Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 22 May 1992

Vol. 420 No. 2

Estimates, 1992. - Vote 30: Marine (Revised Estimate).

I move:

That a sum not exceeding £36,286,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1992, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for the Marine, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants and sundry grants-in-aid."

Public spending must be driven on the basis of its impact on employment, direct and indirect. Looking at my own Department's spending, a complex picture emerges in relation to employment. Before turning to the detail of the Estimates I want to comment briefly on this issue.

We are a maritime people. Around our coasts, 15,000 people depend on our fishing industry for their livelihoods, but the potential for new jobs in fishing and fishing-related activities is untapped. The growth of aquaculture, for example, indicates the possibilities presented by our invaluable natural resources. From negligible beginnings — ten years ago — this industry is now worth over £40 million a year. Production levels, which are still in their infancy, now stand at over 30,000 tonnes, creating 2,500 jobs. Recent reports show that a further 1,000 jobs could be generated within this sector. I cannot over-emphasise the importance which I and the Government attach to job creation. The sectors for which my Department are responsible are significant employers. I intend to expand the role of my Department in promoting new jobs.

Expenditure generated by inland fisheries and sea angling was estimated by the Economic and Social Research Institute at £74 million in 1990. A conservative estimate of jobs supported by this sector was 1,900. Marine leisure activities are now a very significant and rapidly growing component of tourism in Europe and elsewhere. As many as 25 million persons annually are attracted to these activities in Europe alone. We have an outstanding natural advantage in this area having, as we do, a plentiful supply of environmentally clean coastal and inland waters and a varied coastline.

Our harbours also promote jobs by facilitating trade with the benefits which modern technology and practice allow. I will build on what we have achieved already and on our strengths. I intend within my own Department to focus on this crucial subject. In the sea fishery area, for example, the review of the Common Fisheries Policy is of vital importance to us. We need a better deal for Ireland on which to build jobs. In this connection I would like to tell the House that I have today appointed Mr. Eamon Doherty, former Commissioner of the Garda Síochána as chairman of the review group on the Common Fisheries Policy. I would like to pay tribute to Dr. Ken Whitaker, the former chairman of the group for his major contribution to this important issue.

From next year onwards, I have decided to re-format the presentation of my Department's Estimates so that the programmes for which my Department are responsible are identified with greater clarity. This approach will facilitate transparency and, indeed, debate. For the purpose of today's debate I intend to present spending under the following headings: Administration covering the overheads and running costs of my Department, some £8.8 million — I should point out that that covers primarily staffing costs and overheads of marine safety, research, harbour development and other functions of my Department; Marine Safety Services, covering marine communications infrastructure, marine rescue and a grant to the Commissioners of Irish Lights, some £7.5 million; Harbour Development and Coastal Protection, covering commercial harbours and State harbours, some £2.7 million; Marine Research conducted at my own Department's Fishery Research Centre, the Salmon Research Agency and with a contingency for the establishment of a Marine Institute, some £2.5 million; Sea-fisheries and Aquaculture Development, covering fishery harbour development, BIM grant-in-aid for running costs and capital investment and fisheries management expenditure, some £10.4 million; Inland Fisheries Development, some £7.6 million; and finally some £1 million on Miscellaneous Services.

Programmes operated by my Department affect employment in a number of ways. Firstly, there is the direct employment provided by the Department and their agencies in the provision of public services or in regulating various activities, safety of ships or fish hygiene, for example, in the public interest. Many of these programmes, for example, in the health and hygiene area of the fishery sector, serve to protect and promote employment by ensuring consumer confidence in the product at home and in the wider single European market. Consequently, these are crucial to the development of the industry. Secondly, there is the employment stimulated in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors by direct BIM assistance programmes — loans and grants — and facilitated by the efficient operation of licensing regimes in the aquaculture and foreshore areas by my Department proper. In this latter respect, rapid strides have been made in recent years. Thirdly, there are the jobs which flow indirectly to the economy as a result of infrastructural improvements effected at ports, fishery harbour centres and the competitive advantage which derive from these. The research efforts of the Department similarly serve to stimulate employment in the productive sectors of the economy.

I would turn first to marine safety. The protection of life at sea is my most important responsibility. Over the past year the Government have embarked on the most radical programme of improvements in our marine safety infrastructure since the foundation of the State.

Total spending under marine safety now exceeds £7 million. This represents substantially increased resources for the sector and is clear evidence of the Government's commitment to safety at sea for seafarers and all those who earn their livelihoods on the sea.

The Irish marine emergency service was set up by the Government within my Department in May 1991 following on recommendations of the review group on the air-sea rescue services. The service is responsible for the operational aspects of all types of marine emergency including search and rescue, sea and coastal pollution, shipwreck and casualty response. The service have at their disposal the coast and cliff rescue service and a Sikorsky S6IN helicopter at Shannon, but it also relies heavily on services made available by other parts of the Irish Maritime Search and Rescue Organisation. Helicopters and fast lifeboats are the principal means of carrying out rescues from the sea today.

The Sikorsky S61N has recently flown its 100th mission. Since the Government introduced this service last July, 85 lives have been saved. In 1991 a further 139 rescue missions were undertaken by the rescue services based at Finner and Baldonnell and 54 lives were saved. Good communications and co-ordination are a pre-requisite to effective marine emergency response. The services of the coast radio stations at Valentia and Malin Head, the Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Shannon, the volunteer coast and cliff rescue service and the marine radio engineers are to be integrated into the Irish marine emergency service. Three marine rescue sub-centres are to be situated at Valentia and Malin Head coast radio stations and a new sub-centre is to be set up in Dublin. Work has already commenced to implement this structure and the training of the staff is underway. Investment in the marine VHF communications network is now almost complete and an additional VHF station for the Wicklow area should be in operation by the end of the year.

Furthermore, I have announced that in future a report of the investigation into marine accidents will be released and made available to the public. The new policy will apply to the outcome of the investigation into the Kilkenny/ Hasselwerder collision last November and to all subsequent marine accident investigations conducted by my Department, including the inquiry into the accident involving the ro/ro ferry the m.v. Havelet in March this year. I have taken this decision in the interests of maritime safety and in order to allay public concern about such accidents.

With regard to harbour development and coast protection our ports are crucial to our future development particularly as the Single European Market nears completion. Our commercial seaports handled almost £17 billion of Ireland's total external trade of £26 billion in 1990. This figure illustrates the absolute importance of those ports to the future of the Irish economy. In volume terms 97 per cent of our exports go through our ports.

A fast, efficient service with a quicker turnaround time is the key to our exporters competing successfully with European operators. The completion of the Single Market and the resolution of the GATT agreement will bring about a huge increase in trade. Demand for containerised transport alone is expected to double in the next decade. These major changes bring both challenges and opportunities to us. The Government are gearing up to meet these challenges for undertaking a major investment programme involving £69 million for the commerical ports over the years 1989 to 1993. This investment is being funded in part by the EC through the operational programme on peripherality. Projects at the key ports of Cork, Dublin, Rosslare and Waterford and other important local ports have been included in the programme. This investment is enhanced by the transport infrastructure investment on roads and railways.

Capital expenditure by harbour authorities under the aegis of my Department in 1992 will be of the order of £28 million. In addition, a fundamental review of the regulatory framework of all commercial harbours is now almost complete. The purpose of the review is to update the policy and legislation to provide development and a framework to meet the needs of our harbour users today. Before leaving this topic, I would mention Dún Laoghaire Harbour which is an important national public amenity and of particular interests to Deputies.

The Government have given approval in principle to the development plan brought forward by the board under the chairmanship of Professor Dermot McAleese. I have asked the board to report back to me with firm proposals as to how the development plan can be moved forward. I look forward to seeing their proposals. A sum of £1.703 million has been allocated for the operation and maintenance of the harbour in 1992 and a major item of expenditure this year is the provision of a new sewerage scheme,

On coast protection, in 1992 £200,000 is being allocated for the continuation of the capital protection works at Rosslare strand. In addition, the Department will undertake maintenance of a number of schemes, including Rosslare, and continue with planning a scheme for Bray seafront. These are all valuable natural amenities and tourism resorts.

My Department are in the process of establishing priorities, in consultation with local authorities, for the preparation of a long term programme to prevent progressive erosion by the sea.

On marine research, last October, the Government announced the launch of Ireland's operational programme 1991-1993 under STRIDE, Science and Technology for Regional Innovation and Development in Europe. The programme, which is in essence a funding package for the development of Irish natural resources, has as its main component a large marine sub programme.

The marine sub programme of STRIDE has a planned total investment of £8 million. Its focus is the need to build up national capability and expertise in marine science and technology. This will underpin a critical development in the marine sector including the key areas of sea fishing and aquaculture.

STRIDE funding is being spread across the marine centres of expertise in the country, which include my Department's fisheries research centre; the Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute at University College Galway; and the Hydraulics and Coastal Management Laboratory at University College Cork. In addition the upgrading of the national marine research vessel the Lough Beltra, and the establishment of a national marine data centre, are also being assisted.

This timely funding will enable us to create a well equipped marine research and technology base. It is all the more welcome as I finalise my plans for the setting up of the new national marine institute.

On Sea Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, 1992 is a crucial year for the future of the fishing industry. The Common Fisheries Policy is coming to the mid-term review. I am looking for a better deal for Ireland.

My overriding priority is to press Ireland's case for improved allocations of fish stocks. We have a strong case for seeking additional quota allocations. It is based on our low share of stocks in the Community having regard to the large size of our fishing economic zone and also the severely underdeveloped state of the Irish fishing industry.

This year £3.5 million will be spent on improving the fishery harbours infrastructure at strategically located landing places around the coast. The money will be used to finance the continuation or completion of improvement works at Rossaveal, Greencastle, Roundstone and Dingle; up-grading facilities at the fishery harbour centres owned by the Department at Killybegs, Dunmore East, Howth and Castletownbere, as well as the works at Rossaveal; site investigations in preparation for undertaking planned investments at a number of selected harbours and the continuation of the fishery harbour development programme through the commencement of new developments. Investments will take full advantage of EC Structural Funds aid under the operational programme for rural development.

Since becoming Minister I have visited most of the harbours and discussed the major issues with the fishery interests. My Department's development programme for harbours will result in significant job creation in those areas where opportunities for jobs are limited.

