Wednesday, 5 July 1950
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Bartley: The most important element in this matter of fishing, in my opinion, is the consumption of fish, and for that reason the most important person to be considered is the consumer of fish. We have a conflict arising out of that to be settled as best as we can settle it in the interests of the industry. We have the rival claims of our own fishermen and the demands of the fish trade to be allowed to import fish on their own terms and conditions. That problem is not one for which it is easy to find a solution. If the consumption of fish has not improved, I think it a fair assumption that the industry cannot make any greater progress. The drop in the landings of fish from 1948 to 1949 is rather considerable. According to the Trade Journal for March, 1950, the landings in 1948 were 365,000 cwts. and in 1949, 202,000 cwts. The value dropped from £557,000 to £441,000.
Mr. Bartley: I think we will have to be reasonable in the matter of herrings and mackerel. I do not think they can be sold fresh, as they used to be during the first world war. The market for cured mackerel in the United States disappeared about the end of the first world war, and that killed a very important industry. An important change took place about the end of the first world war. The sailing nobby was engaged very largely in the catching of shoal fish, like herrings and mackerel and there was a good market to be got for them fresh, apart altogether from the cured market. The sailing nobby has been replaced by the engined trawling boat. The change is, I think, a good one. The reason is that the trawler is more likely to give you a variety of fish and to give it to you fairly regularly. On the question of regular supplies, the size of the boat is a very important factor, while the regularity of supplies has an important bearing on the consumption of fish. We all know that if you cannot give a regular supply, you are likely to lose your customer.
I was pleased to note last night that the Minister is prepared to provide all facilities in reason for the inshore fishermen. I think, however, that the decision to depart from the smaller boat and to get a larger type of boat is a wise one. It would, in any event, I think, become inevitable, and for one very important reason, namely, that the type of boat we have been using, particularly on the west coast, was such that the fishermen confined their activities mainly to the fishing of our own bays and inlets.
 A great deal of complaint was made, largely by themselves, that this intensive fishing of the bays and inlets was damaging the spawning beds, and that something should be done about it. The result of it was that where a fisherman came, say, from Dingle to Galway he was looked upon as an enemy. That was all due to the fact that the capacity of the local boats was not sufficient to take the fishermen out into the more profitable fishing grounds. On that question, I still think that if the views of the fishermen are to be accepted in the matter, the foreign trawlers—the big trawlers—are doing a fair amount of damage to the spawning beds because, as it is alleged, the three-mile limit is not sufficiently far from our shores to protect those spawning beds. I do not know what truth is in that.
I imagine there is very little use in discussing the question of the three-mile limit here, because, I understand, it is a matter for international agreement. It has been recommended here from time to time on behalf of our inshore fishermen, that something should be done by the Irish Government to secure an extension of that limit. I should like to repeat that request myself this morning. As regards the trawlers which come around our coasts, I do not think that they do their best to avoid infringement when fishing close to our shore. They come into our harbours and ports for shelter; they are very welcome to do so, and are given all the facilities available, but in a great many cases they do not reciprocate the hospitality they receive, and very often they throw out their fishing gear on the way out and fish in the grounds that are preserved for our own men. I do not want to say that is going on on a very large scale, but at the present time it seems to me that we have a much larger number of foreign trawlers on our shores than has been the case for a very long time. Therefore, I think the Department should press on the Department of Defence the necessity of keeping an extra vigilant watch during these months.
One cannot discuss this question of sea fisheries without confining one's  remarks almost entirely to the Sea Fisheries Association. When that association was formed, the Government of the day handed over the control and direction of the sea fisheries almost entirely to that body. Now, I do not think that it has been a very effective instrument for the job. First of all, it is not an association at all in the ordinary sense of that word inasmuch as that a person who wants to get any facilities from it has to become a member. It is obvious that a man would become a member on the chance of getting gear or getting a boat, and that, if he does not get what he wants, then he is no longer an active member.
It has also happened that people who have got facilities and have paid off their loans, also have lost all interest in the association. We have had the position created whereby, according to the information supplied to me by the Minister, there is a membership of over 4,000, of whom only about 2,700 can be regarded as effective members. Of these, about 1,100 have paid up their share calls, and about 1,500 or more are in arrears. Now, it is in relation to that position that I should like to make a reference to Muintir na Mara. The Minister last night castigated Muintir na Mara. I think that Muintir na Mara is a rather hopeful development so far as organising the fishermen is concerned. I attended most of the annual meetings of the Sea Fisheries Association, and I may say that that body had the appearance of being dead or moribund. Some of the officials had usually to turn up and make a quorum. That position was changed as a result of the emergence of Muintir na Mara. The meeting at Westport last year, at which I was not present, and the meeting this year were very lively meetings indeed. The discussions at them showed the keenest interest possible in our fisheries. I, like the Minister, am not quite satisfied about some of the information which that body has given out. In any event, there is a conflict between it and the information supplied by the Sea Fisheries Association. I take it that the information supplied by the Sea Fisheries Association has been compiled from  official statistics. However, all the members of Muintir na Mara are members of the Sea Fisheries Association, and if the latter is to be revivified, if it is to be made a live organisation, that will come about, I think, through the activities of minority groups inside the association. That is how it will be brought about. For that reason, I am inclined to welcome the formation of Muintir na Mara.
On the question of the general development of the Sea Fisheries Association, I do not think that it has, at any time, shown any great evidence of ability to bring about a general development. It has, for instance, been given sums of money for that purpose all down the years. That information is given under the sub-heads to the Vote, but if one examines the expenditure under that heading, one will find that very little money has been spent for that purpose. I conclude from that that the association has not got the jizz and the go in it which produces new ideas. For example, in 1934-35 they spent nothing. The same happened in 1935-36 and you have the same down along the line until after the war. The year 1947-48 would appear to be their best year. They spent £9,900 for that purpose in that year and in 1948-49 they spent £2,200.
With regard to boats and gear, I think the Government will have to do better in the matter of providing for that particular service. The Minister knows that the price of boats is far greater now than it was pre-war. He told us last night that a 50-foot boat now costs something in the region of £5,000. The sum provided this year for that purpose is £75,000 and, if one makes allowance for the necessary expenditure on gear and other ancillary matters in relation to the provision of boats, that sum does not appear to be a very large one.
