Written Answers. - Illegal Eel-fishing.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

41 Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Marine if the promised legislation to control illegal eel fishing has been drafted; if so, when it will be published; and when this legislation will be passed into law.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

51 Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a new eel fishing season has commenced; and the measures, if any, he proposes to take to enable licence holders to earn their living free from intimidation.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 51 together.

The Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1994, part of which deals with eel fishing, was circulated last week. I would hope that with the Houses' approval it can be speedily enacted.

The purpose of this Bill in so far as eels are concerned is to enhance the management, development and control of this country's eel fisheries. The principal thrust of the amendments is to give the same level of control and protection to eels as are afforded to salmon and trout.

The new, measures proposed will establish control on the

—sales, or export for sale, of eels;

—carriage of eels;

—possession of eels;
—penalties for breaches of conditions attaching to eel fishing authorisations.
Any breach of these controls will be an offence subject to a fine or imprisonment.
With regard to supporting existing eel fishing licence holders I would like to point out that there is excellent co-operation between the staff of the Fisheries Boards, E.S.B. protection staff and the Garda Síochána in the management and control of eel fishing. The new Bill, however, will enable these bodies deal more effectively with illegal eel fishing activities thus facilitating the continued development of this increasingly important natural resource.
While some limited eel fishing may be taking place at present, the season for netting for eels in the country's primary eel fisheries, (the Shannon and Corrib systems), will not commence until 1 July next and I would hope that the new legislation will be in effect by that date.