Modernisation is essential if the Irish fleet is to survive and develop in the future. Safety is also a major concern, and the modernisation grants will help to improve significantly both the efficiency and seaworthiness of our fleet. In 1991 a total of £1.29 million was approved for fleet modernisation; to date in 1992 grants totalling £1.13 million have been approved.

On improving fish landing facilities the value of a well handled and iced catch, and the premium prices which this type of catch can command, should not be underestimated. Grant-aid for the development of facilities at fishery harbours is available from the European Regional Development Fund under the operational programme for rural development. The estimated total investment in ice plants over the period of the programme will be of the order of £4.5 million, with EC grant-aid totalling £2.25 million. Under the programme ice plant projects have been initiated, or will be undertaken, in the ports of Rossaveal, Castletownbere, Dunmore East, Greencastle, Dingle, Union Hall and Killybegs, with smaller projects at some ten other ports.

As the quantity of fish landings is generally limited because of the constraints of EC quotas, the key to increasing the earnings of skippers and crews lies in improving the quality of the catch. The value of a well handled and iced catch, and the premium prices which this type of catch can command, should not be underestimated.

Training of crew members is vital to vessel efficiency and profitability. This is particularly true in the case of modern fishing vessels which are complex units and can suffer severely from downtime unless expertise is available on board to deal with any technical problems which may occur.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara operate a manpower development programme for fishermen which particularly targets young fishermen working towards command of their own vessels. EC grant-aid of the order of £3 million is expected over the period 1990-1993 to assist with this training.

The processing sector has a great potential for the creation of new jobs. More than 330 new jobs are expected to be created over the next two years in the fish processing and aquaculture industry as a result of planned State-EC backed investment of £17 million.

Under the Community Support Framework approved for the processing sector for the period 1991 to 1993, a Community contribution of £8 million in the form of FEOGA funds has been approved towards the anticipated overall investment of £17 million during that three-year period.

To date FEOGA grants amounting to £3 million have been allocated to nine projects which are expected to generate a total of 148 new jobs in processing.

I have recently approved for submission to Brussels nine further projects involving 185 jobs and FEOGA grants of the order of £3.2 million are likely to be allocated shortly. A third and final operational programme within this current framework will be submitted to the Commission in early 1993 to take up the balance of the Community contribution.

The State's investment in inland fisheries through my Department amounts to £7.59 million in 1992. My Department's responsibility through the agency of the fisheries boards, is to ensure that the stocks and habitat on which this resource depends are protected, conserved and developed for present and future generations.

The fisheries boards need, however, the continued co-operation and vigilance of the angling community and the wider community in their efforts to protect our fisheries from poaching and pollution. The message must be brought home that if we destroy our fisheries we destroy one of the country's greatest natural resources.

Anglers are among the most conscientious conservators of this unique resource. That is why I was delighted to involve them actively in the new trout and coarse fisheries development societies — the "angling co-ops".

The new system is novel both in its structure and approach and it gives anglers a say in the development of the rivers and lakes within their own areas. Those with a wider fishing interest such as hoteliers and fishing tackle dealers can also participate by becoming corporate members of the societies.

The money raised through the co-ops will be matched £1 for £1 by the Government to help the societies get off the ground.

An important feature of the new initiative is that moneys raised will be spent in the local areas to improve the members' fishing facilities. It will also give to anglers a direct say in the developments.

The success of this initiative depends ultimately on the members of the societies, on the willingness of individual anglers to contribute towards the cost of inland fisheries development and on the co-operation between societies and the fisheries boards.

My full support and that of my Department is behind the societies. I look forward to the support of all those committed to the development of trout and coarse fish angling to get this important initiative off to a good start.

We are a maritime people. But our inland waterways are just as valuable and unique — in terms of their potential — for contributing to growth and jobs. We are the custodians of these wonderful resources. We must safeguard them for future generations but we must also, in a balanced way, develop their potential for today's communities who can benefit significantly from the promotion of our inland fisheries.

I commend the Estimate to the House.

The range of the Minister's speech shows the depth and breadth of the Department of the Marine and the various important and serious responsibilities they have. Collective action and energy must be put into developing the potential of this great national resource. That should give us hope. Certain industries in our economy are becoming redundant or being priced out of the market but the seas and the inland waterways are constant. They were provided for us and it is up to us not only to conserve them but to use them to their full potential.

The Minister spoke about job creation possibilities. A huge effort must be made to create further employment. There must be recognition at European level that we need an equitable quota which would enable us to use the large proportion of seabed and waters available to us. Restrictions on the tonnage we are allowed prevent the construction of the trawlers needed to fish further afield. Having regard to the conservation of some species greater efforts must be made by fishermen to look for non-quota species. This requires larger boats and greater investment. That factor must be recognised at European level. There is a great interest here in the Common Agricultural Policy negotiations and we are only beginning to realise that our fishing industry and our waterways must also be protected through negotiations at European level.

We must also be aware of the downstream business that could flow from the hygienic processing and marketing of fish. Speedy export guarantees freshness but it is alarming that so much of our fish is exported without being processed. We must invest in facilities which will give added value to our fish exports. This involves the whole area of aquaculture and fish farming as well. Fishing makes a huge input to the GDP of other countries as a result of processing, packaging and marketing within those countries before the fish and fish products are exported.

We now realise it was a mistake to export our quality cattle and other animals on the hoof, but we are still exporting too much fish on the "fin" so to speak without creating employment opportunities by processing and packaging the fish at home. The Minister quite rightly says there is huge potential for job creation in this sector but we are not yet exploiting it. This is especially noticeable in the aquaculture industry.

Although we are still in the process of negotiating with our EC partners the level of fishing at sea, acquaculture can be developed and must be supported in every way possible. There is a huge divergence of views and the debate still rages on aquaculture and fish farming. The sooner we resolve this the better. Because we have not carried out the research on aquaculture and fish farming, there is a lack of accurate information, and indeed misinformation on the subject. The depth of the water along our coastline lends itself to a vibrant aquaculture industry. We have the added advantage of learning from other people's mistakes because of our late entry into this industry. We should now undertake studies of the Norweigan experience in this area so that we do not repeat the same mistakes and instead build a clean, environmentally friendly industry that meets everybody's needs.

I, like the Minister, will focus on the employment creation potential of the industry. The question of grant aiding this industry needs to be examined further. We all welcome the new EC regulations on carrying out an environmental impact study but I think that the cost of such study should be grant aided, in the same way as are other captial costs. The existing grant aid for shellfish farming should be extended to include major cost items such as seed, labour and transport. We should also take into consideration that people can suffer great losses through storms or the release of fish into the sea. We will have to build in a mechanism to allow owners to replenish their stock so that they are not wiped out of business. Viable industries can be destroyed because they do not have sufficient money to invest at critical times.

It would be a tremendous benefit if people could avail of low interest finance for a limited time after the start up of an industry. Indeed this could be applied to all areas so I hope the Cabinet will examine this possibility. I believe one of the greatest disincentives to realising our potential is the huge risk that comparatively small groups of people or individuals have to take during the critical start-up period. However, if they were able to avail of interest free loans or low interest loans this would give them some security. In order to boost enterprise in the fishing sector, we need to provide this type of assistance.

Fish processing and packaging facilities have to meet EC requirements on health and hygiene. Indeed the Minister focused on the need to produce high quality produce which meet the high health and hygiene standards. Our processing and packaging plants need assistance in order to meet EC regulations. This is crucial because if standards are not met it will mean that plants will have to close down. Fish is a high quality health product and we need to use this product to enhance our reputation as producers of high quality healthy food. Consumers in Europe are willing to pay a premium price for a guaranteed high quality product. Fish has a high protein value. It is seen as a health product in its own right and the consumer is willing to buy it as a luxury package.

Have the Department considered exploiting the east European markets? The Minister may be able to say whether we are already exporting to eastern Europe. Eastern Europe is experiencing great food shortages due to their inability to produce enough food to meet the needs of their own people. We are reminded daily by documentaries of the incredible level of pollution that has polluted their fishing waters and the environment of eastern Europe. They are now trying desperately to clean up their environment. I believe there is a large market there awaiting to be exploited. The fact that we have an image of producing in a clean healthy environment should be of tremendous benefit to us.

Arising from the Ballycotton inquiry and the recommendations in that report a list of needs was drawn up regarding equipment, management training, skills and the competence of every member of the patrol staff. Can the Minister give us an update on whether those recommendations are being implemented. We all realise there were many loopholes and deficiencies in the system. I hope there is some target date by which all those recommendations would be implemented.

We would all pay tribute to the Irish marine emergency service put in place at Shannon and also services at Finner and Baldonnel. Can the Minister say whether the services at Finner and Baldonnel are 24 hour based or if they are in operation only at special times?

In his contribution the Minister said that since the Government introduced the Sikorsky S61N at Shannon 85 lives have been saved and that in 1991 a further 139 rescue missions were undertaken by the rescue services based at Finner and Baldonnel and 54 lives saved. This is the most important task anyone could take on. Everything that can be done to add to the safety of the marine services must be done.

I pay tribute to those staff who are always on call, who go on rescue missions usually in very bad weather and save lives. I am sure all Members of the House would join with me in paying tribute to the British sea rescue service and the tremendous role they play if, and when, required. The setting up of VHF communications networks reminded me of one of the recommendations in the Ballycotton report which was that all patrol vessels going out to sea should be in constant communications with stations on the coast. I would like to ask whether in the investment on the marine VHF communications network, to which the Minister referred, he has taken into account equipment for the patrol boats and the communication stations on the coast. Have these been put in place or is there more work to be done in that area?

We all welcome the fact that the Minister will arrange to have reports on maritime safety and those which involve accidents, collisions and sometimes tragic loss of life, made public. These reports will be of immense value and it is up to all of us to use them wisely and learn from them.

I applaud the development of inland fisheries. I would like also — I do not know whether it comes within the aegis of the Department of the Marine — that the clearing and extending of our waterways and canals for leisure activities, which would be of tremendous tourism value, could be taken on board. Finally, I welcome the Minister's commitment to Dún Laoghaire harbour. I should like to ask whether the allocation will be taken into consideration for the setting up of the facilities for the Sealink terminal?