Mr. Bartley: That is fair enough. With regard to marketing, refrigeration  is one of the most important items. I know that the association had some idea of providing refrigeration around the landing ports. That should help to solve the problem of gluts. It would also help to ease transport problems. One of the principal difficulties in the Aran Islands, for instance, is the problem of transport. The regular service is once a week and during the period of the year when the men are getting their largest catches they are not always able to get the fish into Galway. They have either to cure it or dispose of it as best they can by sending it out in their own boats to County Clare. The difficulty that exists in relation to transport precludes them from utilising the ordinary marketing services provided for them. In my opinion refrigeration would go a long way to solve their present problem.
Mr. Bartley: The Minister will forgive me if I mention once more the necessity for providing as much as possible against rivalry and competition in the fishing grounds near the coast. I think the Minister should go ahead with the provision of larger boats to cope with the rivalry that exists in the bays and inlets. That is the only way in which that problem can be dealt with because, if the men have larger boats, they will go further afield. The problem has become a sore and difficult one in recent years on different parts of the coast. It has even led to actions in the law courts. I hope the Minister has not such an objection to deep sea fishing as will prevent him from going further still in relation to the size of the boats.
Mr. Bartley: That is good. Facilities are a sine qua non where these  larger boats are concerned. I had a comment to make on this question last year in relation to the provision of boatyards. The Minister told us then that he intended providing an extra boatyard in Meevagh. There had been a boatyard there at one period, but it had been transferred by the association to Killybegs. That Killybegs boatyard is still in commission, and the Minister announced last year that he would establish another in Meevagh.
Mr. Bartley: I know that on the figures for boats issued Donegal and Kerry are the two principal fishing counties on the west coast. They have the largest number of engine boats. Quite obviously they would have first claim. But Donegal already had a boatyard, and there is a whole stretch of coast from Donegal to Kerry which has no boatyard. I had a letter from the Minister last year after the Estimate had been disposed of; he wrote apparently to every Deputy who raised points to which he did not reply when closing the debate. In reply to my representations about boat building facilities the Minister said:—
“As to the setting up of boat building yards by the association, it will naturally take some time to develop fully plans in contemplation under this heading but, so far as the Minister is concerned, he will welcome proposals in due course for the provision of such a facility at Galway.”
That was more or less turning the problem over to the people who were interested in it on the west coast. Naturally enough we had to find out who could help us in the matter. The first body I approached was the Galway Chamber of Commerce because I felt they would be bound to have among their membership people who would have some knowledge of the  matter. I do not know how far things have progressed since last year. I believe the chamber of commerce has been in touch with the Department. I hope the Minister will give us some information about it when he is replying and I hope, too, that the information will be favourable.
When I refer to the west coast I mean that stretch in particular which comprises the three counties of Galway, Clare and Mayo. We have not had such development there as the nature of the coast and the fishing tradition would entitle us to. The Sea Fisheries Association has built up a large membership. Of that membership the western region has about one-third of the effective membership. I gave the figure last night of 2 or 3 per cent. for boats issued. About a year ago I received certain figures from the Minister and, looking into the matter since last night, I find that about 4.5 per cent of the motor boats issued was given to that region. In my opinion that is not an equitable distribution for that particular stretch of the coast. I know that the Department has turned over this matter of the issuing of boats and the general administration of the fishing industry to the Sea Fisheries Association and it is on the shoulders of that body I must place the blame.
There, again, one comes back to the effectiveness of the association in putting its point of view forward. If it was as effective a body as the new group Muintir na Mara appears to be, though it does not seem to have established itself yet on the west coast, this problem would not be quite as bad as it is in that particular region and the position in regard to the provision of boats would not be so unfavourable. I want the Minister, therefore, whatever agency is at his disposal, to come to the aid of the west coast in the matter of the issue of boats. We have heavy emigration there. I believe that if there was a genuine effort to mobilise the best of the young men, whose fathers were fishermen, and who have some acquaintance with the fishing business, and if some effort were made to give some little training where they require it and to equip them with boats, that the landings of fish, the  figures of which are given from time to time in this trade journal and elsewhere, would be greatly increased.
Mr. Bartley: I do not want to say it is a question of money because we had the difficulty during the war of not being able to get boats or equipment and the strange thing is that, although we could not get boats and equipment, the catches and the landings were much better than pre-war when boats were being resumed by the association from people who could not make them pay. That has always been the experience in the fishing industry. It experienced a boom in the first war and there was also a boom in the last war but judging from the figures reported in the trade journal, a decline has again set in.
Mr. Bartley: I know what the Minister says is quite true, that the landings of wet fish from 1945 to 1949 increased from 57,000 cwts to 70,000 cwts., but taking the various years separately, the figures were: in 1945 to 1946 the landings increased from 51,000 to 52,000; from 1946 to 1947, from 52,000 to 61,000; from 1947 to 1948, from 61,000 to 68,000, and from 1948 to 1949 the increase has been only from 68,000 to 70,000. It may be that there is some substance in what Muintir na Mara says, that the heavy imports of fish are responsible for it. I am not prepared to accept that without further investigation. I am inclined to believe myself, from the increased figure, that the consumption of fish has gone up somewhat in the country. I do not at all accept the statement that our people are not a fish-eating people.
Mr. Bartley: Probably not. It is very hard to know where the circle begins in this question, whether the absence of a regular supply of fish has interfered with consumption or whether it is that the lack of desire for fish has an adverse effect on the catches of fish. I am not at all satisfied that the people will not eat fish. The Muintir na Mara people say that the importation of fish —of course, I take it it includes preserved fish—went up from 24,430 cwts. in 1947 to 70,360 cwts. in 1949. The 1949 imports were value for £587,515.
Mr. Bartley: I know there is a good deal of smoked cod being consumed in the country, and I do not think it is all Irish smoked cod. I believe that the consumption of fish is going up, and that it will go up still further, that there is an increasing market for whatever supplies we can land here ourselves. That is the most hopeful feature of this whole business in my opinion. We shall have to try to reconcile the conflicting interests. You have people like Muintir na Mara and the fish traders at daggers drawn. I do not know whether Muintir na Mara asked the Minister for an inquiry, but I think the fish traders did. I think the Minister should grant an inquiry and let everybody have their fling.
