Written Answers. - Clarenbridge (Galway) Oyster Fisheries Development.

75.

asked the Minister for Tourism, Fisheries and Forestry the date on which St. George's Oyster Fisheries, Clarenbridge, County Galway, were acquired; if he will give details on the works which are to be carried out on the development of oyster beds; the amount of money spent; the reason for the delay in proceeding with the development; and the time scale for the stocking and development of the beds.

The St. George's Oyster Fishery was acquired by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara late in 1981. Following its purchase a preliminary survey of the fishery was undertaken by the board in mid-1982 which indicated the feasibility of restoring the oyster beds and reviving the fishery. In 1983 work commenced on a three year biological and hydrographic assessment of the bed in conjunction with the Department of Oceanography, University College, Galway. This work involves diving surveys, growth trials, dredge surveys, larval sampling and a hydrographic study and has cost £10,500 to date. A pilot greenhouse oyster nursery system at Clarenbridge to supply both the St. George's and Clarenbridge beds in the event of the detailed survey proving positive has also been set up at a cost of £7,000.

Given the pressing demands on the board's resources it would have been inappropriate for the board to proceed with an expensive development programme before results of the detailed survey were analysed. I expect that the results of this survey will be available in December 1986 and, depending on the results and subject to the availability of funds, work on the development of the bed could commence next year.