the industry. It is a pity that BIM have withdrawn from the processing and marketing sector because they are the main areas in which the fishing industry has failed over the past 50 or 60 years. Marketing here is done in a very slipshod manner and at most times fresh fish supplies are not available to the majority of people here. Provincial towns and villages do not get a regular supply of fish on any day of the week not alone on Fridays. Some efforts were made to rectify the situation but I do not think they were serious enough. The result is that home consumption of Irish-caught fish is limited. Invariably if one wants to ensure that one has fish for a particular meal one has to resort to tinned fish, most of which is imported although originally the fish may have been caught in Irish waters.

In my view the need for a proper marketing system is a basic requirement for that industry but we have never developed it. The only place where people can get a constant supply of fish is on the shelves of local supermarkets and shops and that is not a satisfactory situation. On many occasions in this House I have drawn attention to the fact that we export thousands of tons of fresh or frozen fish annually whether it is herring or mackerel, as it is more likely to be at present, and much of that fish returns here in processed form. Therein lies a reason for great concern by us all. Our fishing industry has as many people employed at sea as it has on shore in processing and other ancillary activities. The ratio is 1:1 while in Holland and Denmark the ratio is of the order of 1:6 or 1:7. In other words, for every man out fishing there are six or seven people employed in processing or other ancillary industries. That statistic should make us sit up and pay attention to our lack of business acumen and initiative as far as fish processing is concerned.

The Minister made some play about the board helping private people and private companies to enter this business, but we must admit that this has not been the success wished for. This problem has not arisen recently; it has been in existence for many years. Our fishing industry employs approximately 6,500 people around our coasts, part-time or full-time, in the processing end. If we worked to the same ratio as on the Continent, the number employed would be between 36,000 and 40,000. The Minister should bear in mind, in connection with employment and lack of it, that this is a sphere which must surely be very seriously examined. We have a potential for approximately 30,000 extra jobs and there has not been a serious national effort to provide those jobs in the processing sector. On the other hand, we are exporting jobs. We hear a great deal about exporting cattle on the hoof and providing jobs for people in the processing sector in other countries. We are, and have been, exporting fish probably on a greater scale and thereby exporting jobs.

I am told that last Sunday 140 container lorries left the port of Castletownbere with fresh mackerel, mainly for the Continent. I am sure that Deputy Sheehan will have something to say on that subject later on. On another day during the weekend 102 container lorries left the same port with the same raw material. That raw material will be processed, primarily in fellow member countries of the EEC, thereby providing a vast number of jobs which could well be provided here. Through the winter there have been photographs of dozens of Dutch and East European vessels anchored off the pier of Rathmullen in County Donegal. Thousands of tonnes of fish have been taken out of this country in the past year by the East Europeans and our fellow members of the EEC, fish in the raw state, or sufficiently frozen for transport to the Continent, where they will be processed. While this may be of benefit to the fishing industry, and probably is their lifeline at present, that is not the answer to the problem. Those fish should, and must, be processed at home. There is a serious imbalance in this regard in comparison with our European partners. We employ a fraction of what should be employed in the processing business. Furthermore, most times you cannot even buy this fish on our market. We have failed very badly in the marketing and processing sectors.

The Minister should get An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, or whatever agency is responsible, to concentrate on those two very important areas, marketing and processing. The other side effect of the lack of marketing and processing means the dumping every day of valuable fish. Only two months ago, in Rossaveal, County Galway, thousands of pounds worth of good, fresh herring were dumped into the sea because there was an over-supply situation. Our few processing plants, the fish meal factories, were unable to deal with the quantities caught. It was terrible to hear on television fishermen from Rossaveal and other Galway ports telling RTE reporters that they had no option but to catch fish knowing that they must dump them. They went out and caught the fish, brought them to port, the fish were marked with dye, and dumped back in the sea the following day. Surely that indicated that the fishing industry is not properly managed or organised. It is a disgrace. Millions of people around the world are under-nourished, or actually starving, and we are dumping top quality food. I do not know whose job it is, but that situation must be stopped because it cannot be tolerated.

On the other hand, it is absolutely ridiculous that we are importing huge quantities of herring, in particular, from third countries, primarily Canada, Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands. The Minister stated last night that he is opposing this type of third country importation. He should veto it. It has grave implications for our fishing industry. Our fishermen have suffered severely in recent years, particularly in the last two or three years, due to seemingly unlimited importation of fish from third countries. The Minister spoke about a 15 per cent import duty to be put on these imports, but that is not sufficient. It will not stop the flow. We need extremely strict quotas and a vast reduction in the present quotas. Fishermen have not been able to sell their produce in recent years at a reasonable price and have not been able to meet their loan repayments to BIM because the price of fish in many cases is less than what pertained three to five years ago.

While everything else, in particular the price of diesel oil, has gone up, the price for fish in many cases has actually decreased and in most cases has remained static, because of the flood of imports from third countries. Our partners within the EEC, in particular Germany, the Netherlands and France, are responsible for that state of affairs. It suits them to trade their consumer goods and other finished commodities to Canada, Norway and Iceland and in return to accept a cheap over-supply of fish. That is completely against the interests of our fishing industry and that situation should not be allowed to continue. We must stop that in-flow of cheap herring and other fishery products.

Canada, Iceland and other foreign countries have a 200 mile limit which is strictly implemented. We have a six mile limit in most places, 12 miles at the maximum, and by the end of 1982 that limit will be zero if we do not come to an agreement on a common fisheries policy. As a result of the vast area of fishing grounds available to these countries, their catches are enormous and they can afford to sell them off at a very low price which certainly cannot be competed with by our fishermen. We have enough problems with our tiny limits, with fleets from the other EEC countries around our shores, and most of our fisheries are closed to the fishing of herring. A ban has been necessary because of over-fishing by foreign fleets in years gone by and, unfortunately, by some of our native fleets in recent years. We must face up to the fact that we have been over-doing it ourselves at times. We will have to face up to the threat to the Irish fishing industry because of cheap imports from third countries. Again much of these cheap imports are processed by the countries I have mentioned, Germany or Holland, and they are imported into Ireland. Much of the fish on the shelves of shops or supermarkets, which we have to buy because of a lack of a continuous supply of fresh fish, is imported. The vast majority of the tinned and processed fish we use here is imported and it has come in as a cheap product from the countries that I have already mentioned. So we have a most serious situation in regard to marketing and processing and I have seen no real attempt to solve the problem over the past ten, 15 or 20 years. To see the fleets of lorries coming from Killybegs or Castletownbere, or the fleets of ships, boats and luggers going out at Rathmullen in County Donegal indicates that there has not been any solution to the problem. Sooner or later we must wake up to that fact and provide the processing facilities that are so lacking in this country.

I referred to the closure of many fisheries around this country at present. We on the south coast in particular have a grievance regarding the closure of the Celtic Sea. The present situation is not satisfactory. Officially the Celtic Sea is closed and unofficially it is open. There is quite a conflict of interests because what the big trawlermen want does not necessarily suit the inshore fishermen. One cannot ever satisfy everybody but I would like to see the Minister draw up a solution which would go a long way towards satisfying the majority.

Send for Solomon.

The Deputy is no Solomon either. It is most unlikely that we will get a solution which would satisfy everybody. But at present we do not know exactly what the stocks of herring are in the Celtic Sea and I have repeatedly brought that to the notice of this House. We are told that the figures are reliable but the fishermen are not happy that the estimates given are correct. Large numbers of herring were caught in the Celtic Sea last year and this year, which seems to verify the opinion of the fishermen that stocks are much greater than was stated by the research branch in the Department of Fisheries and Forestry. I would like to see a situation where the small inshore fisherman would be allowed to catch a definite quota of fish and where the same would hold for the trawlerman but in a different region. A system will have to be devised whereby the small man and the trawlerman will not be in conflict. There is a living to be had for both from the Celtic Sea but unfortunately at the moment the price of herring is too low. The small fishermen on the south coast — and there are very many of them — are having a disastrous year. Some system will have to be introduced whereby they will have an opportunity to catch and sell fish and make a decent living. They are being offered £5 a box for herring at the moment whereas four or five years ago they got £15 or £20 for a similar box of herrings. Many of them have had to give up fishing and draw the dole because there is no future in fishing; they cannot make a living at that price. I ask the Minister seriously to review the situation and set up a system whereby the small inshore fisherman and the trawlerman can live in harmony and make a living. The fish are there if there was a proper system for catching them.

The Minister talks about the increase in the size of boats and in the cost of boats. He says that because of the rapidly rising cost of these boats and the tendency to use increasingly larger boats, together with the modernisation of the existing fleet, he intends to raise the limit to £40 million. Later on he says that other measures are in hand to make fishing operations more efficient and thereby more profitable. He has other comments to make also. But the theme of the Minister's statement is that boats are getting bigger and techniques are getting more advanced and therefore we are catching more fish. Of course, there is a certain element of truth in that but there is also a dangerous underlying background and we should be very careful that as the boats get bigger and as the catching techniques improve we do not exterminate the supplies of fish around our coast. That is a real danger and it has been highlighted in recent weeks by none other than Joey Murrin who is one of the leading experts here on fish management measures.

