Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 23 Oct 1991

Vol. 130 No. 1

Sea Pollution Bill, 1990: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

It gives me great pleasure to be associated with this Bill. The environment action programme includes a commitment to terminate indiscriminate disposal of ships' waste in the marine environment; this Bill endorses that commitment by addressing the problems relating to protection of the marine environment from pollution by ships.

The main purpose of the Sea Pollution Bill, 1990 is to update existing legislation on the prevention of pollution from ships and on intervention with ships following upon a maritime casualty, as enshrined in our Oil Pollution of the Sea Acts, 1956 to 1977. These Acts govern pollution by oil but we all know that as the world becomes more industrialised more dangerous substances being transported by sea are polluting the marine environment.

Our legislation must also take cognisance of current trends in the shipping industry, namely, the dramatic increase in the size of ships, in particular of oil tankers; the "lame ducks" in an ageing world fleet; the emergence of offshore registries and Third World low-cost crews; the reduction in manning levels due to modern technology and performance pressures from shipowners or managers. Ireland's geographical location on the periphery of Europe with the Atlantic Ocean lying to the west, south-west and south and at the apex of one of the busiest ocean-trading routes in the world leaves the country vulnerable to maritime casualties. We must also remember that it is our relatively unpolluted waters that attract foreign tourists to this country. We must endeavour to avoid casualties occurring in our territorial waters, the resulting pollution of our waters and blight of our shore environment with wrecks. Of course, I must mention that the Atlantic is also to the north of Ireland and my province.

In order to prevent or control pollution that may be caused by ships the State's powers need to be strengthened. The international treaty commonly known as MARPOL 73/78, considered to be the most ambitious international treaty covering marine pollution ever adopted, and the international treaties on intervention on the high seas, give the scope to do so. We are indebted to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the adoption of the treaties in question. The IMO are a specialised agency of the United Nations, wholly dedicated to maritime affairs and with the twin goals of cleaner oceans and safer seas.

The question Senators may wish to ask is: "Why the need to become party to further international treaties?". The answers are simple. The conventions, protocols and resolutions of the IMO reflect the concerns and interests of over 130 states; the IMO are the international body who have developed the "rules of the road" as it were, for the high seas and command the respect and recognition to press for universal acceptance of these rules. Ireland needs the support of such an organisation in its endeavours to protect its marine environment from pollution from ships and the disposal of ships' wastes at sea.

The main objective of MARPOL 73/78 is to reduce to a minimum, and in certain instances prohibit, the operational discharge of marine pollutants from ships through the establishment of operational discharge criteria and procedures, and construction and equipment standards. Provision is made for a regime whereby violations of the international rules and standards are prohibited and punished with sufficient severity to discourage future violations. The convention has 67 contracting states, representing 88 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping fleet.

The convention itself comprises five annexes which are, effectively, the regulations laid down for the prevention of pollution by oil; by noxious liquid substances in bulk; by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged forms or in freight containers, portable tanks or road and rail tank wagons; by sewage and garbage from ships.

Each annex deals exclusively with all aspects of its subject pollutant such as vessel construction and equipment, survey, certification, discharge control and, importantly, reception facilities to be provided at ports for the disposal of waste.

All countries which become party to MARPOL 73/78 must adopt annexes 1 and 2 relating to oil and noxious liquid substances in bulk, respectively; annexes 3, 4 and 5 relating to harmful substances in packaged forms, sewage and garbage respectively are optional. Acceptance of annexes 1 and 2 is obligatory because of the more deleterious effects of oil and noxious liquid substances. Liability and compensation for pollution damage caused by discharges of persistent oil from a ship carrying oil in bulk as cargo, or discharges from its bunkers, are covered by the Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability and Compensation) Act, 1988.

The intervention treaties provide that, following a maritime casualty, contracting parties may take such measures on the high seas as may be necessary to prevent, mitigate or eliminate grave and imminent danger to their coastline or related interests from pollution, or threat of pollution, by oil and other substances which are liable to create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and maritime life, to damage amenities, or to interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.

MARPOL 73/78, its annexes, 1, oil, 2, noxious liquid substances, 3 harmful substances in packaged forms, and 5, garbage from ships and the Intervention Convention and Protocol are in force internationally. Annex 4 of MARPOL — sewage from ships — which is optional will not come into force internationally until it has been ratified or acceded to by countries representing over 50 per cent of the gross tonnage of the world's merchant shipping fleet. Current ratification or accession to this instrument stands at approximately 40 per cent of world shipping tonnage, as of now. I intend to adopt all five annexes, including that one, so we will be adding to that 40 per cent, giving priority to annexes 1 and 2 the compulsory annexes, and annex 5, garbage from ships.

The following are the principal provisions of the Bill. Section 10 enables the Minister to prohibit or regulate the operational discharge of oil, oily mixtures, noxious liquid substances carried in bulk — for example hazardous chemicals — harmful substances carried in packaged forms, sewage or garbage from Irish-registered ships anywhere at sea and from other ships whilst in the territorial waters of the State. The Minister may apply similar controls to other substances prescribed by him as being harmful if introduced into the marine environment and he may require the owner or master of a ship to notify him of the intention to load or unload any of these substances in the State.

Section 12 enables the Minister to require harbours in the State to have adequate facilities for the discharge or disposal of ships' waste. Harbours may make reasonable charges and impose reasonable conditions for use of the facilities provided. Section 14 and 15 enable the Minister to require an Irish registered ship to be constructed, fitted or operated in such a way as to prevent, control or reduce discharges into the sea and to keep such records of discharges of harmful substances as he prescribes. Such records would relate to operations on board ship in respect of any substance, discharges made to secure the safety of the ship or to save life or discharges in excess of the quantity, if any, permitted.

Section 17 enables the Minister to have surveyors of ships, or inspectors appointed by him under warrant, to carry out surveys, inspections and tests to ensure compliance with MARPOL standards laid down by him for ships, their equipment and fittings. He may also cause to be issued in respect of a ship a certificate of compliance with requirements.

Section 23 permits a harbour master to refuse entry into a harbour if he believes a ship not to be in compliance with certificate requirements or to be a serious threat to the environment, the harbour or other ships. This section also enables the Minister to require the owners or masters of all ships, or any classes of ships, to give notice of entry or intended entry into Irish territorial waters.

Section 26 permits the Minister, following upon a maritime casualty, to take such measures as he considers necessary, to prevent, mitigate or eliminate grave and imminent danger to the coastline or related interests, for example, fisheries activities or tourist attractions, from pollution or a threat of pollution. The Minister is entitled to recover expenses incurred in such intervention from the owner of the ship.

Section 29 lays down the penalties for breach of the requirements of the Bill, when enacted, or any regulations made thereunder. Penalties range from a maximum of £1,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both, on summary conviction and a maximum of £10 million or imprisonment up to five years, or both, on conviction on indictment.

Parts I and IV deal with the more standard provisions of the Bill. Parts II and III of the Bill which deal with prevention of pollution and enforcement are fundamentally the framework within which regulations to give effect to the five MARPOL annexes will be effected.

There has been an enormous increase in environmental awareness and concern for the environment over the past few years, particularly amongst the younger generation. In the marine area attention is being focused on the threat to the environment and to fish stocks and mammals of pollution from ships in the form of oil discharges and persistent forms of garbage, in particular plastics, including synthetic ropes and fishing nets and refuse bags. These pollutants are offensive from an aesthetic point of view as they come ashore with the tide and spoil beaches and beauty spots on the coastline. They are also offensive from an economic point of view in that they affect local fishing and aquaculture industries as well as tourism, water-based leisure activities and public amenities generally.

Marine environmental awareness was heightened last year with the launch of the Government's environment action programme and the commitment to require harbour authorities to instal facilities for receiving ships' waste and thus enable Ireland to become a party to the MARPOL Convention. Facilities must be adequate to meet the needs of the ships using them without causing undue delay.

The issue of a poster by the Department of the Marine in conjunction with the Wildlife Service at the end of 1989 to schools as well as to shipping and fisheries interests and which illustrated the cruel, harmful and oftentimes fatal effects of plastic on fish and marine mammals further highlighted the hazards of ships' waste. I have a copy of that poster and judging by the correspondence we received it was very successful. The poster depicts a dead bird, general marine debris and shows the damage done to marine life by plastic which resembles natural food. That is an indication of the harm that can be done by throwing out debris, particularly plastic debris which is non-biodegradable. It is not surprising, therefore, that MARPOL has come to be associated with garbage from ships and that the younger generation speak quite knowledgeably on annex 5 which relates to the provention of pollution from garbage.