The estimates this year show a marginal increase on last year's estimates. While the increase in research and development is to be welcomed it would appear that overall the Government's attitude to marine is one of complacency and lacks the importance that this vital and important Department deserve. While relatively speaking, the Department of the Marine are in their infancy there is, unfortunately, no realisation of the immense potential of the seas around us and of our rivers and lakes.

I welcome the Minister's recent remarks on Tom McSweeney's radio programme "Seascapes" when he outlined what he saw as the future for us in terms of maritime development. I wholeheartedly support the remarks that the Department of the Marine should not be classed as a secondary Department. The Minister's enthusiasm and his speech here this morning indicate that he is determined, despite a certain amount of reluctance by other Government Departments and perhaps the Department of Finance, to make a go of the Department of the Marine. I think he sees the potential in that area. I fear he will have an uphill battle in trying to convince his colleagues in Cabinet of the importance of it but I wish him well in his endeavours. It is necessary that he make every effort possible in maritime development. He will have my support in that regard.

The greatest social problem facing the country at present is unemployment. Finance, by way of grants, has been poured into industries to encourage them to come and set up here. In many cases these have been successful and thousands of jobs have been created. Unfortunately, there have also been failures but, I believe, we can complement foreign investment with our own natural resources where we have huge potential. We have probably one of the richest fishing grounds in the world, so much so that other nations see our territorial waters as easy prey to their huge trawlers and factory ships. Despite the very effective fishery protection service by our Naval Service our seas are being ravaged each year by indiscriminate and illegal fishing by foreign boats. It is now profitable to risk being caught due to the value of the catch. There must be a get tough policy on the part of the Government with those who engage in such activity and who, in so doing, put the lives of others at risk.

There is a substantial reduction in the Estimate in regard to proceeds or forfeiture of fines when in fact the reverse should be the case. There is a need for greater and tougher penalties, the doubling of fines and the confiscation of boats, if there are constant breaches of the law. It must be made highly unprofitable for any nation to fish illegally in our waters.

There is continuous confrontation between Spanish, French and Irish trawlers off our coast. Many of the incidents which occurred were nothing short of attempted murder. There is an onus on the Government to protect Irish nationals going about their daily work from these steel hull marauders who have abandoned all aspects of seafaring traditions and rights in their greed for gain.

Last year 55 foreign trawlers were arrested in Irish waters and, with 21 cases tried in court, a total of £0.5 million in fines has been imposed. These fines are derisory and make it worthwhile for companies who have their own insurance to pay these fines and continue on regardless. This must stop. This battle must be fought and won in Brussels. This country cannot afford to have its natural resources destroyed by other EC countries. We should follow the Canadian example and impose fines that would be a real deterrent to those who abuse the law of the land and of the sea by their vicious and threatening behaviour.

There must be a determined effort made to enlarge our fishing fleet. Funding must be provided by the Community so that our fishing industry can grow and fully avail of our quotas, research and monitor our fishing stocks, modernise our boats and give our young people hope, particularly in the coastal areas where economic opportunity is very limited.

There is also an urgent need to encourage the aquaculture industry with particular emphasis on shellfish. There is now a growing demand for Irish shellfish on the Continent which is attributed to the clean waters around our coast. The output of shellfish from European countries is, of course, far greater than that of this country. These countries are far advanced in technology and methods of intensive growth. We, however, have a distinct advantage; we have good, clean and sheltered waters. There is no reason why, with proper investment, this valuable development of our Irish fishing industry should not thrive and prosper in our coastal communities.

There must also be more research into fish farming and the difficulties attached to this branch of the industry so that environmental problems which are of major concern will be overcome. While accepting that an environmental impact study must take place in connection with any proposed fish farm of over 100 tonnes production, there is also an urgent need for a mediator procedure to be put into operation so that the genuine fears of groups and individuals will be listened to and taken into account. We must learn from the mistakes of other countries and make sure that any problems arising from fish farming and because of the chemicals used in fish farming are overcome. Strict measures must be applied and locations identified where this method of aquaculture can thrive and create badly needed jobs. A fish farm in the Castletownbere area recently created 20 jobs which were badly needed in an area that is denuded of people and certainly of jobs. I welcome this type of venture when it is carefully monitored and screened.

There is also a need for intensive marketing of fish products abroad. Those firms who have gone out into the marketplace should be complimented on their endeavours. While I would favour promotional marketing by BIM there should be a special subsidy for firms who send their representatives out into the marketplace and have to fight very hard to gain a part of that market. These are the people who will ultimately sell the product and create the jobs at home.

It is very disappointing to see the Bord Iascaigh Mhara budget cut back so much. I must put on record my condemnation of such a move. If we are to develop the fishing industry surely we must give BIM adequate funding to market and develop our fishing industry and exploit it to its full potential.

I would also like to point out that there has been a substantial drop in the Estimate for quota protection. This is also very disappointing when one takes into consideration the damage that has been done by coastal erosion over the past number of years. We all know that the land around our coast is fast disappearing. After the mild winter last year, every effort should be made to try to reverse the trend where public and private property are under threat and acres of land have been lost to the sea. Anyone who has travelled around the coast will understand what I am talking about; even houses have vanished into the sea. It would appear that the pounding of the Atlantic and the gale force winds are playing havoc. This is a matter that should be carefully looked at and, if possible, some funding should be granted so that this serious matter can be arrested before any more damage is done.

The inland fisheries is a very important section of marine activity. It too has a substantial job creation potential in development and spin-off benefits. Again, cutbacks here are disppointing. I would like to stress that where regional fishery boards are operating there must be no shortcuts in budgeting, particularly where safety is involved. We have learned a tragic lesson from Ballycotton and the full recommendations of the tribunal should be implemented so that fishery officers will never again have to operate with inadequate equipment and an inadequate back-up service.

I would like to draw attention also to the grant to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution which this year is £100,000. I ask the Minister to again examine this aspect of the Estimate with a view to substantially increasing this sum. This week we saw an award being made to the cox and crew of the Baltimore Lifeboat for their twin rescue of a trawler and yacht in distress last November. To quote King Constantine of Greece who made the award, "this rescue was straight out of the book of the most courageous deeds by lifeboat men around our European coastline". These men showed extraordinary courage and heroism in facing into a force ten gale to save lives off the south coast. I appreciate the remarks made by the Minister. We have an excellent service now in operation and I congratulate the Minister on that. I must also point out, however, that the RNLI play a very important role in the saving of lives, particularly close to the shore and, very often, the lives that are saved are those of our fishermen. I would like to put on the record of the House our tribute to the RNLI who have played such a magnificent part in Irish safety over the years. It has an outstanding record in saving life and we should recognise that and support this very worthwhile and necessary organisation.

In the short time at our disposal, it is difficult to examine in detail the full Estimate of the Marine. There is no doubt that we are still in our infancy when it comes to harvesting the seas. Perhaps we should have a longer debate at some stage. We have a natural resource which we should guard jealously. We must be on the alert for those who would willingly pollute our waters and beaches as happened very recently in Cork and Kerry. I have previously suggested that, taking into consideration the importance of marine related industry and tourism to this country the Naval Service should have a special section with responsibility for environmental enforcement. Maybe it is true that the role of the Naval Service should be re-examined in view of the fact that at present it has to report to four Government Departments — Defence, Marine, Justice and Environment. The Naval Service has performed extremely satisfactorily.

If we are serious about protecting our fisheries, coastline and marine environment resources will have to be provided for the service for the provision of extra vessels and personnel to enforce legislation already passed by the House. There is no doubt that ruthless shipowners and masters out of sight of land can discharge their tanks into the sea to save both time and money. Unless there is strict enforcement and surveillance of these ships we run the risk of pollution which would affect our marine industry and tourism.

We have been classed by the European Community as a special area in relation to aquaculture and are entitled to preferential grant-aid. It is in our interests, in relation to our inshore, deep sea and inland fisheries, to maximise the enormous potential of the fishing industry. We should realise that being an island nation also has its advantages. What we need is a new vision for the future and to encourage both public and private research at universities and marine research stations, such as Matt Murphy's on Sherkin Island, and to harness the goodwill of all those who make their living from the sea.

Cork port should be identified as a major port and earmarked for development to meet the challenges of the nineties. It is appropriate during the course of the debate on the Estimate that I should challenge the Taoiseach's recent statement that it is intended to build a new trans-shipment port on the Shannon Estuary. I should point out that this statement lacks credibilty; it was a blatant political ploy on the part of the Taoiseach to defuse the problem in relation to the Shannon stop-over. There is no doubt that it would be economic folly to establish a Euro-port on the Shannon Estuary at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds as it would not be viable given that Cork port is excellent with massive land banks, storage facilities, a first class labour force, a new roads structure, and airport and train connections to every part of Ireland.

Yesterday my colleague, Deputy Lyons, gave specific reasons as to why Cork should be designated a Euro-port. There is no dobut that the Taoiseach's statement is now the source of some embarrassment for Government Deputies and there is no substance to it. I note also that the Minister made no mention of Shannon in his speech this morning. This would seem to indicate that it was not taken seriously.

It must be recognised that if we are to realise our full potential there is a need for investment and the Minister must go to Europe with this aim and objective in mind. I welcome his endeavours to put the Department of the Marine on the map as a Department with enormous potential. He has shown that he is both enthusiastic and determined and has been a success in the other Departments. I hope the same will be true of the Department of the Marine because for too long it has been a second class Department. I welcome the improvements he has made in the Department since taking up office. He has published reports of inquiries and I hope we will not see any tragedies in the future. He has put his personal stamp on the Department and this augurs well for the future. He will have my full co-operation in relation to any matter of this nature.

There is no reason in the world, with wise investments, be it in joint ventures or otherwise, why we cannot become a major fishing nation on a par with Norway, Iceland or Denmark. We have the potential to do so. All that is needed is enthusiasm. on the part of the Government and, with a little help from our European Community partners, there is no reason as I said, we cannot be a first class maritime nation capable of taking on the best. While I accept that the Minister will have a hard task negotiating the quotas, we should be allowed use bigger boats to reach our quotas.

In conclusion, I wish the Minister every success in this portfolio. Unfortunately, insufficient funding has been provided for the Department.