The Dutch virtually exterminated the stocks of herring around the Irish coast ten or 15 years ago. The Dutch were primarily responsible for this but we were also partly to blame. Now we seem to be in the process of exterminating the stocks of mackerel around this coast. Mackerel are at present the greatest money-spinner here for fishermen. There are vast quantities which we were unaware of — or maybe were not there — years ago. There are vast quantities and we seem to be catching them in unlimited quantities despite the fact that we have been warned about overfishing by the ICES, which is the international body which researches the quantities available and advises as to the total allowable catch.

From statistics recently released by that body it is obvious that we have been seriously over-fishing our mackerel stocks which are primarily off the Donegal coast and are often up to 150 miles from the coast. I have asked in this House before how do we monitor those stocks and how do we monitor the catches. I am told that the Naval Service do it periodically. I have the greatest respect for the Naval Service but they are over-stretched. They have to patrol 2,000 miles of coastline and they do not often get out to that distance of 150 or 200 miles. It is a physical impossibility. It has been maintained by people who know that this huge resource is being decimated because it is being over-fished. I am definitely of the opinion that we do not know exactly what is out there and even if we did we are not in a position to control the catches. If that mackerel fishery closes, if it collapses due to over-fishing, the fishing industry here will once again be on its knees and this time there may be no recovery because there may not be a further fishery to be found.

When the herring fishery was ruined by over-fishing the fishing industry here was in a dire plight. People returned to inshore white fishing and that was badly over-fished. Now we have discovered this huge mackerel fishery. If that is destroyed we may not have any alternative. The Minister in raising the amount from £15 million to £40 million should provide bigger and better boats and better techniques. We must bear in mind the danger of exterminating our valuable mackerel fishery. There is a great temptation to go out and make a lot of money but that would be a very shortsighted policy. This must be controlled and monitored and that is not being done at present.

Not only are our fishermen catching huge quantities of fish but other European countries are as well. Huge boats from the Channel Islands and from Britain have been found fishing off our coasts. To make matters worse such boats do not originate from the Channel Islands or Britain but from countries such as Spain. Our laws and regulations have been circumvented so that boats are registered in places like Britain and are therefore legally entitled to make huge catches of fish off our coasts. There must be some way of blocking the shady practice of registering third country boats within the EEC. If it is allowed to continue it could do untold harm.

In many places we only have a six mile limit. There is a maximum of 12 miles. At the end of 1982 we will not have any fishery limit unless there is agreement on a common fishery policy. After five years of haggling no agreement has emerged. Perhaps the Minister might be able to tell us if he has any hopes that such agreement will be reached by the end of 1982 and give some indication of its terms.

While speaking about bigger boats and better techniques I should have mentioned the most devastating fishing technique of all which has been banned in many parts of the world because of its destructive nature. I refer to purse seining. While many countries have banned this method of fishing because it destroys fisheries, we still tolerate it. In reply to a parliamentary question before Christmas the Minister said there were no plans to restrict purse seining off our coasts. Such thinking is retrograde. `There must be some restriction on purse seining because one can wipe out a fishery within a year by using this method, which means that one encircles whole shoals and collects them into one huge purse seine net. We allow this method to be used ad nauseum. There must be some restriction put on it. The Minister should give some indication of how the salmon industry can be saved. Many of the fishermen who will benefit from this scheme operate small inland salmon fishing boats.

The 1981 season was to all intents and purposes a disaster. They caught only a fraction of what was taken in previous years. The price was static and in some cases went down, primarily because of cheap imports from Canada. The salmon industry is in a state of crisis. Has the Minister any solution to the problem? I read newspapers reports recently which stated that one of the main reasons for the depletion of salmon stocks was not, as has been repeatedly stated, over-fishing by driftnet fishermen off the west and south coasts but is due to the fact that the Faroese are netting these fish out in the open sea at great depths. For many years the path taken by the salmon coming and going from our rivers was a mystery. The fishermen of the Faroe Islands have discovered the run of the salmon in the ocean. They are catching them in huge quantities. In 1981 it was estimated that they caught 1,600 tons of salmon. If mackerel or herring was involved 1,600 tons would not be a great quantity but it is a tremendous amount of salmon. If this kind of catch is maintained by the Faroese there will be no salmon fisheries left. Our fishermen will not be able to repay loans to BIM.

Fishermen are in dire straits with regard to repayment of loans because of the collapse of the inshore herring industry. If the salmon industry goes they will be on their uppers. What steps is the Minister taking to deal with this? What steps are the EEC taking to see that this kind of fishing by the Faroese is limited? I do not know if the Faroese are members of the EEC because of their relationship to Denmark, whether they are associate members or have any connection at all with the EEC. Their activities must be restricted as must those of fishermen from Greenland who have been netting unreasonable quentities of salmon. It is this kind of mass catching of salmon which has put our industry into jeopardy. Out of the 6,500 people employed as fishermen at present, one-half are depending on salmon for a livelihood. If the decline in salmon catches continues it will have grave repercussions.

The Minister referred to the improvement in the quality of navigational aids. There was an insinuation in recent days by people in Britain that navigational standards here are below those warranted by international law. That is a very serious allegation. The Minister might use his reply to the debate to refer to these malicious statements. It has been stated that boats are being registered in Ireland under a flag of convenience and that the standards in this country are not what they should be. That is an extremely grave allegation. People should be made to explain fully what they need. I hope the inquiry into the loss of the Union Star, which was the basis of the allegation, and the Penlee lifeboat will show that standards here are as good as anywhere in the maritime world. We do not want to be classified with Liberia or Panama as being irresponsible in the manner in which we register and control our shipping. Our seamen are second to none in navigational and other skills. They are to be found in top positions in every merchant shipping outlet in the free world. The Minister should make some reference to the allegation being made that there is a substandard level of manning of ships working out of this country.

I welcome the Bill. BIM are doing a fine job. The money is needed badly, and I hope that the catches, marketing and processing by our fishing industry will justify the amount being spent.

We on this side of the House understand the reason for the amendment to the Sea Fisheries Bill. We realise that BIM have need of more than the £15 million available up to now and it is reasonable to extend that amount to £40 million because of inflation, the increased prices of boats and the tendency to go in for bigger boats.

With regard to sea fisheries, many people seem to look upon this £40 million as money that we will need to build up our fleet and improve our fisheries. It is vital that we talk today about how the money will be spent and particularly where it will be spent. Two years ago I inherited a situation where we saw with great flag-waving, super-trawlers coming into our fleet. Maybe that was very necessary because at the time we had a commitment to doubling our catch and we had to prove our ability to do that. These trawlers cost very big money and that money was all spent abroad. The trawlers had very sophisticated equipment and so were particularly suitable for catching mackerel, and possibly we were very lucky that that was so. I must compliment the people involved, particularly the small fishermen. Many of them came up through the ranks of BIM in training school and they showed faith in the future of the fishing industry when they were prepared to invest so much money in it.

We should ask ourselves now when the fishermen fishing off our coast are not getting a good living whether we should encourage others to go into the fishing business and buy bigger boats. There is a danger. When we entered the EEC we got a commitment from them, because of the smallness of our catches and of our fleet and the low percentage — 2 per cent — of our catch in comparison with the total catches in the EEC countries, that we would double our quota by 1980. We achieved that target and great credit is due to the people involved, particularly the fishermen who went out and caught those fish. However, from now on we can expect only small annual increments to be added to that quota for Ireland. There are restrictions in many areas some of which have been mentioned here. There is a restriction on herring in certain parts of our sea. Everybody who has spoken has indicated a great uncertainty about the future.

I must say with reluctance that as far as the Irish fishing industry is concerned our entry into the EEC and our experience therein have been a fiasco. We talk of total allowable catches and quotas, and I am positive that this is purely on paper, that there is no proper monitoring of the total allowable catch or of quotas either, nor are these quotas adhered to. When people come in and fish where they are not supposed to be and pay fines far in excess of anything we would hope to collect from them and pay them readily, we may say to ourselves that with the limited facilities we have probably we are catching only a small percentage of what the people breaking the law are catching, and then all this talk of quotas and total allowable catches becomes meaningless. However, as we have accepted them and we make a great fight about them and look for extra quotas and extra tonnage on the different species, assuming that everybody is living according to the law, we may ask ourselves if we have the capacity at the moment to catch our quota. I think that we have. Are we likely to get a bigger quota in the future? The answer must be no. Probably we will get a percentage but I do not believe that the figure will be inflated to any great extent.

We must ensure then that this £40 million will be spent to the best advantage. The best thing we can do with that is to encourage our existing fleet at all levels to modernise, to get bigger gear and equipment so that they will be better able to catch our quota efficiently. This is vital because of the increase in the price of diesel oil. BIM are making and effort to encourage new types of fishing and the catching of new species, but I do not know whether it is accelerated to the extent that I would like to see. I have heard much talk about how the Spaniards make a great amount of money catching hake, that traditionally we do not catch this species and we should endeavour to get people to catch it. Have we really encouraged people to go long-lining? We have not done so to the extent that I would like to see.