Mr. Bartley: It is not a public inquiry. It is one like the Commission on Emigration, which has been going on for month after month without any information as to what is happening. Could the Minister not set up a public inquiry of some sort and let everybody who is interested come in and have his say? I think that would help a great deal to remove many of the misconceptions that seem to be hovering around this matter. It is not a question out of which anybody wants to make political capital. There is no political capital that I know of that can be made out of it but, in any event, we have a large coast line and we have first-class harbours. We have, I think, a tradition of fishing that is capable of forming a basis of a much larger fishing industry and, with the new aids and facilities provided for fishermen, I think we should go all out to make the best possible use of them. That cannot be done on the west coast, in my opinion, unless some more intimate interest is taken in that particular part of the coast than has been shown heretofore. On the east coast and the south coast the problem is not quite the same. The east coast people have practically a monopoly of the Dublin market. Their transport difficulties are not so great, and they are in closer touch with things. On the west coast it is quite different. I think that in relation to promoting the industry and advancing it on the west coast, we shall have to get down to the question of regional marketing.
I know that it is not an easy matter to arrange, but I know that it used to happen when imports of fish were more freely available, that at a place like Athlone, for instance, you had fish on the train on which you travelled going up to Dublin brought from Galway, while on the train which passed you at Athlone, there was a consignment of fish from Grimsby or some other place across Channel. I am not saying that sort of thing has been happening since the beginning of the war, but it brings to your mind the necessity for some sort of regional marketing, if it can be arranged. There is no reason why fish landed at Dublin should be brought down the country and fish landed down the  country brought to Dublin. If that can be avoided, it will do away with extra transport costs and also ensure that the fish will reach the consumer in a better and fresher condition.
I welcome the statement by the Minister that he is to bring in proposals for the stricter control of the importation of fish. That importation has been going on for some time and it was operated by the issue of licences. The complaint that has been made by the fishermen is that the Department of Fisheries apparently issued these licences ad lib.; in any event, they say that they were very often issued unnecessarily. That is a matter that requires examination because we know that fish has been scarce on many occasions and, since the end of the war, it has been kept up at a fairly high price. That, of course, warns off the consumer. Meat is dear, and I think that the time is opportune for getting the public to use fish to a larger extent. The fish, however, must be there in variety and at the right price.
In connection with the administration of the control of imports, I should like to see the Sea Fisheries Association or the Department or whoever will be in charge of the job consulting with the fish traders' organisation and with the active membership of the fishermen's associations as represented by Muintir na Mara or any other group who takes sufficient interest in it, so that all unnecessary friction will be removed and these two sections or any other section or interest involved will have an opportunity of seeing where the public interest lies in the matter and being made to understand that the interest of the consumers must be the first concern and must be attended to as it ought to be. Peace and harmony in all the facets of the industry should be the first objective if progress is to be made. I earnestly ask the Minister to take whatever steps are open to him to see that all these conflicting interests are reconciled. Perhaps it would be a good thing if the Minister let some light into this inquiry that has been going on and let the public know what it has been doing. If the information so far brought to his notice as a result of the inquiry  warrants the holding of a full-dress public inquiry, I think he ought to hold it. It will educate the public and probably educate the people who think they know this question in every detail. They will probably learn a good deal from it also.
I hope that in the allocation of the new boats which the Minister promised last night the west coast will not be neglected. I should like to see one or two at least of these 50-foot boats placed on some parts of the west coast. I believe that that type of boat would justify itself much better than the smaller type which had been issued heretofore. Whatever efforts the Minister puts into this job, whatever new ideas are recommended to him for experiment, I want to assure him that in his endeavours in that direction he will have the fullest co-operation of this Party, because this is an industry which should be second in importance only to agriculture and is capable of much greater development than has heretofore been its lot.
Mr. S. Collins: As usual, I propose to join issue this year again with the Minister in connection with his whole fishery policy. The Minister will recollect that last year I clearly indicated what I thought might be a more reasonable approach to the developing of fishing, not as the small little industry which we have been content to leave it for a number of years, but into what it should be, not a subsidiary to agriculture, but something on a par and on a level with the agricultural industry. A brief survey of the small countries of Europe will show in an absolutely unchallengeable way that there is a future for fishing. All that is required is a little bit of constructive effort. My only regret is that the Minister, who is a lion in the Department of Agriculture, is over-conservative, I think, through no fault of his own, in the Fishery Department.
I am going to start right off by striking a serious note of warning and putting it on the records of this House that I think the Minister may kill the fishing industry for all time if he is going to hand it over to the Sea Fisheries Association as at present  constituted. I have had the harrowing experience of watching these people at an annual general meeting engaging in one of the dirtiest wangles I have ever seen. Those present at the meeting refused to pass the annual accounts and the big stick of the proxy vote was brought into play and all kinds of subterfuges adopted to get the annual accounts of the Sea Fisheries Association passed by that body. That does not show any harmony. Is it fair or is it right that we should hand over to an organisation which is in that state of flux and in that unreal position the control of our fishing industry? I think the Minister is treading the path of suicide so far as the fishing industry is concerned unless something is done to correlate and co-ordinate what are the genuine interests in the industry. At the moment we have Muintir na Mara and the Sea Fisheries Association at each other's throats. There is merit in both cases. Neither is wholly right, but certainly that problem will have to be resolved before you can pass over the control of the landing and marketing of fish in this country to any organisation.
One thing that the sea fisheries branch of this industry have never adverted to or have never tried to analyse is the difficulty presented by the fish themselves and by the way the fish are running. It is quite true that for many years, particularly in my area in West Cork, very large schools of fish were running. In Eyeries and Allihies you had the best mackerel fishing in Europe, but it has gone. The fish have wandered from that particular run, and we do not know when they will come back. The position the Minister has to face now is that, in the main, the fisherman has to follow his fish, and has to get out into the sea after his fish. The Minister is going to stand indicted by me in this House if he does not quickly get away from the suicide craft he is asking the fishermen of this country to fish with. The day of the small boat is gone, and it is gone forever, and the sooner we face up to that and the sooner the Minister adjusts his mind to the fact that the men have to go out into the sea to follow the  fish and fight for the fish the better for the fishing industry. You cannot do that without proper boats. Fifty-foot boats are all right in their own way, but we will find as time goes on, indeed in the very near future, that even the 50-foot boat will be outmoded. If we are to go for the big craft let us go for it in earnest.
The fishermen of this country are good, game fishermen, who are prepared to work if there is a good return for their labour. Some of them working under the most difficult conditions, have succeeded in rearing families and raising a bit of money to enable them to buy a better boat. The Minister must face this problem. I know that he has decided that he will insist on a 10 per cent. deposit on a boat, but in view of the legislation which is coming into this House, by which we are going to reduce the deposit necessary for a house to 5 per cent., the Minister should adjust his mind to the fact that where there is a good fisherman with a good crew he would be justified in allowing, and we would be justified in demanding, a 5 per cent. deposit for a boat.