I welcome the theme which runs through the Minister's very interesting address, namely, the job potential which his Department hold out to the country in relation to his departmental responsibilities. Like Deputy O'Sullivan, I wish him well and commend him for his energy and the imagination he has brought to his responsibilities in this Department.

In the limited time available I wish to take up the specific topic and reference the Minister made to Dún Laoghaire Harbour in my constituency and that of other Deputies in the Chamber. Not alone is it a constituency resource it is a national resource also and means much to a great number of people. The public are attracted to it in great numbers and go for walks on either pier. Sealink, and their employees, who have made a major contribution down the years to the harbour, have a strong interest in its future while those who own businesses locally such as shops, guesthouses, restaurants and hotels, and sailing clubs, sailors and fishermen feel a great sense of ownership.

It is clear, however, that the harbour is not fulfilling its full potential. It is a wonderful resource but is not contributing anything near what it could to employment, as highlighted by the Minister in his speech, or to the overall prosperity of the Dún Laoghaire area. It should be possible to make changes while maintaining the aspects of the harbour that are dear to everyone taking into consideration the wishes of the diverse interest groups.

We are somewhat resistant to change and have a preference for the status quo but change is necessary if we are to make the best possible use of Dún Laoghaire Harbour and enhance the economy, not only of the borough but surrounding areas, be it in tourism, leisure or other activities.

Some of the changes needed are obvious. For example, there is an urgent need to upgrade and modernise the ferry terminal to ensure that we retain the ferries that are of vital importance to the livelihoods of a great number of people in the area. Without the ferry service there would be no Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

Recent developments bode well for future of the harbour. The interim harbour board appointed by the Minister's predecessor, Deputy Wilson, in 1990 formulated a draft development plan this year and invited submissions from all interested parties. Over 500 submissions were received and over 7,000 people visited the exhibition of the draft plan. This underlines the great interest in the future of the harbour.

The development plan, which was welcomed by the Minister, Dr. Woods — he gave the green light for the plan to take it a step further — provides for a new ferry terminal complex with an appropriate interconnection with the port and rail and bus facilities. The reallocation of the public amenity uses of Carlisle Pier holds out considerable potential. The plan also envisages an increase in moorings and marina facilities and, more importantly, the restoration of architecturally important buildings and other amenity and leisure areas. The development plan is both important and comprehensive.

I wish to pay tribute to Professor Dermot McAleese and his team for the enormous amount of time and expertise they put into its preparation. It takes into account as many as possible of the differing views expressed during the course of the consideration of the plan at the development stage.

I welcome the development of a modern ferry terminal because there are so many compelling reasons for retaining the ferry service, not least the impact it has on the livelihoods of many people in the area. Furthermore, and it is worth saying this, Dún Laoghaire Harbour pays its way. Almost £3 million per year is raised by way of docking fees while more than 100 people are directly employed by the ferry company.

In addition Sealink's indirect contribution to the local economy has been estimated as being in the region of £17 million to £20 million a year. Dún Laoghaire is a gateway to Ireland, given the huge number of passengers passing through it every year, 1.2 million in 1991. However, much potential income is being lost because of the lack of entertainment and services which would capture so much of this passing traffic.

Dún Laoghaire Harbour has natural advantages; it is particularly picturesque, much more so than harbours in ports in England and on the Continent. Of course, that is not enough, a co-ordinated plan is needed to encourage passengers to spend more time in the town and avail of its facilities. To do this a number of actions must be taken. A more positive image of the town needs to be promoted; with a new modern ferry terminal and more co-ordinated efforts to provide facilities and services for passengers on the ferries, Dún Laoghaire could gain a far greater economic benefit than at present, thereby creating much needed employment. My constituency has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and, therefore, there is great urgency in relation to any steps and actions which may alleviate this problem.

The harbour issue is inextricably linked to the development of tourism in Dún Laoghaire. In addition to the passengers who normally pass through the harbour, given its proximity to the capital and its attractive location, there must be great potential for further passenger traffic, especially from continental Europe. Clear-cut and urgent attempts must be made to make Dún Laoghaire more attractive to visitors. In this context the Carlisle Pier offers a very exciting prospect. It brings to mind pier developments in successful tourist locations in other countries, for example, Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. While this would involve very considerable expenditure from the private sector, nonetheless we should think in those terms and benefit from the development opportunities and examples in other countries.

There is a large number of potential tourist attractions which could be developed in Dún Laoghaire. In addition to those, we need an aquarium and pleasure boats and Dún Laoghaire would be an ideal location for such activity. Tourism has great potential and could bring huge benefits to the borough. Hotels, leisure activities and general services could provide more employment than at present. It should be possible to develop the area in a tasteful manner which would preserve its essential character.

Apart from the ferry, one of the main uses of the harbour is, of course, for sailing. There are four sailing clubs located there and there is also a public slipway in the harbour which is used by the Dún Laoghaire sailing club and private individuals. In addition to the ferry terminal which, of course, is essential to the future of the harbour, marina development offers distinct prospects. However, marina development and leisure activities will never bring in sufficient income for the future maintenance and development of the harbour but there is clearly a potential there as envisaged in the development plan. Marina development, reconciled in a balanced way with other services and activities in the harbour, could lead to a greatly increased influx of tourists. It is inevitable that there will be some competing interests and conflicts in regard to the development, for example, ferry users, row boats, fishing boats and conservationists. Some will have views which conflict with those of others and may see marina development as élitist. However, the objectives must be to make such facilities available to anybody who wishes to use them and the problem should not be unsurmountable. Clearly, some of the interest groups will be interested in development of the ferry, tourism or sailing and other groups may have interests which conflict with such development. However, if a message can be got across — and as public representatives we all have a duty to do that — the overall aim should be to benefit the town as a whole, linked to the essential feature of the harbour and not just a small, select number of individuals who may be seen as élitist.

Dún Laoghaire Harbour is an enormous resource which is currently under-used and which could, through proper and careful development, provide a huge benefit to the borough. Given the extent of the unemployment problem, plans for the harbour must be urgently proceeded with. Getting the plans into operation will require a partnership of the public and private sectors of the interim harbour authority and Dún Laoghaire Corporation and, of course, the private sector. We should not overlook the importance and potential of EC funds in this regard. The people of Dún Laoghaire deserve nothing less than the full attention of public representatives and co-operation with the private sector to ensure that the town takes advantage of its great potential.

I join previous speakers in wishing the Minister well in his important portfolio. He has rightly stressed the jobs potential which exists and he has the ministerial experience, energy and initiative to lead in the direction of creating more jobs under his responsibility.

In the brief time available I should like to deal with two specific items arising from the Minister's portfolio and the Estimate before us.

Ar dtús, ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh do cheist a tógadh inné, Uimhir 40 ar an gclár, faoi fheirm éisc i gContae na Gaillimhe. Ní raibh mé sásta leis an bhfreagra a fuair mé ón Aire faoi chomhlacht ar a dtugtar Coigilt Teo., a eagraíonn feirm éisc i gCaladh Thaidhg ar an gCeathrú Rua i gConamara. Is é an fáth gur thóg mé an cheist ná go bhfuair mé tuairiscí ó mhuintir na háite go raibh siad buartha faoi thruailliú na farraigé thart ar Chaladh Thaidhg de dheasca úsáid Nufam agus Ivomac, agus b'fhéidir ceimicí eile, ar an bhfeirm éisc. Chuala mé go bhfuil an comhlacht ag cur isteach a dheich n-oiread thar mar ba cheart de Nufam agus Ivomac agus go bhfuil siad sin ag déanamh dochair don iascaireacht agus don chomhshaol thart ar an gCeathrú Rua, agus go háirithe i gCaladh Thaidhg féin.

Chuala mé freisin go raibh an comhlacht ag iarraidh ar na hoibrithe na ceimicí seo a úsáid gan aon protective clothing agus gur éirigh fear amháin as a phost ansin mar bhí an truailliú agus an modh oibre ag cur as dó. De réir an fhreagra a fuair mé inné ceapann an tAire go bhfuil gach rud i gceart ar an fheirm éisc, ach de réir na tuairisce atá agamsa ní sin an tuairim atá ag muintir na háite. Deirtear liom, mar shampla, nach raibh cigire de chuid na Roinne in ann dul isteach sa bhotháin ina raibh an Ivomac nuair a thug sé cuairt ar an bhfeirm le déanaí. Ba mhaith liom, mar sin, go ndéanfadh an tAire athscrúdú ar an scéal seo, agus a insint dom, go háirithe, an bhfuil sé seo ceadaithe — Ivomac, is é sin sórt cattle drench a úsáid in fheirm éisc. An bhfuil sé sásta go bhfaca an cigire gach rud oiriúnach nuair a thug sé cuairt ar an bhfeirm? Tá an-imní ar mhuintir na háite faoin truailliú agus tá súil agam go ndéanfaidh an tAire athscrúdú ar an scéal mar níl mise ná na daoine a tháinig chugam faoi seo sásta leis an bhfreagra a fuair mé inné.

Ba mhaith liom freisin tagairt a dhéanamh, mar a rinne an Teachta Hillery, do chaladhphort Dhún Laoghaire. I welcome the publication of the report of the interim harbour board on Dún Laoghaire Harbour and I should like to make a few comments on it. The report is the result of a campaign which was mounted four years ago against a marina in the coal harbour in Dún Laoghaire. Four years ago an attempt was made to construct a marina in the coal harbour and it was opposed by a broadly based local group called Harbour Watch. As a result of local campaigning, a meeting took place between the chairman of Harbour Watch, Dr. John De Courcy Ireland and the then Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey. At that meeting the Taoiseach agreed to suspend work on the marina and establish a committee to prepare a report on the harbour. The committee were chaired by Professor Dermot McAleese, and I join previous speakers in complimenting him on his work. The committee reported at the end of 1988. Subsequently, an interim harbour board were established to draw up a plan for the harbour, and a draft plan was produced about one year ago. Following local submissions, the interim harbour board have now completed and published their full report.

I am pleased that the local campaign, of which I was a part in 1988, has resulted in the publication of a comprehensive plan for Dún Laoghaire Harbour. As with all such reports, there are aspects with which I agree and some that concern me. I wish to concentrate on the positive aspects of the report.