The Book of Estimates this year reveals a cutback in the amount of money available to BIM and in general in the amount available to the Department of Fisheries and Forestry. There is not a hell of a difference between the extra money needed to go full steam ahead and the money allocated to keep things barely ticking over and give the impression of doing something. I get the impression that the Department of Fisheries and Forestry and BIM are at anchor now and marking time. We should not stifle the Department or BIM for lack of money. BIM have done much good work and they were prepared to chart new grounds and give the charts to fishermen to encourage them to go further out and avoid rocks and wrecks in fishing grounds that were not known to them formerly, particularly off our west coast where some of the bigger boats should be encouraged to go. I have seen them experimenting with new methods and I am glad to say that they have discovered new markets. They have encouraged fishermen to diversify their catches. I am pleased particularly to compliment them on their wonderful work with the training of young fishermen and on the fact that they were not prepared to rest on their oars but got mobile units to travel around the country bringing training facilities and sophisticated training necessary today to the harbours and to the fishermen themselves. That is what development means. We talk about it and we want to see it proceeding.

However, there is a danger that BIM might forget their primary function. The Minister says that they should concentrate more on promotional, advisory and developmental activities. I had the impression at one time that they tended to forget their primary function and they were more inclined to blow their own trumpet than to do the work they set out to do. That seems to have changed and I am glad that they are knuckling down to do that job and that they are more interested in helping the fishermen than merely giving the impression of great activity.

I agree with previous speakers who have urged the encouragement of processing and stated that everything we can do to increase the value of the catches before we export them should be done. I have seen quite a lot of work done, not, perhaps, processing to the extent that we might like to see, but the gutting and freezing of fish for Africa where we have a large market for mackerel.

I agree with remarks deploring the dumping of herring. If we could be assured that the sprat catches of the last two years could be repeated annually we could encourage the setting up of a cannery in the west. Rossaveal might be a good place for processing because it will become a major fishery harbour. During the holidays this year I had my first opportunity of visiting it and I was impressed by what I saw. In years to come it will be a major harbour and a great asset. While we have a fishmeal factory in Killybegs in Donegal, such a factory would be warranted in Rossaveal as well. It is fairly certain that a fishmeal factory will be built in the Castletownbere area and we would then be very well served in this respect. I would also hope that there would be processing facilities in Rossaveal.

Deputy Deasy said that BIM have a duty to make Irish housewives more conscious of the food value of fish. This is not easy because there still appears to be a stigma attached to eating fish on a Friday. At one time BIM used the advertising jingle "My Mum has got a fresh idea" but we must ask why fish is not readily available in inland areas or sometimes even at harbours. The taste of Irish people has been changed to the extent that they now drink far more wine than heretofore — and this is a product which is not home produced — but the percentage increase in the consumption of fish is meagre. BIM have done quite a lot by organising fish cookery competitions and encouraging young people in schools to learn the culinary arts in regard to fish but much more must be done to encourage suppliers to make fresh fish available throughout the country.

Deputy Deasy spoke about the dumping of fish and some people seem to assume that this should not happen. The EEC pay fishermen a floor price for their fish if it does not reach a certain price on the open market. When this compensation price is paid by the EEC the fish cannot be sold for human consumption and this is a good thing for fishermen. When fishermen go to sea they cannot be sure of making a catch or of the kind of fish they may catch and they would be at the mercy of the market but for this compensation. Deputy Deasy deplores the spraying of the fish with dye and dumping them offshore. He also mentioned again the many people who are hungry. I recall that our party were severely criticised in this matter. However we pointed out that the fish was offered to charitable organisations such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul but they had difficulty in taking it away. Fine Gael now have an opportunity to find a solution so that no more fish will be dumped. The backbenchers on the Government side have charged the Minister with that responsibility. I got the distinct impression this morning that Deputy Deasy would solve that problem very easily if he had the opportunity.

(Cavan-Monaghan): I believe the Deputy solved it when he was there.

I did not solve it but I got the impression that Deputy Deasy would do so. He mentioned the lack of facilities for fish processing and said that no attempt had been made to deal with the problem. That is not correct. In 1980 our mackerel catch was 24,000 tons and it increased in 1981 to 50,000 tons. It is difficult to expect people to go to the expense of providing processing facilities unless continuity of supply is assured. Our capacity to process and freeze fish has been doubled in the past year, particularly in Killybegs, and I am confident that there will be continued expansion. When a catch increases from 24,000 tons one year to 50,000 tons in the following year it is only natural that some of this will be blast frozen and exported. Fishermen cannot be expected to be patriotic at the expense of their pockets and they must be conscious of price. If the freezer ships had not been in Rathmullan many of our fishermen would have been in trouble, but I hope that this will be a temporary arrangement until we are able to process our whole catch. To make a comparison with the cattle industry, when marts and factories had a monopoly the primary producer suffered, although I am not making a case for the export of live cattle on the scale which now obtains. The fact that good prices are being offered by the freezer ships in Rathmullan may encourage the processers to offer a good price also.

We have the advantage of having our fishing grounds on our own doorstep while others have to steam for a day or two before they reach these areas, thus adding to their fuel bill. Some will point out that the bonus we should enjoy is lost because of our distance from the European market. I hope the Minister will be successful in his efforts to preserve our fishing grounds for Irish fishermen. It is sad that meetings of Fisheries Ministers have failed to settle on a common fisheries policy. The reason given last year was elections in various countries, but that excuse does not stand up. There is too much jealousy and greed involved in this matter and, even when Ministers set dates for the finalisation of a policy, those dates pass without coming any nearer to a solution. They fight about traditional rights and talk of third country imports and the Canadian agreement. The EEC fishery policy has been a bit of a farce as far as Ireland is concerned, as any Irish fisherman would agree.

The Minister spoke about the Faroese and the amount of fish, particularly salmon, caught there. Does anybody really believe it was 1,600 tons? Who kept the log book and who really knows how much they caught? When one would not know what happens in Fenit, County Kerry, sometimes with regard to salmon one would be very optimistic if one thought one knew what was happening with the Faroese. There was a lot of talk at one time about how the log book should be drawn up, who should monitor it and ensure that it was open for inspection. Is that in operation? Are the accounts being looked at? Are people open to spot checks? I do not believe they are. I have come to the conclusion that a lot of what goes on at Fishery Ministers meetings is hot air and never finds its way into the world of reality and those matters which have a bearing on the day to day life of fishermen.

It is clear to me that other member states who have fished out their own grounds are looking with greedy eyes at our grounds. Some of these people can make excuses and hide behind EEC directives, or they can put on a great show which almost amounts to a pantomime. I have seen richer states threaten us in regard to what they might do in reprisals if certain agreements with foreign countries are not reached and if they are not allowed to import from third countries huge quantities of cod and other fish that would depress prices here and would stop many of our fishermen from earning a decent living. There are others who fish for fishmeal and want to take everything they can from around our coasts and bring it home irrespective of the consequences. They are probably the biggest culprits. They are more cynical than anybody realises. Their forefathers came here and raided years ago but they were honest enough to wear horns on their helmets so that they could be easily recognised for what they were. The present brigade dispensed with the horns but they are much more dangerous to the future of our fishermen. It is about time that all Fishery Ministers in Europe stopped codding the people, stopped their pious platitudes and decided that they have a job to do, and that is to give the fishermen left in Europe a decent standard of living and ensure that in future their families will be able to live off the sea's wealth.

Deputy Gallagher mentioned Community preference. There is a saying that you should christen your child first. Member states should realise that. Before we talk about imports from any third countries or before we talk about any members' fleets having the right to fish in foreign waters we have a duty to look after our fishermen and give the member states the preference they are not enjoying at the moment.

When we talk about the £40 million it is vital that money spent on new boats and on modernising boats be spent at home and that BIM continue with their efforts to spend this money at home. Every boatyard in Ireland is in trouble at the moment. Some have folded up. We have boatyards in which generations of families have operated and their expertise is now likely to be lost. There is a particular boatyard I have in mind which were capable of building a replica of an old sailing vessel, but that expertise is likely to be lost now. I believe the Killybegs boatyard is in great difficulties. The position is the same all around the coast. We have a duty to help those people as much as we can. Is it right to bring in more super-trawlers which are built abroad? Is it right to embark on a policy that will make millionaires of a dozen people and put hundreds more out of business? BIM have a duty to sell Irish. They have fostered a buy Irish campaign and they have a duty to sell Irish also. I hope some effort can be made to keep our boatyards functioning and to see that our boats are modernised and built at home.

With regard to the sale of fish and the consumption of fish at home I am glad of the new move among the fishermen in a co-op to sell fish and open outlets where fish can be available at a price which will suit the housewife's pocket. I wish them well. Any attempt to sell fish in that way up to now has not been successful. I believe this will help to ensure that our fish is eaten at home and has not to be dumped. We should ensure that a large percentage of the £40 million is spent at home and that it benefits as far as possible the people who catch the fish.

I am under the impression that we are at the end of the line with regard to the huge subsidies and extensions to the quota we are allowed and that we can only hope for minimum increases each year. We have the capacity around our very indented coastline to improve the standard of living of our fishermen. I would like to refer in particular to mariculture, where we have great hope for the future. We can encourage people to become involved in this. This will supplement the income of people living around our coasts. I regret that it is big firms who have gained the advantage up to now. I know that they had to take the risk and that they had the money to enable them to do that. We have a duty to help co-ops and encourage groups of fishermen to come together and fully exploit the potential of our coastlines.

