Dáil Éireann - Volume 333 - 24 March, 1982

Sea Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, 1981: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time”.

Mr. Gallagher (Donegal South-West): When we resumed after lunch I was speaking regarding mackerel vis-à-vis the freezer ships. These freezer ships are at present an integral part of our fisheries. However, like all other Irishmen and all other public representatives, I would like to think that we could process all fish ashore, but my costings indicate that if we were to provide sufficient moneys to freeze all of these mackerel ashore it would be necessary to provide £150 million and thereafter we would have the problem of marketing and disposing of these mackerel.

I would add that these freezing facilities would be obsolete for six or seven months of the year and in view of the substantial moneys required I believe it would be necessary to allow these freezer vessels to continue operating off our coast provided this would not be detrimental to the industry ashore. The Minister and the Department should ensure [372] that this would not affect employment in our shore-based plants. We should certainly allow these freezer ships to operate but not at the expense of employment for our young people. Fortunately this does not arise at present because the supply of fish is greater than the demand and there are sufficient fish for our own factories. We must ensure at all times the supply of fish to the factories before we consider putting any fish aboad the East European factory ships.

I appreciate that under EEC regulations these factory ships can use their own labour force but it is vitally important that we should consider the question of licensing these ships and examine the feasibility of having 50 per cent of the labour force recruited locally, whether at Killybegs, Burtonport, Rathmullan, Castletownbere, Galway or Dunmore East. The Minister for Fisheries in co-operation with the Minister for Labour should study the legalities of the situation to see if the use of local labour would be possible.

I have no doubt that proper management methods will ensure the continuation of our mackerel fisheries. If we catch only the proper tonnage each year we can sustain our fisheries over coming decades and centuries.

I am quite certain that the processors will respond as they have done in the past by increasing their freezing facilities and I congratulate them for their response to the challenge and for taking a calculated risk in providing extra facilities during an uncertain time in the industry.

I regret having to say that Irish boat yards are not competitive. This is not a reflection on them but is due to the fact that other such enterprises, particularly the Dutch boatyards, are being subsidised by their Governments, whether this is right or wrong under the Treaty of Rome. This makes it impossible for our boatyards to be competitive. I say without fear of contradiction that the standard of boats produced in Irish yards, whether of wooden or steel construction, is equal to if not better than any in Europe. Our boatyards would not be experiencing problems were it not for unfair competition. Our biggest competitors [373] are the Dutch who are getting a subsidy of 16 per cent and I question whether this is fair competition in the context of the EEC. Someone suggested earlier that there should not be grants for the sake of grants or handouts for the sake of keeping the places open, but I do not believe any of our boatyards are begging. They do, however, require assistance either from the Minister, BIM or the IDA. I would ask the Minister to meet these people and discuss the necessary measures to ensure the future of our boatyards. Irish boatyards are turning out boats second to none.

I wish to refer to the moratorium on or freezing of arrears due on boats. This was initiated by Fianna Fail before they left office and I hope it will be continued by them now with the interests of the industry and the west at heart. This did not seem to exist during the months when the Coalition were in power when we felt there was an extension of the Pale but we were left outside. This moratorium, together with the interest subsidy, ensures that no interest is payable for two years but it is necessary to continue with the standard repayment. I would ask that this be reviewed in about a year's time in the light of circumstances then prevailing. Owners of boats ranging between 50 feet and 80 feet are experiencing difficulties at present. I spoke earlier of the change from trawling to seining and trawling and this matter needs consideration.

The 10 per cent salmon levy is passed on by the processor to the Department of Fisheries but it is paid indirectly by the fishermen. I would ask the Minister to examine this matter because the income from this levy is not much greater than the administrative cost of the scheme, yet the levy causes much hardship to small salmon fishermen in Burtonport, Arranmore Island, Tory Island, Inishbofin Island and other places along the coast. The Minister might consider rescinding the order whereby they must pay a levy of 10 per cent. I appreciate that it is necessary to have some income but there may be other ways of doing it. I do not believe this is the way to do it because at [374] a later stage it can create unfair competition.

Some of the smaller fishermen with half-deckers who are not fortunate enough to obtain favourable grants like those for the larger boats, engage in lobster fishing. The stocks of lobster are declining. The half-deckers which depend on lobster fishing immediately after the salmon season are suffering because of this. I believe that if the scientists could submit an up to date report the fishermen would respond to any recommendations made by them. They know it would be in their interests if the scientists could establish the reason for the decline in lobster stocks. As well as a drop in the quantities landed there is a drop in the price of lobsters to the fishermen. This is as a result of imports from third countries. Those imports of lobsters from third countries should be looked into. I believe we can make a case to the EEC to have the quantities being imported from Canada into Europe reduced.

It was felt some years ago that sprat fishing would be a substitute for the 80-foot boats until herring stocks built up. We commenced landing sprat at Dunmore East. They then moved on to Cobh and Castletownbere and then to Galway. It was felt that some of the smaller fishermen had a good future because of this but, unfortunately, last year there were no sprat landings along our coasts. Many fishermen committed themselves to buying nets suitable for fishing sprat. Some of those people had spoken to the IDA and Údarás na Gaeltachta about the erection of canning factories. If there were observers aboard the foreign boats fishing off our coasts who fed the information collected to the Department or to the EEC we could establish where sprat are. I believe they are along our coasts but because we do not have enough research vessels available it is difficult to pinpoint them.

Sprat fishing cannot take place right through the year. It can only take place during the winter season while they are feeding. When sprat are feeding they must be taken in to the bays in the same way as they are taken into the fiords in [375] Norway to allow them to empty themselves. It is important that research is done so that we can pinpoint the sprat grounds during the months of October to February.

With regard to harbour development we must do everything possible to develop all the harbours along our coasts. The large boats, which are landing practically all the mackerel at the moment, can land in only one port 24 hours of the day, that is the port of Rathmullen. They can land at Killybegs most of the day but sometimes they cannot land because of the tide. That harbour has been dredged because of the programme initiated by Fianna Fáil. The work will be finished shortly and fishermen will have access to Killybegs harbour at all times.

There are other harbours in Donegal, particularly the one at Burtonport, which need development. There is a commitment from the Department of Fisheries and Forestry and Roinn na Gaeltachta to have this harbour dredged. It is vital that it be dredged because 65-foot boats and larger ones can land at that port only on the tide. Landings in that area must be reduced when they cannot land at any time during the day. Boats, like any machine, should be used to the maximum. While there is a problem with dredging and tidal harbours it becomes very difficult for those boats to make sufficient money to repay BIM and for their crews to make a reasonable income.

The port of Burtonport is vitally important. I ask the Minister for Fisheries, in conjunction with the Minister for the Gaeltacht, to do everything possible to see that the dredging of Burtonport harbour is commenced this year. I appreciate the financial constraints but I hope that at a later stage that harbour will be extended. It is pointless developing har-boats without considering the infrastructure of the areas around them. I refer specifically to roads which must carry the large 40-foot articulated freezer trucks. I know this is a question for the Department of the Environment but it is in the interests of fishermen that money is made available to build better roads into such [376] ports as Burtonport, Killybegs, Bunbeg, Rathmullen, Downings, Moville and Greencastle.

It is very important that all major ports have ice plants. However it is not sufficient just to have an ice plant in a port: the capacity of that ice plant is very important. It is important that each port has more ice than is actually required on any particular day. When there are electricity breakdowns those ports are left without ice. We cannot keep up the high standard and quality of fish without a good supply of ice at all times. Some of the Donegal fishing boats fish near Castletownbere which has a capacity of only 15 tonnes per day. This is not adequate. We must look at this in the future. When large boats fish near small ports we must ensure that those ports are provided with reasonably large plants.

I will be brief in my remarks about quotas. The Hague Agreement of 1975 suggested that between 1975 and 1979 the Irish quotas would double. In 1975 the landings of herrings were in the region of 30,000 tons, which would give us a quota of 60,000 tons in 1979. It is pointless to even discuss that figure now because there is not that quantity of herring left. It could mean we might look for a higher quota of mackerel in 1982. I understand the total allowable catch for the EEC as a whole is in the region of 300,000 tons. Obviously the Irish quota would be in the region of 80,000 to 100,000 tons. It is important in any negotiations that we remember The Hague Agreement, which said our quotas should double between 1975 and 1979 and that the Irish fishing industry should be allowed to progress and prosper.

Unfortunately when one speaks of fishing one automatically thinks of tragedies. This is a sad fact. Over the years we have had many tragedies at sea. We must ensure that there is safety at sea and a policy should be formulated to ensure there are on-board safety regulations and if a boat is in trouble, certain procedures are followed and the necessary body should co-ordinate any services, if necessary. I hope this will not be necessary but we must be realistic. Over the last six [377] or seven years the people of Donegal have experienced too many tragedies and if the Department can do anything to reduce these tragedies they will be doing an excellent job. Perhaps something along those lines is already being formulated.

I regret having spoken for so long on this subject but it is very important to the people of my constituency. The people of Donegal — from Killybegs, Ardara, Burtonport, the Island of Aranmore, Inishfree, Rutland and Tory Island, Bunbeg, Inishdooey, Magheraroarty, Ballina, Port na Blath, Dunfanaghy and Downings — depend on the fishing industry and without it they would be much poorer. The people in these ports have to pay this levy and I appeal to the Minister to look seriously at the possibility to rescinding this 10 per cent levy on salmon paid by the small fishermen in my constituency and in all the constituencies around the seaboard.

Mr. Higgins: Ag an gcéad dul síos is mian liom tréaslú leis an Aire agus tá súil agam go mbeidh tairbhe ag baint leis an méid a bheidh ar siúl aige an fhad a bheidh sé in oifig agus, chomh maith leis sin, tréaslaim leis an Aire atá ag cuidiú leis. Dar ndóigh, ba chóir dom chomh maith treaslú leis an Teachta Pádraig Ó Gallchóir mar gheall ar a chéad oráid sa Teach seo. Luaigh sé pointí fiúntacha i leith tionscail na h-iascaireachta agus bhí sé spéisiúil bheith ag éisteacht leis. An uair dheireanach a bhí mé ag caint faoi chéad fhoirm an Bhille seo, chuir an Tánaiste isteach orm agus is mian liom na pointí a thógaint suas arís.

I wish the new Minister for Fisheries and Forestry every success in the Department for which he has responsibility and I wish to extend that to his Minister of State. I was interested in Deputy Gallagher's maiden speech which was interesting in the extent and range of the matters he covered, even though I will be dealing with some of them critically later. On January 27, when this Bill was first presented to us, I began to make a few points. I had moved the adjournment for the budget and now we have a new Minister. It is appropriate therefore that I [378] repeat one or two points I made on that occasion.