I am pleased that the report effectively puts paid to the prospect of a major infill development at the west pier. I am also pleased that the report comes down firmly in favour of the retention of the car ferry in Dún Laoghaire and that it proposes the building of a new car ferry terminal in Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

I want the Minister to know that in Dún Laoghaire there is widespread support for a new car ferry terminal. The car ferry is essential to the economic wellbeing of Dún Laoghaire, but the present terminal building, and the port facilities for passengers, are an embarrassment to us all. We know we need a modern terminal where sea passengers can get the same kind of service and comfort as passengers get at an airport. No time should be lost in advancing this project. Of all the proposals contained in the report of the interim harbour board, this project should be given priority. I, therefore, ask the Minister to proceed immediately with it. I should like him to open discussions now with Sealink Stena Line and to make the necessary case for European funding.

There is probably no other project in the country which has as good a case for European funding. We know that this country suffers from its peripheral location and if the Maastricht Treaty is accepted in its present form economic union will pose major economic difficulties for this country. In the most recent round of Structural Funds no money was provided for the development of sea passenger facilities at Irish ports. Dún Laoghaire, the most popular passenger port in the country, got no money from the EC Structural Funds between 1989-93. That position must be corrected. I ask the Minister to give a commitment that such funds will be sought immediately by the Government. Dún Laoghaire needs this investment.

The town of Dún Laoghaire has been suffering in recent years, but there is a great will there to turn that around. Only last week the Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown Chamber of Commerce organised a very successful "Pride In Our Place" conference, which brought together commercial, public and local interests in the town. There is a new will in Dún Laoghaire to get the town moving, to revitalise its commercial and economic life and to provide employment in an area which has 8,000 out of work. Central to those objectives is the car ferry, which is the hub of Dún Laoghaire economic life. The Minister, and his predecessors, repeatedly stated their commitment to the retention of the car ferry in Dún Laoghaire but we all know that that is possible only if the Government back their verbal commitment with investment. That is why we want the Minister to make the new car ferry terminal a reality.

There is a second reason for my wishing the Minister to proceed with the car ferry terminal. It concerns the development of a marina. Two options for marina development are presented in the report of the interim harbour board — one at the Carlisle Pier and the other at the outer Coal Harbour. The development of a new car ferry terminal would facilitate the provision of a new marina at the Carlisle Pier. This, I believe, would be generally acceptable to the people of Dún Laoghaire. However, a marina situated in the outer Coal Harbour would still be resisted by local people.

As the House will be aware, much of Dún Laoghaire Harbour is used by the four yacht clubs. Coal Harbour has always been the part of the harbour used by the general public for a variety of purposes such as rowing, sailing and fishing. The location of a marina there would restrict public use of that part of the harbour and would be viewed by local people as an extension of the more privileged use of the harbour at the expense of the general public. I appeal that the proposal for a marina in the outer Coal Harbour should not be proceeded with and that the acceptable place to locate a marina is at the Carlisle Pier in the context of the development fo the car ferry terminal.

Finally, I ask the Minister to establish a harbour authority for Dún Laoghaire on a statutory basis. We now have an interim harbour board and some of the members of it — for example, the two members who were originally appointed to represent Dún Laoghaire Corporation but are no longer members of the borough council — are no longer representative of various interests. The time has come for the establishment on a statutory basis of a harbour authority for Dún Laoghare Harbour. That would involve only a simple legislative measure and I ask the Minister to proceed with that.

The Minister in introducing his Estimate is quite correct in saying that we are a maritime people. Unfortunately, we do not often act as a maritime people. We are more closely wedded to the land than to the sea.

Perhaps, because our waters are cold and sometimes inhospitable, we largely ignore the fact that we control a maritime area vastly greater than the land mass of the nation as a whole. In that area there is great wealth that has been largely unexploited and that could produce jobs and contribute to the national wellbeing.

We see our maritime status as a disadvantage rather than an advantage. How often do we hear that we as a nation are not just peripheral to continental Europe but are now the only country without any land connection? I suggest that it is time we stopped the whinging.

In 1984 the Fianna Fáil Party published a policy document on marine policy, the first-ever major attempt to appraise the marine potential of this country. In 1987 we established the Department of the Marine. The central idea in the 1984 policy document was to change the way we looked upon the maritime resources of the nation, to be positive about our island status and to provide a ministry that could focus on the development of the resources in all their facets. It is appropriate today to refocus our attention on those objectives, to take stock of what has been done and to effectively relaunch the Department.

Our seas are a major resource. They have vast employment potential in shipping, fishing, recreation and tourism. We have not as yet even begun to scratch the surface. The Minister was correct in the early part of his speech when he focused his attention on the issue of jobs.

In the ten minutes available to me it is not possible to cover the whole area in any comprehensive manner. I should therefore like to dwell on three specific issues: the development of Ireland's shipping fleet, with specific reference to the potential that lies in European trade; the unexploited potential of the recreational and our small commercial harbours and coastal erosion.

With regard to shipping, one of the most disastrous policy decisions ever taken by a Government in the history of this State was that by the former Fine Gael Minister, Deputy Jim Mitchell, concerning Irish Shipping Limited. That move represented a human and economic tragedy. Appalling policy decisions within the company rather than any failure on the part of seamen, crews, officers or even Ministers resulted in a national disaster. It is to none of our credit that the employees of Irish Shipping Limited, and their families, are still awaiting justice. I, for one, hope that they will not have to wait much longer. I ask the Minister — and I have asked each of his predecessors through the past ten years — to break any remnants of the logjam.

The Irish Shipping Limited débâcle had an economic side, too. It led to the decimation of tonnage under the Irish flag. One of the inspired actions of my party when we came back into Government in 1987 was to re-establish and relaunch the shipping investment grants. When the grants were re-established in 1987, £7.5 million was allocated to the scheme. To date only £4.5 million has been drawn down. For some reason the scheme remains unfunded at present and the BES funds which existed previously have also gone.

If we were to consider the remarkable case of one company, Arklow Shipping we would realise what can be done in regard to shipping with minimum State investment. We would also realise the level of employment that can be created and the export earnings potential of a properly funded fleet expansion programme.

Next September Arklow Shipping take delivery of their fourteenth new ship since 1987. In 1982 that company had only 7,000 tonnes in their fleet; they now have 70,000 tonnes. The company have developed for themselves a unique niche. They have Ireland's largest fleet, which is also the largest in its sector in the British Isles. In ten years employment in the company has gone from 80 to more than 250 and 80 per cent of the company's earnings are invisible exports while 20 per cent are domestic earnings. Even there, as Members will understand, there is a considerable export substitution effect. All of the ships in the fleet sail under the Irish flag and, thanks to a decision made by former Minister for the Marine, Deputy Daly, Arklow is now their port of registration, their home port.

When the shipping investment grants scheme was restructured in 1987 the availability of State assistance allowed this one company to kick-start the second phase of its fleet expansion programme and expand further. However, since 1988 there has been a reluctance within the Department of Finance to fund the scheme or even allow the balance of the grant money be paid. The scheme still exists but has no funds. Matters are now worse since, as I have already said, the business expansion scheme has been abolished. Clearly we need to reappraise and refund this scheme. In the case of Arklow Shipping £2 million State investment went into a £45 million programme which created jobs, valuable export earnings, displaced invisible imports and is in every way a successful scheme. I would suggest to the House that if the IDA had any such returns we would all be jumping for joy.

I want to turn now to small recreational and commercial harbours where there is phenomenal potential which has been totally unrecognised. For example, in the county of Wicklow there are four harbours in all, two thriving commercial ports — Arklow and Wicklow — and two recreational harbours — Bray and Greystones. The Minister, as a Wicklow man, will be familiar with all four. In all cases a relatively small injection of funds could yield a very handsome return. I wish to acknowledge what has been done, specifically in the case of Arklow which suffered gravely as a result of storms. However, I want to highlight what could be done if the Department of the Marine were put into funds.

Wicklow port is in urgent need of improved access facilities to allow it develop fully as an important, small commercial port. Arklow Harbour Commissioners have drawn up exciting proposals which would secure jobs. All that is needed to exploit such job potential is relatively small investment. In the north of the county there is tremendous recreational potential, particularly in Greystones, the small harbour there serving the best sport fishing inshore waters in these islands if not in Europe. Yet there has been no worthwhile investment in that harbour by any Government in the history of the State. Its breakwater has virtually gone; the main pier has been damaged and remained unrepaired for years. Indeed the fact that any harbour remains there is due entirely to the hard work of a small group of harbour users and the county's oldest residents' association, the Greystones Civic Association. There are plans for improvement there which would upgrade the level of recreational potential of the harbour and its importance in terms of tourism. All that is needed is a small injection of funds. Local clubs and businesses are willing to make such investment but there is no similar commitment on the part of any State or local agency. Such policy is shortsighted in the extreme since jobs and tourism earnings would accrue from even modest levels of investment.

I call on the Minister and his Department today to respond to the potential that lies in that area, to commence, even on a small scale, a scheme of grant assistance for local authorities or community organisations wishing to develop the potential of the county's recreational harbours.

I want to turn now to the issue of coastal erosion. I acknowledge the Minister's commitment to the continuation of planning on the Bray seafront scheme. However, it must be acknowledged that the Minister's Department have been very badly under-funded in the coastal erosion area. I might also acknowledge the work and efforts of the Tánaiste when Minister for the Marine in this regard. For example, when Bray and Arklow suffered severe storm damage somehow the Minister found funds which, when matched by local contributions, notably in Arklow, allowed much needed work to be carried out. I am anxious that the Bray scheme move beyond planning stage. The level of public and private investment in that area runs into hundreds of millions of pounds and requires the backing of a fully-funded scheme.

However, as the present Minister will know, our problems in Wicklow are not confined to Bray. Work is urgently required on the seashore at Greystones, Kilcoole, Wicklow and Arklow, and indeed in other counties on the east coast in grave need of works to prevent further coastal erosion. As a start might I suggest to the Minister that he examine the existing legislative base of coastal erosion programmes. I would not be the only Member of this House who has come to the conclusion that that legislative base is bureaucratic and time-consuming. What is needed now is more funding and less red tape.

