Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ceisteanna (27)

Noel Rock


27. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to support the expansion of angling across communities, in particular among younger persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7250/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Communications)

I wish the Minister and the Minister of State a happy Valentine's Day. I ask the Minister his plans to support the expansion of angling across communities, in particular among younger persons. I would appreciate it if he made a statement on the matter. As he knows, angling is of vital importance to a great many young people and is a great pastime which provides enjoyment for younger people.

I thank the Deputy for tabling this question. The national strategy for angling development, NSAD, devised by Inland Fisheries Ireland, IFI, is the first comprehensive national framework for the development of Ireland’s angling resource. It aims to increase the economic contribution of angling from €836 million to €932 million annually, an increase of €96 million. It also aims to increase the number of jobs to over 12,800. Angling and the jobs it supports are of critical importance to the economy.

In December I announced funding of €2.2 million under the NSAD. This funding is facilitating 114 development projects across 23 counties nationwide which are expected to be delivered in 2018. I propose to circulate a full list of the projects awarded funding in the December round. The three strategic objectives of the NSAD are making angling accessible and attractive through the provision of information, infrastructure and support, tourism development through the promotion of the angling resource and recognition of angling as a key leisure and recreational pursuit.

In 2017 IFI also provided funding support for 79 projects under its angling sponsorship scheme. The initiatives which are supported by the scheme include large international competitions which showcase Ireland’s angling; novice angler events and training courses which increase participation; information to promote fisheries awareness, conservation and protection; funding of transport hire for participants to facilitate attendance at novice angler events; and angling teams representing Ireland at international events.

Last month, Inland Fisheries Ireland invited applications for this year’s sponsorship scheme. The applications are currently being considered. In addition to funding, IFI also provides logistical and personnel supports for community run angling competitions in areas such as bio-security and competition management.

Inland Fisheries Ireland also supports other initiatives aimed specifically at young people. The Something Fishy education programme is aimed at fifth and sixth class primary school students and teachers. Last year, 113 schools participated involving input from some 3,500 children.

The Dublin Angling Initiative is a programme for youth and novice angling run by IFI with the help of volunteers. IFI also supports 17 angling hubs for Youth Development Ireland nationwide.

I thank the Minister of State for his response. It is to be welcomed that we have the first comprehensive framework in this regard and that we have the jobs and support to the economy that accompanies such a comprehensive framework and investment.

The Minister of State mentioned that a full list of projects could be circulated. I would appreciate it if that could be sent to my office. On a local note, I note that Inland Fisheries Ireland, IFI, has agreed a number of things with the Tolka Trout Anglers, for instance that it will stock fish in the Tolka after an unfortunate incident which depleted that river. It is also going to support club competitions and other community initiatives along the stretch of the river through Finglas and will support a call for the mapping of pipes. This type of project and initiative is not possible without a plan and without full and comprehensive funding in place. The Minister of State's backing for this sector is most appreciated.

Deputy Rock is correct. There are a number of initiatives and I will send the full list to him. There are initiatives planned for the Royal Canal and Grand Canal in Dublin and the expansion of the summer youth angling programme for the Fingal youth resource centre. There are other projects for the Dublin Trout Anglers' Association in terms of marketing and promotional events.

There were unfortunate pollution events and fish kills in the Tolka River in recent years. It is a particularly vulnerable river and is monitored by the IFI. There was such an event in 2015 and a more minor event in 2017 that has resulted in a number of initiatives that have been agreed, including that the IFI will stock fish in the Tolka. This is likely to happen in March this year, ahead of the fishing season. It will also support a club competition and other community initiatives and has supported the call for the mapping of the pipes that caused the pollution incidents in the Tolka. It is a hugely important river and runs through some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. This is an alternative activity for many young people to take up.

I thank the Tolka Trout Anglers and the Tolka River Environmental Alliance for their stellar work on this issue. I also thank the Minister of State and the various organisations, including the IFI, for interacting with those groups on such a thorough basis. I had met previously with the groups to discuss this matter and from talking to them I can see how much this river means to them and the respective clubs in the area. There is a great opportunity, with the support of the Minister, the clubs involved and the relevant agencies, to make a real difference here and perhaps investigate developing a youth angling venue in this part of the world, perhaps not dissimilar to the Darndale lake, while at the same time rebuilding the river, which would at least give the clubs there some degree of certainty into the future. What the Minister of State has outlined is perhaps the first step in that plan and it is very much welcomed and appreciated. We appreciate the Minister of State's dedication.

I thank Deputy Rock for his interest in this particular river and the potential that it holds for young people throughout his wider constituency. I believe there is an opportunity, with the support of the Government and the support of the Deputy and other colleagues, for the IFI, the clubs involved and the local authority and other relevant agencies - perhaps the relevant education and training board - to make a real difference here and perhaps investigate developing a youth angling venue, similar to the Darndale lake or Cork park, while at the same time rebuilding this vital community resource. This would provide some degree of certainty and would be a wonderful recreational resource in the area. I certainly welcome the Deputy's interest in and engagement with the local clubs and I will certainly provide any assistance I can to the IFI.