I said I had always been impressed by the sincerity with which Members spoke about fisheries. Generally one has present in this House people whose constituencies include the coastal communities which depend on fishing for their livelihood. As well as that there is an immediacy to fishing as an activity which sharpens the focus of many of the people who speak on the subject — for example, the risks associated with the sea and the tragedies which the sea regularly delivers. I was interested to hear Deputy Gallagher referring to this at the end of his speech. The Minister's predecessor established an interdepartmental committee to review safety at sea regulations. They met for the first time on 14 January and it is appropriate that the work of that committee be brought to a conclusion and their recommendations circulated and assimilated among the people who earn their living from the sea.

Having participated in an earlier debate on fisheries, there are still a few fundamentals I consider depressing. Listening to the speeches made on fisheries over the years one hears a litany of descriptions of bits and pieces of fishing as an activity. Sometimes it is piers, other times ropes or catches, nets and all kinds of things. But missing from the treatment of the fishing industry is any commitment to see the fishing industry as part of the economy. It would be off the point if I referred to the hostility to planning in the economy that seems to be part of the national malaise, but one relevant point is that our failure to plan within the economy is extended to our attitude towards the fishing industry, of seeing it as part of a planned economy, as something that is prepared for, with resources allocated to it to achieve certain objectives over a long period. If I make a remark like this it is incumbent on me to justify it and I intend to do so, quite extensively.

There is no point saying things are well with fisheries and I hope they will get better in a couple of years. What one needs to do is to change the mentality of people charged with responsibility for [379] fisheries, and this applies especially to the present Administration. Let us get to the root of the matter so that we may know how bad the situation is. In 1832 there were ten times as many people in Ireland making a living from the sea than is the case now. In relation to processing, for every person engaged full-time in fishing there is 0.7 of another occupation whereas the average for the European countries is seven persons in the processing industry for every person engaged full-time in fishing. We can work out what these statistics tell us. They represent the story of the neglect of fisheries down through the years. This neglect began many decades ago by failure to allocate resources within a systematic plan. This situation had many other effects also. It led, for instance, to the people turning their backs on the sea. When one has regard to the history of the industry in the coastal communities along the west coast one finds some very interesting factors. The decline of the fishing industry and the lack of interest in it are associated also with the collapse of communities and indeed with the collapse of the language. We are in the position where factories in the Gaeltacht are closing after making chewing gum as an experiment while the communities in the west never had any allocation of resources made to them for the expansion of the fishing industry. We have made this economic journey from tens of thousands of people going to sea regularly to the making of chewing gum. This tells us a lot about ourselves and about our attitude to coastal communities and to fisheries. There has never been any systematic, careful plan.

The Minister will recall that on the evening on which his appointment was announced I urged that the Taoiseach change the title of this Ministry as soon as possible. I urge the Minister now to endeavour to have this change made. We are unique among maritime nations in having the title, “Fisheries and Forestry”. In Canada the title of the appropriate Minister dealing with fisheries is the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries. In other countries the title is Seas and Fisheries. One gets some idea of how crazy we are [380] when one realises how useless is the title we use. The Department should be called the Department of Seas and Fisheries and should be capable of handling all matters in relation to the sea. Lest the Minister should wish to muster enthusiasm for recommending this change to the Toiseach I shall give an example of the situation we would be in if, for instance, we wished to carry out a hydrographic survey. If there are two areas in which research is needed one of these is in relation to hydrographic research on grounds only of safety and future development and the other is oceanographic research. To carry out any such survey it would be necessary to make contact with seven different agencies or Departments of State. These would include the Department of Energy, of Transport and Power, of Fisheries and Forestry as well as some other agencies. It would be an imaginative step to co-ordinate all aspects of marine affairs, to bring them all under one administrative heading. In addition, education in relation to matters dealing with the sea could be brought under that umbrella as could the whole question of science and the question of trading and of planning. This could have an electrifying effect on the whole attitude of young people towards the possibility of availing of the sea as a livelihood.

From tomorrow I presume the Minister will have inherited the possibility of a very large fund being available for youth employment projects — £67 million from our own resources plus £23 million from Europe. It would be crazy to think of unemployed young people all along our coasts not using that money to fund ventures relating to marine aquaculture, to fish farming in all its different forms and to the various forms of industry associated both directly and indirectly with the sea. I hope the Minister and his officials will advocate the use of these funds in areas such as these for the purpose of providing employment in coastal communities.

I have mentioned the whole question of how we moved from boats to bubblegum in our economic history. The reasons for such a movement are not clear to me, but then my views on the economy [381] have never been regarded as the orthodox vision so I cannot accept responsibility for this economic strategy, whatever may be its curious logic. However, when one considers the cost of creating a job in any of the communities where fishing might be developed, one is talking of the order of from £25,000 to £30,000. By exploiting a natural resource and by using the money that is available one can create employment and return the vision of the people towards the sea itself.

Another point I wish to make is that I was rather depressed to hear about further studies of marine matters. The number of our people who have written about the sea and who have studied it must exceed the number who go to sea. Many people write about the sea and about fisheries without ever going to sea. There is no shortage of studies in this area. I would direct the Minister's attention to the studies that were carried out in 1964 and to the recommendations made then about the possibilities of the Irish Sea fisheries. In 1974 there was another volume entitled Ireland, Science and the Sea while in 1980 we had a report on aquaculture and on fish farming and its possibilities. There is a new report entitled Science and Technology for Aquaculture Development. Why should we need more studies? What is needed is even the slightest semblance of a commitment to plan for fisheries, for aquaculture and for fish farming.

The evidence is historical and irrefutable in relation to fisheries. We have lost 90 per cent of the opportunities of the fishing industry in the past 100 years. It is interesting to consider how all those people who made a living from the sea in the last century succeeded. In relation to the stocks that were available then and to the technology that was required and in the absence of threats from outside regarding stocks, they were able to operate on a regular basis and provide themselves with a livelihood. Obviously, this is not possible today but our record as a nation is that we sat back and allowed other countries with fewer facilities and less access to the sea to develop their fleets and this had an impact on stocks [382] which was disastrous for the future of fisheries at European level.

In the Bill before us reference is made to the year 1952. When Bord Iascaigh Mhara were started in 1952 they could do many things. They could be involved directly in processing. They could do other things in relation to the organisation of fisheries directly. We decided that by 1962 we would take them out of processing and out of direct involvement in the fishing industry. They could print cookery recipes. They could make films about going to sea which were excellent and were a source of inspiration to many young people. They are a credit to the people who made them.

From 1952 on Bord Iascaigh Mhara lost their functions. The speeches made as they lost their functions from 1962 to the modern period are very interesting. Every time they lost a function the words “private sector” were mentioned. It was suggested that perhaps the State should not be involved in boat building and that the private sector could develop it. The State got out and the private sector got in. Then the State came in again in a secondary way. It was suggested that perhaps the State could assist again but not directly, and that the private people could step into the place of the State. This is a microcosm of the confusion which strikes the minds of many people who want to know where the private sector is in Ireland, and who are pursuing that illusive myth of the Irish private sector unassisted by the State, wherever it may have been in hiding for several decades. The answer to that question will be part of my own economic education when I hear it.

During the sixties we decided what we should do to finish off what we were doing logically. In the negotiations on the Treaty of Accession to the European Communities, the neglect of fisheries was monumental and disgraceful. This was acknowledged by a number of Deputies on the Minister's side of the House in their speeches in the past year or two, sincere Deputies I met in the seventies such as Deputy Coughlan. I remember meeting him in Donegal town when, to his credit, he said that the Irish protocol [383] in relation to fisheries was quite insufficient. In our haste, fisheries did not matter and we did not protect them sufficiently by the explicit insertion of terms in protocols which might do so. We decided that a protocol was not needed at all. That was the importance attached to fisheries. It was put well to me by a very earthy man I met in Donegal during the course of the campaign who said that when it comes to milk and fish, milk will win out. He was right. In our haste to get benefits from the EEC of a general agricultural kind, we were told we could forget about fisheries for a while. At that stage we were relating to the European Community.

I wish the Minister well and I congratulate him on his commitment and his grit in saying he will not accept an agreement for the sake of getting an agreement and that it will have to be a good agreement. For the sake of the industry, I hope it is. I heard that before too. I remember people talking about the limit. I attended meetings at which we discussed a 50-mile limit. They were like auctions. People said: “Why 50 miles? Why not 100 or 200 miles?” In the Dáil Official Report of 27 January 1981 it was suggested by one speaker that we could take that agreement or have no agreement at all, and we decided to take that agreement. The rhetoric and the auction were over and we were telling fishermen behind closed doors: “Either take what we have been able to get or do without”.

I am not being unduly pessimistic but if the new Minister is to make a beginning he must face the realities of the fishing industry. I have a number of positive things to say about it. The fact is that there is no industry there to be managed and brought step by step to some neat developed stage. It is in a chaos of neglect. This has been brought about systematically over the years. I will give one last example. In regard to traditional fisheries, we missed the boat — if I might use an unfortunate image — simply by not having a commitment to getting things together. In regard to the other most exciting development, marine aquaculture, we look like doing the exact same [384] thing again.

Some unfortunate person, influenced by what has been written and said by scientists about what it is possible to make from the sea, will want to get into something like mussel cultivation. He will apply to the county council for permission to put out his raft and to the Department of Transport if he has ropes attached to it, and to the Department of Fisheries and Forestry who will put him in touch with BIM for information on how to get involved. If he or she survives all those inquiries, God bless him or her not to be sexist, and gets into the business of mussel cultivation, good luck to him or her. These are the practical arrangements and the kinds of attitudes that have existed in relation to fisheries in the past and exist today about marine aquaculture.

I want to turn to a few specifics, and it is worthwhile to do that on the question of fisheries. I said there are positive things that could be done.

There are many things we can do. Here again we live in the miserable shadow of bureaucracy. Even people whose livelihoods are threatened within fisheries — and there are many of them after many very bad years in fisheries — will tell you that the price of a box of fish is now something like one-seventh of what it was in good times. If we want to change things like that we must change the basic laws which affect the livelihoods of people in poor circumstances.

It would be appropriate to look at how our fishermen fare under the social welfare code. Clearly they are discriminated against in fisheries as an occupation in comparison with other occupations. If they are regarded as private operators they are disqualified from ranges of benefit for which other people in part-time employment can qualify. There is a bureaucratic requirement about where they are located and what their adress is which affects them. This was all pointed out 15 or 16 years ago, and it was never changed. It was one of those great national tasks which could not yet be undertaken to change simple little things. I can recall people putting it into print 20 years ago that it was time for a charter of [385] rights for people who worked at sea, ranging through everything from safety to conditions of employment. Apparently that is not only impossible but it is also ideologically loaded. The concept of workers actually working at sea — God protect us from such a notion — was not followed up either.

In the files of the Department the Minister will find many excellent suggestions from people who worked in that Department. I want to pay tribute to individual people in the Department with whom I have had dealings. They designed schemes but they were never instructed directly to prepare a plan for the future of the Irish fisheries. When most of the benefits had disappeared we contracted out large studies to tell us the full extent of our loss, how precarious stocks are, how many other boats are needed, what the different threats are, and how little we can make from fisheries we had allowed to run down. We have made some progress in so far as we have commissioned outside studies in relation to aquaculture to tell us what the benefits might be if we ever get started.