MARPOL strictly prohibits the disposal of plastics at sea; they must be deposited in receptacles at port. Plastics are non-biodegradable; once thrown into the sea they are extremely persistent and potentially harmful if ingested by seabirds and marine mammals. In framing regulations under the Sea Pollution Bill, 1990 to cover annex 5 the disposal of plastics at sea will be prohibited. Stringent conditions will apply to the discharge and ultimate disposal of other wastes from ships, in particular food waste. The ultimate disposal of discharged waste must be undertaken with regard to wider concerns. In disposing of oily residues every effort will be made to ensure recycling and the disposal of food waste or swill must take place within the requirements of the animal diseases regulations of the Department of Agriculture and Food.

I am glad to mention to the House that in the new and almost revolutionary ship design in the Bell Pioneer the use of that heavy waste fuel is incorporated into the design of the ship, consequently lowering the cost of fuel on a ship which is famous for not having hatches and for having the quickest turn around of any ship in any fleet in the world today designed by our own naval architects and built in Japan. In disposing of oil refuse every effort is made to ensure recycling and the disposal of food waste or swill and that must be done in accordance with the requirements of the animal diseases regulations of the Department of Agriculture and Food. In compliance with the Environment Action Programme and in anticipation of the passage of the new legislation commercial and fishery harbours have been asked to provide reception facilities to meet the demands of ship and fishing vessel operators coming into port. Consultations with Irish shipping interests are also ongoing with a view to ascertaining their requirements.

There are other very important benefits accruing from passage of the Sea Pollution Bill, 1990. At the top of the list must be the State's enhanced powers to deal with offending foreign ships coming into its territorial waters. Masters of ships which are not constructed, equipped or operated to MARPOL standards will not be anxious to risk inspection, detention and penalty for unseaworthiness or deficiencies. This could have the effect of reducing the number of damaged vessels seeking refuge in ports off our south-west and north-west coasts.

I should at this stage make it clear that the Bill before the House does not cut across my Department's policy in search and rescue. Safety of life at sea still remains paramount and it may be necessary at times to admit troubled ships into territorial waters or harbours for the purpose of saving life. Section 11 of the Bill permits discharge into the sea of harmful substances where it is necessary for the purpose of saving life at sea. However, a record must be kept of such a discharge.

Equally important will be the benefit to Irish shipowners. By virtue of holding MARPOL certificates they will no longer be embarrassed by subjection to stringent inspection and delay while in MARPOL Convention countries; any such inspection will now be limited to verifying that there is on board a valid MARPOL certificate. Ireland is the only EC maritime member state and the only State party to the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control, the Paris Convention, not to have ratified or acceded to MARPOL 73/78. Under this Memorandum of Understanding each of the 14 member states undertakes to achieve an annual total of inspections of foreign-registered ships entering its ports corresponding to 25 per cent of individual merchant ships. Inspection ensures compliance with the standards laid down in a number of international conventions including the MARPOL Convention.

Ireland will also be assured of the cooperation of other parties to the MARPOL Convention and the International Maritime Organisation in the detection of violations, the enforcement of rules, environmental monitoring and accumulation of evidence against offenders.

The Oil Pollution of the Sea (Amendment) Act, 1977 empowers the Minister to take such action as he considers necessary in relation to a ship or its cargo for the purpose of preventing, mitigating or eliminating the effects of oil pollution arising from a maritime casualty. The Minister may only exercise these powers in respect of an Irish-registered ship anywhere at sea; any other ship while in the territorial waters of the State or, following a Government order, any ship registered in a country which is party to the Intervention Convention, 1969, while outside the territorial waters of the State.

The Minister must exercise his powers of intervention with discretion. There must be grave and imminent danger of major harmful consequences through pollution by oil of the coastline or related interests. Where a stricken ship is not carrying oil as cargo there must be sufficient threat of danger from bunker or fuel oil to justify intervention. Where it can be established in the case of an Irish registered ship or any other ship while in the territorial waters of the State that intervention was unreasonable then compensation must be paid.

The Minister used his powers of intervention early in 1989 when the 85,000 tonne bulk carrier Yarrawonga having lost 300 square metres of steel side plating in mid-Atlantic was abandoned by its crew. Similarly, he intervened in February 1990 with the holed 122,000 tonne bulk carrier Tribulus which limped into Bantry Bay leaking heavy fuel oil and in April 1991 during the Capitaine Pleven II incident at Ballyvaughan. I must say that the marine team from my Department acquitted themselves with distinction in all those cases to the benefit of our environment and our fisheries and tourism industries. This week I got a letter from Captain Histon, the harbour master at Foynes, indicating his complete satisfaction with the activities of that team in the case of the Atlantis Sky off Foynes on 6 October, 1991. He said he would, and I quote:

particularly like to thank your Captain Kirwan, Director of the Marine Rescue Service and your Mr. Seamus McLoughlin, Department of the Marine for the excellent work carried out by them in this emergency. I should also point out that the use of the helicopter in the incident was of great assistance. It is gratifying to know that in this country there is now a means through your Department to deal with marine emergencies such as arose in the Shannon Estuary on this occasion. It has already been noted by the owners of the Atlantis Sky and has been remarked by same as a credit to the marine tradition of our country.

When we have something good to say about ourselves I think we should say it. The Bill strengthens the Minister's powers considerably. The threat of pollution may be from any harmful substance, intervention may be made anywhere at sea and only in the case of Irish-registered and Intervention Convention country-registered ships while outside the territorial waters of the State may be a case of unreasonable intervention be entertained.

The Bill takes account of lessons learned from past disasters, namely, the need for legislation requiring the owner of a ship to compensate the Minister for expenses of, or incidental to, any action taken by him to prevent, mitigate or eliminate danger from pollution or a threat of pollution from that ship and the need to have penalties for offences commensurate with damage done. It is intended that clean-up costs would be recoverable by the Minister. At first glance, £10 million maximum penalty for conviction on indictment may seem unrealistic or excessive but when one considers the extent of damage that may be caused by marine pollution it is justifiable. I need hardly remind the House of the $1 billion-plus bill which followed the Exxon Valdez II million gallon crude oil spill in Alaska last year, about which the whole world knows. The remainder of the Bill is concerned with the strengthening of the powers of the inspectors — section 21 — and harbour masters — section 25 — in the detection of unauthorised or alleged discharge, defective ships or equipment and standard provisions which are self-explanatory. Section 5 provides that every regulation made under the proposed legislation shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. There will be an opportunity, therefore, for all Senators to consider the precise terms of the regulations to give effect to the five annexes to the MARPOL Convention.

It has long been held that Ireland should have a compulsory vessel reporting or notification system for all ships entering Irish waters. Such a system is currently in force in respect of fishing trawlers registered in Spain and Portugal, for a transitional period, and in non-EC countries when entering Community waters under Irish control.

The system would be beneficial in protecting the marine environment and also in detecting undesirable ships or cargoes of on security grounds. Section 23 enables the Minister to set up such a system should he consider it necessary and enforceable. Alternatively, a system whereby certain classes of ship which are a potential threat to the marine environment, for example, oil tankers might be required to give advance notification of entry into Irish territorial waters could be considered.

This Bill is one that will play a vital role in protecting the State's clean marine heritage.

Molaim an Bille seo don Teach. Mar a dúirt mé cheana, tá cúrsaí comhshaoil agus truaillithe an-tábhachtach agus ag éirí níos tábhachtaí in aghaidh na bliana. Tá oidhreacht chomhshaoil againn, agus is cóir dúinn an oidhreacht sin a chosaint. Is fiúntach an oidhreacht í agus is fiú í a chosaint. Beidh na glúnta atá le teacht buíoch dínn. Is chuige sin atá mé sa Bhille seo agus molaim é don Teach.

