Dáil Éireann - Volume 311 - 06 February, 1979

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fishing Ground Survey.

15. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry the extent of the survey of fishing ground being carried [388] out by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, and if any money is forthcoming for this project from the EEC.

Mr. Lenihan: During 1978 An Bord Iascaigh Mhara continued their on-going programme aimed at locating and charting new fishing grounds around the coast. Extensive grounds suitable for fishing but not at present exploited by Irish vessels were located in the south-west, west, north-west and north coasts and charts of these areas have been distributed to fishermen. It is proposed to continue the survey programme this year on the south-east coast and in the Irish Sea. No financial assistance is available from the EEC for this purpose.

Mr. Quinn: To what extent is the survey being carried out and what resources are available to BIM in terms of vessels and personnel with which to carry out the survey?

Mr. Lenihan: BIM informed me that they have ample resources for that purpose. It is an area in which they can perform a practical function.

Mr. Quinn: How many ships and vessels are available for the survey?

Mr. Lenihan: It is flexible. They have about ten at present. It is financed from BIM's grant-in-aid for administration and development. That is the bulk grant for BIM's development programme so they can allocate as much money as they like for that purpose.

Mr. Deasy: What distance from the coast does the survey extend?

Mr. Lenihan: In some cases it goes beyond 50 miles, particularly in regard to the blue whiting investigation which is taking place at present. This is an important species lying between 50 and 200 miles off the north-west and western coast.

Mr. Bruton: How long will it take to survey all the areas concerned?

Mr. Lenihan: It is an on-going thing.

[389] Mr. Bruton: How long will it take at the present level to survey all the areas concerned?

Mr. Lenihan: It is an on-going matter which, unlike an assembly line, will not reach finality. Fish being what they are, species vary and situations vary. Information in regard to the finding of new stocks is regularly communicated to the fishermen. Sometimes herring stocks are located where it was thought there were no herring.

Mr. Bruton: If the resources available for the survey were doubled, could we anticipate a significant increase in the number of fishing grounds being discovered? If the resources have not been doubled, why have they not been doubled?

Mr. Lenihan: The resources have been more than doubled this year because we are building a new research vessel. We have received plans of a prototype from Norway. We hope to spend £1½ million on the work which will commence this year, hopefully at Verolme in Cork. That work should be completed within 18 months at a total cost of £3 million to £4 million.

Mr. Quinn: The Minister indicated that there were ten vessels involved in the survey. He is now suggesting that the building of one extra ship will double the effort.

Mr. Lenihan: The Deputy does not understand this matter. From time to time we use fishermen and their boats for exploratory work. I am talking about a major exploratory vessel which will cost about £4 million.

Mr. Quinn: Am I right in assuming that one full-time vessel is equivalent to the effect of ten part-time vessels?

Mr. Lenihan: That is correct.

Mr. Quinn: So we have one full-time vessel at the moment and we are going to have two.

Mr. Bruton: Will the other ten vessels continue to be employed?

[390] Mr. Lenihan: Yes. We shall continue to use smaller vessels for exploratory work. The new boat will have the latest research equipment.

Mr. Begley: How many boats are being used in active research at the moment?

Mr. Lenihan: I do not know.