Dáil Éireann - Volume 451 - 30 March, 1995
Written Answers. - Whitefish Vessel Crews.
Mr. Molloy Mr. Molloy
43. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for the Marine, in view of the fact that many whitefish vessels found it difficult to secure crew this winter due in large part to the current debacle with regard to social welfare, the steps, if any, he proposes to take to redress this situation; and if the current situation wherein Irish whitefish vessels stop fishing, permitting the Spaniards a clear run, will be allowed to continue. [6647/95]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney) Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney)
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): Prior to 1986 all fishermen were treated as employees for PAYE and PRSI purposes. As a result of rulings in the High Court in 1986 and 1992, share-fishermen had to be treated as self-employed persons and like other self-employed were required to pay the appropriate social welfare contributions. These contributions would have entitled fishermen to contributory pensions but not to unemployment or other social welfare benefits.
In recognition of the unique position of share-fishermen, a provision was made by the Minister for Social Welfare in the 1993 Social Welfare Act whereby share-fishermen could make additional contributions under a special operational social insurance scheme. This  scheme, which would entitle fishermen to unemployment, illness and treatment benefit, was applicable from 1 January 1995.
During the winter months, fishing operations are to some extent curtailed due to weather conditions. In the case of certain vessels fishing for demersal species, catches during this period may not justify continuous fishing activity. It may be the case that in certain isolated instances, the enhanced social welfare entitlements have proven more attractive than fishing.
However, it is understood that the numbers of fishermen opting for the new scheme have not been significant, in which case the effects of the scheme on the availability of crew should have been minimal.
I will, however, examine the situation in consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Social Welfare.
Dáil Éireann 451 Written Answers. Whitefish Vessel Crews.