Cuirim fáilte roimh Aire na Mara sa díospóireacht seo agus é ag cur an Bhille seo um thruailliú na farraige os ár gcomhair. Mar atá ráite aige féin is Bille fíor-thábhachtach é, a bhaineann lenár n-oidhreacht agus a chuireann ar ár gcumas mar Eireannaigh feabhas a chur ar an tír agus í a dhéanamh níos sláintiúla maidir le truailliú a sheachaint. Tá anmholadh ag dul don Aire gur éirigh leis an Bille tábhachtach seo a thabhairt os comhair an Tí. D'fhéadfainn freisin a rá faoin Bhille, más maith is mithid. Mar atá léirithe ag an Aire ina chuid cainte, tháinig an Bille seo chun tosaigh de bharr tuarascáil MARPOL agus tá sé sin, de réir mar a thuigim, le fáil againn suas le 12 nó 13 bliana.

Is dócha go bhféadfaí a fhiafraí céard a bhí ar bun againn féin idir an dá linn mar náisiún nár éirigh linn reachtaíocht a thabhairt isteach go dtí an lá atá inniu ann. É sin ráite tá sí againn agus tá sé fíor-thábhachtach go gcuirfí fáilte ar leith roimpi. Baineann an reachtaíocht leis an tír uilig, níl mé ag séanadh sin, ach baineann sí go speisialta le chósta iarthar na hÉireann uilig atá oscailte amach chomh mór sin don Atlantach agus go bhfuil an oiread sin cumarsáide farraige ar bun idir na Stáit Aontaithe agus an Eoraip agus, go deimhin, an Afraic agus áiteanna nach iad. Tá cósta iarthar agus deisceart na hÉireann, ó Dhún na nGall go Port Láirge, díreach ar an líne go bhfuil an mhórghluaiseacht bhád seo go bhfuil tagairt speisialta faoi sa Bhille seo. Bímis ar an bhfarraige mhór ag iascaireacht nó cois cladaigh ag baint taitnimh as an bhfarraige, bímis ar bhád bheag rámhaíochta nó ag obair ar an soitheach is mó atá ag iompar ola, is cuma faoi sin, tá sé uilig tábhachtach i gcomhthéacs an Bhille seo.

Tá an úsáid atá á baint as na farraigí móra atá thart timpeall orainn i bhfad níos mó agus níos tréine ó thaobh iompar earraí ar fud an domhain. Bhíomar féin páirteach in iomportáil ola le blianta, agus tá fós. Mar atá ráite arís ag an Aire, tá cuid de na longa seo ag éirí níos mó agus níos fairsinge in aghaidh na bliana, agus, mar gheall air sin, tá an chontúirt ag dul i méad dá réir. Tá sé cruthaithe gur sean bháid go leor de na soithigh atá ag iompar ola agus earraí eile go domhanda. Tá cuid mhaith acu a bhfuil athnuachan ag teastáil uatha agus tá gá le báid mhóra nua. Ach, de dheasca ghéarchúlú idirnáisiúnta eacnamaíochta níl na báid mhóra nua á gcur ar fáil sciobtha go leor agus tá an chontúirt ann truailliú farraige bheith ann i gcás timpiste nó rud ar bith ar an dul sin. Bíonn an baol sin ann i gcónaí.

Tá sé fíor-thábhachtach go mbeadh rialacha, ní amháin ag an tír seo ach ag tíortha eile agus go mbeimis faoi réir rialacha a nglacfaí leo go domhanda. Thar aon rud eile, tá mé ag ceapadh gurb 'in an tábhacht is mó dá mbaineann leis an mBille seo, is é sin, go bhfuil 130 tír, is dóigh liom, luaite sa Bhille agus breis agus 80 a bhfuil dlúthbhaint acu leis an troid in aghaidh thruailliú farraige. Tá an tír seo ag dul a thógáil páirte san iarracht idirnáisiúnta seo. Tá sé an-ámhárach go bhfuil a leithéid de Bhille ag dul tríd an Seanad agus an Dáil faoi láthair.

Le blianta beaga anuas tá an-bhéim go deo ar thruailliú agus chaomhnú na timpeallachta. Nach aisteach an rud é ach thiar i gConamara, ina bhfuil cónaí orm féin, i mbaile beag darb ainm Leitir Freac, i bhfad ó Bhaile Átha Cliath, tá Seachtain na Farraige faoi lánseol — an tseachtain seo féin. Tá chuile shórt faoin bhfarraige á phlé ag aos óg an cheantair, idir bhuachaillí agus chailíni bunscoile, meánscoile agus pobalscoile. Tá siad gníomhach ag foghlaim chúrsaí farraige ach tá sé uilig i gcomhthéacs chaomhnú na farraige, cur in éadan thruailliú na farraige, mar tá suim ar leith acu sa cheantar seo agus sna himeachtaí go léir.

Le blianta beaga anuas tháinig an tionscal feilméireachta éisc ar aghaidh go mór i gceantar Chonamara, agus is é an ceantar is láidre fheilméireacht éisc é. Ar nós gach tionscail mhóir, b'fhéidir, rinneadh dearmaid agus ní raibh lucht thionscal fheilméireacht éisc chomh cúramach agus ba chóir dóibh a bheith i dtús ama ó thaobh chaomhnú na timpeallachta ina raibh siad ag obair agus, dá dheasca sin, tar éis roinnt bheag blianta tháinig amhras mór ar dhaoine faoi chúrsaí farraige, faoi fheilméireacht éisc, faoin truailliú agus faoi rudaí eile mar sin. Tharla sé sin cois cladaigh, mar a deirtear. Ar an taobh eile den scéal bhí daoine ag caint faoin truailliú ar an bhfarraige mór agus cúiseanna mar éalú ola, timpistí, stoirmeacha, agus neamh-aireacht agus daoine i mbun a gcuid oibre.

Bhí an dá rud ar siúl, agus daoine ag obair i ngan fhios dá chéile maidir le cúrsaí farraige. Bhí daoine ar an mórthír a raibh suim acu i gcúrsaí na farraige agus, chomh maith leis sin bhí daoine eile ag plé chúrsaí farraige ar bhonn idirnáisiúnta agus chinn siad ar an teacht le chéile seo as ar eascair roinnt mhaith de na hAchtanna le tamall de bhlianta anuas. Thug siad le chéile an dá aicme seo a bhí ag obair as láimh a chéile ar bhealaí éagsúla. Tá sé sin an-tábhachtach, go háirithe i gcomhthéacs an Bhille seo. Níor chóir dúinn, nuair atáimid ag caint faoin mBille seo, faoi thruailliú na farraige móire, dearmad a dhéanamh go bhféadfadh an truailliú bheith cois cladaigh chomh maith céanna. D'fhéadfadh an dá aicme cúnamh a thabhairt dá chéile le fáil réidh leis an rud is nó dá bhfuil ag cur isteach orainn, is é sin an truailliú seo.

Arís, thiar i gConamara, agus níl mé ag déanamh aon ghaisce as, bíonn seachtain eile ann agus caitheann muintir cois cladaigh ó Chloch na Rón amach ón gClochán suas, anuas trí Charna agus na háiteanna sin, caitheann siad laethanta ag dul thart ar na cladaigh ag bailiú bruscair agus truflaise. Labhair an tAire féin go han mhaith faoi seo in a óráid ar an mBille seo. Luaigh sé ábhar plaisteach agus thug sé le tuiscint an dochar mór atá á dhéanamh nó a d'fhéadfaí a dhéanamh leis sin.

Ní ar an fharraige mhór amháin atá sé sin ag tarlú, de dheasca an chineál seo ruda bheith in úsáid ar longa móra; tá sé ag tarlú freisin ar an gcladach. Tá sé ag tarlú cois trá agus caithfimid, le chéile, iarracht an-mhór a dhéanamh chun fáil réidh leis an truailliú seo. Deirtear go mairfidh an t-ábhar plaisteach seo na céadta bliain. Rud suntasach eile faoi, ní féidir é a chur faoi uisce. Bíonn sé ar snámh ar bharr na farraige agus tagann sé isteach ar na cladaigh agus, ar na tránna, ní amháin timpeall na hÉireann ach timpeall an domhain uilig. Mar sin, na cúig céimeanna atá tógtha sa Bhille, tá siad fíor-thábhachtach; tá an Bille ag tabhairt aitheantais do na cúig rudaí is mó atá ag déanamh dochair.