I know that the Minister through the Sea Fisheries Association has expressed the opinion that he will not go less than 10 per cent. But if boats get bigger the cost of boats and gear will become so high that fishermen will have put down £500 as deposit. I think that is unreasonable when you are trying to build up a new industry. I will not take sides as I did not take sides between the Sea Fisheries Association and Muintir na Mara. I want one harmonious body which will recognise what is good in each and what is best for the industry. I think that the working fisherman who has a decent record and has something to show for his years of work should be entitled to all the consideration that this State can give, and if through the circumstances of rearing a large family, large domestic commitments, he finds himself without £500 with which to buy boats and equipment it is a very ungrateful State that does not see that he gets it anyway.
I differ fundamentally with the Minister on the whole theory of fishing. We  have agreed to differ, but again I would urge upon him that he will have to consider—not as he told me in an airy fashion in this House buying fish from England in a lacuna period—but finding Irish trawlers manned by Irishmen that will fill any lacuna in the inshore fishermen's market. I know that the Minister will get up and gibe about the trawl fishing company that lost £50,000, but I am amazed looking at their record that it did not lose ten times as much. It never had a chance; it was not properly run and nobody in it knew anything about running it. Why should we be pilloried because of a failure which took place in a different period? Even if it were to cost a bit of money initially to have Irishmen going in Irish trawlers to fill the lacuna periods it would be better than having any foreigner, Belgian, Dutch or French, giving us a supply of fish when there is a shortage on the home market.
I have been warned that I am transgressing too much on the time of the House and I will conclude on the note that fishing has never taken its proper perspective in this country. The reason is fundamentally the fault of the Fisheries Department which the Minister controls because they are too conservative. They have never faced up to the problem caused by the modern drift of the fishing industry. There is a future for building subsidiary industries by way of freezing, canning and even fishmeal if we have surpluses of appropriate edible fish.
Mr. S. Collins: The Minister told me two years ago that we would get boats in West Cork. After two and a half years one 30-foot boat is about to come to Castlehaven and we believe that there is a boat coming to Schull. The Minister told me that there would be 12 boats in the Berehaven peninsula before last June 12 months and I have a record of it. The people in West Cork want boats, engines and nets and then we will do the fishing and the Minister can do the talking.
Mr. P. J. Burke: The fishermen of North County Dublin realised that I would be saying a few words on fish this morning and they kindly presented  me with a bit of fresh fish for the Minister to see if they could influence him to eat a bit of fish instead of the egg to which he referred some time ago.
Mr. P. J. Burke: I am very disappointed that most of the promises made to our fishermen have not been realised. It is very disheartening to any public representative who refers year after year to things that are of vital importance to fishermen to experience the dead hand which retards progress. I am referring to harbours in North County Dublin, one harbour especially that is of vital importance to the fishermen in that area, Loughshinny. We have hard-working, industrious fishermen in Loughshinny who have succeeded in getting larger boats but they cannot bring them into the harbour except on a very favourable tide. The Minister in reply to parliamentary questions over the past two years told me that this work would be carried out. These industrious fishermen who are getting larger boats have no harbour into which to bring them and that is a very serious and discouraging position for fishermen who are anxious to live by the sea and by fishing and to supply our people with fish.
My colleague, Deputy Bartley, made a very practical suggestion about larger boats. Whether we like it or not we are definitely faced with the position where we will have to supply our fishermen with larger boats. The day of going out into the small bays and catching fish as our grandfathers before us caught them is gone. If we are to supply our people with fish and protect one of our national industries we must face the problem in a practical way. I am not at all satisfied with this piecemeal method of dealing with the industry. Compare our fishing industry with the fishing industries of countries which have built up the industry on a national basis and one finds that, especially in North County Dublin, the industry is dying fast and those families which have a long tradition of fishing are leaving and trying to secure  work elsewhere. The reason they are going is that a number of them have often been hungry and often on the dole despite their efforts to make a living from the industry. That should not be so in a country like ours.
Mr. P. J. Burke: Some of them were from time to time, and are still. I succeeded in getting another harbour cleaned and when that harbour, Rush harbour, was cleaned, I found that the delay had been so great that there were no fishermen to go out in the boats?
Mr. P. J. Burke: I will answer the Minister in a few minutes. There is no use in our standing up talking and “codding” ourselves that we are doing this, that and the other for the industry. We are doing nothing for it. The ordinary citizens are talking about the price of fish, as well they might, because, for the ordinary consumer, fish is a very expensive commodity. The fishermen tell you that they cannot get enough to pay for the transport of the fish. What is wrong with all this marketing system? Can nobody handle it in a practical national way? Are we to remain at anchor without making any progress whatever? We go to meetings and we listen to the grievances of the fishermen, and then we meet the housewife, who tells us that she cannot buy fish because it is a shocking price. We meet other fishermen who tell us that their gear has been destroyed by foreign trawlers, and, when one makes  representations with a view to getting compensation for them, one finds that it is nobody's business and that the boat which should have protected them was away somewhere else.
Mr. P. J. Burke: When any point is raised with the Minister, the only way in which he can defend himself is by resort to personal abuse. I am not trying to score any political points against the Minister in this matter. The Minister may be in his present position for a while, but some other Minister will supersede him, and I hope that whoever takes on the job will handle it in a national way and will not measure the importance of that industry by the yardstick of a sum of £1,000 or £2,000. We will have to put  the industry on its feet or let it die and import all the fish we need. There is no use in “codding” ourselves in this matter. This idea of depriving practical fishermen with a long tradition of fishing of the opportunity of securing a boat if they are unable to put down 10 p.c. is unnational and wrong. Surely we have enough inspectors to enable us to find out all the circumstances, and if a practical case is put up by certain fishermen, these fishermen should get a boat, even though they are unable to put down the 10 per cent.