In his introductory remarks the Minister recognised that job creation must be the main consideration in each and every public investment programme. There is very considerable job potential in the whole maritime area. But job creation requires investment and public funds are required to prime such investment. The potential is there but, in order to release that potential, the Minister and his team now need the requisite funds.

I support this Estimate. My only problem is that I wish it were greater because I am confident that the Minister will bring to this portfolio, as he did to others, a degree of ingenuity that would unleash the undoubted potential in the marine area overall.

Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an Teachta Roche ansin agus dúirt sé go bhfuil Roinn na Mara bunaithe le cúig bliana agus nuair a bunaíodh í i 1987 bhíomar go léir ag súil go mbeadh forbairt mhór i dtionscal na hiascaireachta agus na mara. Sílim nach aon bhréag a ra;, nuair a bhreathnaímid siar ar cad a tharla le cúig bliana, nár tharla mórán. Ní haon áibhéil a rá go bhfuil géarchéim i dtionscal na hiascaireachta, go bhfuil depression sa tionscal nach raibh ann i 1987. Ag teacht ó cheantar ina bhfuil a lán daoine ag brath ar an iascaireacht, is éadóchasach an scéal é go bhfuil a lán de na hiascairí traidisiúnta ag cuimhneamh anois ar a gcuid bád a dhíol agus tarraingt amach as an tionscal mura bhfeiceann siad go bhfuil aon rud ansin dóibh.

Tuigim go bhfeiceann an tAire Stáit, an Teachta Gallagher, an rud céanna ag tarlú ar chósta Dhún na nGall agus ar chóstaí na tíre ar fad a bhfuil géarchéim mhór ann i dtionscal na hiascaireachta. Tá an Roinn ag gníomhú agus níl a fhios agam cé air a bhfuil an locht, ach is dócha, sa deireadh thiar thall go gcaithfear an locht a chur ar an Rialtas.

One of the difficulties of the Irish fishing industry is that we must operate within a fairly tight framework known as the Common Fisheries Policy. When that policy was negotiated and established in 1983 we received a very small slice of the cake. It is now almost a cliché to say we are an island State, having, I understand, 25 per cent of EC waters around our coasts, our share of the total allowable catch being approximately 4 per cent. In anybody's language that is a very insignificant share. I am glad that that Common Fisheries Policy is up for review this year. Indeed I welcome the appointment of a Donegal man, ex-Garda Commissioner, Mr. Eamon Doherty, as chairman. I might pay tribute to the long service given to that review group by his predecessor, Dr. Kenneth Whitaker, during his term as chairman.

We now enter a very crucial period because, if we do not improve on the share allocated us in 1983, I cannot foresee how our fishing industry — which has such enormous potential for employment here, particularly in regions where the highest unemployment rates prevail — can survive never mind expand. Fishing constitutes an indigenous, natural resource we should be allowed develop. It would be my hope that the Government and Minister will put that case as strongly as possible at European level. As I have said, as Gaeilge, many of our traditional fishermen are holding on by their finger nails. It is significant to note from any of the fisheries papers — whether it be The Skipper, the Fishing News or any other — the unprecedented number of fishing vessels at present for sale, an indication of the pessimism, hopelessness and lack of confidence there is in the future of the fishing industry.

There is talk about socio-economic packages; the same is being spoken of in agriculture at present, with farmers getting out of that industry, being offered direct payments. If the same takes place within the fishing industry I predict it will have a very detrimental effect on employment in the West generally. I suppose the industry can be divided into two sectors, fishing and processing, which are interdependent. In my constituency the major fishing sector would be devoted to pelagic fish. Even in Killybegs, where most of that activity takes place and where there have been many changes, they are doing fairly well. Nonetheless there have been some serious developments there. For example, a number of years ago the pelagic fish season used run from October to March. It has become constricted now, running from January to March because the shoals do not appear to be running as far south as early as heretofore. Obviously, that has implications for the fishing fleet itself, but particularly for the processing industry, so important to areas like Killybegs and others along our western seaboard.

Fishermen cannot be blamed for the lack of landings from October to the end of the year. Those who have to travel for three or four days before they reach the fishing grounds are not expected to return to the base port. Because of the present location of the shoals at that time of the year we are rapidly losing the Japanese market. I know the Minister of State is familiar with this issue — he knew about it before he ever entered politics — and I should like to hear his views on it. We are losing our Japanese market to Norwegian markets and markets in other countries. As a result there is a gap in our industry.

It is very difficult to deal with European markets. I understand we are having difficulties with the German market. While we all welcome German unification it has given rise to difficulties for our industry — the demand for our mackerel and herring is not as great as it was in years gone by. The Germans are more careful about how they spend their money and much of it is channelled into what used to be East Germany to help develop the economy. As I said, the demand in Germany for our pelagic species is not as great as it used to be. Because the landings are not as numerous as they used to be, traditional employment in the processing industry has been seriously affected. I understand that in some continental countries eight people are employed on shore in the processing industry for every person working at sea, a ratio of 8:1. I believe the ratio here is 1:1. This is an indication of what has yet to be done in the creation of employment in our fishing industry and its potential if it is properly developed.

We need to carry out research into new species of fish. At present we are constrained and restricted from doing this by the Common Fisheries Policy. Nevertheless we need to urgently carry out more research into new species of fish, especially deep sea species. A few years ago we came up with a new species called argentines. However, as these were slow growers they did not last for too long. There is a new species available at present called orange roughies. I do not know the Latin name for this species but perhaps the Minister knows it. We need to carry out more research into deep sea species to try to fill the gap which has been left because of the reduced demand for our pelagic species and our limited quota for white fish.

The present system of licensing is also restricting the development of the industry. There does not seem to be any policy in regard to the issuing of licences. A young man or woman who wished to carve out a career in fishing will find it almost impossible to get a boat or licence. I believe we have to reduce our GRT to 44,000 tonnes and that if we do not succeed in doing this all EC grants and assistance for boats will be cut off. I should like the Minister to say whether we are above or below that target at present. This quota is having a very detrimental effect on the number of licences which can be issued for new boats and ultimately on the development of our fishing industry and the capacity of our fleet.

It is significant that Ireland is the only maritime fishing country in Europe which does not have a decommissioning policy. We cannot expect people to leave the fishing industry voluntarily if we do not have such a policy. We should have a decommissioning policy similar to those in the United Kingdom and other continental countries. It is a mystery to me how a country in which so many people depend on the fishing industry has no decommissioning policy in this area. The fishing industry is in a deep recession and there is a feeling of depression among the fishing community. There is no point in the Minister coming in here and saying that the fishing industry is in a good position when it is not. At Question Time yesterday we dealt with the salmon fishing industry. I do not know if any changes will be introduced in this area.

Finally, I wish to refer to the position of the industry in County Donegal. I do not make any apologies for being parochial, and I know the Minister of State will pay particular attention to this point. A number of developments in County Donegal require immediate attention, for example, Burtonport harbour which needs to be dredged and extended. When this work is completed I ask the Minister to do something about the harbour in Bunbeg and along the coast. The Minister is very familiar with these areas and he may have some good news to give me before the debate is concluded.

Níos luaithe sa díospóireacht seo, mhol Aíre na Mara an Meastachán do Roinn na Mara do 1992 go foirmeálta agus thug sé léargas don Teach ar na cláir chaiteachais a bhfuil feagracht ag an Roinn ina leith. Is cláir thábhachacha agus shubstaintiúla iad seo, ón gceann is bunúsaí, sábháilteacht an bheatha ar mhuir, go dtí forbairt an bhunstruchtúir agus na n-acmhainní mara agus an fhostaíocht a ghintear astu sin. Tagaim go hiomlán leis an méid a dúirt an tAire, agus, i gcomhar leis féin i Roinn na Mara, tá mé ceangailte le gach dícheall a dhéanamh chun an luach is fearr is féidir a fháil as caiteachas na Roinne.

I take great pride in the very great improvements which have taken place and which continue to be made under the auspices of my Department to the marine safety and marine search and rescue infrastructure of the State. Indeed I was closely associated with these efforts when I previously served as Minister of State in the Department. As a Deputy from County Donegal I am probably more keenly aware than many Deputies of the inherent high risks of a sea-going life. Therefore, I feel it is the duty of the State to insist on rigorous safety standards and to provide necessary supports such as good communication and rescue facilities to support all seafarers. My Department are committed to providing these supports, with substantially increased resources, some £7.5 million, committed to this area for this year.

My Department's approach in this area has been to combine new, efficient and more effective organisational methods with a substantial programme of new equipment and equipment upgrading. A new division known as the Irish Marine Emergency Service has been set up in my Department. As the Minister and Deputy McGinley said, when one thinks of marine emergency services one immediately thinks of Eamon Doherty from County Donegal who did tremendous work in this area. We are very privileged that he has accepted the invitation of the Minister for the Marine, Deputy Woods, to act as chairman of the review group on the Common Fisheries Policy. I know this appointment will be welcomed by the industry. Under the IMES, the coast radio stations at Valentia in County Kerry and Malin Head in County Donegal have been upgraded, a 24-hour medium-range helicopter rescue facility has been installed on the west coast and the marine VHF emergency communications network is nearing completion. This programme which is ongoing will equip the country with a service of which we can be proud. Indeed, there was a recent major emergency incident in my own country with which I was very closely involved and which demonstrated graphically the effectiveness with which my Department are able to respond.

The Russian vessel Viktor Lyagin which ran aground at McSwynes Bay near Killybegs in County Donegal on 12 April last had a crew of 59. Of these, 41 were airlifted to safety by my Department's medium-range helicopter based at Shannon and the Air Corps Dauphin helicopter which is based at Finner in County Donegal. The 400 tons of diesel oil on board was later removed by use of a barge. There were no visible signs of pollution at any time. This was a classic and efficient emergency response which protected life and the local environment. I paid tribute at the time to all involved in the operation and am happy to do so again today.

The rescue services do not consist solely, however, of State services. At this point I must comment that we are privileged in Ireland to have a volunteer lifeboat service of the highest standard operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). In 1991 the RNLI lifeboats in Ireland launched on service 380 times and saved 96 lives. Great tribute is due to the bravery of the lifeboat crews who go to sea in all weathers and risk their lives to save others. The lifeboat service is being continuously updated. Later this year two Mersey Class boats for Clogherhead and Kilmore Quay will be added to their existing fleet. I was also pleased to learn that Bundoran is to have an RNLI station. The present community lifeboat there will be replaced by an RNLI Atlantic 21 type inflatable lifeboat. It is expected to be fully operational in March 1993. The RNLI have announced that it is their intention that all Irish based all-weather lifeboats would be capable of at least 15 knots by the end of 1993.

