Dáil Éireann - Volume 487 - 17 February, 1998

Written Answers. - Tourism Angling Measures.

33. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some of the conditions attached to the tourism angling measures administered by the Central Fisheries Board are preventing clubs from applying for development funding in the fear that their members' access will be severely curtailed or restricted. [3880/98]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods): The tourism angling measure of the Operational Programme for Tourism provides over £16 million for the development of the tourism angling product to ensure that our coarse game and sea angling resources are upgraded to the best international standards. Two of the key criteria for funding are that applicants must demonstrate that the project will be capable of attracting additional foreign visitors leading to increased employment and tourist revenue and be readily available for tourist use.

Furthermore the programme has a key target of increasing the number of tourist anglers from 179,000 to 240,000 over the period of the programme.

The overriding objective, therefore, of the programme is the improvement of our angling resource so as to attract more tourist anglers to Ireland and thereby to create additional economic activity and jobs in the sector. An essential condition for receipt of EU grant aid is that tourist anglers will be guaranteed equal opportunity of access to any fishery which is upgraded with the assistance of that funding. Letters of offer to successful applicants contain an explicit reference to this requirement as a pre-condition for any project being funded under the measure.

Any angling club, community group or private concern as well as the Regional Fisheries Boards may apply for funding under the programme. To date some 90 projects have been approved for EU funding of over £12 million. If approved for funding it is a matter for applicants to decide whether they are prepared to meet the conditions of the aid including that of equal opportunity of access for tourist anglers. In the final analysis this is a tourism angling initiative and clearly EU moneys may not be provided for developments of angling facilities to which tourist anglers are denied access.

I have been encouraged by the increasing number of clubs and community groups putting forward projects under the programme. I would like to see more such projects coming forward in line with my objective of closely involving local interests in fisheries development. I am strongly of the view that far from being reluctant to participate, angling clubs all over the country should be working hard to access funding through soundly based projects which will enable them to [506] upgrade and develop their own local fishery to the benefit of tourist and local anglers alike.