Mr. P. J. Burke: I am not in the habit of interrupting Deputy Timoney. I was put out of the House some time ago for interrupting one Deputy once. I could delay the House for two hours in telling about the position of sea fisheries when we took over and about how difficult it was for the Sea Fisheries Association to encourage the fishermen at the time even to buy a decent boat and to get a type of boat more suited to them. That was the big difficulty the officials found, because these fishermen were slow to get away from the old yawl they used. They are now taking a more intelligent view, but at that time the boats had almost to be forced on them, because some of them had no experience of large boats. In the 30-foot boats they had they could go to sea only on a reasonably fine day, but if we are to have an adequate supply of fish all the year round we will have to provide larger boats for our fishermen in which they can go to sea in bad weather. We want to ensure a co-ordinated transport service for fishermen so that they will not have to depend on the Dublin market. Reasonably good markets for fish could be developed in the large towns throughout the country.
Mr. P.J. Burke: The Minister will try to put me off, but he is making a mistake. I have become so used to the Minister that anything he would say would not disturb me because I know what he is capable of. I would like to see the canning industry developed. That industry has good prospects. The same applies to the fish-meal industry, which has succeeded in other countries. I am judging by reports from other countries.
With reference to the private inquiry regarding the fishing industry, I agree with other speakers that private inquiries are not to be recommended, because if you go out in the open and have a public inquiry you will get constructive criticism, and possibly destructive criticism, but you will be able to discriminate between the good and the bad, and you will not have a report that is agreed to behind closed doors. While the men who have taken on tasks of that kind are honourable, decent men, from my experience of public life, I believe that a public inquiry is more beneficial than a private inquiry.
Muintir na Mara, as an organisation representing fishermen, has been trying to do its best. It has tried in its own way to show up the grievances of the various fishermen and the need for boats, harbours, modern facilities and various other matters. Possibly, at their last two general meetings  misunderstandings occurred, but that is only natural in the case of people who have grievances. When they attacked the Sea Fisheries Association they were attacking an organisation set up by the Government, and instead of attacking the Sea Fisheries Association, they should have attacked the Government, because it is the Government who are responsible, and the Sea Fisheries Association are only carrying out the policy of that Government.
We could be talking for a year, but it would do no good unless an enlightened view is adopted by the Minister and the Government in dealing with the Sea Fisheries Association, so that our fishermen will get decent boats, harbours, proper facilities, fishing tackle, and other things to catch their fish, and to help them to market the fish, so that the consumers will get fish at reasonable cost. Under a constructive Minister and with a practical policy being carried out by the Department, we would be in the happy position that the fishing industry, instead of being worth a few hundred thousand pounds, would be worth £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 within the next few years.
Mr. Hickey: I could very easily repeat what I said on this Estimate two years ago, but I shall not waste the time of the House. I would like to endorse what Deputy Collins has said about the need for having trawlers to enable the people to get a supply of fish. I will read for the Minister a telegram I received from the Cork fish trade yesterday week: “No fish in Cork yesterday. No fish in Cork to-day, and prospect for the week hopeless. Can anything be done?” I had a talk with representatives of the Sea Fisheries Association, who told me that the Cork fish trade would get a supply of fish last Wednesday by importing it from England.
Mr. Hickey: The reason they gave me was that there was a fog around Cork. If the people of Cork City could not get a supply of fish in mid-summer, one can well understand what the  supply position would be throughout Cork County. I am quite satisfied that the Minister is sufficiently aware of the necessity to do something. I seriously suggest that we have never boldly endeavoured to deal with the fishing industry as we should. Instead of spending £100,000, we should have spent at least £250,000 initially to see what could be done for the fishing industry. I have in mind not only the 80,000 people in Cork but the people in the inland towns. How much fish can they get?
Deputy Bartley referred to the marketing of fish. That is a matter to which the Minister should give some attention. There is something wrong with the marketing of fish. I picture Cork City, surrounded as it is with water, and with fishermen from Kinsale, Crosshaven, Ballycotton and Baltimore. Yet, in mid-summer, for three days, in Cork City there was no fish. If I were talking for another hour, there is nothing I could say that would be more convincing than that as to the need for a thorough examination of the activities of the Sea Fisheries Association. I will conclude with that because I am quite satisfied that the Minister will be sufficiently interested to deal with the matter.
Mr. de Valera: Most people in the country who are past middle age will remember that it was the general feeling that the fishing industry could be developed here to be a good second, at any rate, to the agricultural industry. I think that, since that time, over a period of 20 or 30 years I am speaking about, there have been people working on this question who were sincere about it and tried to get a solution. I remember that the first time I got interested in this was when I saw in the paper Sinn Féin long ago that we taught the Scotch, that the Scotch had to come over here to learn the methods from  our fishermen and that the result was that you had a thriving industry in Scotland and for some reason or another our fishing industry had gone to the bad.
I can say myself that, whilst I have not got anything like the intimate knowledge of the industry that Deputies like those who represent the Gaeltacht area have, I have been interested in it in a general national way. I have always hoped that a solution would be found that would enable us, in the first instance, to supply the home market with the fish required directly for consumption, that we could have a canning industry associated with it to use any surplus, and that we could have even the fish-meal and so on associated with that as well. There seemed to me always to be hope that these ideas or ideals could be realised.
My first great shock was when I spoke to a man in this country who had a great deal to do with the fishing industry. He tried to convince me that there was really no hope in a large way for the fishing industry here. His views were that, for a successful fishing industry, it was necessary to have a very large market and a very large fishing fleet. The idea seemed to be that you would need a large market to which you could bring sufficient varieties of fish to meet regularly, through averaging, the constant and varied demand. He felt that continuity was essential if the consumer demand was to be kept up. He also pointed out that the larger boats would have to be based on places where they could get fuel supplies— in those days it was coal—and also the minor requirements for the industry. In other words, he tried to point out to me that, as far as this island was concerned, if there was to be a fishing industry, it would somehow have to be associated with or based upon a centre in England. I must say that I thought that was absurd, though he held the view very sincerely from his practical experience.
When the Minister began to speak on this Estimate, I got a start, as he seemed to be directly interpreting a view that I had been considering for a  long time, that was the possibility of integrating—that was the word I used myself—the deep-sea fishing with the inshore fishing; in other words, using the large trawler for the deep-sea fishing and the smaller craft for the inshore, with the result that there would be an integration of the two. He disposed of that, I suppose as a result of some careful examination of the question, and I am sure there must be really some good reason for doing that.
Without going into much detail, I would like very much if the Minister could give us from his Department the sort of survey or report that we might expect from a commission of inquiry if it had been set up. I am not a great believer in commissions of inquiry myself. I think that state Departments, running over a period of years, have an accumulation of knowledge which is probably quite sufficient for our purpose. They can give us the necessary survey. The Minister himself indicated what could be done. The first thing would be to show us the comparative fishing grounds, to show us what the possibilities of our own grounds are.