The £100,000 contribution from the Department of the Marine is in recognition of the sterling work carried out on a voluntary basis by the institution in Ireland. Total spending by my Department under the marine safety umbrella now exceeds £7 million and this represents substantially increased resources for the sector. That this is possible in times of economic stringency reflects the importance we attach to the area.

Safety at sea involves vigilance, together with constant review and upgrading of systems. Within my Department, the highest priority is now accorded to this area. Apart from direct spending programmes, there are other ways in which we can, as a Government Department, influence safety.

As Minister of State in the Department with overall responsibility for maritime safety, I am glad to say that comprehensive safety legislation has recently been enacted to govern the regulation of passenger vessels plying on our waters. The Merchant Shipping Act, 1992, brings boats carrying 12 or fewer people under the scope of the Merchant Shipping Acts for the first time; provides the Minister with the powers to make safety regulations for fishing vessels and provides for tough new penalties for offences in relation to safety at sea. The Act proposes new fines for offences ranging from £200 up to £100,000 and from six months to two years imprisonment.

In addition to passenger safety legislation, a review of the safety aspects of passenger ferry transport has been ongoing since 1987 when the National Ferry Safety Committee were established.

My Department have recognised, since their inception, the vital contribution which the sea fishing and aquaculture industries can make to economic development in coastal communities. This is recognised by the efforts which we apply to these sectors which are in many forms. For example: we are putting in place a greatly upgraded fishery harbour infrastructure; facilities at those harbours are being constantly upgraded to help guarantee a quality product in the market which is ever more demanding and discriminating; we are investing through BIM; we are helping to modernise our fishing fleet; we are seeking to persuade our partners in the EC that our case for a better deal under the Common Fisheries Policy is soundly based and is a prerequisite to the development of our peripheral regions; we are training our fishermen to higher standards and we are promoting markets and the development of markets. Reference was made to that by Deputy McGinley in relation to Japan and the mackerel markets. No doubt the Minister and the Department are available at all times to assist the industry in seeking out further markets.

In conclusion, we in the Department appreciate fully the importance of the Common Fisheries Policy. I want to assure the House and the industry that every effort will be made by the Minister, by myself and by the officials in the Department to secure a much better deal for this country.

My comments will be entirely directed to the question of inland fisheries. Having read the Minister's speech, it is not very impressive in terms of those who are interested in the development of inland fisheries. It contains much loose talk, platitudes and wishful thinking and is completely devoid of analysis. It could not be described as a businesslike document in terms of inland fisheries, it sets no targets and it is a great disappointment. I assume there is a good reason for that — that is, that the management of inland fisheries is in a shambles. It is virtually non-existent and, therefore, the Minister would find it difficult to say anything that would make sense with regard to the development of inland fisheries. The amount of money being provided by the Department this year — £7.59 million — is a little more in today's terms, than the amount provided in 1986. That gives some indication of the interest this House has in the development of inland fisheries.

The fisheries boards are being asked to protect, conserve, develop and promote inland fisheries — indeed, the Minister has not included the full list of their duties and responsibilities. In the last few years they have had to take about 60 people off the payroll. Because of the new regulations governing personnel going on the waters, in that three people must be present, there is not a sufficient number of people to do the job. That gives an indication of the poverty with regard to the development of our inland fisheries.

When one considers the job creation potential of this industry, which the Minister has failed to mention, and the image making impact it would have on our economy, one wonders whether the Government are serious in their approach to job creation. Targets should be set for every £1 million spent in the economy. A proper analysis should take place, with a follow-up to find out whether the money spent is reaping the rewards for the economy. There is no mention of that matter in the contributions of the Minister or the Minister of State.

Central to the whole question of having our waters properly developed is the promotion of Ireland as a country with a clean, healthy environment, a good place for a holiday and a producer of quality food. When one considers that many of the inland waters are situated in the less favoured areas, the western counties, the severely handicapped areas, surely there is great potential for job creation there. We must be capable of creating many jobs in areas where tourism is talked about but not developed. In many parts of the country there is no tourism ethos. We talk about alternative enterprises, agri-tourism and so on, but in the final analysis, we are blind to the potential that exists. In County Cavan for example we have a large number of lakes and we can offer the visiting angler almost a private lake to fish in. We have difficulties, in that we do not have proper promotion and neither have we developed the necessary infrastructural support. We are starting out on a road which is so narrow there is hardly room for us to travel down. We need assistance.

The Minister has never negotiated EC funding for research and development with regard to the inland fisheries. That gives some indication of the thinking in the Department. When one considers that, one does not need to say anything more with regard to the potential there for the Minister and his Department. I know the Minister is new to his Department and I hope he has a good time there and does better than his predecessors.

Last year a sum of £1.3 million was negotiated from the EC and it was spent on the development of amenities adjoining fisheries. If the Minister was a land owner, would he spend his time building and mending fences while the stock died? If he did he would be a laughing stock but that is what he is doing as Minister for the Marine with regard to inland fisheries. There is no respect for the waters and fish stock.

Nobody knows how good the stock quality is because we do not have the resources to carry our research. I have done some research and have discovered that there is potential for about 3,000 jobs in that sector if it is properly developed. Many of those jobs will be created in severely disadvantaged western counties and in counties which are not traditionally tourist counties. I hope the Minister is taking note of what I am saying. He should visit the fisheries and assess their potential. The Minister must assess management and if he does he will discover, as I did, that it is not there. If he goes further he will discover that the inland fisheries are contributing in the region of £25 million a year to the Government's coffers. This income is increasing despite the fact that we are not making any attempt to develop our fisheries properly.

I note the Minister did not mention the salmon fishing aspect of inland fisheries. I presume he knows that this is in a bit of a shambles, I assume he is aware that the drift netting off our coasts is destroying our potential for salmon fishing in our inland fisheries. I presume the Minister is aware that a salmon released in fresh water is more valuable than one caught at sea. The Minister should address that problem pretty soon and try to divide the salmon spoils in an equitable manner between our offshore and our inland fisheries. I hope the Minister looks at this problem as he did not mention it in his speech. The people who engage in salmon fishing are generally those with a great deal of money. That is well recognised. Their capacity for spending is quite enormous. If we tapped into that end of the market we could become the predominant salmon fishery in Europe and earn an enormous amount of money for that sector alone.

The Deputy's time is up.

I have given a very tough analysis of this sector. The management of our inland fisheries has been disastrous. I want the Minister to take note of that. The reason we have this problem is lack of resources, lack of direction, policy and planning and of a businesslike approach. The Minister should spend some time examining those aspects with a view to providing alternative enterprises for people in areas where jobs are scarce and where the effects of the Common Agricultural Policy reform will bite hardest. That would be beneficial. I will be keeping some pressure on with regard to this because it is so important to the counties of Cavan and Monaghan which I represent. I hope the Minister will come some way down the road with me on this.

I was disappointed with the Minister's speech today. The Minister said little about aquaculture which is an important and controversial area of fishery development. There are two distinct sectors in aquaculture, shellfish and salmon farming. Shellfish farming has considerable potential and is, by and large, environmentally friendly whereas the same cannot be said for salmon farming. That the Minister fails to differentiate between these separate activities does not, I hope, indicate a lack of understanding of the difference in these activities.

With regard to salmon farming, I read in the newspapers today the very dispiriting news that STAG, the sea trout action group, a dedicated and informed group of people drawn from a wide variety of interests, has been disbanded. They tell us that for the fourth year in a row there is a serious problem with sea lice infestation of incoming sea trout in the Galway/Mayo area. This area is probably the most important habitat for our wonderful wild sea trout. This group appears to have simply given up and I do not blame them. Since my election to the Dáil three years ago I have constantly called for action by successive Ministers to confront this problem. I have had no success. The officials in the Department of the Marine who are dealing with this matter are quite obdurate. They still deny that there is any proven connection between the catastrophic decline in the numbers of sea trout in this area and salmon farming. This extraordinary stubborness is very hard to understand. The Minister acknowledges this problem as was evidenced by the ban imposed last year and renewed this year on the taking of sea trout in these waters. I support the ban as do all responsible people connected with fishing interests.

There are probably other reasons for the decline in sea trout. The Department of Energy apparently are now satisfied, that forestry is definitely not responsible. The Department of the Marine say the fish farms are not responsible. I do not know who is responsible, but it is the job of Government to sort it out and it is particularly the job of the Minister to do so as he has primary responsibility. The Department of Energy, Coillte and the Department of the Marine should get together to sort out this problem. It has been with us long enough.

Deputy Cotter reminded us of the financial value of our sea trout and salmon fishing. Indeed, the salmon returns in Galway/Mayo last year were very disappointing, the lowest for many years. I am not crying wolf at this stage. We have had these alarming dips before, and I am sure we will have them again. I hope it does not indicate major problems in the salmon area to add to our problems in the sea trout area.

There are serious problems with regard to netting. Twenty-five or 30 years ago people like George Burrows were writing about this in The Irish Times. I suppose he has been proved wrong because the salmon, despite the depredations of the nets, are surviving quite well. Questions were asked in the House yesterday about the management of the State-owned Moy Fishery company. It appears that the State are being far too greedy in operating the traps and the nets in the estuarine waters. We must keep a balance. Too many salmon going up a spawning river is bad because unless the anglers can thin them out there are too many salmon competing for limited space at the spawning beds. This calls for competent and delicate management of salmon and sea trout fisheries. It is a complex area but there is tremendous scope for improvement.

I call on the Minister to acknowledge that the overwhelming evidence is that the presence of salmon farms is causing serious lice infestation in sea trout stocks. The time for talking is over; we need action. In the past both I and the fishery interests have called for a halt to the expansion of the salmon farming industry. This reasonable request has been refused. It is with great reluctance that I call on the Minister to shut down the industry now and to reassess the position in three or four years. It may already be too late to save this wonderful wild creature which has a right to exist in itself. Before I finish on the subject of these wretched salmon farms, I must remind people of the appalling physical and mental cruelty to these wonderful wild creatures locked up in ghastly cages.