There should be some type of national policy for mariculture. Up to now there have been many local discussions without any overall plan or uniformity. There is a lot of expertise in this line in BIM and the Department have exceptional expertise at Abbotstown. When our exploratory fishing vessel becomes available there will be a greater opportunity to get the scientific knowledge we need. We have a great national resource in mariculture. We should encourage shell fish culture around our coasts. Deputy Gallagher mentioned oysters. There is also a great future for scallops, mussels and even farm salmon. Other countries have increased their farm salmon tonnage every year. We should do that also.

The overall national plan will deal with how licences are given in specific areas. It is good to see the involvement of the State in fisheries such as the St. George Fishery, which was recently acquired. We should try to acquire other fisheries. Money for research is very vital. Have we considered how much we spend on the monitoring of red tide, which could be fatal to our shell fish industry? If we expand our mariculture programme we must also increase the money available for research as well and the monitoring of the dangers we will meet.

For many years there has been a great deal of talk about Bord Iascaigh Mhara and loan repayments. I would like to compliment them on their attitude to loans, despite the adverse criticisms they got about arrears of payments and subsidies on loans, about the lack of equity on loans and about the subsequent percentage repayments on loans. I see in Bord Iascaigh Mhara an anxiety to help. They are a much maligned body. I got the impression that every unfortunate fisherman, and lazy ones too, looked on Bord Iascaigh Mhara as a handy scape-goat when things did not go well. The moratorium we embarked on with regard to loans and the loan subsidy we gave during this difficult period, were warranted and people should appreciate the difficult job facing Bord Iascaigh Mhara. These people should ask themselves if they would find similar loan facilities available in any other business.

Last evening, when we were discussing the Foyle Fisheries, I complimented the Minister on honouring a promise I gave during my ministry with regard to increased fines and penalties. By introducing that Bill yesterday he has brought uniformity as between Derry and Donegal. I thank him for that. I would like to ask him to honour another promise I made which would bring uniformity between Donegal and Sligo and Mayo. I am talking now about fishing regulations for salmon and licences granted. In his wisdom many years ago the late Dr. Went decided that because of weather conditions and currents off the coast of Donegal 1,500 yards of net would be allowed. For some reason that was never extended to other areas, although it would be very hard to see where the line could be drawn between the Mayo coast, which is every bit as exposed to the weather and as indented and dangerous as Donegal but where only 800 yards of net were allowed. It is my belief that people are more likely to flout the law if they see it is more harsh in their case than in another case. If there is uniformity and everybody seems to get a fair crack of the whip, that is better.

On a couple of occasions I met fishermen from Killala Bay. They had 800 yards of net but, because of the particular conditions which applied there and because of an old bye-law, they were permitted to cut their net and use 200 yards of net staked in the estuary. Only four or five people were involved, because, to be honest, I do not suppose it was quite legal. However, because of tradition I was anxious to facilitate them. I spoke to them in the presence of officials and went into the matter in great detail. Subsequently we spoke to the chairman of the regional board, who was anxious to help. He was anxious that the 1,500 yard concession granted to Donegal fishermen should be extended to the area under his jurisdiction and we decided to do that. Other areas around the country got an opportunity to opt for this but some of them did not.

When I expressed the opinion that we should make this 200 yards of net multiplied by four and thus make 800 yards legal in the Killala area, officials convinced me it would possibly be unconstitutional and could lead to frightful difficulties. I was foolish enough to agree. Provided we were prepared to turn a blind eye to the people who had been fishing in the traditional way for years, on this basis—and this is on the file— we reached a gentleman's agreement. With the chairman of the local board we decided that for the few years these four or five people would be fishing in that manner we would give them a breathing space, the tradition would be phased out and all would then abide by the law as it is applied to everybody. It is funny to use the phrase "gentleman's agreement". Would that apply to females? My experience leads me to believe that it would not apply in this case.

(Cavan-Monaghan): We will call it a “gentle agreement”.

In this case I saw a distinct reluctance to meet the wishes I expressed. As the Minister agreed to honour an agreement I made involving greater penalties for salmon poaching between Derry and Donegal, I hope he will honour this other agreement I made. I left the Department in no doubt of my intention that these few fishermen would not be persecuted or prosecuted, as appears to be the Department's intention now.

May I advise the Minister in his capacity as Minister for Fisheries and Forestry and Wildlife? We are told of the dangers from wild mink, which are supposed to be particularly dangerous, and stoats and weasels — which thankfully we do not have — but it is my experience that a vicious vixen is probably the most dangerous animal to deal with.

It is a pity fishery organisations do not speak with one voice. During my Ministry I tried to help them along that road when we set up the National Fishery Council. The Minister would appreciate it if fishery representatives got together and spoke with one voice. It is amazing the number of fishery organisations there are in existence. One group who spoke for the bigger fishermen stood aloof when we tried to bring the National Fishery Council together. At present fishing organisations are far too sectional and tend to be devisive. The greatest example of this can be seen in the attitude to the opening to the Celtic Sea. Deputy Deasy said it was not open either officially or unofficially. It is officially open. After frightful pressure we got a concession that there would be 1,000 tonnes of herring available for small boats up to a certain size. That was an effort to give a bonus to the small boat owners who were having serious difficulties and it was done in the hope that the bigger boats whose owners had an opportunity of going further out to sea and fishing in grounds that were not available to the smaller boats would move out there.

I recall meeting these fishermen on one occasion and finding them critical in respect of the quotas. I explained to them that the 1,000 tonnes quota in the Celtic Sea was all we would get and that if they refused to accept it, we would not get anything. When I asked them to make a choice between the two they did not reply. I notice now from television programmes that these people are flouting the law. This highlights the difficulty caused by the different sectional interests in the fishing organisations. It would be a distinct help if all these bodies could come together and co-operate with the Department and with BIM in doing what is best for everyone. I am sure the Minister would be helped greatly, too, if the various interests could come to him with one voice. This would strengthen his hand in fighting Ireland's case at Council of Ministers meetings.

I take this opportunity of wishing Deputy Gallagher well in his new role as spokesman on fisheries for this party. It is said that a trouble shared is a trouble halved. I am not shedding any tears because of Deputy Gallagher taking over responsibility in this area. I do not know of any other Deputy on either side of the House who is as well equipped as he to deal with this responsibility. Mar is ias-caire é agus tá cleachtadh aige ar shaol na n-iascairí. Tá me cinte go ndéanfaidh sé dea-obair ar son na tíre agus go gca-bhróidh sé an Aire freisin in aon obair dheacair atá á déanamh aige.

It has struck me often that having regard to the numbers involved in the whole area of fishing — the Department, BIM and the fishermen who number about 9,000 — we should be able to monitor the entire industry and to co-ordinate all the activities involved in the industry. This idea has been referred to by Deputy Gallagher in the context of the Office of Public Works and the various local authorities. In regard to the development of our harbours, for instance, it is very necessary that we have the co-operation of everyone concerned and that we have co-ordination of effort. This sort of work is very costly and, obviously, we must work to a plan. There did not seem to be very much throught put into the arrangement whereby five, six or seven super-trawlers were to come into Killybegs and that with full loads of fish they would need 22 feet of water. Nobody seemed to realise that there were not 22 feet of water available at the place at which they would be docking. Sometimes, then, it seems as if the cart is put before the horse. In a compact Department such as Fisheries there should not be too much effort required to put the pieces together in devising a common plan.

We are dealing here with a measure to provide more funds for BIM but our first priority as far as the EEC is concerned must be the common fisheries policy. I am confident that the Minister will work towards attaining the best possible deal for Irish fishermen but if this business were concluded we would at least know where we were going. Thereafter it would be imperative for us to do a cost-benefit analysis in order to ascertain whether we were getting value from the money we were spending. Any such cost-benefit analysis would have to be tempered and weighed against the social needs of fishermen in depressed areas but our aim must be to develop the fishing industry to the maximum. That involves getting proper prices for our fish and removing the uncertainty from the industry. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the common fisheries policy and taking into consideration such factors as imports of fish from third countries and also the likelihood of a decision that would have far-reaching effects, £40 million or even £400 million would not be sufficient unless we have a plan to work to but any plan will only succeed if based on what is best for the future of Irish fishermen.

We support this measure and we compliment BIM on the good work they have done. We hope they will be able to do even better in the future.

Coming from a constituency which has the greatest area of coastline in the country I am well aware of the serious difficulties in the fishing industry. It is well known that down through the years our fishing industry has been regarded as a Cinderella industry. We did not invest in that industry the moneys that were required to develop it and make it viable. The raw materials are there in abundance but we have failed to take advantage of this situation. We have failed hopelessly so far as the processing of fish is concerned, just as we have failed in the area of the marketing of the product. There are many large provincial towns in which one would not find fresh fish. Steps must be taken to improve the marketing situation as well as the processing end of the business. It is amazing that fish must be taken from such places as Killybegs and Castletownbere to the Dublin fish market. We have had no system so far as delivering the fish back to the provincial towns is concerned. Fish was put into deep freeze and left at various plants for weeks before being transported to the provincial towns. As far back as the twenties and through to 1940 there was a lucrative market in the US for our marinated mackerel products but for some unknown reason successive Governments failed to give the necessary aid to the fish marinators and exporters to enable them to build up the industry. Consequently, that export industry was lost. The Dutch marinate our herrings, pack them and export them to countries all over the world, including Ireland. The Germans process herrings in beer and wine, pack them and send them back here for sale in our supermarkets. One can find John West tinned mackerel in any shop or supermarket here but if one looks at the label one will find that the fish was packed in Japan. We have brook trout packed in tins from Iceland. We have millions of pounds worth of fish fingers imported every year, backed up by television advertisements to sell them. We have millions of pounds worth of frozen plaice, turbot, brill and so on, imported from Canada and Norway. What is wrong with our industry that they cannot do something about alleviating that situation?