Mr. de Valera: That is very valuable. I think information of that kind should be given to Deputies from the Department, so that they would have the broad view of these subjects which those whose business it is to consider these matters from day to day get as a result of their inquiries and their efforts. The first thing we need always is some idea of the consumer demand here for fish. I do not agree with the Minister when he said that nobody wants fish, or something equivalent to that, that we are not a fish-eating people, and so on. That may be as a result of various things that have happened, but we would eat fish.
I think the average person likes to have variety in his diet and I do believe that our people would eat fish if they could get it as easily as they get other food. Meat, for instance, is the one I have in mind. The difficulty is that you do not get the regular supply and then there is the question of price. I am glad to see that the Minister is a convert to protection in  one particular instance, at any rate. He apparently is an all-out protectionist so far as the fishing industry is concerned. I welcome that from him.
In the case of fisheries, however, there is more involved than protection from the outside competitors. There is the question of the competition of other foods. You have the competition of meat. The question always will arise whether the alternative food to fish can be procured at a cheaper price relatively. The complaints I have heard about fish in recent years have been that the relative prices are always too great, from the fish side, to make it a popular food. Obviously, if the industry is to thrive we must have the demand from the consumers. That demand can be stimulated in a variety of ways. It can be stimulated by education, but the best stimulus is to have it constantly available when required and to have it available at prices competitive with other foods. I think neither of these things obtains at the present time. I do not think that those who want fish can get it regularly when they want it or the type that they want, nor do I think that they can get it at a price that would be regarded as a competitive price with alternatives such as eggs or meat. I know that the prices of these alternatives are also high.
It was suggested that because these were high there was a chance for fish— yes, if the price of fish can be brought down. That can only come by efficiency in the fishing industry, in distribution and by some other things. The first thing, obviously, is that we want a survey showing the extent of the demand, its local intensity and the varieties of fish for which there is a demand. It would be valuable if we could get a clear idea of what varieties of fish are most favoured and as to what extent we can supply these varieties from our sea fisheries. The next matter on which I should like to see a report is the question of the organisation of our markets. Everybody knows that there is a tremendous difference between fresh fish and stale fish. If you can get fish fresh—some fish, at any rate—it is a delightful  food. If it is stale, it is the sort of thing you do not want to eat at all. The question is: Can we organise our marketing of fish so that we can have it fresh in the market and of the type of fish that is required? I do not know what varieties are most in demand and I do not know fully what varieties we are capable of supplying regularly. If we had a survey or a statement from the Department indicating these varieties, it would help anybody who might want to do some constructive thinking on this matter and, incidentally, it might help the Department itself to crystallise its ideas on these matters.
In this country we have one day in the week which is a fish day. At certain seasons we have additional days. On these days we have a peak demand. It would be ideal if you could arrange to meet the special demand on these days and the normal demand on the other days. I do not know how the one day, or Friday, peak can be met if you want the fish fresh. The deep freeze, of which the Minister has been talking, has been thought of by many as a solution of our problems. I do not know. As far as I am aware I have not eaten fish that has been subjected to the deep freezing process, and I do not know whether as a food it is as palatable or as nutritious as fresh fish. I doubt it. I doubt very much if it is either one or the other. If you want to stimulate a demand I think our main effort should be to try to supply the markets with fresh fish.
In regard to the question of the marketing, I would remind the House that regional marketing has been suggested. That is running counter, in my opinion, to the ideals of the man I mentioned earlier—the man who thought that a big central market was the most important thing we could have, but that a big central market was not, unfortunately, available with our population or in our circumstances at all. Therefore, I do not know to what extent it is possible to meet the advantages of the large central market with those of regional marketing. It appears absurd, as Deputy Bartley pointed out, that you should have fish sent from Galway  to Dublin and then sent back again to Galway. There may be, in the end, a good reason for that procedure, but at first sight it does look a bit absurd.
The next question, coming from the consumer to the market, is that of supply. Personally I think it would be very desirable indeed if we could have around our coast people who have little holdings and who can, with fishing as a part-time industry, get a decent livelihood between the two. If that were at all possible it would be of great national advantage. It would be particularly advantageous from the point of view of the Gaeltacht, which is affected very much by this problem, and it would be of social value too. One of the things that naturally disturb you when you are thinking of the Gaeltacht and the possibility, for example, of spreading the language from the Gaeltacht, and also from the point of view of rural depopulation, is that, in endeavouring to get rid of what we call the congested areas and to provide economic holdings there— which means enlarged holdings—we are, by that process, taking away the people from these areas. At any rate, we are leaving fewer behind. If you can plant them somewhere else, very well. However, if the net result is that you take people from the land in those areas so that ultimately they will have to find a living elsewhere you are diminishing the number of people in the rural areas and, from the language point of view, you are diminishing the concentration of speakers of the language, which concentration, from the language point of view, is particularly valuable. But if it were possible to develop the fishing industry so that you would have small holdings with a family being comfortably maintained by part-time fishing, it would be ideal. It was for that reason that I welcomed, I may say, the approach of the Minister in regard to this particular question—provided he would not give up the idea of trying to integrate the deep-sea trawlers with the smaller inshore boats.
I happened to be in one of the islands of the Hebrides some couple of years ago. There was a great complaint there that some firm which used to send larger boats and get the supplies  that were caught locally, were making excessive profits and—the usual complaint—that the local fishermen were not getting a fair amount from it. It seemed to me that there was a possibility that we might by State action organise so that, with the larger boats, we might do the outside fishing in order to obtain the particular type of fish we require as well as to obtain a greater certainty of supply— that we would base these at particular points, and use them as a means of helping and collecting and marketing some of the local catches. That idea may come from not having as intimate a knowledge of the industry as those who are engaged in it locally. It is an idea which, however, I should like to see investigated, and if it is impossible I should like to know why it is impossible.
Generally, I have a feeling that we have not got down, as others have expressed here, sufficiently to the details of the organisation and particularly the question of marketing. If marketing and demand were related properly to each other, then we would have an idea as to what would have to be done to meet the demand by way of supply. The examination which, I am sure, the Department has made of our imports and so on over a number of years ought to give them the information which they could make readily available for us. They have it, I am sure.
I hope the Minister does not regard this particular Department as a mere sideline of the Department of Agriculture. It is a most important Department and, if it can be developed, whoever does it will be doing a great national work.