Uimhir a haon, tá caint ann faoi chúrsaí ola, ola den uile chineál, agus tá cosaint á lorg agus tá rialacha dochta daingne á leagan síos maidir le cosaint, chun nach dtabharfaí aon truailliú isteach ar thránna ná an fhairraigí timpeall na hÉireann. Is mór an chontúirt é an ola, rud is léir dúinn, agus thrácht an tAire ar an gceist seo. Is amhlaidh an scéal in Alaska, i Meiriceá, san Astráil, agus fiú amháin i gcuan Bheanntraí, agus áiteanna eile nach iad. Léigh sé litir faoin mbaol a bhí ann thíos i gcuan na Sionna. Tugann sé sin léargas dúinn ar an gcontúirt mhór maidir le cúrsaí ola agus an dochar gur féidir leis seo a dhéanamh. Chomh maith leis sin tá luaite anseo go bhfuilimid ag caint faoi shubstaintí nimhneacha i bhfoirm lachta, nó rud éigin eile gur féidir leis dochar a dhéanamh don dúlra agus don timpeallacht.

Ní gá gur as na longa seo atá ag taisteal na farraige móire amháin a bheadh substaintí nimhneacha ag teacht freisin. Mura mbeimid fíor-chúramach agus rudaí faoi smacht againn tá contúirt ann go bhféadfadh substaintí nimhneacha a bheith ag teacht amach as feirmeacha éisc. Nílim a rá go bhfuil siad ag teacht amach. Níl, ach caithfidh rialacha dochta daingne a bheith leagtha síos — faoi mar atá déanta ag Roinn na Mara — le cinntiú nach dtiocfadh aon substaint nimhneach ar an bhfarraige as dul chun chinn den saghas sin.

Deirtear i gcónaí, is cuma cén rud a dhéanann tú ar an saol seo, más dul chun chinn é, bíonn rud éigin le n-íoc ag duine éigin nó ag eagras éigin síos an bóthar dá bharr. Mar a deirtear sa Bhéarla, bíonn checks agus balances le déanamh i ngach áit agus i ngach rud a bhíonn ar bun againn. Ó thaobh muidne de agus ó thaobh an Bhille seo de, ba chóir a chinntiú go mbeidh na cúig mór-rudaí atá i gceist, ní amháin ráite i bhfoirm Bhille agus Achta, ach curtha i ngnímh agus smacht curtha ar aon truailliú nó aon truflais a d'fhéadfadh tarlú.

Tá tracht sa Bhille faoi shubstaintí gur féidir a iompar timpeall i leoraithe nó i containers móra millteacha ar an bhfarraige. Tá contuirt uathu siúd má tharlaíonn timpist nó má thagann aimsir stoirme nó rud éigin mar sin. D'fhéadfaidís briseadh in aghaidh cladaigh nó calafoirt nó ailltreacha. Tá sé sin clúdaithe go maith sa reachtaíocht seo.

Tá gach tír sa domhan tar éis in-chur a bheith acu sa Bhille ar bhealach amháin nó ar bhealach eile. Maidir le séarachas ar long nó séarachas ar an bhfarraige, ní hé sin an chloch is mó ar ár bpaidrín. Caithfimid féin sa bhaile aghaidh a thabhairt ar an ndeacrachtaí féin gan trácht ar shéarachas a bheith ag imeacht as long nó bád. Is ceist mhór an séarachas atá ag dul amach ar an bhfarraige gan aon rud á dhéanamh faoi. Tá caint á dhéanamh faoi go mbeidh deireadh leis go luath. I gCathair agus i gContae na Gaillimhe féin tá a fhios agam cé chomh mór is a theastaíonn córas séarachais — agus córas ceart a dhéanfaidh treatment den chéad go dtí an tríú grád más gá sin a dhéanamh.

Níl a fhios agam an bhfuilimid i ndáiríre faoi smachtú i leith bhrúscar trá agus brúscar chladaigh thart timpeall an chósta seo againne. Léigh mé in áit éigin go bhfuil suas le seacht milliún tonna brúscar á chur sa bhfarraige chuile bhliain. Tagann an t-uafás den bhrúscar sin ó nithe plaisteacha. Tóg an iascaireacht mar shampla. Bhí am ann go raibh eangacha á úsáid a bhí déanta as corda. Tar éis roinnt blianta d'imeodh sé ó mhaith agus ní bheadh sé le feiceál nó le fáil níos mó. Ach má bhreathnaímid ar na heangacha móra atá ag na hiascairí uilig anois chífimid go bhfuil siad déanta as cineál plaistigh. Cailltear na céadta agus na céadta míle den eangach monafilm mar shampla in aghaidh na bliana timpeall an domhain uilig. Níl mé ag caint faoi timpeall chósta na hÉireann amháin. Tá an iascaireacht bainteach go dlúth agus go nádúrtha leis an bhfarraige. Ach anois tá an iascaireacht mar ábhar thruaillithe ar an bhfarraige de bharr an chíneál eangach atá á usáid.

Níl aon rud luaite go sonrach sa Bhille seo faor thruailliú ó bháid iascaigh. Táimid ag caint go speisialta faoi na taincéirí móra atá ag iompar ola timpeall an domhain. Ach bíodh a fhios againn go bhfuil siad seo in ann an dochar ceanann céanna a dhéanamh. Ach cosúil le go leor rudaí eile, mura bhfuilimid in ann agus sásta aghaidh a thabhairt ar na deacrachtaí uilig agus iarracht a dhéanamh iad a chur faoi smacht, teipfidh orainn ar an mór-chuid. Feiceann tú an t-uafás rópaí, gloine, cannaí, boinn agus rudaí eile déanta as ruibéar agus plaisteach. Níl siad san ag teacht ón bhfarraige mhór amháin a bhfuil an Bille seo ag díriú air ach tá siad ag baint leis an dtalamh freisin. Tá siad ag baint le cuairteoirí ag saoire cois cladaigh, leis na báid bheaga pleisiúrtha agus leis na achtanna seo go léir atá timpeall an chósta. Caitear an truaflais agus an brúscar astu siúd isteach sa bhfarraige. Tá mé ag glacadh leis go bhféadfar faoin mBille seo, an dlí a chur ar na daoine sin chomh maith céanna le úinéirí na tráilaer agus na longa móra.

Tá áireamh déanta ar an dochar uilig atá á dhéanamh. Tá sé le feiceáil lenár súile féin chuile lá. Tóg arís sampla gar do bhaile againn féin. Tá rud mór nua tosaithe thiar i gConamara rud nach raibh ann blianta ó shin. Bhí sé ann blianta ó shin ach amháin go bhfeictear an chaoi a bhfuil sé tar éis fáis. Is é sin an méid turasóirí atá ag dul go dtí Oileán Árann sa samhradh. Táimid ag caint ar na céadta míle ag taisteal ansin, agus smaoinigh ar an méid brúscair agus truflaise atá á chaitheamh thart acu siúd in aghaidh an lae isteach san fharraige? Go leor de na rudaí sin, tá ábhar plaisteach iontu agus is rud é sin atá gar don bhaile; ní gá dúinn dul amach ar an bhfarraige le go bhfeicfimid é. Ba chóir go mbeadh rialacha dochta, daingne ann le teacht orthu siúd sa chaoi is go bhféadfaí stop a chur leo i gceart. Mar shampla, tá cumhacht ag an Aire féachaint chuige go mbeadh áiseanna ann i ngach calafort chun brúscar agus truflais fharraige ó na longa agus ó na báid iascaigh seo uilig a bhailiú. Tá sé thar am tosú, agus tosú sna háiteanna is mó a bhfuil siad ag teastáil. Ba bhreá liom dá bhféadfainn a rá go bhfuil sé tosaithe thiar i Ros a' Mhíl, ach ní amhlaidh an scéal. Ba chóir go mbeadh tús maith déanta againn air sin.

Tá an t-uafás le moladh sa Bhille, ach tá rud amháin ann a chuireann as dom, agus tá mé cinnte go mbeidh an tAire ábalta mé a chur ar mo shuaimhneas nuair a bheidh sé ag freagairt ar ball, agus sainmhíniú ar "ship" agus "bád" atá i gceist. Tá sainmhíniú ar bhád ar leathanach a seacht, líne a 30:

"ship" means a vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the marine environment and includes hydrofoil boats, air-cushion vehicles, submersibles, floating craft and fixed or floating platforms and includes fixtures, fittings and equipment.