We need modern blast freezing canning and smoking plants erected in our fishery areas, Killybegs, Castletownbere and other major fishery ports, which would process fish in this respect. Our fishermen must be protected by an updated marketing system where fresh fish can be readily available in all our major towns. Our fishing stocks must be protected from marauding foreign trawlers. I come from a peninsula in the south-west and for years I have seen the rape of our fishing grounds by foreign trawlers operating off the south-west coast. Endless damage has been done by those foreign trawlers who are scooping up valuable fish from our seabed.

Our traditional salmon fishermen should have a chance to make a living. Fishing must be done primarily in spring, summer and autumn because of the weather. When our fishermen who have been working and fishing salmon for years apply for a salmon licence they are often refused. This is disgraceful treatment because if they do not make a living out of fishing they will have to emigrate. The fishermen on the south-west coast are faced with other burdens also. The net they are allowed to fish with is far too shallow in the strong tidal waters from Baltimore to the Dingle Peninsula where tides are very strong. A greater depth of salmon fishing net should be allocated to them because if they are compelled to operate within the present limit the net will float on top of the water and will be useless for catching salmon. I appeal to the Minister to see that they will be given the opportunity to make a living in this industry.

Huge amounts of mackerel are being caught all over the south-west coast at present. The north Atlantic Ocean is probably teaming with mackerel but weather plays a very vital part in fishing at this time of the year. Were it not for the present mild weather the huge shoals of mackerel would not be landed at Castletownbere. They would be landed every year from January to May if the weather was mild. I was informed that 125 articulated trucks left Castletownbere on Friday loaded with mackerel for different destinations. On Saturday and on Sunday evening about 140 articulated trucks loaded up again bound for Killybegs, where the processing plants are, for Scotland, England and the Continent. This is a major industry in Castletownbere which we welcome. There were four Russian factory ships in the harbour and each of those was getting its quota of fish also. The trawlers fishing off that coast at present are from as far north as Killybegs operating off Dingle and the Kenmare estuary and landing their catches in Castletownbere. This is a welcome innovation but the amount of labour given locally is not that great. There are about 30 to 40 people only employed in the loading of those lorries. There was a major fish plant built in Deenish Island which is a bit of a disappointment because it is not handling the amount of fish which it should be handling or giving the employment it should be giving.

By reason of its geographical position, Castletownbere, one of our major fishery ports, is at a great disadvantage because it has not got a national secondary road leading into it from Glengarriff to Castletownbere, a distance of 23 miles. A few months ago I described that stretch of road as the Burma strip. If we want to see our fishing industry survive in that area it is of vital importance that we upgrade the road to national secondary status immediately. I hope the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, in conjunction with the Minister for the Environment will see that this is done as soon as possible. It is badly needed to facilitate business which is being transacted in that port. A Norwegian factory ship, anchored in Castletownbere for the past three weeks is capable of taking vast stocks of sprat if they could be caught in our waters. I do not know what investigations the Department and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara have made into the size of the shoals of sprat which are on that coast but I should like the Minister to develop this industry because it would give employment in the area.

It is disgraceful that all our smoked fish products are imported. What have we done in the past 20 or 30 years to promote a good smoking and canning industry? Our fishermen deserve the best landing facilities possible. Killybegs, Howth and Castletownbere have already got modern piers and landing facilities. I am pleased that the Minister has given the green light for the extension and upgrading of Schull Pier in 1982. This is a major step forward for that town which is the home of several big trawler-owners. Their families have resided there for generations. It would be a great loss to the people of Schull and the hinterland if their facilities had not been improved and if 20, 30 or 40 families were to depart from the area and go elsewhere to seek a living.

There is a necessity for a second fishery training school. Greencastle is serving a good purpose, but a second training school should be established in Castletownbere or in Bantry. Dumping of fish and treating them with dye under EEC rules is not on. A scheme should be initiated by the EEC under which fish would be processed and given to the Third World at greatly reduced prices. This would be a more natural way of getting rid of extra stock.

Fish farming is another very valuable asset but it is running into great difficulties because of what is called a red tide which has been enveloping the south west coast in recent years. I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the great service being provided by Mr. Matt Murphy of Sherkin Island for the fishing industry. He is operating a private marine laboratory. He is making great strides and getting very valuable information which will be of great benefit to our Irish fishing industry in future year.

I should like to impress on the Minister the desirability of doing all he can to streamline this very valuable industry and to explore the possibility of setting up fishery committees in all our maritime counties, similar to those ACOT established to represent agriculture. These committees should have equal representations of elected public representatives and fishermen. This would help to keep the Minister acquainted with all the problems confronting our fishing industry.

The Minister responsible for fisheries should be able to get to the root of the problems confronting the industry by having these committees meeting at monthly intervals and informing the Minister what should be done to update and upgrade the industry. The Minister should listen to the fishermen and their complaints. When the weather gets finer he should take a trip with the fishermen and see for himself the rigours and hardships they have to endure to make a living. I will welcome the Minister to Castletownbere to take such a trip someday in the late Spring when he will see for himself how necessary it is to give our fishermen every incentive to make a decent living.

Ar an chéad dul síos ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leis an Aire ins an job oll-mhór atá roimhe leis an tionscal iascaireachta a chur chun cinn sa tír seo uilig. Tá a fhios agam nach do bhunadh iascaireachta atá sé agus nach bhfuil baint aige a thuilleadh le ceantair iascaireachta, ach ní hé sin le rá nach ndéanfaidh sé a dhícheall san job seo agus ba mhaith liomsa a insint dó anseo go mbeidh mise sásta cuidiú leis an tionscal seo a fhorbairt ar gach aon dóigh. Ba mhaith liom freisin focal comhgair-deas a dhéanamh le Donncha Ó Gall-chóir anseo as a cheapadh mar spokesman ar an taobh seo den Teach. Tá sean aithne agam air ó bhí sé in a Aire Ghael-tachta agus tá a fhios agam go mbeidh sé bríomhar, ionraic agus nea-pholaiticiúil san méid a bhéas le rá aige ó thaobh cúrsaí iascaireachta agus forbairt an tionscail.

I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister on his appointment and also our spokesman, Deputy Gallagher. I appreciate the enormity of the task facing the Minister in trying, as others have tried, to develop an industry which is becoming more and more difficult to promote. We have had successive Ministers for Fisheries, and I am sure anything said in this House today was said here 30 years ago about the wishes and aspirations of those interested in the fishing industry.

I want to be constructive in whatever criticism I offer and to be helpful to the Minister and his Department. I do not wish to cover all the aspects of the fishing industry because my colleague Deputy Gallagher, will cover the aspects to which I will not refer. As I said, I will be constructive and helpful, contrary to many of the speeches made here before. When Deputy Power was Minister for Fisheries the Opposition spokesman made a sca-thing attack on him rather than proposing a constructive policy on fisheries. That is not my intention and never will be.

I should like to refer to stocks of fish, control of fisheries and the in-thing, mackerel fisheries. Let there be no doubt about where I stand. At the moment we are enjoying a bonanza in mackerel fisheries, but I do not believe it will continue. How long it continues will depend largely on the ideas and policies we develop, or even the changes we make. Let us be honest. Mistakes have been made. Nobody in this House is infallible, although there are a few who think they are. If policies are wrong and if development courses are wrong, with goodwill they can be changed. This is the attitude we should adopt. I have spoken to many fishermen in the area I represent, south-west Donegal, in which two of our major ports are located, Killybegs and Burtonport.

These people are prepared to discuss the development of fisheries at any time with politicians or Department officials. However, almost every proposal put to the Department of Fisheries is met directly or indirectly by the contention that it is contrary to EEC regulations. In the absence of a common fisheries policy —nor can I see one around the corner—it would appear that we are endeavouring to be the best Europeans of all in relation to fisheries. I realise that the achievement of a common fisheries policy will entail an amount of negotiation and hard thinking and that we shall have to suffer because we may be contributing more than we shall benefit from that sector, although we have gained on the agricultural side. I appreciate that at present the common agricultural policy is encountering difficulty in its operation but it is a long way ahead of the fisheries policy. If we are endeavouring to be great Europeans in relation to fisheries then I contend we are succeeding but at an enormous cost to our fishermen.

My concern primarily would be with the development and protection of the natural resource, coupled with the long-term or short-term guarantee of approximately 1,000 jobs in fisheries in my area. One thousand jobs, if lost, would be a disaster to south-west Donegal. When one leaves Ballyshannon and Bundoran until one reaches Burtonport there are not many employment areas—with the exception of a couple of factories in Donegal town—outside the fishing industry. Every family, almost, every young boy, living within ten or 15 miles of Killybegs or Burtonport is associated directly or indirectly with fishing. If we were to be in any way instrumental in allowing our fishing industry to deteriorate it would have disastrous consequences for my area. More importantly, fishing has been a way of life for these people for generations; these people know no other way of life but fishing. Therefore should the fisheries industry collapse the question of their retraining or deployment in other industries does not arise. Also, many of the people involved are getting on in years, are set in their ways, and there would be nothing for them but the dole queues.