I want to turn to aquaculture because it is one of the matters which affects the workings, the role and the expenditure of BIM, for whom I have respect and to whom I should like to make some suggestions. This is the appropriate time to do so. The last document which appeared from the National Board for Science and Technology entitled “Science and Technology for Aquacultural Development” was circulated to us in Leinster House in March 1982. This document carries the publication date of January 1982, summarises the present state of the industry and there are many suggestions in it which could be applied. But we are in a truly incredible position in relation to aquaculture. The position is that in this matter research work carried out by Irish scientists has drawn the attention of scholars in Japan, California and places like that. Work on the genetics of species is regarded as being of a world level in relation to research that has been published. We have that achievement there. But while we are impressing the international community with our scholarship [386] we are still far away from applying that research finding in a way that might provide benefit, employment and development for the people who live around our coasts.

May I give the Minister a list of things he will want to solve in the next few months? It is a matter even of some doubt who has the right to go to the coast at all. The Minister will want to look at the Foreshore Act. Perhaps it will be appropriate in the next few weeks — I shall put down a question — to ask the Minister directly what he proposes to do about that in order to sort out the question of who can put a raft out into the sea. Will it require a change in the Constitution? What are we going to have to do about the ownership of and access to the coast? Many possibilities exist. For example, will it be confined to those already there with access to the coast? What about the people from the flats in Dublin who might develop an interest in the sea becoming aquaculturists and who wants to go to the coastline? Will they be able to get there? Will they be able to use the coastline? There is the whole question about the foreshore, about how one even starts and then — even if we could get that one straightened out — how we might even be able to make a beginning. There is the question of the piers that are there, how many are there, what expenditure should be outlayed on them in relation to how safe they must be. There is the question of the dissemination of the research I mentioned earlier in its most appropriate technological form.

It is interesting that we have unemployed — I do not care who is upset by it; it is a scandal at present — many of the scientists who brought us to this point of development within aquaculture and fish farming, having got their redundancy notices, some companies having folded. We must ask a question about that and it is another question that arises specifically even in regard to how the industry is to be made possible at all, even in terms of law, in terms of the physical requirements necessary to be there.

There is another question that arises: how will the development of aquaculture be structured? Will it be by private individuals [387] who are citizens? Will it be by private individuals who are not citizens at all? Will it be by private companies? Will it be by co-operatives? Will it be by somebody wishing to make a small living either by direct income or, for example, to supplement small farming, which would be very desirable? Are we to have State involvement directly in order to apply training and educational techniques?

May I say this, lest the Minister find himself lost in the labyrinth of further studies, that these questions were posed years and years ago? They were posed at seminars on aquaculture for the first time in 1978. They were listed in 1978 and forwarded to the different people who might be interested in the development of this industry. To my knowledge the problem about it is that there has been very little progress in relation to its solution. The House will notice that I am ecumenical in my criticism of different documents of the Ministry. I regard fisheries as so important that I have forwarded suggestions to different Ministers in different administrations at different times. The reason I am making these remarks this afternoon is that I wish every incumbent of the office the success that might have escaped other people, and I know the Minister will want to take these suggestions in the spirit in which they are offered.

There is a vague approach to this question of fisheries. I listened to some of the other speeches, which were a mixture of prayer and hope in a way, There is nothing wrong with either prayer or hope but in the modern world neither is a substitute for the planning process. This is a battle which I acknowledge I have lost to date: but may I hope to win an ambush in this campaign about planning in relation to the matter of fisheries? If one needs people to become involved in the fishing industry at present one must take stock. It is a more critical decision now because internationally there are three levels at which the situation has changed. The Law of the Sea Conference is meeting and has met. It has foundered on any principles of equity in relation to the general [388] use of the oceans. The United States have mirrored their attitude on many other matters by just deciding that it will be the principles of their own greed that will inform the new Law of the Sea arrangements rather than anything else. The work of eight, ten or 14 years has foundered by their attitude now in relation to the Third World countries. Their attitude is being based on two principles essentially, one in relation to the possibilities of ocean-based mining and minerals and the second in relation to what they call research but which might more usefully be termed in many cases reconnaissance. I would urge you that when you find yourself in the new ministry of seas and fisheries to ask questions about the people——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Sorry, Deputy, a small but important point. Could the Deputy resist addressing the Minister himself.

Mr. Higgins: I must apologise, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. It is through you that all my advice is directed. I can assure you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that certainly it is not my intention to embarrass the Minister in any way by such advice because it is, as you know, material from which I have advised previous people. It is sincerely meant and I am sure we shall all have the fruits of it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It was because of the tranquility of the moment that I thought it appropriate to remind the Deputy.

Mr. Higgins: As always, I am greatful for your advice.

I was discussing the international constraints on the development of fisheries. The Law of the Sea is one and also the American attitude which has created confusion as to what would be possible in relation to oceans. The principle that arises here in relation to sea fisheries is that the next phase of the development of fisheries in general will be in the form of ocean ranching, which will be the form of the fisheries of the future. The conditions under which it will be carried out [389] will be defined in time by the Law of the Sea.

The second point is much more important than that, that is, the immediate question referred to already by Deputies, that of Europe. Here I would agree with one good point made by Deputy P. Gallagher and which I should like to develop. I should like to think that the suggestions he makes about putting Irish observers on foreign boats was practical, possible and legal within the Community. But in the short term, while we are testing the legality of that, there are a few things we could do and that we have not followed up. After our accession to the European Economic Community in 1973 and the disgraceful neglect of fisheries by any practical defensive measure within Protocols to the Treaties, we do have within the Treaties, and in one Protocol, reference to resources which are crucial to the existence of a country.

I am afraid this is not an original suggestion. I was a member of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the EC between 1973 and 1977. The idea was put forward in Brussels by the present Taoiseach, then chairman of the committee, myself and a number of others and it has not been followed up since then. In order to do something about that what we would have had to have done was to have initiated a series of surveys of our own showing the dependence of the coastal communities on fisheries. We failed to even initiate these; not only have they not been published but they were never initiated. In the talks which took place at that time about the manner in which the future of Irish fisheries had been jeopardised by the Treaty of Accession we continually complained that the statistics and research which were being used to inform the debate between Ireland and Europe were being produced entirely from the European Communities. Yet these are the figures which are being used to some extent in the debate still. We did not allocate the resources to carry out the surveys that we needed ourselves that might have assisted our case.

I do not want to say to the fishing community that I hope something will [390] turn up that will enable the fisheries to survive for ten years, and I think other Deputies felt it incumbent to say not only for ten years but for decades and for generations. The fact is that in the 1970s we swallowed hook, line and sinker the arguments about how much we could do to protect our fisheries and we did not do much about it. People like myself who prosecuted those arguments at the time throughout the country were regarded as eccentric people who could not see the benefits of membership or were simply being troublesome about the overall benefits that might accrue.

What we might do now is to see if we can make something of this question of the dependence of the coastal community on sea fishing as a livelihood and get some room to manoeuvre. That is still possible in the context of the law deriving from the Community. However, to do that would be to address ourselves to the external conditions in which the future of fisheries must be concerned. None of these is exclusive. For example, the international conditions in which the future of fisheries must be concerned is crucial because it affects the decision of a person who might buy a trawler as to whether he will go into the industry or not. It affects the investment decision because one is involved in anything from boat-building to education of young fishermen. It is necessary to get these external conditions correct. However, that does not preclude us from launching for the first time in the history of the Irish nation a plan for fisheries and aquaculture and their development. Of its nature it would include everything from what it is possible to earn for the industry, the different investment levels and the different choices that are open even within forms of investment in fisheries and agriculture.

I was reminded about how far we are from that by a statement I read a few months ago about what is happening in relation to Rossaveal pier in my constituency. It is a constituency with a coastline and with families who make their livelihood from the sea. We were told that between July 1981 and January 1982 the provision of toilets at the pier had gone ahead and that it was hoped before the [391] end of 1982 to improve the pier lighting. Rossaveal pier was built many times politically. At the beginning of the 1970s I was driven to make the remark that if the project had gone ahead every time it was mentioned it would have connected the Aran islands to the mainland in Galway. Nevertheless, the pier at Rossaveal did exist but access roads, lighting at the pier, running water or toilets were not provided. Having waited decades for a pier that might possibly serve the needs of the Aran Island fishermen — immensely more suitable for them than to travel to Galway — a battle was then to begin as to how they might ever have lighting, water and basic facilities such as toilets. Here, again, we found ourselves in the Irish approach to the fishing industry. The roads were to be a matter of contest between the county council and the Department of Fisheries; the lighting involved the county council, the ESB and the Department of Fisheries, and so it went on.

It is important that everything to do with the sea and with fishing be brought under one heading. We should take back from the Departments of Transport and Power, Environment and Energy all of these functions and put them in one strong Department. It should be called the Department of Seas and Fisheries because fisheries are not the totality. The seas create great possibilities that extend way beyond fisheries, including hydrocarbons, mining, the question about who is spying in our waters between the limit of our territorial waters and our economic zone. That involves a great deal of geology. When one looks at the Official Reports one sees questions about what boats were doing off the Irish coast and the answer given was that the boats were not within our territorial waters. The distance between our territorial waters and the economic zone, which is 200 miles, is immense. We do know what people are doing in waters we regard as ours. We do not know what people put on board such ships, we do not know if they are involved in laying reconnaissance matter on the seabed as has been alleged. Perhaps all of this will change.

[392] I have said it is necessary to secure the external conditions in which there might be a future for the fishing industry but this need not preclude our preparing an effective plan for the development of fisheries and aquaculture. I said that all of these activities should be integrated in a Department with an entirely new title. Within such a plan and deriving from such a principle, it is clear that the principles that should be followed are those of conservation, education and adequate capitalisation for both industries, particularly fisheries.

It is pointless to talk about conservation if we do not put it into the more general setting of the threat to stocks. Then we can make meaningful arguments about conservation that will be accepted up to a point by the fishing community. Personally I feel we are still far removed from a sufficient recognition of the importance of conservation in the future of sea fisheries. The second principle is that of education. Even with the valuable addition of a mobile training unit that Bord Iascaigh Mhara have used, I doubt if there are sufficient resources in education. This is not through lack of goodwill but the resources have not been released into education.

The third point concerns capitalisation. Is it not rather like the matter of the toilets, the lighting and the running water at Rossaveal pier? Sometimes we take in complete isolation the question of the future of the boatyards or some other aspects of fisheries. It is a fragmented, daft approach to the idea of what is possible. Capitalisation decisions within fisheries need to be justified within an overall plan for the industry. Otherwise it becomes a matter of individual bits and of factions within groups putting pressure on the Minister of the day with particular demands. I am not expressing an opinion on the merits of any of the demands. I am simply saying that in the absence of any regular, ordered plan of development all we will ever hear about will be how they are getting on and whether they are likely to get money. This reduces the whole question of the future of the fishing industry to the question rather like, has a horse a good chance or not; perhaps we [393] have been better in the world of horses than in the world of planning.