Tá imní orm faoin sainmhíniú sin, what a ship is, mar a déarfa. Tá an Bille tógtha air agus tá an focal "ship" luaite tríd an doiciméad seo go mion is go minic, agus inseoidh mé an fáth go bhfuil imní orm. Bhí baint agam féin le feirmeoireacht éisc, agus bhí soitheach ann ar tugadh "bád" air. Tá pictiúr agam anseo de agus dá bhfeicfeadh duine ar bith an pictiúr den bhád seo ar an bhfarraige thabharfadh sé bád air, ach "barge" atá luaite in áit eile. Tá sé an-mhór agus an-fhada, agus is cuimhin liom gur thug an Seanadóir Carmencita Hederman cuairt ar Inis Oírr bliain ó shin, bhí sí ag déanamh meastóireachta ar bhaile nó oileán slachtmhar agus bhí an-suim go deimhin aici sa bhfeirmeoireacht éisc, mar go raibh an oiread sin cainte déanta faoin truailliú a bhí ag teacht ó na feirmeacha seo. Chuaigh sí timpeall an oileáin agus sa deireadh chas sí liomsa agus d'fhiafraigh sí díom: "Cá bhfuil an fheirm éisc anseo? Agus thaispeáin mé amuigh ar an bhfarraige dí é. Ach a deir sí, "is báid iad sin. "Sea," a deir mé féin, "is bád é ach ar an dtaobh eile den scéal is feirm éisc é."

Ag dul ar ais go dtí an scéal, inseoidh mé fáth mo bhuartha don Aire — nuair a tháinig an long go dtí an tír seo ar dtús agus nuair a bhíothas ag iarraidh árachas a chur air dhiúltaigh Rialtas na hÉireann — níl mé a rá an Rialtas per se, ach cibé daoine a bhí ag feidhmiú don Rialtas — bád nó ships a thabhairt ar an árthach sin. Agus bhí sé fíor-thábhachtach dúinne go dtabharfaí bád air. Uimhir a haon, ó thaobh árachais de, dhéanfadh sé difríocht an-mhór sa mhéid árachais a bheadh le híoc againn. Ach mar atá ráite anseo:

On the basis of the analyses and the model tests... reviewed and discussed the conceptual design of the sea-going fish farm. The Norwegian classification society decided it could be operated within the ship class notation +1A1...

Bhí siad sásta bád a thabhairt air, classification a thabhairt dó agus teastas dáiríre a thabhairt air. Ní raibh muidne sásta sa tir seo. Ach an fáth a bhfuil mé á rá, dar liom gur chóir go mbeadh a leithéid sin de rud sonraithe agus luaite sa Bhille seo le bheith cinnte go bhfuil siad clúdaithe go sonrach ann. Sa Bhille arís agus arís eile tá an tAire ag caint faoi bháid atá "cláraithe" nó "registered" sa tír seo. Má tá sé cláraithe, dar liomsa is bád a bhí ann sa chás seo ach níor éirigh linn é a fháil registered. Deir sé anseo:

The Bradán Feasú is a ship and has to be treated like one. It will therefore have to be docked after ten years. Every summer, the hull will also have to be inspected by divers...

Leanann sé ar agaidh mar sin lena chruthú gur long nó bád a bhí ann. Faoin Bhille seo is í an cheist atá agam, an bhféadfadh an tAire, nó na cigirí nó surveyors atá luaite sa Bhille seo, dul ar bhord an árthaigh seo nuair nach bád é agus nuair nach bhfuil aon cheist ann go bhfuil aitheantas tugtha dó mar bhád. Ag an am céanna tá an deis thruaillithe ann chomh maith céanna agus chomh mór is atá ag an mbád mór atá clúdaithe anseo. Tá daoine ag obair ann, tá tú ag caint faoi sheárachas, faoi bhruscar agus faoi shubstaintí nimhneacha a bhíonn in úsáid ann agus an t-árthach áirithe sin tá suas le 5,000 gallún ola inti ag am ar bith agus níl sé leathmhíle amach ón gcé. An pointe atá agam ná nach gá dúinn dul go dtí na farraigí arda, ní gá dúinn dul timpeall an domhain. Tá rud ag an doras againn féin. Bíodh go bhfuil sé ráite ag an Aire: "a ship means a vessel of any type whatsoever", dar liomsa, mura bhfuil classification faighte ní féidir é a bheith ináirithe anseo mar rud gur féidir bád nó ship a thabhairt air. Ar an mbealach seo, nuair a thiocfas an chéad chéim eile, beidh mé ag brú go bhféadfaí é a chur isteach mar leasú beag go mbeadh feirmeoireacht éisc de chinealácha áirithe luaite go sonrach sa Bhille.

Bíodh go bhfuil rialacha láidre le bheith ann, tá iontas agus diómá orm nach bhfuil sé ráite sa Bhille go bhfuil cosc ar longa farraige, longa cogaidh agus báid faoi thoinn. Ní thuigim cén fáth go mbeadh cead acu siúd, is cuma cé as iad, dul faoi fharraigí na tíre seo, nó faoi cheannas na tíre seo, am ar bith a shocraíonn siad. Tá siadsan in ann truailliú a dhéanamh chomh maith le bád ar bith eile. Ach is cosúil go bhfuil glactha go hidirnáisiúnta gur amhlaidh a bheadh, ach is trua liomsa go dtarlaíonn a leithéid agus go nglacaimid leis.

Tá a fhios againn céard atá déanta ag na báid faoi thoinn maidir leis na báid bheaga iascaigh. Tá parlaimint Shasana, fiú amháin, ag iarraidh rud éigin a dhéanamh faoi seo anois. Ní cóir dúine aon chúnamh, a bheag ná a mhór, a thabhairt do na longa cogaidh nó báid faoi thoinn seo a bheadh ag taisteal na bhfarraigí seo againne, ar uachtar nó ar íochtar, agus cead a gceann acu. I bhfo-alt a 11 sa Bhille, faoi bheatha, shláinte, dhochar agus faoi chontúirtí shaol na farraige, tá rialacha agus forálacha stuama. De réir an Bhille seo tá cumhacht ag an Aire go leor rialacha a leagan síos, ach tá faitíos orm gurb é an seanscéal a bheidh ann mar beidh an oiread sin rialacha ann go mbeidh sé fíordheacair go deo iad a chur i dtoll a chéile agus iad a fheidhmiú. Beidh caiteachas mór airgid i gceist má tá grád na gcalafort timpeall na tíre le hardú le freastal ar chuile shórt atá anseo.

An cheist deireanach a bhfuil mé idir dhá chomhairle faoi — agus beidh mé á árdú arís ar Chéim an Choiste — ná an chigireacht a chaithfear a dhéanamh agus céard is cigire ann; céard é an cineál oibre atá leagtha síos do chigire agus cén chaoi a bhféadfadh ball den Gharda Síochána bheith ina chigire? Sin an rud a rith liom le linn dom bheith ag breathnú ar leathanach 14. Cuirtear ar mo shúile dom an méid rialacha a bheadh le comhlíonadh. Mar shampla, i bhfo-alt (2), tá suas le scór rudaí éagsúla le déanamh ag cigire. Dá mba chigire garda agus dá mbeadh air dul amach agus gníomhú dá réir ní bheadh sé oilte é a dhéanamh. Níl aon trácht sa Bhille seo ar oiliúint ar leith maidir le cigireacht sa dóigh is go mbeadh ar a chumas plé leis na deacrachtaí a bhaineann leis an bhfarraige a d'eascródh as feidhmiú fhorálacha an Bhille.