The stage has been reached now in Killybegs and Burtonport where the shore industries set up with the help of the IDA and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara are at a well developed stage and beginning to expand. I was amazed to hear Deputies Deasy and Sheehan say that we were not doing our best in this field. I must contradict that. I must compliment Department officials, An Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the IDA on their endeavours in the development that has taken place to date in my constituency, and particularly in Killybegs. It is indeed a good sign that the industry there is beginning to expand. The whole question of the continuation and expansion of this industry in the next few years will be dependent on some form of control being exercised in relation to fishing. Here I am talking about over-fishing where the key word is control.

Of course there are other areas of infrastructural development requiring attention. Perhaps this is not the appropriate occasion to develop that side of the matter because it is primarily a matter for the Department of the Environment. I appreciate that the Minister has sufficient headaches in relation to his Department and I shall confine my remarks as far as possible to that Department. In mentioning control I must refer to the quota system operating at present. I shall not quote any departmental figures but I should say that I am in close contact with fishermen, that there are six members of my family associated with fishing. It must be said also that there are very few tricks of the trade about which the fishermen do not know.

I might well ask the Minister when was he, or one of his officials, last out in one of these fishing boats, or has he or his officials any personal knowledge of the problems and difficulties encountered by these men leaving the bay each day? These are the men I represent. It must be remembered that the investors, the luggers, the whiz kid operators who may come in for the kill, can, if anything goes wrong, leave and go back to their homeground. The people I represent and to whom I refer are those who will remain in Killybegs, Burtonport and other areas like that and who are totally dependent on Killybegs and its continued development. I understand the present Scottish quota is approximately 150,000 to 160,000 tonnes. This is a type of United Kingdom-imposed quota which is not being adhered to at all. I understand that for the season ending 1981 the Scottish fleet fished over 350,000 tonnes. Their fishing bases at Ullapool and Mallaig do not have development on-shore industries such as we have at Killybegs. Ninety per cent of their fish is sold to luggers. They do have processing facilities at Fras-erburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow but they handle about 10 per cent of their catch only. Therefore it is very convenient for them to dispose of their catches to luggers at Swilly or anywhere else around our coast.

Incidentally, I should make the point that there is no follow up on over-quota fishing and that we are providing them with a guaranteed facility for cooking the books. It must be remembered that fishermen are human like the rest of us, and that as long as the pounds come in at the weekend nobody worries about the regulations. It is when the pounds cease to come in that one hears the uproar. I have heard the rafters of this House being raised in relation to the school entry age for children and the Tuam sugar factory and I noted the amount of interest those subjects generated here with the gallery packed, but nobody seems to care that in south-west Donegal 1,000 jobs could be wiped out by wrong handling or lack of control in respect of what can be classified only as the cleaning up of our waters. The Dutch fleet which operates at approximately 40,000 tonnes quota last year caught in excess of 120,000 tonnes. The fishermen in the area see ships that can process 10,000 tonnes per day — I speak here of the Dutch fleet — at sea without ever coming ashore. At present this produce is being shipped to Nigeria without these ships going into any of their own ports, or without there being any checks on their quotas either. Here again we must raise the question of the great Europeans. Those people are not too worried about regulations. The other fishing fleet which operates off our coast around Donegal is the German one. It is admitted by the fishermen in Donegal that, as far as can be seen, that fleet operates fairly strictly within the limits of the quotas imposed on them. This brings one back to the thought of being a good European. There was a time when Germany was not considered to be a very good European. It is like the old proverb: if one gets the name of being an early riser one can sleep until it is late.

The Irish quota is approximately 70,000 tonnes. If we combine the Irish, French, West German, Dutch and the Scottish fleets and their catches, we are talking approximately of 550,000 tonnes per year. I wonder if any Member here has an idea of what 550,000 tonnes of mackerel looks like? In the past three years the catch has been in the region of 1,500,000 tonnes. I ask the Minister how long he and his experts think that can continue. My belief, which is based on local information, is that this cannot be sustained.

We had a clear example of what happened to the mackerel fishing off Cornwall. It was exhausted after five years and now the mackerel being caught are no larger than cigars. There was no development of onshore-based industry there and 80 per cent of the catch was exported to West Africa. There was no permanent development. There was also the depletion of the Minch herring fishing. As a representative from south-west Donegal, I could not associate myself with a policy leading in that direction. Even the mackerel stocks will decrease. I hope we will try to prolong the fishing for mackerel but the only way we can do that is to exercise some form of control.

It must be clear to the Minister and to the Department that some form of control is essential but successive Ministers have not taken steps to implement such measures of control. I remember when Deputy Lenihan was in charge of Fisheries, as were Deputy Power and the former Deputy Donegan. At the moment Deputy Fitzpatrick has responsibility in this area. There was never the determination, either politically or even from the point of view of the civil service, to tackle the problem.

Other countries overcame the problem. For example, in Canada they introduced a coastal state control. This could be implemented here without contravening any EEC regulations. The people who are reaping the harvest of our waters will never formulate a common fisheries policy. They would be stupid to introduce such a policy. A person does not cut a stick to beat himself and when the going is good the temptation is to wait to see what develops. The measure of coastal state control could be implemented in the interest of conservation of an endangered species. It could be closely monitored. The Minister will probably say that this would be a very expensive operation. I remember attending a seminar at the Let-terkenny RTC shortly after I became a member of Donegal County Council. Deputy Lenihan was present and the Commissioner who was with him spoke at length about our fisheries policy. On that occasion we were told that an abundant sum of money would be made available to exercise control and to assist us in protecting our stocks. I should like the Minister to follow up on that point.

In the Book of Estimates there is a provision in the Estimates for the Department, or in conjunction with the Department of Defence, for some form of additional surveillance. I should like the Minister to elaborate on that. The foreign fishing boats could be brought into port occasionally for inspection regarding the way they are operating and to check if they are operating within the quotas as laid down. This operation could also be carried out at sea by the Naval Service. It would not require too much intelligence to figure out the tank capacity of the vessels and the amount of catch on board. If these people knew there was a prospect of their being questioned and prosecuted or of a fine being imposed, it would act as a deterrent. Eminent scientists associated with the Department of Fisheries and Forestry have sounded many warnings in relation to the depletion of stocks but it seems nobody will cry halt. It may be too late to do anything in three or four years.

The Minister should surround himself with advisers and officials who have not a vested interest in the fishing industry and he should implement measures that will be in the best interest of a long-term fisheries policy or even prolong the existing regulations. I have often wondered if the importance attached to the fishing industry is measured by the GNP of that sector. If that is so, then God help the people of south-west Donegal, of Killybegs and Burtonport. As a country, we are scarce in natural resources but the resources we have, and fishing in particular, should be protected by every available means. It may be argued that the shore side of the industry at present is not capable of handling the catches and that was borne out today by Deputy Deasy and Deputy Sheehan. I say that is a very good sign. If the reverse were true, if we had factory after factory with nothing to do, we would be in a worse position. We have an example in Donegal in another sector where seven or eight advance factories are idle. I am not worried about the onshore side of the industry. The people in private enterprise will be able to develop their enterprises. Deputy Deasy was disappointed that BIM have got out of that sector but I believe it was the right decision. We should encourage the people of Killybegs, Castletownbere and in the small ports around the country to do something for themselves and not expect the State to provide every facility. Therefore, a certain number of luggers would be required during peak periods. The assessment could be cut down to a fine point if controls were exercised. A very good pattern could be established and we would not have wholesale dumping of fish.

I suggest that some form of licensing must be introduced in respect of these luggers. Of course the Department will say that it would be contrary to EEC regulations. I say that we should introduce a licensing system for a period. Let the operators be brought to court but it would take three years to bring them before the court, and if we do not take the steps I have been advocating, at the end of three years there will be nothing left to assess. Deputy Deasy correctly spoke about a period this year when there were 36 overseas luggers operating off Rathmullan whose skippers were not worried about complying with quotas. One would not need to be very bright to appreciate that. However, in the past three or four years successive Governments have stood by watching all this happening because they did not want to rock the boat. If this sort of thing is allowed to continue the results will be disastrous, a situation whose gravity neither Deputies nor fishermen could have foreseen.

When I started to teach in Killybegs in 1962 the children came in in the morning talking about their fathers having got £6 a cran for herring the previous night. In a short time the price was £52 per cran, but I am afraid we are back to the £6. Three or four years ago mackerel were being dumped wholesale. I saw 13,000 cran of mackerel being dumped. We have come a long way since, but we have arrived at a stage where we must adopt a restrictive policy and stringent controls. Unfortunately, nobody wants to call a halt, particularly the fishermen. I do not blame the hard working fishermen in Killybegs and Burtonport for having a go. They have to meet heavy repayments on their boats. They cannot decide to leave their boats tied up for a day. They are enjoying a bonanza now and we do not hear very much from them but we should not allow them to hang themselves. We have seen what happened to the small boats.

At the moment we are providing facilities for Scottish people who have exhausted their own stocks. The Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Deputy Kelly, once referred to the rhine-stone cowboys from the west. The type of fishermen I have been talking about can be described only as overnight cowboys. They have reaped the benefits of their own stocks and are enjoying ours while they are giving a rest period to their own.