Within conservation there are practical matters that, are still undecided. On 27 January 1982 at column 203 of Volume 333 of the Official Report, Deputy Deasy referred to purse seineing, a particular form of net use which represents a great conservation threat. It consists of the surrounding of shoals and almost of lifting them entirely from the sea. Most international conservation advice is against the use of this technique and I urge the Minister to have a report prepared for him on the use of that technique which represents the single greatest modern conservation attack on the species:

I should like to return to the question of aquaculture and it is in relation to that that some of our best prospects of all lie. We are in the position now of trying to sustain a fishing fleet at a time when stocks are threatened. Of course the time to have gone into all that was when there were fewer threats. Let me be perfectly clear, there was a disgraceful character to the exchanges I had between the Commissioner for Fisheries of the EEC about these matters when we joined the Community. The great European nations, many of whom are our partners in the EEC and many who are not, have put fishing stocks in European waters at risk. Their own greedy predatory activities had wiped out stocks in several of the seas of the Community and they could now concentrate on our coast. Historically, I believe we will not be forgiven for our neglect in the Protocols to the Treaty of Accession. Perhaps having looked upon this resource for decades and not getting around to the business of how we might put a light bulb at the end of the piece of ground sticking out into the sea and building a pier, we decided in the seventies to give it away. The trawlers came then and we had the question of the discussion on quotas and how conservation would be managed. What was taken into account then was the existing fishing capacity of the nations of Europe. This tiny nation with the resources surrounding it had a low capacity, a small fleet and did not have the tradition of working for long days. The structure of the industry [394] was rather fragile and instead of getting the space so that it might expand and relate itself to the resource that had not been used up to then what happened was that we got “mickey mouse” concessions that we could double our catch for five years. However, after that it was open season again.

We should be clear about the fact that if a common fisheries policy does not emerge by the end of 1982 European nations will represent an even further threat to Irish fishing. That is a reality we cannot ignore. In other words, the people who had ecologically and economically represented the greatest historic threat to the future of fishery at European and, indeed, world level were not sanctioned in any way by the negotiations which eventually took place. They were able to relate themselves to these last remaining resources and it was that view which prevailed in the balance and the contest of power that was represented between these strong nations and this small nation with an undeveloped fishing fleet.

In relation to aquaculture a number of things are extremely important. It will be necessary to change the foreshore, navigation and fishery legislation from which a number of applied policy decisions might be derived. I will return to those matters in future debates but it is necessary that that work of clearing the legal obstacles out of the way so that people can get into the industry be put in train immediately.

There is then the question of research. I should like now to deal with some of the work of BIM who have been involved in funding seminars which seek to disseminate techniques of fish farming. There is a problem in this regard. For example, how does one bridge the gap between research findings on the one hand and people who might wish to make full-time or part-time livelihoods on the other hand? The kind of skills that are necessary are ones that are sociological in many ways. The Combat Poverty Team in rural areas were involved in techniques that were precisely suitable to galvanise people towards becoming involved in development that would include matters like aquaculture and fish farming. There [395] is need for some other form of agency. There is need for somebody who would bridge the gap between the technician and the community so that the community will benefit from aquaculture as a livelihood. That gap must be filled by motivating coastal communities through co-operatives and ventures to become involved in the sea.

Earlier I paid tribute to BIM. The Bill which increases the capital capacity of BIM is welcome but I wish that between the agencies there was a better co-operation and a more obvious form of interconnection. On the one hand there is BIM which has a number of functions ranging from promoting the consumption of fish as part of our diet and marketing to promotional activities involving the fishing industry in general and we also have the work of the National Board of Science and Technology. There is also the work that takes place in the Department. Surely if there is a case for bringing everything to do with legislation in relation to the sea under one Minister there is equally a case to be made to co-ordinate within one marine institute a number of applied matters in relation to the sea. The Minister may wish to examine such a proposal.

Earlier I mentioned that in the neglect of the fishing industry historically from 1832 when we had 62,000 people making a living from the sea to today when we have between 6,000 and 7,000, there had been a great negation of the sea as a reality among people in relation to the sea being perceived as threatening and that education was not directed towards the sea. In a study of the attitude of school leavers in the seventies among 2,000 children in County Mayo only one child said he would choose to make a living from the sea. With the neglect in terms of the absence of a political will to achieve a plan for the future of the fishing industry, and institutionally the chaos that surrounded the bits and pieces of the neglect of this industry, there has been also a psychological withdrawal from the sea. The time has come to turn to the sea again. Many people in these coastal communities faced with the choice of going [396] to cities and into industry that is ageing and not producing the capacity to create new units of employment would look at the sea again if there was a dynamic approach towards this industry. We do not want further studies; we want a few imaginative principled decisions followed by determined planning to indicate what is happening. Within the school system the excellent films and promotional material of BIM could be disseminated on a wider basis through the school system. For example, teachers might include knowledge, attitudes, details and matters about the sea as part of the curriculum in a more enthusiastic way than they have done so far.

I would not be pessimistic in relation to aquaculture. The ESRI investigated aquaculture at one stage and decided to compare the average industrial wage with, for example, what it is possible to earn from mussel farming. This is not a very useful comparison. What one must also ask oneself is: if you take the population statistics of these coastal communities and look at what income is necessary so that a person will have a choice of actually remaining there or to combine it with small farming and still remain in the community, then you are talking about meaningful criteria of comparison.

I wish the Minister well. I shall however look for progress on all these matters in whatever time is given to us to be in this relationship of Minister and opposing person in this area. There are thousands of jobs to be created in the industry, even in this new area alone, provided we act with imagination. If we do not do that the researchers, who brought the possibility to the point of delivery, having become unemployed will emigrate; the technicians who know how to apply the science will become unemployed and then the people of the coast will say as they once said of forestry which is within the Minister's Department, “Trees do not grow here”— they may say that aquaculture is something that did not work. It is important to break through all that pessimism and by planning create an atmosphere in which people will want to make a living again from the sea.

[397] I will end by sharing a point Deputy Gallagher made in relation to transport. I opened on that point and said it was extremely important that the work of the committee on safety should continue until their final report is brought to the point where it might lead to some precise regulation. People will expect this and it will be welcomed in all communities that have experienced the tragedies to which we have referred. There is the whole notion of what happens in a fishing community when a tragedy of this kind occurs. It is to the great credit and a tribute to the great loyalty of the fishing communities along the coast that despite such tragedies sons follow fathers, people marry fishermen and take on the risks. That indicates an attachment to fishing and the sea by the people of these communities. I hope that at the end of the present ministry these communities will have a more planned environment and a more secure future in which to give themselves and their families a livelihood all of their lives.

I have been concentrating almost entirely on both a critique and a set of practical suggestions. It is no good continuing to say we hope something will turn up for the fishing industry, that things will get better, that this little problem will be sorted out and that several more little problems will be sorted out in the time to come. The time has now come to make up our minds whether we shall stop talking about the fishing industry and finally begin something that has been neglected for a century and that is a plan for the future of livelihoods to be earned from the sea.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Tom Bellew.

Mr. Begley: I must ask the Leas-Cheann Comhairle how he arrived at that decision. I am sitting here since 12 o'clock today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy will be next.

Mr. Begley: I cannot understand how [398] the Chair arrived at that decision. Is this going to be the way that things will be carried on, three Fianna Fail speakers and only one from this side of the House?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy is entirely wrong. The Chair does not have to explain to Deputies what it does. The debate is moving from one side of the House to the other. Deputy Higgins has finished and I have called on Deputy Bellew.

Mr. Begley: Deputy Higgins is his side of the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Bellew.

Mr. Begley: May I have a House to hear this contribution seeing that we have got this weird decision? The Chair has just conducted himself like an overgrown scissors and that is the way he looks.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy is entitled to have that.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. Bellew: Aontaím leis na Teachtaí a bhí ag cainnt romham faoin mBille atá os comhair an Tí chun méadú a dhéanamh ar an méid airgid a bhéas le fáil ag an Bord Iascaigh Mhara ó £15 milliúin go dtí £40 milliúin. Before continuing my contribution I should like to point out that I have been waiting patiently here since early morning and that what Deputy Begley said was quite incorrect. The majority waiting to speak in this debate have been on this side of the House. As a new Deputy I am rather surprised to find Deputy Begley, with his experience, showing such discourtesy to somebody like myself on my first occasion. I understand before I came into the House that it was a respected tradition that new Members were allowed to speak without interruption. Deputy Begley's example is no headline to hold up to anybody.

[399] (Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bellew.

Mr. Bellew: I intend now to continue to speak to the Bill before the House. Like other speakers, I welcome the increase in the money being made available to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara in addition to the funds that have already enabled many of our people to provide a livelihood for themselves from the harvest of the sea. All Deputies should welcome the increased provision which will ensure further facilities to be provided along these lines. It is well to bear in mind that it is more profitable to teach a man how to catch a fish and to give him facilities for doing so than to give him a fish each day to feed himself. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the provision for it are a fine example of this type of attitude and anything that furthers or betters the facilities it can provide for the fishing community is to be welcomed.

BIM have carried out an amount of development in the fishing industry in the years since they were established but I believe that the industry is capable of much further improvement and that the improvement should be twofold. First, it is capable of providing a rich source of food. On this point it is lamentable to see the numbers who are starving in the world and at the same time see the unharvested richness of our seas and the seas of other countries. We could possibly reap a much richer harvest from our seas than is at present being done. As in the case of the cattle industry, it should not be necessary for us to export all this harvest as it were on the hook. The processing of it should, as far as possible, take place in our own country thereby giving further employment to people on shore as well as to those actually engaged in fishing.

Fish imports, which, regrettably, still take place to a large extent, must be eliminated. It is unbelievable that a country which produces such vast quantities of food, and is capable of producing greater quantities both on shore and at sea, should import huge quantities of both agricultural and fish produce. The [400] Dublin markets and any fishmonger's shop display large quantities of imported processed food products. This situation should be remedied. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should double their efforts to see that much more of our fish products are processed here and sold here. Surplus fish, if processed, could be used beneficially for animal feeding and also for human consumption and for exports.

It has been said here that to dwell on the parochial aspects of the fishing industry may not be the best approach to the Bill before the House, but one must be aware of the needs of one's own constituency as well as of the fishing industry in general. Bord Iascaigh Mhara, through the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, provide money for the purchasing of new fishing vessels but there should be an obligation upon the Board, or the Minister, to see that these investments are protected at the ports at which they are normally used. Regrettably, that is not the case in many of the ports. There has been a welcome investment of funds over the years for many ports. Large-scale development has taken place along the east coast, on which I am most competent to speak, in Dunmore East, Dungarvan, Howth and also in the northern port of Killybegs.