The Minister referred to inland fisheries, too. I listened very carefully, because on a previous occasion here I intervened in a debate. I forget at the moment what gave rise to it, but it was a question of handing over the fishing rights to the riparian owners— those who owned the banks of the rivers.
Mr. de Valera: I was altogether against that; I felt it was doing the  wrong thing; I felt that, if we were going to proceed in that matter at all, we ought, when we took up these from private owners or groups, to keep them in public ownership and I think the Minister indicated that was what he proposes to do. I think he is perfectly right in that. I would have liked if the Minister developed more his ideas in that regard. There are considerable difficulties in it. I think his idea was to allow the owner to fish in his own particular stretch. That looks all right at first, but certain areas on the rivers would be much more profitable than others and the point is how are you going to manage that and whether the fishing of the river as a whole might not be unduly interfered with by allowing a free hand to the owner immediately on the bank.
Mr. de Valera: Personally, I would agree with that. What you are doing for him is you are giving a free licence to the man through whose land the river flows. That is what it amounts to. Others would have to be licensed?
As regards the question of trespass, I do not know how the Minister proposes to deal with that. There would be questions of trespass and the owners would be looking for some sort of compensation. They would hardly regard being allowed to fish with rod and line as sufficient compensation for trespass along the bank if you are to have free fishing.
I think, on the whole, the idea of putting inland fisheries in charge of a public authority and proceeding somewhat along the lines indicated by the Minister is a good one. I hope the inland fisheries can in that way be  satisfactorily developed. I hope the best constructive thought that is available anywhere in the House will be devoted to this and that the best minds in the Civil Service, the best organising minds, will be devoted to developing this industry, because it is an extremely valuable one. I do not think past failures to achieve success ought to deter us from going on trying.
Conchubhair Ó Liatháin: Cheapas i gcónaí, agus ceapaim fós, go bhfuil tábhacht fé leith ag baint leis an Meastachán seo toisc an dlú-bhaint atá idir tionscal na hiascaireachta agus slíbheatha agus eagraoicht eacnamíoch mhuintir na Gaeltachta. Dúart ar Mheastachán eile agus deirim arís gur mór an trua é dar liom gan Aire fé leith a bheith ann don Ghaeltacht agus gan ach an Ghaeltacht de chúram air. Nuair adúart an méid sin, áfach, is é bhí ar intinn agam ná go mbeadh cúram tionscail na hiascaireachta air mar baineann ceist an tionscail chomh mór sin le muintir na Gaeltachta. Ní mar sin atá, agus caithfimid an cheist a phlé fé an scéim agus fé dáil na Rann idir na hAirí.
There is probably no Estimate on which it is so difficult to segregate established facts from argumentative statements of opinion as the Fisheries Estimate, or, indeed, on any consideration of our problems in connection with this industry. Everywhere one looks, in any examination of the problem presented to those desirous of seeing a proper development of the fishing industry, anomalies and paradoxes crop up on every side. For, I suppose, 15 or 20 years, I have held as axiomatic views which, on listening to people with first-hand knowledge of the industry, I am reluctantly compelled to discard. There are, I think, however, a few things emerging from the present debate that present themselves, to me, at any rate, as being abundantly clear.
I hope neither the Minister nor Deputy de Valera will feel aggrieved if I say that, in my opinion, both of them have the same approach to this industry and that both of them are wrong for the same reasons. Let me  put it this way. I think it was on this Estimate last year—I am not quite sure, perhaps it was in a conversation I had with the Minister—that the Minister referred to the necessity for preserving amongst those engaged in the fishing industry their present pattern of life. I think on another occasion he described it as the prime function of the Department of Fisheries to maintain and defend against all interests the livelihood of the inshore fishermen.
Mr. C. Lehane: I have not the Minister's exact words, but I will even accept that amendment. Deputy de Valera to-day referred to the desirability of the development of that type of economy which we have at the moment and the extension of that type of economy where the agriculturist and small farmer of four or five days in the week is the fisherman of the other two. With all respect to both the Minister and the Deputy, let me say that, in my view, is a completely wrong conception of the potential value to this country of the fishing industry.
Mr. C. Lehane: In any event, Deputy de Valera and the Minister view our fishing industry as something small, something that is not to-be regarded in the same light as a big vital industry capable of increasing the wealth of the country. They regard it as a sort of handmaiden to agriculture, and not as an industry in its own right. In my view the correct approach to the fishing industry is the biggest possible approach. I know that the Minister has expressed—he expressed it last  year—a deep distrust and dislike of the idea of the creation of a deep-sea trawling fleet. In my view it will be impossible for the Minister to make a job of this section of his Department until he gets rid of that mistaken idea.
On the last occasion on which Deputy S. Collins spoke in this House—I think it was on the Estimate for the Department of Defence—I felt compelled, as a result of what he said, to attack him in the roundest and most unmeasured terms possible. I should like to balance that attack to-day by saying that I have seldom listened in this House to a speech with which I found myself in more complete agreement than the speech which Deputy Collins made here to-day. The Minister's statement of his view as to the prime function of his Department is one which, as far as it goes, I cannot quarrel with, but I do suggest to the Minister that by that statement he indicates that there his function ends, and he discloses by his statement his lack of any conception of fishing as an industry that is a good second, at any rate, to agriculture. The fishing industry in Scotland and England is not a part-time industry. It is a highly organised, well-capitalised industry which is earning big profits for British economy.
Mr. C. Lehane: That may be so at the moment, but I presume the Minister has seen a recent article in the Economist which ascribed the reason for that—the suggested flight of fish from the waters surrounding Britain and Ireland. Has the Minister seen that?
Mr. C. Lehane: The Minister may consider that that article provides an answer to the demand for a deep-sea trawling fleet. My submission is that it does not, but that it merely underlines the necessity for a deep-sea trawling fleet. The Minister seems to imagine always that there is necessarily  a conflict between the interests of the inshore fishermen and the idea of a deep-sea trawling fleet. I cannot concede that point to the Minister at all. In my view a deep-sea trawling fleet would provide employment for members of families for whom there was no place in inshore fishing boats.
The main cry which one hears from fishermen, whether they be from Donegal, Galway, Kerry or Cork, is for improved facilities, for improved fishing gear, for bigger boats, for slips and for harbours. The Minister referred to the commission of inquiry which has been in existence for the past two years. I think it would be of great assistance to the Minister if, instead of his commission of inquiry, he had some sort of fact-finding tribunal which would give him an answer to four or perhaps six of the questions that have been posed here by different Deputies.