Mar sin, bheinn ag fiosrú cumhacht an Gharda Síochána sa chomhthéacs seo agus cén chaoi a bhféadfadh siad gníomhú mar chigire maidir le cuid de na rialacha seo a chomhlíonadh. Tá speisialtóireacht ag baint le go leor forálacha anseo. Thuigfinn ceart go leor garda ag tabhairt tacaíochta do chigire saintraenáilte agus a thuigeann céard atá ar bun, agus bheadh sé an-chiallmhar a leithéid a bheith ann. Ach maidir le garda bheith i gceannas ó thús deireadh ní fhéadfadh sé feidhmiú de réir na rialacha agus ní bheadh an t-oideachas ná an traenáil aige le dul i ngleic leis na fadhbanna. Mar shampla, de réir ailt 24 — agus deirtear go bhféadfadh sé seo tarlú — b'fhéidir go mbeadh ar chigire dul amach chun long a smachtú agus a bheith freagrach as. Anois, i gcás an chigire sin, ní thuigim cén chaoi a bhféadfadh sé sin a chur i bhfeidhm. B'fhéidir nach dtarlódh sé ach os rud é go bhfuil sé seo sa Bhille b'fhiú an cheist a scrúdú.

Go bunúsach, mar a dúirt mé roimhe seo, is Bille an-mhaith é seo. Tá an-mholadh go deo tuillte ag an Aire as an mBille seo a thabhairt isteach. Tá sé thar am a leithéid a bheith againn agus ní féidir ach maitheas a theacht as. Tá súil agam go rachaidh sé tríd an Seanad anseo agus go mbeimid in ann aontú ar na pointí beaga eile agus an Bille seo a chur ar aghaidh.

I welcome the Tánaiste and Minister for the Marine to the Seanad. He is introducing a very welcome Bill. The Minister rightly says that it is a very timely Bill. Anyone in this country, or indeed in the world, who does not know about the problem of sea pollution has not been watching the results of the war in the Gulf. It brought forcibly home to all of us how serious sea pollution can be. The people in that area will have for a generation to live with the consequences of that very bad sea pollution. To come much nearer home, today outside this building we had a large number of people demonstrating against the building of an incinerator in County Derry, an incinerator which will incinerate waste right beside the sea. The present arrangements are that the company involved has to export toxic waste by sea to Finland.

When one comes to look at the legislation one gets some idea of the whole magnitude of the problem. I am pleased that the Minister has taken a positive initiative in introducing legislation which will go a long way to protect our island. On the introduction of legislation of this kind we have to deal with people who project themselves as having knowledge, and some of them have some knowledge, but very few of them have comprehensive knowledge. Therefore, the Government and the Minister charged with responsibility must be seen to be taking a lead and I am glad that the Minister is to the fore and is taking high ground in this very important area.

There must be very serious dangers of pollution where you have ships in the Irish Sea and in proximity to our coast transporting toxic waste and waste that we are not yet in a position to monitor and to assess the dangers and the consequences should accidents happen. All too often during storms and inclement weather the ships are not adequate in the first instance to carry the type of waste that is being shipped. This can have serious consequences. We have not always been well equipped to monitor the extent of the pollution. This must be a major concern for the Minister. Even after this legislation is implemented the Minister and the Government have a major task in so far as we are a small country with limited resources. How will we police the legislation after we implement it? Those are fairly important considerations. I strongly believe that the monitoring of shipping carrying dangerous substances of a toxic nature is very important. Ships carrying such substances should be registered. As the Bill rightly recognises, they must inform the country in whose waters they are travelling. This is dealing with a major task and I welcome the initiative being taken.

I also recognise the importance of the legislation. Most Irish people have seen films of serious dumping of nuclear waste at sea, and not too far from the Irish Sea either. I do not know if there is anybody in the country at any level, all of the environmentalists and the experts who knows exactly what amount of dumping has taken place in proximity to the Irish Sea. It is important to continue to assess the dumping problem which has been taking place for a very long time.

Sellafield is one of the areas we are capable of monitoring, but to date we have not been very successful in persuading the British of the harmful effects of the pollution from Sellafield. This is one of our major concerns, especially for those of us who are directly in line with Sellafield. There is there an ongoing manmade threat of pollution. We have got to assert ourselves in Europe and to enlist the support of all our friends in Europe to see that that is minimised and ultimately contained and stopped, because it is unfair. The British have got to be told by the European Commissioners in as strong terms as it is possible to do that that pollution is not acceptable to anybody. It might be profitable and it might be convenient, but it is certainly dangerous. I say that without any technical qualifications to assess its danger. But the ordinary individual knows that it is dangerous and knows that it could have serious consequences.

I hope the Minister for the Marine will continue to act in as strong and determined a way as he possibly can because he has the backing of the Irish people. There are many who believe that the Government should be doing more to persuade the British to discontinue Sellafield. I realise that it is a major task. The country has already embarked upon it. The people in Sellafield have an excellent PRO. They invite everybody to come and look at the processing facilities there. They can tell you that it may be harmful and that the people who work there are concerned for their own families. But they will give an excellent account of the performance at Sellafield. However, it is a concern that is not going to go away so far as the Irish people are concerned.

When the Minister handed across the pictures of the consequences of dumping waste, my first thought was that it was a map of the maritime jurisdiction this country might have. I welcome the introduction of the Sea Pollution Bill because it brings to the surface the question of where our jurisdiction at sea starts and finishes. I am not making a joke when I ask if Rockall is included in our responsibility or jurisdiction. With the introduction of the Sea Pollution Bill, it is not an unreasonable request to ask the Minister to reply and to state where our jurisdiction starts and finishes.

In fairness to the Minister, the Senator might remember that the Bill appears to deal solely with pollution from ships and facilities in the harbours. It is a very extensive Bill.

I appreciate that. I have read the Bill, I have listened to the Minister and I am aware of what the Chair is rightly saying.

Acting Chairman

The Chair is trying to be helpful.

You are being helpful. However, as someone who comes from an area not far removed from the territorial waters — as indeed does the Minister — I am prompted to raise the issue. I am sure I am not alarming the Minister. I am sure he is as concerned as I am about the same issue. Perhaps he has to be diplomatic and is not yet ready to give the answer I asked for. Nonetheless, I am free to ask it and I ask it with sincerity.

The Bill refers to the problem of plastic containers. That may not register as very important but I totally agree with the reference in the Bill to the problem created by plastic containers at sea, especially containers that are discarded with substances in them that are dangerous in themselves. This must be a major problem. I hope there is some method of restricting the dumping of plastic containers.

I also ask if it would be possible to monitor, control or do something about discarding nets. I am thinking mainly of monofilament netting. They can be very dangerous, not only as a pollutant but to seafarers themselves. There are miles of discarded monofilament netting all around our coast. I hope we can find some way of controlling the dumping of nets at sea. It is another of the serious problems we have.

I would like to refer to one other matter. It is time that we took a look at our ports and harbours. Do we have to have the unsightly scene in every harbour town of having scrap boats there for perhaps 20 years, old wrecks turned upside down and falling to pieces? We are very concerned about dumped motor cars and other vehicles all over the country but these dumped and discarded vessels do not improve the appearance of our seaside towns and villages. I ask the Minister to look at this area. Perhaps we get so familiar with things that in the end we do not see them.

I could not finish my contribution without making some reference — and I am sure the Minister will understand this — to the Foyle Estuary. It has had its share of problems down the years; it certainly has had its share of pollution and manmade pollution scars. We had clinical bags washed up on beaches and it has never been established how they got there. There was also a substance containing DDT found there, and DDT has not been around for some time. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect the Minister to be in a position to respond to these matters. Nevertheless, we had a report and Greenpeace were called in two years ago to investigate the DDT substance found in the Foyle Estuary. I had hoped Greenpeace would have followed up the matter or at least give their opinion on how in the first instance DDT got into the Foyle Estuary. It is a question that has never been answered and one that has concerned the people who use the Foyle.

The Bill is very timely, it is very useful and I would wish the Minister for the Marine success with it. I have a lot of confidence in his ability to effectively police the Bill when it is passed. I would venture to say that that will be the most difficult and most important part of it. I welcome the Bill and wish it success.

At the outset, may I say I am pleased to see the Minister for the Marine in the House. It is certainly a long time since he has been here, if today is not his first appearance in this House during this term of the Seanad.

In relation to the Bill, I think the title of the Bill, namely, the Sea Pollution Bill is somewhat extravagant and grandiose. It appears to deal with the implementation of the provisions of an international convention. Certainly, these provisions are very restrictive and I would have thought there is a good deal more to the whole idea of sea pollution beyond what is contained in the Bill. Nonetheless, the Bill is welcome. It is welcome because it will help to protect the sea around us which of course is a wonderful resource and indeed one that has been very seriously underutilised in this country for very many years. It is good to see legislation now being introduced that will help to preserve that resource and protect it so that in years to come it can be exploited for the benefit of all the people.