We must be given answers to a number of questions. For instance, what is the BIM investment? What has it been in the past few years in respect of boats in Killybegs and Burtonport? What commitments did the IDA and Gaeltarra Éireann enter into during the years? How can the Government justify such investments annually, on the one hand, yet offer no protection to the resource on the other? As I said earlier, one has only to look at the pattern of herring fishing to see the obvious dangers. I attended meetings in Killybegs with the then spokesman of Fisheries, Deputy White. We met up to 30 fishermen who were faced with the problem in relation to white fish takes. It was costing them £200 to take a boat out for a night. They might get some fish but not nearly enough to make it worthwhile — they might as well have left their boats tied up. They were looking for price supports.

A new problem has arisen now in regard to mackerel fishing but there is no common fisheries policy and consequently no controls, and the only conclusion one can reach is that there is free-for-all fishing in regard to all species. Those engaged in processing are in perpetual doubt about whether to expand or to sit back, wait for the fishing to collapse and then to fold up. I have great admiration for those people because they are in a risky business with enormous amounts of money tied up in construction, the provision of freezing equipment and so on. They have to ask themselves is it wise at a time when they do not know what will happen. Nobody honestly could say their investment is guaranteed because of the element of chance and uncertainty. I am not referring specifically to the Minister here now when I say that successive Governments did not have the right attitude in this respect. There are fears and uncertainties among those business people as well as among fishermen. They need price supports. It is a case of these people having their backs against the wall. On the other side of the coin, in regard to the question of control, if the United Kingdom decided to place a conservation order on the Minch in relation to all fisheries we would have the entire Scottish fleet and luggers fishing in our waters. They would fish us out in a couple of seasons and then return to their own white fishing. We would be left to carry the baby while their stocks would have enjoyed a complete recovery. These matters are causing concern to my constituents and all through this we must try to cope with the attitude of the Department in relation to EEC regulations. Deputy Higgins, who is present, attended a seminar in the Abbey Hotel in Donegal town prior to our accession to the EEC and spelled out then all the dangers and loopholes that existed. Members on both sides of the House saw the big cake, the development of agriculture, fruit markets and so on, but nobody worried about the fisherman or the fishing industry because there were only 6,000 or 7,000 votes involved altogether. However, as far as my constituency is concerned, that industry is the lifeline of half of the area. That fact has fallen on deaf ears for many years. I may be accused of being too parochial when I refer to processing in Donegal, but those who are endeavouring to develop that industry can either take this gamble or jump on the bandwagon and sign a contract with a couple of luggers that would be anchored off Killybegs. All they would need would be a couple of two-way radios and a telephone and they could do all the business they wished. That is the choice they have. The easiest way out, and the one that has a guarantee, is the latter. But for the development of our area, the success of Killybegs and the continuation of the 1,000 jobs, the State must help out that weak section of the community. The State must help those who are involved in the industry at a low level. We have a total fleet of 65 or 70 fishing boats in Killybegs and Burtonport and about 12 or 14 of those boats are uneconomical. They are too small to fish for mackerel and do not have the power to compete. They would not survive at white fishing, support price or not. These fishermen have gone to the wall with their wives and families and their crew and their families with them. Those fishermen face another difficulty in that their interest rates and repayments are mounting. I could rattle off the names of those people now because I write consistently to the Department and officials on their behalf in an effort to keep off the dogs. That cannot continue; somebody must cry halt. It would not be an unwise decision for BIM to buy out those boats — it may cost £3 million or £4 million — and reequip them so that those fishermen have proper boats to go sea fishing. Alternatively those boats could be sold to countries that are at present developing their fishing industry. The main thing is that those fishermen should not be allowed to accrue more interest and repayments. They face a very embarrassing situation. Fishermen are a unique type of people in that they do not know any other type of life except fishing. They would not survive one week in a factory but we are allowing them to hang themselves. They cannot compete and do not have the boat power to go into the mackerel business. We are talking about £40 million in relation to this legislation and it would only cost 7.5 per cent of that figure to put that fleet to sea again. The foreigners have outsmarted us in that area by modernising their fleets. We have allowed our fishermen get into difficulty. We can rescue them and the State has a duty to do that. There is little point in introducing a Supplementary Estimate for the purpose of writing off interest rates. That is only fooling them. It is like putting them on a list of 10,000 for an SDA house we know will never be built. We would be only allowing them to fool themselves. It would be better if the boats were recovered from them and re-equipped so that they could compete and make a living.

The unique thing about fishermen that I admire is that they want to work. They do not want to stay ashore and draw the dole and in 1982 that is a scarce commodity. Those people are mad to work and they would not cry if they had a bad week. Their frame of mind is right and the Minister should seriously consider the suggestion I have made to help them. I am aware that such help would not be popular in the financial corridors but it is the only genuine way to tackle the problem. Such fishermen could be given medium sized tank boats to fish mackerel and once again become economic. As it is, some of them carry only about 500 boxes. They also use wooden boats, and that raises another problem. The Department were very slow in relation to the boatyard in Killybegs. For many years it must have been clear that that project was in difficulty and the decision the Department arrived at should have been reached earlier. If that was done some of the fishermen I am referring to would have been able to invest in the better type of fishing boat for mackerel fishing.

The policy of keeping the boatyard open was wrong. Make no mistake about it, if someone offered me a car for £10,000 which I could buy elsewhere for £7,000, I would not pay the £10,000. That was just what was happening in Killybegs and in the boatyard. It is unfortunate that those fishermen now have to suffer for wrong Government policy, regardless of what Government were in office. They are being refused conversion grants, because the board want to examine their books and, if the fishermen are not making money, the board are not interested. These fishermen cannot make money because of the way they are operating and the Department cannot sit back and allow them to get into further debt. The whole thing could be written off and made economical again. One basic element on the fishermen's side is that they are anxious to work.

I would possibly disagree with Deputy Power in relation to a gentleman's agreement and hope he will accept that disagreement in a gentlemanly way. This was a very hot potato when he was Minister for Fisheries. Unfortunately, it was not tackled then and may prove very expensive now. On the other side of the coin, I must give credit where it is due. I am delighted with the Killybegs development. The place has greatly changed in ten years, not alone in the fishing fleet but in the industrial site. A lot more is needed, but we have been patient over the years.

In recent months, Killybegs has seen the completion of many great harbour facilities. A synchro-duct has been provided and the dredging of the harbour is almost complete. A new ice plant and auction hall have also been provided, in answer to a profound need of the fishing industry in Killybegs. In the best interests of the project it was unfortunate that the auction hall was placed where it is rather than at the head of the pier, but it is easy to talk with hindsight. It has totally encroached on access to the pier. As regards its design, at first sight it looks more like a synagogue than an auction hall. I wonder if a prize for the design was involved. However, it is a fine structure, but in the wrong place. It must be stated publicly that interested parties approached the Department of Fisheries and the Board of Works before construction was begun with a view to having the auction hall relocated but the officials involved could not agree to this. This building is used for white fish only and could have been located anywhere, since all the handling is done by forklifts.

I think it was Deputy Power who mentioned co-operation between politicians, fishermen and the Department of Fisheries, but the Department officials determined where this auction hall was to be situated.

(Cavan-Monaghan): In all fairness, the Deputy should realise that in the end it is the Minister who makes the final decisions. The officials of the Department do not. The Minister must accept responsibility for the final decisions.

I accept that totally. It is unfortunate that whoever reached the final decision did not reach the right one, even with the best of intentions.

I had occasion to meet the Department officials in connection with a young man who was interested in providing an alternative oil supply for Killybegs and was looking for a site for storage tanks. Many reasons were quoted why he could not be accommodated including that blasting might damage the construction of the ice plant. The information given to this young man was incorrect, to my first-hand knowledge. There was not and still is not the will to facilitate him. Deputy White was at the meeting with us and I argued about the price of oil on the grounds that competitiveness would only come if there were two or three companies supplying oil. If the fishermen's co-operative in Killybegs had developed their own oil storage facilities, they could have provided diesel oil for their operators at 10p a gallon less than the present price. All it needed was the right will and a co-operative approach. These are decisions which rest, in the final analysis, with the Minister of the time. As members of political parties we sometimes profoundly disagree, but must accept the decision.

I raised a question in this House in relation to the Department of Fisheries, the Department of the Environment and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara combining to present a harbour plan for Killybegs. I felt, and still feel, that it would be of great benefit to all, including Donegal County Council.

Work on a shore road was started in Killybegs some time ago, which can now only be described as the road to nowhere, because it was stopped in midstream. If it had been completed, even with rough core, to allow container traffic from the shore road on to the industrial estate, there would be no traffic problems in the town of Killybegs. It was only in June 1981 that I established from the then Minister for Finance that the road was not the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries but of the Department of the Environment, and had to be financed by the local authorities.

