Dáil Éireann - Volume 311 - 06 February, 1979

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Spawning Sea Fish.

17. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry if he will introduce close seasons to protect spawning sea fish; and the knowledge, if any, which his Department have in this matter.

Mr. Lenihan: It is not the normal practice to protect stocks of spawning sea fish by means of closed seasons. Different varieties of sea fish spawn at different periods of the year and even for stocks of the same variety the spawning [392] period can vary around the coast. A closed season is not therefore practical in mixed fisheries such as ours.

From a biological point of view the management and conservation of sea-fish stocks are best achieved by the observance of a scientifically calculated total allowable catch and the enforcement of minimum size limits for fish and nets.

Mr. Deasy: I am aware that there is not a close season for various species but I do believe that there should be a close season. Surely the Minister will agree that it is not good business to catch spawning fish, which is being done without restriction? Why does not the Minister's Department designate spawning areas as closed areas for specific months of the year?

Mr. Lenihan: The reason is that we have a mixed fishery around the coast.

Mr. Deasy: I agree that some areas are mixed.

Mr. Lenihan: This matter has been considered by scientists who say that the best way to deal with the matter is to enforce size limits in regard to fish and nets. That would require more staff and we are recruiting for that purpose.

Mr. Bruton: Is the Minister aware of any other countries in which close seasons have been introduced for spawning fish at sea and does he have legislative authority to introduce a close season?

Mr. Lenihan: I can do it all right but other countries do not do it. We participate in all the international scientific organisations and that information is available to us. Therefore, the conservation measures that we take are in accordance with conservation measures being taken throughout the world. There is a common pool of knowledge in this area.

Mr. Bruton: And no country does this at all?

Mr. Lenihan: No.