My main criticisms in relation to this Bill would be those matters which in a way are conspicuous by their absence. I am disappointed the Bill does not deal with the question of nuclear dumping and indeed the whole problems which arise because of Sellafield. I undersand they are somewhat outside the provisions of the international convention but, at the same time, I would have thought they are very much within the scope of what a Sea Pollution Bill should be. Again, I emphasise my concern about the nature of the title of this Bill which I think is misleading. I also think a Bill with a title such as this misses a considerable opportunity to deal with matters and issues which relate to the dumping of nuclear material into the Irish Sea from the Sellafield processing plant.

I am also disappointed the Bill excludes from its terms of reference anything which deals with naval vessels, military craft and so on. Again, it is a pity that these matters are not covered in this Bill. Certainly, the presence of nuclear armed ships in Irish waters is a matter of great concern to many people in this country and the manner in which we deal with this matter is certainly disingenuous. This Bill would have provided us with a means of addressing that problem if we sought to exploit it fully. The public are not at all reassured by the present procedures which in effect means that when vessels come here that are armed with nuclear weapons and various nuclear materials, we simply turn the blind eye to them and pretend they do not exist. That is a matter of great concern to many people and indeed it is a matter of great concern that the Government continue to fail to address this question.

At a more specific level I am somewhat concerned about the requirements which the Bill places on harbours to have the capacity to deal with oily wastes and residues. I wonder if many harbours have the capacity to provide the resources and the equipment, needed to deal with the processing of these residues of oily materials? I would think there would be quite a lot of expense required to improve the facilities and resources of many harbours and if this Bill places an obligation on them to install the necessary equipment then that is going to create very serious problems in the context of the resources available to them.

I share the concern expressed by other speakers in relation to the problems which will arise in the enforcement of the provisions of this Bill. I wonder if we have the capacity to adequately enforce them and I would welcome hearing the Minister's views on that. Indeed, I would welcome hearing from the Minister if he has any proposals to increase our capacity in relation to the resources that are available to the Navy and to the other agencies within the ambit of his Department who will be concerned with the enforcement of the provisions of the Bill.

Finally, I must confess to being a little bit concerned about the wide nature of the definition of craft and ships and so on. It seems from a very brief perusal of the Bill that pretty well everything that floats in the seas comes within the definition of craft. I wonder if it is possible for somebody who goes out boating on a Sunday afternoon and who throws the cellophane wrapper of their sandwiches into the sea to be liable to be prosecuted up to a maximum fine of £1,000 or indeed up to a level of £10 million should someone in the Attorney General's office get a trifle carried away? I would be interested in hearing from the Minister on that point.

I would also be interested to hear from the Minister what would be the position, let us say, in relation to lifeboats and life craft that are loaned from ships and where it may be necessary to dump material into the sea to facilitate the saving of life. I accept that these are fairly minor technical points but I would be glad if the Minister would clarify the situation in relation to them.

I welcome the provisions of the Bill although I find the title a trifle extravagant and grandiose.

I welcome the Minister and the Bill which seeks to ratify certain international conventions and legislation throughout Europe. I am from the south-west coast and live in Bantry Bay which has been the scene of many problems. Bantry Bay is the second most accessible bay in the world from the point of view of shipping safety, depth of sea, carriage, etc.

The first in beauty.

I accept that. The provisions in the Bill are timely and must be given broad support. The busiest shipping lanes in Europe pass off the south-west coast of Cork and Kerry. We have had a plethora of problems in the area and I hope that once this Bill becomes law it will eliminate them.

In the mid-eighties there were two major oil spills in Bantry Bay. Luckily enough Gulf Oil footed the bill. With the co-operation of the Department and Cork County Council at that time successful clean-up operations were put in place. No adverse effects were encountered with regard to fishing either in the rich herring beds in Gerahies or in prawn fishing in Bantry Bay. There was a scare at the time that maybe some of the pollutants would go to the bottom of the sea and affect the beds. There has been no scientific or other evidence that this occurred.

Subsequent to that we had unfortunate developments along our coastline which I hope this Bill will eliminate. The Yarrawonga went down off the beautiful Slea Head peninsula. That wreck came ashore and was battered on the rocks. The wreck is still there, occupying a beautiful beach. We must prohibit this. Our tourist industry is vital to the economy. We have a beautiful coast and must maintain it.

In the second most important fishing port in Ireland, Castletownbere, in the middle of the harbour between Bere Island and the mainland, the wreck of the Bardini Reefer is sticking up. It has been there for nine years. When that disaster happened another Government were in power but nothing was done. This vessel was abandoned in the inner harbour and from my information it was more or less scuttled. There was no insurance and no company has picked up the bill. Perhaps the Minister might comment on this. The Minister mentioned the lame ducks off our coastline. It is regrettable that this vessel still remains and nothing has been done to shift it. Perhaps the Minister can throw some light on this. Can this vessel be moved to ensure the safety of the people coming to and from Bere Island and the safety of the fishermen using this most valuable harbour? At this time of year we will have a large number of ships coming in to purchase herring and mackerel. This is most welcome because they contribute to the economy of the port and of the area.

We had the saga of the infamous Kowloon Bridge which because of severe storms, sheltered in Bantry Bay. Luckily for us in Bantry Bay the ship left and was heading for another destination but somewhere off Fastnet Rock the crew were taken off and the vessel drifted aimlessly with its engines running. We hoped it would miss the west Cork coast but if it missed that it would probably end up in Waterford. It struck Stags Head and lodged there. It had a cargo of metal and it is now occupying one of the richest herring beds off our coastline. This morning I was speaking to the skipper of a trawler who said that apart from the fact that it is dangerous to trawl in that area because of the submerged huge vessel the contents have caused damage to the rich herring bed. This is regrettable. At the time because of adverse weather conditions little could be done. Efforts were made to try to pull the huge cargo vessel off the rocks but they failed. Subsequently when there was a discharge of oil from the tanks the council and the Department did an excellent job. It cost the State in the region of £1 million to offset the detrimental effects of the Kowloon Bridge. I am not sure but as far as I am concerned the tab was never picked up and the State carries the loss.

The Tribulus oil tanker limped into Bantry Bay. This vessel, owned by Shell, was severely damaged and had a large hole in its side. These were the problems we had off the south-west coastline. This was an emergency. Lives were at risk and it was right and proper that the vessel was allowed into Bantry Bay and given shelter. I compliment the Minister and his officials in the Department of the Marine for the excellent way in which they immediately set about trying to ensure, firstly, that this vessel would not pollute the bay and, secondly, that it could be repaired. It lay in the bay for several months and the Department of the Marine — the Minister visited the stricken Tribulus— did an excellent job. The amount of pollution was minimal. It indicates that as time goes by we are improving.

We must ensure the safety of seamen and as a humanitarian nation give shelter to stricken vessels. We must also ensure as far as possible that damage is not done to our coastline. Regrettably, over the last ten years in particular, the south-west coast has become a graveyard for stricken vessels and apart from the successful Tribulus operation we have a bad record in this area.

I may seem parochial but Bantry is a beautiful bay. We have the Roan Carrig lighthouse and an excellent shipping lane serving the Whiddy Island terminal. Two years ago a huge Spanish trawler foundered and went on the rocks. It lay there not far away from the Bardi Reefer. Visitors touring West Cork, the beautiful Beara Penninsula, Goats Path, or other scenic routes should not be subjected to having mangled wrecks of steel thrown upon our shores or rocks.

The Minister referred to a compulsory vessel reporting and notification system for all ships entering Irish waters. He said such a system is currently in force in respect of fishing trawlers registered in Spain and Portugal. I urge the Minister to consider seriously putting in place such a system. It may be difficult to operate and I know that other Senators have rightly adverted to the fact that our harbour authorities should have the power, finance and resources to deal with these problems. The nettle should be grasped and I hope the Minister in his reply will dwell on this.

There should be stricter controls on vessels coming into our waters particularly on huge bulk carriers carrying oil and, as in the case of the Kowloon Bridge, ore. If we had a monitoring system perhaps we could prevent a situation where we would end up with a wreck. In some instances we are dealing with Third World countries and lame ducks where no insurance company picks up the tab. Maybe there should be some method whereby any ship of the magnitude of bulk carriers entering Irish waters should have insurance and in the event of a tragedy the Department and the county council could get the insurance company to pick up the tab. This is a matter which I hope the Department will take on board seriously.