Coming as I do from a constituency with a small connection with the fishing industry, I am particularly interested in the fishing port in that constituency and will be putting before the Minister the needs of the fishing industry there and highlighting some of the apparent deficiencies. My constituency of Louth in years gone by had other ports but the fishing industry is now concentrated in the one fishing port of Clogher Head. At that port there are 26 fishing vessels, representing probably an investment by the fishermen themselves and the State, through An Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Minister's Department, of about £10 million. That fleet has been built up over the years and is fishing very successfully and giving worthwhile employment, both at sea and on shore, to quite a substantial number of people. However, over the past 20 years developments have been awaited in connection with the pier and [401] the inner harbour. Large amounts have been invested in other ports but it might be better, as with industrial development, to have ten units of 100 rather than one unit of 1,000, because one might fail and the other nine continue functioning. I urge the Minister to re-examine the question of devoting so much of his scarce resources to the bigger units.

I wish the Minister years in office and have every confidence that he will do a good job. I hope that in the years ahead of him he will put some of the resources into some of the smaller ports to assist the people who have been waiting for 20 years for necessary repairs to piers. The pier at Clogher Head does not even possess power points for the servicing of boats as they come in from fishing. At low water daylight is visible through the pier because of the collapse of its foundations, which have been washed away. This is a danger and hazard to the people who go out in all types of weather to provide food for the rest of the community and employment for themselves.

Two of the fishing fleet have to sail ten miles northwards to Annagassan, which port they may only enter at high water. If they miss this port, they become stranded on a sand bank. Nine of the fishing fleet have to proceed to Drogheda port every morning, to the former fishmeal factory. Regrettably, they are moved from there on occasions because that is the only location at which explosives are imported for the explosives factory at Enfield. It is not, therefore, a very suitable location for these vessels. Two more must sail further up the river into the town of Drogheda. These vessels often must be moved to facilitate shipping in the port. The Minister can appreciate that that situation is not very desirable, as only 50 per cent of the fleet based at Clogher Head can tie up there to discharge their cargoes and have the necessary work carried out. These men are forced very often to stay on the boats when in Drogheda because of vandalism and to be ready to move them. They use much more fuel than should be necessary in going to these locations.

I hope that the Minister will accept the invitation, not alone from Clogher Head [402] but from the various other ports, and that he will show an active interest in the problems and tribulations facing the fishing industry. I am sure that he will do all in his power to alleviate all these problems.

One very important item has not been mentioned so far in the debate which is more particularly related to the Irish Sea or the east coast than to any other coast, and that is pollution of our seas. This problem if unchecked could make worthless the capital which has been voted for the industry today. The sewage discharge from our major towns is probably the gretest cause of pollution in this area. Pollution causes great havoc with our existing stocks of fish and fish breeding stocks. I have no facts or figures available, but one has only to travel from the port of Dublin to Liverpool on any clear day to observe the amount of pollution in the Irish Sea. This cannot be beneficial for fish life.

I urged the Minister to use his good offices with his colleague, the Minister for the Environment, to ensure that local authorities instal the necessary plants to eliminate as far as possible the pollution which is being created and which is detrimental to fish life in our seas.

I also advocate that the Minister should ensure that a greater proportion of the resources of Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the fishing industry generally are concentrated on the shellfish industry. This is an industry which has been neglected over many years. A revival of it has been effected over the past 20 years but its potential for improvement and investment is enormous. A great amount of food could be procured from this area and employment and exports also have tremendous potential. The Minister should concentrate his efforts on these worthwhile factors.

Any discussion on the fishing industry obviously draws our attention to the question of the safety of people who engage in this industry and who go to sea in all types of weather and constantly put their lives at risk. All Deputies would welcome and support any additional navigational aids or measures which would ensure greater safety for these brave men [403] and boys. It would make their absences at sea less worrying for their families. I would welcome any steps the Minister might take in that direction and I am sure the Members of the House would support any measures he might bring in from time to time.

I wish to refer to the question of building fishing vessels. They are becoming larger and more expensive and if any of them are obtained from abroad it means the export — in the worst possible way — of money. In so far as possible building and construction of these vessels should be done in our own building yards in order that the money spent on them will generate further employment for our own people.

I wish also to refer to the inshore salmon fishing industry and the share fishermen who gain their livelihood from that occupation. I know the regulations and the methods of fishing vary from one part of the country to another and, therefore, I can speak only of the practices obtaining in the constituency I represent. I support the plea made today by Deputy Gallagher in asking that the Minister remove the 10 per cent levy which is being imposed on these catches. Probably most of the people engaged in this type of fishing are not in a position to pay this levy, which is a substantial sum to be deducting from, in many cases, their only source of income. I agree, however, that anybody found breaching the regulations or fishing illegally deserves the penalties imposed on him. I urge the Minister to ensure that the regulations are strictly enforced in the various fishery boards areas. The Minister should also, in so far as his resources allow, see what can be done in regard to the re-stocking of salmon fisheries because, without that, there will be no harvest there for anybody in another few years and employment will further disappear in this vital industry.

Agriculture is, undoubtedly, our greatest industry, both in its practice as a science of growing products and their subsequent processing in our factories. Unfortunately, in many cases, a product is exported in live form to other countries [404] for processing to take place there. The sea processes as much potential, and probably more, than the land both in its ability to give gainful employment and for yielding vital and very rich sources of foodstuffs, not just for ourselves but for exporting. To that extent, any increase in the resources being made available to people to provide the necessary means to catch this harvest and have it processed is to be welcomed. I support the Bill before the House.

Mr. Begley: I should like to congratulate the Minister on his appointment and I wish him well. I should like also to compliment the Minister of State who has also been appointed to the Department of Fisheries and Forestry. I wonder what function he will have, will he be counting the waves as they come towards the shore? As far as I can see in the Department of Fisheries and Forestry there will be more staff now attached to Ministers' offices doing constituency work than working for the fishing industry as a whole.

Mr. Daly: That is a scandalous statement. Is the Deputy speaking about the previous Minister?

Mr. Begley: I wish also to compliment Deputy Gallagher on his speech and Deputy Bellew who made an excellent maiden speech. I was glad to hear their points of view being expressed and the Minister should listen to those people instead of the self-styled authorities in Dublin, either in the Department of Fisheries and Forestry or Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Listening to this debate, one would think that Bord Iascaigh Mhara was the greatest thing that ever hit our country. To fishermen and anyone associated with the fishing industry it is one of the greatest disasters we ever had. The Minister said he wanted to increase the bond to £40 million from £15 million. It is well known that in December 1980 the total amount of money due to the State from Bord Iascaigh Mhara was £14,861,304. What is it now?

I think the Minister will give a down to [405] earth touch to this Ministry, as Deputy Fitzpatrick tried to do in the short time he was there. Over 80 per cent of trawlers here are now in arrears with their payments to Bord Iascaigh Mhara. There are over 400 outstanding accounts due to Bord Iascaigh Mhara. Bord Iascaigh Mhara lost every case which they brought against fishermen in the High Court in the past two or three years and had to pay substantial damages ranging from £80,000 to over £100,000. I hope the Minister will send for those judgments straight away and read what Bord Iascaigh Mhara were trying to do to our poor unfortunate fishermen.

We are told that BIM need an extra £25 million. Neither the Minister nor his predecessor has told us where the £25 million will be spent, a pertinent question for Members of the House, the fishermen and the taxpayers. Listening to the speeches made here today one would think BIM are the greatest thing ever to hit the country. If one speech made here today had been made to a group of fishermen in Dingle, Killybegs or Burtonport there would not be many of them listening to it at the end — they would all have gone. That speech did not make sense. It was idealistic and there is an awful difference between idealism and common sense.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara should be looked at very closely. Does the Minister know that at the moment there is a group of consultants in BIM looking at how they are working? I am sure the Minister does not know that.

Mr. Daly: The Deputy should not try to talk for the Minister. He should talk for himself.

Mr. Begley: I am asking the Minister if he knows. I am sure it is the first he heard about it and I am glad to educate him. I am sure the Minister will tell us when he is replying. When I stood up earlier this evening to make my contribution I was ruled out of order by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Instead, he called on a Deputy who had not even offered. The other Deputy was sitting [406] down and yet the Leas-Cheann Comhairle called him.

An Ceann Comhairle: I must clarify this for you. Deputies come over here and indicate that they wish to speak and we have a list of them. That is why that was done.

Mr. Begley: So we must sign on now.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is an indication of the great enthusiasm of Deputies.

Mr. Begley: In other words, if a Deputy wishes to speak in the House in future he must first tell the Chair that he wishes to speak. Is that the position?

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not necessary, but it shows the enthusiasm of Members.

Mr. Begley: I could find a better word for it. I am asking the Minister for a breakdown of the £25 million. Will the money be spent on large trawlers? Has it been spent already? Will it be spent on fish processing. Will it be spent to the detriment of small trawler men? Recently I read a statement in the press attributed to a Dr. Meaney who holds a very high position in BIM. He said the days of new boats were gone, that we will have reconditioned boats from now on. Is it the policy of BIM to get reconditioned boats which have been salvaged from the scrap-yards of Norway, Denmark, Spain? Would that learned gentleman feel satisfied if he were given a reconditioned car or a reconditioned house? Statements of that kind, pronouncements of policy, should come from the Minister. It is this House which votes the money for BIM and policy statements of that kind should not be made at chamber of commerce dinners or little social evenings in Dublin. I appeal to the Minister to clarify that statement. How old will such boats be? What insurance company will cover them? We have heard about tragedies at sea, and weaknesses in the structure of the boats have been blamed rather than neglect of the crews. The Minister is a young man with the energy to find out about and to tell us more about these [407] reconditioned boats. It is this House which provides the money and it does not matter whether it is a Fianna Fáil Government or a Coalition Government, it makes no difference——

Mr. S. Byrne: It makes a lot of difference.

Mr. Begley: The Deputy has very little time here. Make the most of it. Policy statements involving money provided by the House should be made in the House. I should like to be told by the Minister what are the capital liabilities of BIM. Not so long ago we gave our boatyards for a song to a few individuals along the coast. In effect we gave them a golden handshake. They have had them only two years and they want to give them back to the State. Will the Minister tell us if the yards contain the same stock now as when we sold them? The taxpayers' money is involved here. We should be told how much stock was in the yards when they were sold and how much today. The Minister must look at this very closely. Were those boatyards stripped of their assets to make a quick buck for those fellows before they got out? The fishermen see people walking away with thousands of pounds while they are in arrears in regard to repayments on 80 per cent of our trawlers. I am reliably informed that that is the figure. I ask the Minister please to take note. If those boatyards are going back to the State, in what condition are they?

The Minister's predecessor made one courageous decision. He stopped BIM from leaving Hume House and going out to a white elephant which they had built in Dún Laoghaire. What did this office block out in Dún Laoghaire cost? I have been told that some of the money being provided here is to pay for that office block that was built in Dún Laoghaire. But what happened? The secretarial staff of BIM met and decided they would not go out there. What is happening to that office block in Dún Laoghaire? How much money have we lost on this monstrosity.

