Written Answers. - Fishing Industry Development.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

71 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the proposals, if any, he has to develop the black sole fishery in the Suir estuary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10313/00]

The presence of sole in the Suir estuary is due to tidal factors and the state of the stock there is accordingly dependent on sole stocks in the Celtic Sea generally.

The Marine Institute undertakes detailed assessments of Celtic Sea stocks on an ongoing basis and in its most recent report, 1999, has advanced the view that the stock of Celtic Sea sole is currently outside safe biological limits. Available data does, however, indicate the occurrence of large numbers of juvenile sole in the stock due to a very good spawning in 1998. These sole will enter the commercial catches from 2001 onwards with potential benefits to commercial catches in inshore and estuarine areas.

There is no specific management regime in place for inshore fisheries such as the Suir Estu ary at present but my decision to establish a National Inshore Fisheries Management Group will result in this issue being addressed at an early date.