Written Answers. - Proposal on Netting of Fish.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

71 Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Marine the reason he has not adopted the proposal from the Rosscarbery Tourism Association and the South-Western Regional Fisheries Board to introduce a by-law prohibiting netting of fish in Rosscarbery Estuary, County Cork; and if he will have arrangements made to do so without delay.

The Department is investigating reports that groups of people from outside the area have been netting bass in the Rosscarbery Estuary. In the light of these reports the area is now being closely monitored by officers from the Department and the fishery boards but to date the offenders have not been pinpointed.

I should point out that, in an effort to conserve the declining stock of bass in inshore Irish waters, the netting and sale of bass has for some years been prohibited. In addition, certain catch restrictions have been placed on anglers. I am concerned, in particular, that these conservation measures should not be flouted by commercial netters claiming to be targetting mullet on which there are no restrictions.

In relation to Rosscarbery Estuary, I am advised by both the Department and the Central Fisheries Board that only a total ban on netting can ensure full compliance with the existing bass conservation measures. Accordingly, I propose to introduce such a ban and the necessary legal instrument is currently being drafted.