[408] (Interruptions.)

Mr. Begley: I know a few I could put into it. Why did it take the staff and the Minister of the day to stand up and say that they were not going out there? What was the logic behind building this office block out there and renting it? If that is not a disgraceful expenditure of taxpayers money, what is? Every fisherman along the coast knows that Dún Laoghaire is not suitable for them when they have business to do. Dublin was bad enough but to have to go out to Dún Laoghaire after getting off a train was the last straw altogether, with a beautiful office in Hume Street with two of the floors idle. BIM were involved in marketing and they opted out of that. They were involved in boatbuilding and they opted out of that. All those sections are empty but the staff are still there. This is the amazing thing about BIM.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for the Minister because he has a problem which I hope he will be able to manage. The Minister should not be fobbed off by anybody. The first thing the Minister should do is go out to meet the staff of BIM or invite them in to meet him. He will be surprised at what he will learn and he will be learning it from the ground up, which is the best way to learn it. I listened to Deputy Bellew. He said the Minister should go around the coast. But if he does that he should not go around with the same old story that the Government will do their best for the fishermen. He should have something positive. When the Minister goes to an area he should know how many boats are in the area; he should know about the pier facilities, the landing facilities, the marketing facilities and the freezing facilities in that area. When the Minister has done his homework on all these subjects he should go to an area and have something positive to say. Otherwise he should stay away lest he be destroyed because the fishermen are in an angry mood with BIM. They are in an angry mood because their colleagues were dragged before the courts to pay arrears. Yet one learned judge said to counsel for BIM that he should get out and settle the case or he [409] would make a decision after lunch. Let the Minister read the briefs and the judgments of these cases to see how many more cases are like that. It is regrettable that fisherman were dragged before the courts. But they proved their point. I make the point that there might be many more ready to go before the courts and that again there will be settlements out of court. A settlement out of court is hardly ever reported in the newspaper but when a settlement is reached the word passes along the grapevine fairly rapidly, and some of these settlements were substantial.

The whole structure of BIM needs to be looked at. If the Minister can devise something, after consultation with the interested parties, he will have done something worthwhile for the fishing industry and the fishermen. If ever any board here needed restructuring it is BIM. They have outlived their usefulness as they stand and that is the consensus of opinion among the fishermen.

A couple of weeks ago, before we moved from that side to this side, I received a telegram from fishermen at Brandon Head stating that 20 or 30 Dutch trawlers were fishing off Brandon Head and that none of the residents of Brandon Head could sleep at night because the factory ship was grinding away all night. I handed that telegram to the Department of Fisheries and Forestry and they responded; three of those ships were captured the following morning. At present 30 of them are anchored off Ventry and there is no sign of any protection whatsoever. No wonder the fishermen are angry when they see the fishing beds being raped to death and nobody there to protect them.

The fishing industry is in chaos at the moment. The fishermen I have met are pessimistic about certain aspects of the industry. They feel that they have been let down by everybody. The Minister has a golden opportunity. He is a new man and he is bound to have new ideas and he should do his own thing. I wonder how much of the £25 million that we are providing today is going towards harbour development. Recently I got in touch with the Department in regard to getting [410] a job done in my own town — everybody has to come back to base eventually — and I was told it was a matter for Roinn na Gaeltachta. What have Roinn na Gaeltachta to do with the Department of Fisheries and Forestry? Surely there must be some scheme in the Department of Fisheries and Forestry for grant-aiding harbours which need to be developed. Why should another Department be involved?

When the Taoiseach appointed the Ministers of State yesterday he said he was going to have a look at the whole aspect of Government in different Departments. The time has come for the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, if it is to be a worthwhile Ministry, to be given control of harbour development and anything else connected with the fishing industry. That is the reality of the situation. At the moment everybody is looking into various situations but nobody is doing anything about them. The Minister should submit to the Government that all aspects of the fishing industry be brought under one umbrella, the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, I hope that a new body will be set up and that it will not be called BIM.

This year could be a very sad year for Irish fishermen because, according to the Treaty of Rome, in 1982 our exclusive fishery rights no longer exist. I was spokesman for Fisheries in 1971 when we went into Europe. I wish to draw attention to the fact that there was no special package for fishermen. This is borne out by the fact that the Dutch already think the agreement no longer exists. The time has come when the kid glove attitude of successive Governments to Brussels must stop. We should speak loudly and clearly to those in the EEC and say this country will not give up its traditional fisheries. I am sorry the Minister of State is leaving just as I say this. This is a fundamental issue facing fishermen. We may talk about marketing and processing of fish but if no agreement is reached by the end of this year the Dutch, French and so on can fish right up into our harbours. This is crazy. I hope the Government will take a positive stand on this issue and point out that we are going to preserve our [411] fishery rights. They had ten years to arrive at a fisheries policy but it did not suit them to do so. They have over-fished their own waters and that is why they are now fishing off our coasts. As far as the industry is concerned our attitude must be positive and we must say to the EEC thus far and no further.

The fishing industry is a natural one. It has been neglected by BIM through the years. They opted out of marketing. Why should a fishery board concerned for the promotion of the fishing industry do this? Members of the House will know that there are towns in which fresh fish is never received. They cannot get it. At the same time officials from the Department arrive at different ports with a gun and red dye. They spray the fish and dump them into the sea because they did not reach a certain price. This is crazy. There are voluntary organisations such as St. Vincent de Paul, the Samaritans, chambers of commerce and so on. They know there are people who are hungry here, yet fish are sprayed with red dye and dumped. Is it not immoral that such a situation is tolerated?

If something positive is not done for fishermen within the next 12 months we will not have any fishing industry. It is crazy that individuals can get a licence, bring in Dutch boats and fish our waters. How much more can fishermen take? Not much. Bord Iascaigh Mhara must be restructured. There should be fishermen's representatives on the board. Those who were responsible for building the white elephant in Dun Laoghaire should be brought to justice. Fishermen who are in arrears with payments on their boats should get special concessions. If fishermen are taken to court by BIM, particularly for repossession of a boat, the Minister should see the file.

I could go on and on. However, I wish the Minister and the Minister of State every good luck in their jobs. They have a difficult job. They need more than public relations. There must be action. The only action I would recommend to them is to meet the fishermen. They should not listen to BIM officials. They are out of touch and out of tune. They should meet [412] the people on the ground and do the right thing for the fishing industry and so preserve it for the future. It is a natural industry which does not require development. It is in the sea and it is ours.

Mr. Coughlan: Ar an gcéad dul sios ba mhaith liom cúpla focail a dhiriú ort féin agus ar an Cheann Comhairle óir is é seo an chéad seans a bhfuair me comhghairdeas a ghabháil libh. Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an mBille seo don dara huair taobh istigh de thrí mhí agus nuair a labhair mé ar an ócáid sin leag mé amach na rudaí go léir a bhí ag cur imní ormsa i mo dháilcheantar sa bhaile. Níl sé ar intinn agam dul siar ar na rudaí seo go léir ach failtím roimh an deis a fháil arís béim a leagadh ar chuid acu. Ba mhaith liom mo chomhgairdeas pearsanta a ghabháil leat féin agus leis an Cheann Comhairle de thairbhe a bheith toghtha nó ceapaithe arís do na postanna tábhachtacha atá gnóthaithe agaibh don dara huair le gairid. Tá a fhios agam go mbeidh sibh ionraic, féaráilte agus flaithiúil le Teachtaí an Tí seo ó pháirtithe uilig na Dála. Bhain me féin suaimhneas agus sult pearsanta as an méid a bhí le rá agat féin inné tar eis an Vóta. Ní dhéanann sé difir dá laghad an tromlach a bhí agat ar an ócáid sin. Bhí an lá leat agus bhíomar go léir taobh thiar díot. Ni féidir go mbeadh bua ag beirt in iomaíocht den chineál seo, agus chuir sé brón orm nach raibh an fhlaithiúlacht chéanna san méid a bhí le rá ag an Teachta a bhí i do choinne. Ba mhaith liom, mar sin féin, comhbhrón a dhéanamh leis an Teachta Dála Harte as mo chontae féin nach raibh an lá aige ach b'fhéidir go mbeidh seans eile le fáil aige sar i bhfad am éigin eile.

Fáiltím roimh an deis seo freisin comh-gháirdeas a dhéanamh leis an Aire nua a cheapadh, an Teachta Brendan Daly, don aireacht tábhachtach seo agus leis an Aire Stait, an Teachta Tom McEllistrim, agus tá súil agam go mbeidh saol fada acu sna postanna seo. Beidh mé ionraic leis an mbeirt acu agus tabharfaidh mé gach cuidiú dóibh an tionscal seo a chur chun cinn agus iarrfaidh mé orthu níos mó áird a thabhairt don méid a bhéas le rá ag na daoine go bhfuil baint dhíreach acu [413] leis an tionscal agus leis an iascaireacht agus gan a bheith i gcónaí ag bhraith ar tuairimi stát seirbhisigh na Roinne. Deanaigí bhur n-aigne féin suas tar éis éisteacht leis an dá thaobh, agus nár lagaí Día sibh.

I wish to congratulate the Ceann Comhairle, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle the Minister and Minister of State in their respective jobs. I also compliment the former Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Deputy Fitzpatrick, who showed on all occasions a great degree of courtesy and generosity in both his actions and his attitudes towards Members of this House who were in opposition.

I spoke previously on fisheries on 27 January, the day before the budget, and speaking on the same Bill today, again before a budget tomorrow——

Mr. Begley: Is the Deputy getting worried?

Mr. Coglan: I am getting worried.

Mr. Begley: We knew something was going on this evening.

Mr. Coughlan: There appears to be an air of expectancy and anxiety in what I have to say, speaking again on an occasion such as this especially in the light of today's events. I have to compliment previous speakers here today. I have listened with great interest to the contributions made by Deputies on both sides, some of them making their first speech in this House. I know from my own experience that it is not the most encouraging aspect of a day's work to think that you have to face deliberation in this House, but I must compliment them on their contributions, particularly Deputy Higgins and Deputy Begley. The remarks of those two Deputies would seem to indicate a shift from die-hard political attitudes and policies in relation to fisheries towards a fairly broad coming together of ideas and notions in relation to the development of our fisheries and the formulation of some sort of fishery plan.

[414] Deputy Higgins advised bringing all items referring to fishing, including roads, harbours and every other aspect, under the Minister's Department and direct control. I was very interested in his detailed outline in relation to the fragmented plan that we have at present. We can all be subject to pressure groups. The Department and the fishermen and all those involved in fishing, be they in the actual fishing, in processing or in the ancillary industries, are crying out for a proper development plan. If we are not to have a common fisheries policy within the structure of the EEC, let us at least be seen to have our own plan in the interim. As somebody said today, we have had far too much talk, hope and expectancy and very little action. I suppose there are as many fishermen in my constituency as there are in those of the other speakers and one would not have to be very Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael to realise that they are in difficulty and that neither Government really had the political will to tackle the basic problems that they have.