As regards the dumping of plastic bags, plastic bottles, refuse and rubbish by ships I was heartened last year when eight or nine school children in second class in my home town of Bantry wrote to me asking how I, as a public representative, could help mammals along our sea coast such as seals, otters and so on and the fish stocks which were beng damaged by these materials. At that stage I wrote to the children explaining that this Bill was on the cards and hopefully would be introduced. It is very heartening to see that teachers in those schools and pupils at that age have an awareness of and a very positive approach to pollution.

I take issue with my colleague, Senator Upton, who asked what do you do if somebody out for a Sunday evening cruise in a punt or a little pleasure craft throws out a plastic bag of rubbish. These people should be taken to task. I have an 18-foot pleasure cruiser and my children, the oldest is 11 years of age, are very careful to ensure that any rubbish, whether it is a coke bottle, a plastic bottle, a plastic bag or orange skins are brought ashore and put in the bin. That is the type of awareness we must encourage.

Senator Upton's comment that you fine somebody £1,000 for doing this or, in the case of an indictable offence, impose a prison sentence is not realistic. If somebody who is caught in the act is brought into the district court and fined maybe £20 or £30 he or she would not do it a second time. There is no need to put the gun to their heads. The Minister has clearly outlined that these provisions are appropriate and necessary. It is a problem that we must tackle. It is utterly crude of us to speak about foreign vessels dumping rubbish, etc., if we cannot ensure that this sort of pollution, whether by children or fishermen off trawlers or halfdeckers, is stopped. If we do not respect our own waters it is very hard for us to expect others to do so. The provision whereby anybody caught polluting our waters can be brought to task is most desirable and welcome.

Central to this is the question of our environment. I spoke on the Environmental Protection Agency Bill on this issue because, apart from anything else, there is now a very solid and well-founded public interest in our environment. This Bill consolidates the fact that the Legislature are serious about curbing pollution from whatever source. That is vitally important.

As I mentioned earlier, the tourist industry is one of our fastest growing and most important industries. Before the end of this decade it is likely to outstrip the agricultural industry and it will probably be the most important industry in the State. It is vitally important that the relatively unspoiled beauty of our coastline, particularly in southern Ireland, in Cork and Kerry, remains unspoilt. I am not sure if the provisions of this Bill enable the Minister to deal with he problem of the Yarrawonga and other wrecks that are creating havoc off our coastline. I may be somewhat parochial but these issues are vitally important having regard to the fact that the south-west coastline is on the main shipping lane. If a problem arises vessels head for Bantry Bay. We have had a couple of near disasters. I shudder to think of the consequences if the Kowloon Bridge actually foundered in Bantry Bay. We escaped from that disaster.

The provisions of this Bill are welcome. Since the incident involving the Tribulus there is a greater awareness in the Department of the Marine. County councils are better prepared for these eventualities and are able to move in day or night. When the Tribulus came in they were on stand-by and Department of the Marine officials were there on a 24-hour basis. I was delighted with this. Were it not for that type of immediate response by the Department and the county council under the auspices of the Minister the Tribulus could have foundered. It was touch and go for a number of days and eventually it was repaired. It left the bay and little or no damage was done. This is the type of development I wish to see.

This Bill will improve the situation regarding pollution off our coastline and along our shores. That must be welcomed. The south-west has been hardest hit. I trust the provisions of the Bill will be welcomed and received positively by this House and that this legislation will become law in the very near future. I urge the Minister to discharge the responsibilities we are talking about when the Bill becomes law. Have we the financial resources to deal with these problems? That is a serious question. We are all aware, for example of the difficulty of monitoring illegal fishing off our coast. In this instance there are serious questions from an environmental and tourist point of view. Local authorities, particularly harbour boards, must be prepared and must be given the financial resources to monitor this because disasters and casualties can be prevented. If the Bill when it becomes law, hopefully in the very near future, is fully implemented I hope whatever Government will be in power will take a realistic and positive approach to this so that by the end of this decade the problems we have encountered off our coastline will be diminished if not totally eliminated.

I welcome the Minister and the Bill. As an island nation, it is of utmost importance to us. We are very vulnerable when you think in terms of the tiny size of Ireland on the edge of the Atlantic. Our nearest neighbours are major continents.

Senator O'Donovan mentioned the Kowloon Bridge accident. It is interesting that it was just five years ago, on 24 November that our minds were concentrated for the first time on the damage caused by such accidents. Luckily the damage was not horrendous in what the Senator says is the most beautiful spot in Ireland. I suggest that other areas on the west coast might be just as beautiful but the Kowloon Bridge incident dominated the headlines of newspapers for eight months. It was an important event for us and it is almost a word in the dictionary now at this stage. Kowloon Bridge to an Irish person, particularly in Cork and Kerry means oil spillage, pollution.

The Departments of the Environment and the Marine received the highest praise for the decisive way in which the clean-up was tackled. It was a first for us and served as a model for future disasters. The operation was carried out efficiently but the issues that emerged from the debate at that time related to the control of the movement of hazardous material in the country. It was suggested that local authorities should be informed daily when such materials are passing through our cities and towns. That was an interesting observation. Reading through the Bill we tend to think of hazardous wastes from ships as such but if hazardous wastes are going into our rivers obviously at some stage they will eventually emerge into our coastal waters. I wonder whether local authorities are informed daily when hazardous materials are passing through our towns and cities? I doubt very much if they are. It is something that should be followed up in consultation with the Department of the Environment. I would be interested to know if that is the situation and if such information is passed to local authorities.

Another issue raised at that time was river and lake pollution. It was suggested that a task force be established in each county comprising all relavant interests groups — anglers, farming, tourist and business interests. I know the Environmental Protection Agency has addressed many of these issues but I am very concerned as a member of a local authority that these measures be adopted and that resources be given both in human and financial terms to local authorities to ensure that they can play the part they are expected to play in monitoring pollution. It was also suggested at that time that the local authorities would publish a yearly report of the various outbreaks of pollution in their areas. I see that the Bill introduces heavy penalties for pollution.

There was reference to a programme of education. Many Senators referred to the school posters in relation to the dangers of plastic and, at the end of the day, the control of pollution. We are talking today not just of heavy pollution from ships but pollution on our beaches. This must be tackled at an early age and it should be ongoing. The control of pollution effectively is in the hands of young people.

The Minister referred to the Yarrawonga in 1989 and the Tribulus that limped into Bantry Bay leaking heavy fuel in April 1991, and I was in the Ballyvaughan area at the time and I witnessed the problems. The loss required Ministerial intervention and the operation was well conducted. Praise was heaped on the Minister and the various people involved at that time. What costs were incurred? They must have been enormous particularly if we go back to the Kowloon Bridge. Do we recoup moneys from the EC?

Senator Ó Foighil referred to the interpretation of ship, when is a ship not a ship. He produced documents showing the use of the word "barge" in one case, then it was referred to as a ship and the same vessel was referred to as a cage. Who defines the word "ship". I know it is defined as meaning a vessel of any type operating in the marine environment. Hydrofoil boats, air-cushion vehicles, submersibles, floating craft and fixed or floating platforms were mentioned. Maybe there could be a further development of state of the art ships that may be termed some other more sophisticated name and may not be technically included in the definition. I do not know but it is something that could be looked at.

There is reference to the materials used in ship construction. It is not so much very old vessels that went aground but smaller, newer vessels. The Atlantic is an extraordinary ocean with enormous powers and we never know when those powers will be destructive. There is also a great deal of inclement weather. I wonder whether there is a need for an examination of the international construction of ships and their durability? Have we the expertise in the Department of the Marine? Has the Minister the financial resources to bring in outside expertise?

Section 10 (1) (a) refers to oil and noxious liquid substance. I am concerned, as are many other speakers, about nuclear effluent particularly with the ongoing Sellafield controversy. Part I (4) deals with the exemption of warships being used by the Government. This obviously causes concern. As regards the prevention of nuclear powered ships entering our waters we do not have the manpower or monitoring equipment to detect such vessels.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 6.30 p.m.