Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Ceisteanna (398, 399, 400, 401, 402)

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

398. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the analysis that has been carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland to establish the viability of the proposed interpretative centre at Cong Salmon Hatchery; if a feasibility study has been carried out; and the consideration that was given to the already proposed Ballina Salmon Life Centre, plans for which are well advanced and which is shovel ready; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5388/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

399. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the estimated cost of the proposed interpretative centre at the Cong Salmon Hatchery; the way Inland Fisheries Ireland proposes to fund same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5390/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

400. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way the operational costs of the proposed interpretative centre at Cong Salmon Hatchery will be funded once it is operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5391/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

401. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the board of Inland Fisheries Ireland ratified the plan to open an interpretative centre at the Cong Salmon Hatchery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5392/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

402. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on whether it is feasible that there could be two fisheries-based interpretative visitor centres in County Mayo or in the country considering Inland Fisheries Ireland involvement in such plans for a National Salmon Life Centre for Ballina and IFI's most recent plans for the development of an interpretative centre at the Cong Salmon Hatchery. [5426/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Question Nos 398 to 402, inclusive, together.

I am advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that there is no proposal to establish an interpretative centre at Cong, Co Mayo. IFI owns and operates a fish hatchery located in the centre of Cong, and is currently carrying out a review of hatchery operations generally with a view to rationalising and improving efficiency and cost effectiveness in this operational issue. The primary focus of the proposal is business efficiency, centred on examining the feasibility of using existing capacity at Cong to yield efficiencies and cost savings in line with the Government's reform agenda.

In developing rationalisation plans for its core business, IFI is keenly aware of the existing educational value of the Cong operation in facilitating requests for school visits to a working hatchery. I am advised that as a modest element of the strategic operational review, IFI is examining possibilities to improve the visitor experience within the Cong facilities. IFI is anxious, that in the context of business improvements, they should not lose sight of the educational and community benefits of the existing Cong facilities which are consistent with the organisation’s statutory role to promote all species in the inland fisheries resource.

In particular consideration has been given to increasing understanding and awareness of the rare ferox trout which is unique to Cong. The area is a vital link in the life cycle of this rare, separate and ancient species that originates in Cong, and has existed in Lough Corrib since the ice age.

IFI is also cognisant and supportive of the existing proposal in Ballina for the development of a Salmon Life Centre, which is being led by the local Town Council. The feasibility study in relation to this proposed development was undertaken by Tourism Development International and was completed in November 2008. I understand that the Local Authority led proposals could entail a very significant investment should the estimated €6m to build the facility be secured for this stand-alone development proposal.

IFI's commitment to Ballina and the importance of the River Moy to the salmon species and to inland fisheries is well recognised as demonstrated by the investment of over €1m by IFI in the restoration and development of the iconic salmon weir in the centre of the town.

I have undertaken to meet with the Deputy and the Chief Executive Officer of IFI to discuss the issues she has raised.