Deputy Begley was quite right in his advice to the Minister that we must meet the fishermen. He outlined the problems that the fishermen have and their fear of having been let down and he raised questions in relation to activities of BIM over the years. I would not be in a position to comment on that but his remarks gave me to understand that serious questions remained to be answered. He also mentioned the question of harbour development coming under the Minister's direct control. I can refer to a little pier in my constituency which is not very extravagant in its demands, but the Department and the Bord of Works are not in a position to implement the jobs since, they maintain, the pressure of work in the constituency prevents them from getting it under way. The answer is not good enough for the fishermen.

The Deputy may be a little pessimistic in his view of the fishing industry. My view of it is slightly different in that in recent years — I can speak with accuracy only in relation to the two major ports in my constituency, Killybegs and Burtonport [415] — I have seen great development and great changes. I have seen private individuals taking on expansion of firms and industries. Granted they were very well assisted by the IDA and other State bodies in the formulation of industry there, but the element of risk is always associated with fishing. In these precarious times it is encouraging to see somebody in the private sector prepared to have a go in an industry which is, to say the least of it, running through a very rough period.

The Minister and the officials of his Department should accept comments made here by Members of the House as constructive criticism. They are not offered in a personal manner but in order to be helpful to both the Department and the people directly involved in the fishing industry. I would like to think that my contributions here and my criticism, if I should express it, would be constructive and would be accepted as such. We have in this House on both sides of the political arena many people with great experience and knowledge in relation to the fishing industry. We have former Ministers and many newcomers in the House with great basic and profound knowledge of the fishing industry in its present context, and we must talk about the present. When I was at national school we had a little geography book which outlined the industries of the different counties and so forth and not one of the towns at present engaged in a big way in the fishing industry was listed then as a forerunner in that industry. Brí Chualann was then the forerunner and we have seen what happened there in the course of not too many years. I believe we have had a worthwhile contribution from both these newly-elected representatives and the former Ministers for Fisheries and Forestry. We should be seen to be tackling the problems of today and forget about past judgments and assessments. Mistakes were made and there is no point in dwelling on criticism of those actions. The remedy must be the aim for the future.

I spoke previously on this subject and spent much of my time in dealing with the mackerel fisheries. I appreciate that [416] the fishermen of Donegal in recent months have experienced a bonanza in relation to mackerel fishing and that area surely must be the best mackerel fishery of European countries. However, saying that gives rise immediately to the question of how long this will continue and on the occasion of my last deliberation I referred to the conservation of stocks. Mackerel could quickly become an endangered species because of over-fishing and the exploitation of the quota system.

I would have a prime concern about this in that the two ports to which I referred are within my constituency and about 1,000 people are directly involved in the fishing industry there. These jobs are very badly needed in south-west Donegal and there are not many towns in the area which can boast of such a large number of jobs. Were the fishing industry to collapse in my immediate neighbourhood there would hardly be a household which would not suffer a terrible blow. It was with this in mind that I sounded a note of warning in relation to some form of control of mackerel fishing. The Minister should listen to those involved as well as consulting, if necessary, with experts. There have been cases in other sections of society where consultation did not take place and the people will always have their say in the final analysis.

Although the number of people involved in fishing amounts in terms of votes to about 6,000 or 7,000, they are a breed of people unto themselves. Many of them were reared in the tradition of fishing and do not know any other business. Many are of an age at which they could not be retrained or deployed into other industries. We owe those people every effort since they seem to be a mere minority in the industrial and political sector. Some previous Ministers have listened to the advice of fishermen, but some have not. None of us is infallible and if an error of judgement is made at departmental or local level a Minister should be willing to see the error of his ways and take corrective steps. He should not allow things to continue indefinitely on the wrong track.

[417] I said earlier that control in relation to fishing was very important and I have spoken at length on the conservation of stocks. It does not necessarily follow that if we control the activities of foreign fishermen and luggers which come into our waters we can then say the job is done. We must also exercise control in relation to our own fishermen. We are all susceptible to the same evils of greed for the quick pound and we might not be too worried about damage caused for short-term financial gain. Every possible action should be taken to ensure the longevity of the resources around our coasts.

I wish to refer to infrastructural developments in relation to the fishing industry with particular reference to my constituency. I see here a colleague of mine from south-west Donegal who will be very familiar with the roadworks problems there. The industrial sector of Killybegs cannot develop and expand if the roadwork programme and the network into Killybegs are not given priority. A survey carried out a year or two ago by Donegal County Council established that the road from Donegal to Killybegs was the busiest in the county. These figures can be substantiated by the county engineer. Killybegs is in absolute chaos because the shore road has never been completed. This road links the new pier and the old and should take all the heavy vehicles from the main street, thus alleviating the traffic chaos in the town. For many years it was believed that this road was the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries. This belief was reinforced every time I made a request for planning permission because the Department of Fisheries had to give approval to someone who wished to gain access to the road. This led Donegal County Council and myself to believe that the road was the responsibility of the Department but I have since learned that this is not the case.

I do not see why the Minister for Fisheries, in co-operation with the Minister for the Environment, could not become actively involved in ensuring that the necessary money for this road is provided in the Estimates this year. This matter was clearly referred to by Deputy Lenihan [418] when he visited Killybegs some years ago in his capacity as Minister for Fisheries and an assurance was given that the road would be completed. Unfortunately I have to state that it is still incomplete and I ask the Minister to ensure that an allocation is forthcoming this year.

There should also be some form of proper town plan for Killybegs which would involve the Department of Fisheries, BIM, Donegal County Council and the Department of the Environment. I asked a question about the possibility of such a body being set up. I cannot recall accurately the reply I got then but I cannot see any major difficulty or expense involved in this since we have a county development team and a regional development organisation. On both of those bodies there are representatives from BIM, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, the Department of Fisheries, Donegal County Council and all of the bodies that would be involved in the formulation of a plan for Killybegs. There are some experts in County Donegal with first class ideas in relation to the development of a plan. Several attempts have been made to clarify the postition but we are still being told that the Department have not made a decision in relation to certain points in relation to Killybegs.

The road from Donegal to Killybegs is in very poor condition. This hampers the development of the town. A very fragmented programme has been implemented in relation to this. There are some areas outside Donegal, between Donegal and Mountcharles, between Mountcharles and Dunkineely and Dunkineely and Killybegs, where one is in terror of meeting one of the lorries or articulated vehicles operating out of Killybegs. I know that Deputy McGinley agrees with me when I say that it is a wonder some of those vehicles can negotiate the road from Burtonport to Donegal. How can a town or industry develop under such conditions?

The development of Killybegs in hampered by the very inadequate water supply there. I might sound extreme in what I am saying in relation to this but I remember at a meeting of Donegal County Council being informed by the [419] assistant county engineer that Killybegs operated last year and the year before by the grace of God. I wondered what he meant but it transpired that if we had two dry months during the summer, particularly during July and August, Killybegs would have been at a standstill because of the lack of water. We have rain there every second day and this is the reason why the ice plant at Killybegs and industry there can function. Donegal County Council have that report from the assistant county engineer. I am sure he would be only too delighted to forward a copy of it to the Department. Since that report was issued some new houses have been built in the town, two new factories have been erected there and several very modern boats come into Killybegs.

The question of the inadequate water supply must be a top priority. The Department should do everything possible to improve the situation because we could have a disaster if we have a prolonged period of good weather. The road from Burtonport to Donegal town is no wider than 18 feet at any point. On one stretch of it around Gweebarra there are 52 corners within the space of one mile. I dread travelling that road in my car after a heavy fish landing at Burtonport because the heavy vehicles which travel that road are unable to remain on their own side of the road. Drivers have to be very careful travelling that road at such a time.

I want to pay tribute to the Department officials in relation to the facilities provided at Killybegs. I refer particularly to the new pier, the other extensions that are envisaged, the new auction hall, which is almost ready for opening, the ice plant and the successful dredging which was carried out in the harbour. I would like to pay tribute to the people who have been involved in the provision of those facilities in Killybegs. Killybegs would be in a very serious position without them particularly in relation to the new boats which have been purchased and for which BIM have made great financial commitments. If those facilities had not been provided the unloading of those vessels would be very slow and cumbersome and [420] this would militate against prices. There are many other items in relation to Killybegs which are still outstanding. We do not expect them to be provided in a short space of time. We expect to wait but are not prepared to wait indefinitely.

On the last occasion I spoke on this subject I mentioned the example we should learn from the exploitation of stock off Cornwall. I wish to state again that that particular mackerel fishery was exhausted within five years mainly because there was not the same development of on shore facilities in the area. The position is slightly different here and that is the reason why I do not agree with what Deputy Begley said. We have an expanding on-shore development in Killybegs and Burtonport. I like to see something like this happening. We should not allow situations to occur where luggers can sit off our coasts, buy our fish and export it without people on shore having any access to the benefits accruing from this.

We cannot allow the Cornwall situation to happen here. We have a limited number of choices. Negotiations with the EEC have not been very fruitful and it is evident that the formulation of a common fisheries policy is a long way off. I would go so far as to say that many of our European partners are not interested in such a policy because the present situation suits them. In the absence of such a policy we are left with the option of endeavouring to impose a licencing system on these luggers. I do not think that would contravene any EEC regulations. This has been done in Canada by way of a local system. I realise that a number of these luggers would be required at peak periods of mackerel fishing but they are not required in such great numbers all the time.

I want to refer to one incident I know of personally. There were 37 factory ships operating off Rathmullen; it was like an armada. The facilities at Rathmullen were not capable of dealing with that number of ships. This is a natural harbour with the greatest water depth along our coasts. I am not sure if the Department have any plans to develop it but even if they did, they would not have effect for [421] a very long time. As I said, I do not expect mackerel fishing to continue at the same rate over the next ten or 12 years. Therefore the question of developing Rathmullen does not arise. However, we have to impose some limitation on the operations. What we are doing is providing facilities for neighbouring countries to exploit a facility we have and at the same time they are over-fishing their quotas.

In Killybegs, Burtonport and other towns there is the question of the existing on-shore industries. Everyone realises there is a large element of risk involved in the fishing industry at the best of times, without deliberately allowing the wholesale over-fishing of our natural resources. Unofficially I have established from fishermen and people involved in the processing industry that over the past three years 1.5 million tons of mackerel were fished off our coast. That cannot continue. There has to be a political determination by all parties to tackle this problem. I offer my support to any constructive policy geared to protect our stocks, within reason and within the confines of the EEC regulations, with the terms of reference to prolong our fishing industry.

I said earlier that Canada operated a coastal state control. While I do not have the full details of this scheme there would be merit in finding out how that State control operates and we could see if we could apply such a control here.

I am weary of the whole EEC attitude to the existing regulations. It suits our European partners to leave the situation as it is. They do not have the political will to finalise a common fisheries policy as is evident from the recent elections because, at worst, they would have to return to their own fishing grounds and, at best, they can fish out our waters over a short period. In my opinion, we should not be trying to be the greatest Europeans.

