Written Answers. - Sea Fishing Licences.

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

97 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Marine if he will give details of EC regulations with regard to the issue of sea fishing licences; if he has received submissions on difficulties that such EC regulations may cause, if implemented, for the Irish fishing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In December 1993, the Council of Fisheries Ministers adopted a new Regulation establishing a Community system governing the issue of licences for fishing vessels and prescribing the minimum information to be contained in licences. This new system will apply from 1 January 1995.

The new regulation will bring a degree of uniformity into the general licensing system in the Community and standardise, at a minimum level, the amount and presentation of the information contained in licences. The main aim is to improve control of the Community's fishing fleet. As a member state with a large fisheries zone to control, I support measures which will improve our ability to monitor fishing activity in that zone.

Under the new system all vessels in the Community will have to be licensed and carry the licence on board. A member state may, however, by derogation exempt boats of less than 10 metres from the obligation to carry the licence on board where those boats operate exclusively within the maritime jurisdiction of that member state.
The licence will have to include certain minimum information in relation to the vessel such as registered number, tonnage, engine capacity and the fleet category assigned to the vessel under the Community's Multi-Annual Guidance Programme for the fleet.
The implementation of this will mean that, whereas at present only fishing vessels in the Irish fleet over 65 feet in length are required to hold a licence, as and from 1 January 1995 every vessel in the Irish fishing fleet will require a fishing licence. I do not envisage that the regulation will cause any significant problems for the Irish fishing industry nor have I received any submissions from the industry.
Some concern has been expressed at the prospect of a fishing permit being incorporated into such licences. However this matter is still under consideration by the Commission. I am keeping an open mind as to the merits of the proposal and will decide whether its adoption is in the best interests of the Irish fishing industry when a formal proposal is submitted by the Commission.
I will of course be seeking the views of the industry on the matter when the full details of the proposal are known.

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

98 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Marine the progress that has been made following his Department's comprehensive review of sea fishing licensing policy; the issues and concerns that have been considered; if he will consult with the industry prior to finalising a licensing policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

In the recent discussion document on the management and development of the fishing fleet, the Department set out proposals for the introduction of a new fleet licensing policy, which it is hoped will improve fleet management and allow for the development of the Irish fleet to its maximum potential.

The purpose of the discussion document was to ensure that the fishing industry had every opportunity to assess the implications of these proposals so that the widest possible consultation could take place.

The document has been discussed both with fishermen at a series of meetings held around the coast and with fishermen's organisations. It emerged during this process that fishermen were concerned, in particular, that the proposals could result in the loss of traditional fishing rights and lead in some cases to a drop in the value of boats within the fleet.

These very real concerns are being examined as part of a full scale review of the proposals currently taking place in the Department. While every effort will be made these concerns in any revision of the proposals, the necessity to meet Ireland's Community obligations in respect of fleet capacity must also be taken into account. Failure to meet the capacity targets set out in the Multi Annual Guidance Programme for the fleet could endanger the allocation of structural funding to the fishing industry as a whole.

Since the Department's discussion document has been published, new regulations introducing a Community licensing system have been adopted at the Fisheries Council. In addition, the Commission intends to bring forward proposals providing for Community fishing permits. As these developments could have implications for the new licensing policy, they are being assessed in the context of the present policy review.

Once the review has been completed, I intend to consult with the industry representative bodies and would then hope to be in a position to take final decisions in the matter. I can assure the Deputy that no decisions will be taken in advance of such consultations.