Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Ceisteanna (936, 937)

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

1011 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the weight of herring catch that can be landed at a non-designated fishing port; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2270/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources)

Under EU regulations, landings of pelagic species (e.g. herring, mackerel, horse mackerel) in excess of 10 tonnes may only be permitted into designated ports. Landing restrictions for quantities below this amount are subject to national rules whereby such landings, other than by-catches, must also be into designated ports.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

1012 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the fact that small fishing boats in the south east are being excluded from fishing their herring quota due to navigating difficulties when carrying herring catches at night and being allowed to land their catches at designated ports only and that same can result in them losing their licences (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2271/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The designation of ports for landing of pelagic species (herring, mackerel, etc.) is necessary in order to satisfy EU requirements and also for the purpose of appropriate control of landings.

Ireland's list of designated ports for the Celtic Sea Herring fishery was revised in late 2006 to include Baltimore and Dunmore East, bringing the total number of designated ports around our coastline to nine. Furthermore, in view of the adverse weather conditions in recent weeks and the tragic events off the south-east coast, I have instructed that Duncannon be designated to receive landings of herring of under 10 tonnes from vessels under 50 feet in length.

All vessels under 65 feet in registered length in the polyvalent segment are allowed to participate in the Celtic Sea Herring fishery. Vessels are required to book into the fishery at a stipulated time in advance of the fishing period, and vessels booked in are given an allocation of quota for that fishing period. A vessel booking in will not normally be refused an allocation because of previously unused allocations; at the same time the objective of the booking-in system is to ensure that vessels that can and will participate successfully in the fishery are allocated a viable quota.

I would point out that it is a matter ultimately for the master of each individual vessel to determine the type of fishing operation that is appropriate having regard to the capability of the vessel and the operational and navigational conditions it will have to contend with in order to participate in any given fishery. At the same time, I am satisfied that, regardless of the legal framework governing the landings of fish, whether demersal or pelagic, there are no circumstances where the control authorities would give precedence to their regulatory responsibilities over consideration for the safety of a fishing vessel or its crew.