Contrary to what some Members said here today, we have a duty to protect public money, such as investments by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the IDA and the local authorities in our existing fishing towns. Local industrialists must be given [422] credit for their endeavours and support, and this includes all involved in the processing industries. Many of these people have submissions before the IDA for expansion. I see this as a very good sign. It is a great tribute to their ingenuity and potential that they are prepared to expand their industries at a time when even the most objective observer can foresee great difficulties in the fishing industry in the not too distant future.

A few people have become involved in net making. They have cut into what was heretofore a German market. I would like the Department and the IDA to ensure continued support for those people and to help them in every way to secure a market which, if allowed, could be handed over to outsiders. The IDA should be very wary of allowing too many people to become involved in one industry. It is only natural if an industry is doing well that somebody else should decide to jump on the band-wagon. There is no point in setting up two or three industries when there is only one outlet because it could lead to the closure of one firm. This is one aspect the Department in their wisdom should look at.

There are also possibilities in engineering works. Deputy Gallagher mentioned the boatyards and their difficulties. I concur with everything he said about those difficulties, many of which are due to the fact that the boatyards with which they compete are subsidised. It is only natural that people purchasing various goods will deal with the firm that can supply those goods at the lowest price. I should like to make my position clear in relation to the boatyard at Killybegs. When that boatyard operated under BIM it got into difficulty. It is clear now, though it may not have been clear seven to ten years ago, that the wooden fishing vessel of the type that is in difficulty now, that is, the 60 to 80-foot vessel, is practically obsolete in terms of catching ability. Possibly at the time it was wrong for BIM to continue to build that type of boat at Killybegs. Today, though, the situation is different. There is a firm there who are capable of building any type of vessel that is required for mackerel fishing. Between Killybegs and Burtonport [423] there are approximately 70 fishing vessels but about 14 of those are totally uneconomical with the result that their skippers are in financial difficulty, a difficulty that has been aggravated by virtue of mounting arrears and accruing interest.

As I said before in this House, it would cost the Department a substantial sum of money to recover those boats but I am still confident that they should be recovered. Having discussed the matter with the people concerned in Killybegs, with the workers and the management there, I am concerned that they would be capable of building boats for the fishermen of a type that would leave them once again in a viable situation. What is encouraging is that many of these people are anxious to find work and this is something that is a rare commodity in the times in which we live. The smaller type of vessel is no longer adequate and is not considered for conversion grants.

It may sound unrealistic to ask the Government in what are difficult financial times to spend up to £4 million on the recovery of boats but in the long term such expenditure would be economically sound and would ensure continued jobs in the boatyard for the next ten to 15 years. I am convinced that the boats having been recovered could be sold, not perhaps in Ireland but outside it. The initial outlay would be substantial but if we allow matters to reach the stage where everything is lost, the situation will be much worse. When I met workers at the boatyard recently they assured me that given the terms of reference of existing fishing requirements they could reach the standard required to build the type of boat that would be viable for the mackerel fishermen. I would hope for the carrying out of an investigation into this situation. There is no point in Department financiers or accountants reporting that a recovery operation would not be viable in the current financial climate. I am talking about how feasible it would be over a number of years in the context of these 12 or 14 boats being put to work again.

I suggest that the Minister should visit Killybegs whenever he can find time to [424] do so and look at the operation there. I know that the sort of operation I am talking about would involve also the Department of Industry and Energy but again I come back to the question of the Minister and his officials consulting the people involved and trying to make financial arrangements on foot of whatever plan might be drawn up. With the proper attitude the entire job could be done in Killybegs.

I am aware that requests have been made to the Department regarding the problem being experienced in the boatyard at Killybegs. This boatyard has been in operation for only a short period but during that time they have proved their worth and have justified serious consideration in any project that either the Department of Industry and Energy or the Department of Fisheries and Forestry could become involved in.

I must refer also to the development of small piers, with particular reference to my own constituency. I mentioned earlier the development which has been grantaided and approved for a little pier at Inver port. That project was approved during the time that the Minister for Agriculture was Minister for Fisheries and Forestry but the whole matter has been bandied about since between the Office of Public Works and Donegal County Council. I must refer also to the pier of Cladnageeragh near Glencar. I am not an engineer but on inspecting this pier within the past six months I did not need specialist knowledge to convince me that the structure there is dangerous. If the Department or Roinn na Gaeltachta or whoever are involved are not in a position to commence work on this project they should at least ensure that there is no admittance to the pier because of its dangerous condition. There could be loss of life by the pier being used by somebody who was not aware of the situation.

I would ask the Minister also to arrange for a report on the pier at Malinbeg and also the one at Creevy. These are small piers but they are very important to the people who use them. I am not talking about the trawlermen but about the small fishermen and those who use the half-deckers. [425] When two or three men must take a boat ashore in a place where there is not even the basic facility of a mooring ring or a slipway, it is asking a bit too much to ask for continued support from us regardless of what side of the political divide we are on.

The same applies to small piers in the St. John's Point area, Ballysaggart, Ballyedderland and Carson's Sound. A basic element required at each of these is a simple ESB light. The people who operate out of there do not need intricate navigational lights but only one or two ESB lights, some source of water, a tap or whatever, and a power point, so that they can have maintenance jobs done on the little boats at the pier without having to take them to a boatyard. I am talking about the small type of boat at a small pier.

We also need basic facilities like mooring rings. It is too late to provide these facilities, which are not very costly, when people have lost their lives. We have had quite an amount of difficulty in this regard in Donegal. Many people associated with the sea have sustained a loss. There is always an element of danger associated with the sea. I know the grief and sorrow which can be caused. Over a period of time the Department should ensure that the basic needs at piers used by fishermen with small vessels or bigger vessels are provided.

I mentioned earlier a proper development plan for fisheries in Killybegs. A very disjointed effort has been made in Killybegs, not from the point of view that the job is not being done, but is being done in such a way that there does not seem to be any set programme. No one seems to know what the other crowd are doing. Somebody queried me recently about the provision of a telephone exchange which was supposed to be sited on grounds which belonged formerly to the Department of Fisheries and Forestry. The Department did not know where the Office of Public Works intended to allow it to be built. The Office of Public Works did not have permission from Donegal County Council. Nobody seemed to be able to tell me who was responsible. With a county development [426] team who are prepared to help, it would be very easy and quite inexpensive to produce a proper plan for the town of Killybegs.

I will not go in detail into the question of salmon fisheries because it has been well and truly covered. There is one item in relation to salmon fishing and the protection of the stock which the Department would do well to take a look at. I refer to a river which is not very far from my own residence and the question of water keepers. This has not been tackled seriously. I heard from locals that on a number of occasions a number of gentlemen arrived from Northern Ireland and pitched camp on a site adjacent to this river and intimidated the water keepers. If we arrived at a river with an abundance of salmon stock and saw ten or 15 hefty looking gentlemen engaged in an illegal activity, and if we were on our own, unarmed and unaided, we would have second thoughts about identifying ourselves. The Inny has a great salmon fishing potential and rod fishing potential and it should be protected. The responsibility for that rests with the Department of Fisheries and Forestry.

I wish the Minister every success in his new post. His job will not be easy. He will have to satisfy many needs which have been there for quite a long time. I offer my support to any project he takes in hand. There seems to be a fair degree of agreement on all sides of the House on the common ground we should tackle in the fisheries programme. I should like to be associated in any way I can with furthering that development.

An Leas-Cheann-Comhairle: Failtím roimh an Teachta McGinley ar ocáid a chéad oráid sa Teach.

Mr. McGinley: Maraon leis an Teachta Coughlan as an dáilcheantar féin ba mhian liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leat ar do ainmniú mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Mar tá a fhios agaibh, bhí san iomaíocht Teachta ó mo chontae féin, agus cara do mo chuid, agus, ar ndóigh, ní fhéadfainn rún a dhéanamh de go raibh brón agus díomá orm nár éirigh leis. Mar sin féin, tá mé cinnte go mbeidh cothrom [427] na féinne le fáil agam agus ag gach Teachta, is cuma cén taobh den Teach atá sé, fhad agus atá tusa ansin. Nuair atáimid ag déanamh comhghairdis, ní ceart dúinn dearmad a dhéanamh ar an Aire Iascaigh agus Foraisíochta, an Teachta Ó Dalaigh. Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leis freisin agus leis an Aire Stáit, an Teachta McEllistrim. Tá obair mhór rompu i saol na Parlaiminte seo, obair an-tábhachtach, agus guím rath agus blas ar a saothar.

Ní haon rún é anseo, go hairithe ag aon Teachta i ndáilcheantar atá suite ar an chósta, go bhfuil tionscal na hiascaireachta faoi láthair ag dul trí droch-am. Seachtain ón Satharn seo caite, bhí deis agam i dteannta Teachtaí eile freastal ar chruinniú san Chlochán Liath a thug an Comharchumann Iascairí le chéile, comharchumann ag a bhfuil beagnach 300 iascairí páirteach ann. Ag an chruinniú sin bhí ionadaithe ó beagnach gach eagras sa tír. Bhí siad ansin ó Chumann na nIascairí anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath; bhí siad ón chomhairle chontae; bhí na hiascairí féin ann. Bhíomar ansin ar feadh ceithre uair a chloig ag plé ceist ghéar-chéim tionscal na hiascaireachta. Is cuma cén dream, bhíomar go léir ar aon chéim go bhfuil géar-chéim ann. Ach ceann de na rudaí nach rabhamar ar aon chéim mar gheall air, nach raibh réiteach na ceiste ag éinne againn. Sílim go gcaith-fimid ár n-intinn agus ar n-aigne a chur le chéile chun iarracht a dhéanamh fuascailt na ceiste sin a fháil.

Tá áthas ormsa go bhfuil deis agam labhairt ar an mBille seo, mar tá mé ag déanamh ìonadaíochta ar son dáilcheantair go bhfuil tionscail na hiascaireachta an-tábhachtach ann. Is dóigh gurb í tionscal na hiascaireachta an tionscal is tábhachtaí in iar-dheisceart Thír Chonaill. Chonaic mé staitistic a chuireadh ar fáil cúpla mí ó shin a dúirt liom go bhfuil 20 faoin gcéad nó 25 faoin gcéad den daonra in iar-dheisceart Thír Chonaill ag brath ar thionscal na hiascaireachta. Chomh maith le sin, ní shílim go bhfuil teaghlach ar bith i mo dháilcheantar, nó duine as an teaghlach sin, nach bhfuil baint acu le tionscal na hiascaireachta.

[428] Ar an ábhar sin is cúis áthais dom, cé nach raibh fhios agam go dtí maidin inniu go mbeadh an Bille os ár gcomhair, deis a bheith agam an ábhar seo a phlé. Mar a dúirt an Teachta Begley, ag a bhfuil eolas leathan ar chúrsai iascaireachta, tá 80 faoin gcéad dár gcabhlach iascaireachta faoi láthair i dtrioblóid.

Debate adjourned.