The Minister stated that we have an outstanding natural advantage, having as we do a plentiful supply of environmentally clean coastal and inland waters. This bland statement is a dangerous half-truth. We have a plentiful supply of clean coastal and inland waters but we probably have an equal quantity of grossly polluted inland and coastal waters. Many of our beaches are still suffering from severe pollution and rivers and lakes are becoming increasingly polluted by inadequately treated sewage and industrial and agricultural discharges. The Environmental Protection Agency will have an uphill task.

Budgetary constraints are very severe but it behoves the Minister and the Government to continue the policy of supporting grants for harbour development in remote areas, particularly in the west and south-west. It is essential to do something to stop the flow of people to Dublin and abroad. We must give every possible assistance to the rural infrastructure. This can be done by way of more expenditure on harbour development.

This is my first opportunity in the House to congratulate the Minister on his new portfolio and to wish him well. I hope he will be as successful in the Department of the Marine as he has been in so many other Departments.

I wish to focus on the area of job creation. The Minister referred in his speech to the development of marine activities, particularly the fishing industry, and the creation of jobs in fishing and fish processing. He indicated that approximately 15,000 people depend on the fishing industry for their livelihood. There is huge potential for the development of marine leisure facilities and tourism. The spin-off from marine leisure activities is in the region of £74 million and this could be greatly increased. A coordinated approach should be adopted to the further development of tourism associated with fishing and marine activities. Bord Fáilte and other interested bodies would obviously be involved.

I question how many people are totally employed on a secure basis in the fishing industry. A large number of people are involved in the industry in a small way. Individuals, for instance, may operate a small boat and sell their catch to local restaurants. Many of these people would be availing of some type of social welfare payment. The Minister might look at the possibility of assisting those who make some small income on their own initiative in this way. Some of the bigger fishing trawlers have a number of deck hands who would not be on the records. I am concerned about the security of their employment.

Most speakers have referred to the air-sea rescue service. It is only right that this service gets due recognition and I take this opportunity to congratulate all those involved, whether in a voluntary or statutory capacity, who provide such an excellent service. The Minister referred to the number of lives saved, but even if only one life was saved, the service would be worthwhile. I welcome the fact that the Minister intends to develop the infrastructure to assist the personnel who provide these services.

As it affects my constituency, I am glad that a report of the investigation into the mv Kilkenny-Hasselwerder collision last November will be published as soon as possible, as there has been great public disquiet about this accident.

It is recognised that in volume terms 97 per cent of our exports go through our ports. The recent liquidation of Dublin Cargo Handling gives rise to serious problems and I hope they will be addressed as quickly as possible. I am also concerned about the visual impact on people coming into the city from the county and north city area of the ugly containers berthed in the port and docks area. Proposals have been put forward to screen these vessels with a green plantation so that the port and docks area is divided from the bay area. For those who do not know the area I am talking about, if one drives in along the Clontarf Road, one of the main arterial roads into the city, you see the beautiful promenade that is well maintained by Dublin Corporation and the beautiful bay but on the far side of that an ugly sight. It would be quite easy to rectify it by planting green shrubbery. This proposal has been made on many occasions but little or no progress has been made. I know the board of the Port and Docks Authority are willing to contribute £50,000 towards a plantation along the boundary and they have entered into negotiations with concerned groups like residents' associations but, as I have already said, little or no progress has been made. I therefore ask the Minister to ensure that this project gets under way without delay.

We also enjoy the famous and much used amenity of Bull Island. The erection of a causeway at Bull Island is creating many problems for marine and leisure activities. People have asked why pipes were run under the causeway when it was built in the seventies because they became clogged up very early on, within a year of it being built. Nothing has been done since. This has caused the formation of mud banks and sand marshes at the rear of the island at either side of the causeway. This is causing grave problems for marine and other activities around the Dollymount-Bull Island area. I hope the Minister will use his good offices to rectify this problem.

Will the Minister give me a breakdown of the main elements of the £7.95 million expenditure which he proposes to expend on inland fisheries this year? Will he also indicate the source of that funding?

The breakdown is as follows:

£ million

Central Fisheries Board


Local Authorities


Regional Fisheries Boards


The Foyle Fisheries Commission


The State Moy Fishery


Garda Síochána and miscellaneous provisions


This makes up the total of £7.95 million.

Will the Minister reply to my second question?

Acting Chairman

Due to the short amount of time available I suggest that Deputies ask their questions and the Minister will answer them in the course of his ten minutes reply.

That was my mistake, Sir, but in response to the Deputy's question, the money comes from Exchequer funds.

Is it all Exchequer funding?

Yes, as I understand it.

The Minister indicated that a new marine rescue sub-centre is to be set up in Dublin but may I ask if the location has been identified and what equipment and staff will be deployed in the centre?

The Minister indicated in the course of his speech that a total of £1.29 million was approved for fleet modernisation in 1991, and to date in 1992 grants totalling £1.13 million have been approved. However, yesterday the Minister identified the need for additional deep-sea trawlers in order that we can fulfil our quotas but I cannot see how the grants for fleet modernisation will meet the need as he outlined yesterday. Will the Minister elaborate on this?

I wish to refer to the sum of £1.703 million allocated for the operation and maintenance of Dún Laoghaire Harbour in 1992. In the course of my speech I asked if some of this money will go towards the development and improvement of the terminal facilities for Sealink or is this being addressed in the allocation for 1992?

The Minister indicated in his contribution that the Government are gearing up to meet these challenges by undertaking a major investment programme involving £69 million for the commercial ports over the years 1989-93. He indicated that the projects are at some key ports including Dublin. I should like to know exactly what work will be carried out at Dublin Port, in what year and the allocation in each of those years.

Acting Chairman

The time allotted has expired.

Has the Minister made application to the European Regional Development Fund for support for a research and development programme for inland fisheries and, if not, does he intend to do so?

I should like to reply to Deputy Callely's query concerning the £69 million. Each port is asked for detailed plans and spending is drawn up on the basis of those plans. I am not sure whether any details are available on the breakdown of the £69 million but I will check. Deputy O'Sullivan asked about modernisation and said this money would not go far on the bigger boats involved. That is quite true. Sometimes only a small percentage, for example 5 per cent, is required from the Government to trigger off the EC funds. On the other hand in the case of the licences issued recently no grants were provided. People who wanted to fish far out at sea for white fish were prepared to do so on that basis. In any event the EC would not give us any grants because they did not agree with what we were doing. We said we do not have the boats to fish in those waters where fish abound and there are people who are prepared to fish and have to do it without the aid of grants.

In regard to Sealink there is no new investment involved. A programme will have to be prepared and investment related to that programme. The question of what would happen to Sealink was raised also in other contributions. We are making preparations to ensure that investment will be included in the next operational programme. We cannot guarantee it will be selected but at this stage we await those plans so that they can be included in the application. The allocations are decided subsequently but at this stage I cannot guarantee what they will be. We are preparing to submit the applications at present.

Deputy Callely talked about the sub-centre. Under the Doherty recommendations a development plan is being prepared. The IMES centre is being established in Dublin. It is a question of having a focal point for the system and it is important that it is located close to the Minister's office. If one examines a map one will see there is an extensive network of centres and sub-centres throughout the country. The centre will be a communications focal point.

Has the location being identified?

The only location I am aware that has been identified so far — the question of money is involved — is beside the offices of the Department of the Marine in Leeson Lane. That would be the focal point for all messages and information.

I am aware of a facility in Fairview or Clontarf. If the Minister would care to communicate with me I would be prepared to offer him a suitable premises.

I am sure Deputy Callely is not the only one who could offer suitable premises.

At the end of his contribution Deputy Callely raised the question of landscaping the Dublin Port authority property opposite Clontarf. Some planting has been carried out and it has improved the appearance of the area considerably. I understand that the Dublin Port Authority have been discussing landscaping proposals for the port area, directly opposite Clontarf, with the Clontarf Residents Association. I am sure agreement can be reached on a landscaping scheme which will satisfy all the parties concerned. The Dublin Port Authority set aside £50,000 per year towards the cost of implementing their landscaping proposals. That is a clear indication of the authority's commitment to enhancing the visual aspects of existing port land.

Several questions were asked about safety for fishery inspectors following the Ballycotton tragedy. In that regard my predecessor, who is present, implemented most of the recommendations of the Ballycotton tribunal. Those recommendations related to equipment, training and the type of courses mentioned by Deputies. To my knowledge all inspectors have had the benefit of these courses. Communications training is also being provided by the boards in line with the recommendations of that report and a national VHF communications network has been installed.

Deputy Barnes said there was considerable potential for development and for jobs in this area. I hope we can concentrate on that kind of development which could create thousands of jobs. I will be looking at her suggestion very closely and we will do what we can to bring it about. Deputy Garland, who tends to breeze in and out of the Chamber, did not appear to have noted what I or other people said.

He has gone fishing.

If that is all he is doing it would not be too bad. Deputy Barnes interpreted what I said to indicate that aquaculture had a great potential and went on to put forward some positive ideas concerning low income finance and interest free loans generally. On a much wider basis that system may be adopted rather than grants. In any event I welcome her comments and also those concerning the fact that fish is a high quality health product.

I have no doubt people will continually turn to fish as a mixture in their diet and we have got to be ready and prepared for that.

Deputy O'Sullivan referred to the need for research and the complications involved. He was concerned about reductions in expenditure in BIM, particularly in regard to certain areas, and I am considering those.

Deputy Cotter spoke strongly about inland fisheries. The Deputy had ten minutes, and I have 20 minutes, so we cannot cover everything in that time. I am, in fact, turning a lot of attention to the inland fisheries, particularly the jobs potential. The Moy fishery is a classical example where there are some 14 to 20 jobs depending on the time of the year. We cannot just wipe that out. We must look at the whole plan for the Moy system. The Moy people, including the anglers, put forward a plan. We need to get on with that and have plans for the lakes and the rivers so that they can be developed comprehensively, bearing in mind conservation, stocking, etc. I am sure the Tánaiste, being very much aware of the needs of Cavan and Monaghan, will support me in that.

Vote put and agreed to.