Everybody believed, and still believes, that that is the property of the Department of Fisheries and Forestry and that if anybody wants access to the shore road at Killybegs they have to get permission from that Department. There seems to be a conflict of interests there. I am not saying that it is wrong that the Department should not have the right to be in on anything that happens in Killybegs but, at the same time, they should not be seen to be in conflict with the local authority. I still believe that without any development plan or setting up of a harbour board there could be, in the interests of the Department, in the interests of finance and in the interests of the local authority, a final plan presented to Donegal County Council whereby they would all know where we are going in relation to the development of Killybegs. As it stands at the moment nobody seems to know what is happening. I am a member of Donegal County Council and of the county development team and there are some excellent people there, representatives of different Departments, who would be very anxious to contribute towards developing Killybegs. Contrary to what Deputies Deasy and Sheehan have said, it is developing. BIM and the IDA and Gaeltarra Éireann are doing their utmost to develop and I am delighted to see that there is involvement of local people with the expertise and the local knowledge who are prepared to have a go at developing this very important industry in south west Donegal.

I have faith in the Minister's interest in the industry and I believe that he has the long-term interests of fishermen at heart. It is just a question of tidying up some of the policies and the problems. I would hope that our spokesman on fisheries and the Deputies associated with fishing and fishing areas on this side of the House would be constructive in their contributions on any proposal coming before this House.

Let me go back again to the present mackerel fisheries. We are enjoying at the moment the only mackerel fishery left along these islands. It is common knowledge that about 500,000 tonnes are available each year and the markets have geared themselves for this quantity. If we introduced controls and reduced this figure to, say, 250,000 tonnes, this would not have an adverse affect on anyone concerned in Killybegs or Burtonport or on those who can only be described as vultures, because the price of mackerel would not fall; it would probably rise. This has happened in nearly every other sphere of buying and selling; if a commodity becomes scarce the price does not necessarily drop. We have three or four years of mackerel fishing left and we must make a decision as to whether we will let it be finalised in three years or take the initiative now and extend it for two years. At present everyone is enjoying the bonanza — the fishermen, the processors, the lorry drivers, the business people, the shops, the cafés. But should anything go wrong, the North Sea fisheries will open up again and the foreigners will be secure. But where will our fishing fleet go and what will happen to the thousand people in my area who will be left on the dole queue? We have a natural and very lucrative resource and we should be endeavouring to protect it. I hope that the Minister will see his way not to break regulations but to accommodate himself within the framework of those regulations and secure the jobs that I have referred to.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo. Nuair a labhraíonn Teachtaí faoi chúrsaí na hiascaireachtá bíonn siad chomh macánta go gcuireann sé iontas orm i gcónaí. Bhí an óráid a thug An Teachta Coughlan uaidh suimiúil agus bhí an-tábhacht ag baint leis na pointí a rinne sé.

Ag an am chéanna glacaim go bhfuil suim thar barr ag an Aire, An Teachta Fitzpatrick, i gcúrsaí iascaireachta. Tá easpa muiníne le feiceáil agus le cloisteáil faoi láthair agus caithfimid deireadh a chur leis an easpa muiníne sin agus mis-neach a thabhairt dos na daoine óga a bhfuil sé ar intinn acu bheith páirteach i dtionscal na hiascaireachta sna blianta atá le teacht.

Tá buntaistí ag baint le dearcadh ceart a bheith againn i gcúrsaí iascaireachta agus glacadh, mar shampla, le prionsabail na pleanála mar a bhaineann sé le chuile rud eile i gcúrsaí eacnamaíochta na tíre.

I want to say at the outset how impressed I have always been with the speeches of people who live in coastal communities where the fishing industry is important as a means of livelihood. Indeed in the speeches that have been made so far on this brief Bill, there has been a directness and a lack of partisan-ship which is very impressive.

I want to welcome the Bill and to say that I have been impressed with the present incumbent in the Department. This Bill, which will enable Bord Iascaigh Mhara to expand their activities by raising the limit of expenditure that they can incur, is welcomed by everybody. But there are important matters which should be discussed. Anybody who has any contact with the fishing industry can discern at present — and it is mentioned in the Minister's own speech — a degree of uncertainty that is visible everywhere. Certainly the people who have entered into repayments for vessels that cost great sums of money are worried about both their present situation and their future. We are in a very difficult position in so far as on the one hand we are encouraging people to become involved in the fishing industry and on the other hand there are many areas of uncertainty which tend to undo our promotional efforts both of an educational kind and of a training kind. It is time that we addressed these.

I was interested to hear Deputy Coughlan make reference to some speeches that I had made in the early seventies in County Donegal. At that time I was worried about the lack of protection given to the fishing industry in the protocols that had been negotiated to the European Treaties of Accession. I was worried in particular about the imbalance in resources that were available to the existing members of the European Community and those available to Ireland. Put rather simply, they had a developed fishing industry with a developed catching capacity and they would now bring these to bear on waters where there was an undeveloped catching capacity and an undeveloped industry. I felt quite frankly, without putting a tooth in it, that we were incurring a great degree of vulnerability for a fragile fishing industry in the interests of benefits that we were, in fact, getting for milk producers. There is no point in going back over those arguments which are matters of historical fact. But there are points which are still relevant. In prosecuting a policy, and if BIM are to make the best use of this new capacity which the Bill will provide for it, there are matters to which we can, even today, address our attention.

One of the two external environments within which the fishing industry will operate is the Law of the Sea Conference. I suggest to the Minister that in his discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General he should bear in mind that Ireland's interests are not necessarily similar to the interests of the major countries comprising the EEC. Unfortunately the resumption of the Law of the Sea Conference and the stage to which the discussions have come have shown a great deal of greed on the part of developed nations towards underdeveloped and developing nations. Our lot lies with those who want to utilise the resource that surrounds them, the sea. We should be clear about our participation in these discussions. We should have an independent policy which is forward-looking and represents our interests.

I recall in the seventies, as a Member of Seanad Éireann, discussing fisheries. I remember, as a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities, sitting across the table from the commissioner responsible for fishery policy in the EEC. The documents which informed his view at that time were structured to represent the interests of the major partners in the EEC. The manner in which statistics have been gathered referred rather descriptively to the total state of stocks in the EEC. The question of conservation was discussed against a total picture. Left out of the analysis was the precarious state of stocks which had been brought about by over-fishing by countries within the EEC which had the capacity to over-fish. There was also over-fishing by non-Community countries. Here was a tiny country, with a weak fishing industry and weak capacity in comparative terms, being asked to bear the brunt of other countries' massive disregard for the state of fish resources in the waters in question. We were put into this position. What followed was a technical argument about quotas, sizes, limits and so on. The guilty partners shared the same procedures as a tiny developing country which had not participated in making the state of the fishing stocks precarious.

If one looks at the Treaty of Rome and the way the various protocols are worded there is still room for manoeuvre for Ireland. I should like to repeat a suggestion I made in the early seventies. If one has an integrated approach towards the future of the fishing industry, one can address oneself to the question of dependence of coastal communities on fishing for a livelihood. One can manoeuvre in the areas between social and regional policy. If there is a great deal of dependence on the fishing industry in coastal communities, this could be used as a principle of negotiation. Orders that might be made need not be made in the areas of fisheries specifically but in terms of dependence. I have never had a satisfactory answer to the question of whether or not we could establish some form of limitation.

In the discussions we had with the commissioner he made the suggestion that we should gather information. Studies were initiated on the degree of the dependence of coastal communities on the fishing industry and on what the future held for fisheries. These studies were not suited to meet Ireland's needs but were structured rather to answer Community questions. We cannot within our foreign policy relationship with the Community seek to make gains, which would be indirect, but would set up some form of protection for fisheries.

If the external atmosphere in which we discuss fisheries is affected by the law of the sea and the EEC, let us face a hard fact. There are people who argue that the traditional concept of fisheries is gone and that fishing is entering a new era. If in the next generation we intend to move towards a concept of ocean ranching, we need to protect ourselves now in terms of international law. Ireland's interests in the next generation must be staked out in a definite approach towards the new structures that will arise in relation to the law of the sea. Our interests are different from those of Britain and the major countries of the Community. This is something the Department must take seriously.

I have long held the opinion that everything to do with fisheries and the sea should be integrated into one department of marine affairs. I shall give an example of confusion which has emanated from bureaucratic competition and the way we have allowed our public service structures to evolve. The Minister mentioned aquaculture. We had studies about its prospects globally. Take the case of a person who wants to become involved in aquaculture. If he wants to put out a raft to become involved in mussels he must comply with planning permission and deal with the local authority. If he puts out a rope he must deal with the Department of Transport. If he wants information he must write to BIM. If he wants to ask more questions he must write to the Department of Fisheries. There is a big difference between making a commitment to aquaculture and eliminating the obstacles facing young people who want to become involved in that way of life.

I am not being mindlessly optimistic when I say there are thousands of jobs that can be created in this area. There are problems that need to be settled as a matter of urgency. There are constitutional questions about access to the coastline. There are questions of ownership and control. There are questions about physical matters such as the structure of piers and so on. All these questions should be answered with optimism. My idea for a department of marine affairs might not be met in the short-term but there must be some way in which the whole package can be put together so that all these questions can be answered by a single agency.

In relation to aquaculture we have answered some questions. Some difficulties can now be solved and we have some demonstration farms. The knowledge that we now have must be disseminated through the community. What we need are workers, rather like the workers who work the poverty action programme, who will mobilise people into co-operatives and so bridge the gap between questions and the motivation which is necessary if there is to be broad based participation in the future of aquaculture.

We need to integrate matters in relation to fisheries and also to simplify procedures so that people who want to enter into the fishing industry can do so.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.