Mr. C. Lehane: I propose to do so before I finish. Deputy de Valera touched, to my mind, on what is the real problem in this question; but, having touched on it, he did not follow it to its logical conclusion. The real problem which the Minister has to face, the problem that faces the Irish fishing industry and upon the answer to which depends whether this industry can develop to the dimensions suggested by Deputy S. Collins, is the problem of creating an increased public demand for fish. The Minister stated last year—I think he also stated it in the previous debate on this Estimate—that we were not a fish-eating people. I would suggest to the Minister that part of his function should be to create that increased public demand for fish. I am not suggesting that he should attempt to coerce people into eating fish, but I do suggest to him that he could pursue the policy which was pursued for some time in the past, namely, a propaganda campaign over the radio and through the newspapers to increase the consumption of fish at home. The obvious answer is, of course, immediately made that Deputy Hickey complains that the people of Cork cannot get enough  fish. But I suggest that the reason why the Cork people cannot get enough fish, and the reason why the Dublin people have to pay high prices for fish when there is a scarcity of supplies is that the people of Ireland do not normally eat enough fish. That may sound like a paradox, but it is one of the paradoxes to which I referred at the outset of my remarks. If we could create an increased demand for fish, a demand of a steady nature, then, in my submission to the Minister, the fishing interests, if assured of that steady demand and if assured of an expanding market, would so combine and organise as to ensure that the commodity which we now find so scarce and so dear was made available in greater quantities.
The Minister states that the landings of fish are increasing. The figures bear him out in that, and, as Deputy Bartley has pointed out, the public demand for fish is increasing. All that I am asking the Minister to do is to assist in accelerating that increasing demand. I would suggest to the Minister that the deep-freezing, to which he referred, canning and curing could be more extensively resorted to than is attempted at the moment. I would suggest to him that there should be a fresh examination of the whole system of marketing fish.
Above all, I would suggest to him that he get out of his head this prejudice against deep-sea trawling, and the idea that under no circumstances will our people become a fish-eating people. Without having any statistics to support me and merely as a result of observation, I would say that the quantity of fish consumed by our nearest neighbours across the water has doubled in the last ten years and more fish is eaten in England to-day than ever before.
Mr. C. Lehane: My last opportunity for personal observation was 12  months ago. Deputy Bartley referred to the landing of imported wet fish in 1949—70,000 cwts. To that, exception was taken rather vocally by Muintir na Mara. I do not know the rights and wrongs of the dispute between the Sea Fisheries Association and Muintir na Mara, but were the Minister to set up such a fact-finding tribunal as I have suggested, we might get an elucidation of the causes of that dispute and the rights and wrongs of it. Some of the questions which I would suggest the Minister should pose to this fact-finding tribunal would be: first of all, taking the over-all period of 12 months what increase in boats and personnel would be required to fill the existing demand for fish; secondly, to what extent would the industry require to be subsidised in order to be so expanded to meet that demand; thirdly, what is the number of towns, particularly in the Midlands, which never, or hardly ever, receive adequate supplies of fish?
Mr. C. Lehane: That is the burden of my song. I do not know whether it was during the Fianna Fáil period in office or during the time of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, but I have a distinct recollection of the very well planned newspaper campaign carried on for a period of some months.
Mr. C. Lehane: That is a complaint that is very seldom made about me. First of all, I would appeal to the Minister to realise that his primary job is to create an increased demand for fish. I would appeal to him to get out of his head the idea that we are not a fish-eating people and never will be a fish-eating people. We have a good deal to learn from the French, Italians, and other continential peoples in so far as our dietary habits are concerned. In so far as the Minister has control of the Department of Fisheries, I would suggest that he should assist in that particular work. I would like to urge upon him, too, what was urged so vigorously and ably by Deputy Seán Collins; that is the necessity for a deep-sea fishing fleet not controlled by any private interests, but controlled by some public authority set up under the aegis of the Minister's Department and operating not for private profit but in the interests of the people of this nation.
Mr. McGrath: We are being eternally told that we are not a fish eating people. What encouragement do we get to be a fish eating people? Supplies are irregular. Prices are rising. I have here some of the prices that I got from a fish merchant in Cork. He says that the price for cod here is ? per lb.; it is being sold in England for less than 1/- per lb.; plaice is 2/1 here and ½ in England. The fish merchants never receive anything like 50 per cent. of their requirements. As often as not they only receive 10 per cent. As regards hake, they only get about 5 per cent. of their requirements. Deputy Hickey told the Minister of a telegram which was received by all the Cork Deputies saying  that there was no fish available in Cork last week. The Minister said there was a fog. Judging by results, I think there must be a continuous fog.
Mr. McGrath: Imported fish. May I point out to the Minister that in the first week of June 200 stones of British fish were imported into Cork City from Milford Haven? Twice in June we had to import fish. If that is the situation in the middle of summer what will it be like in the winter months?
I am told that the total amount of fish handled by the Sea Fisheries Association last year was 70,000 cwts. That equals 2½ lbs. of fish per head per annum. The actual consumption of fish is 7 lbs. per head. Of that 2½ lbs. are got from the Sea Fisheries Association and 2½ lbs. are imported cured, canned and smoked fish, and the balance is made up by some other supplies. I have a letter here from a fish merchant in Cork in which he describes hake as the beefsteak of the fish trade and he says that the best hake fishing grounds in Europe are off the south Irish coast. There are 300 British, 500 Spanish, several French and Belgian trawlers and not one Irish trawler fishing in these grounds. The only hake we can get in Cork City is obtainable when one of these trawlers is disabled and comes into Cork. Surely the Minister does not expect our people to be a fish-eating people if they have to pay twice the price that the English people have to pay for their fish and if they cannot get supplies regularly? I know this has been going on since before the Minister took office but it is only when Deputies are requested by merchants to approach the Department that these merchants are given a licence to import certain quantities of fish.
 Deputy Collins spoke about the necessity of providing larger boats and so far as I can see there is no other way out of this difficulty. Is the Minister satisfied to have all these foreigners fishing off our coasts? The Minister laughed when I mentioned the number, but there is no doubt that there is a much larger number of foreign trawlers fishing there now and the number is increasing all the time. It must be a profitable game for these people when they can come over to fish off the Cork coast and take fish back to sell in France and Spain, and even send some of it back here to be sold. I think there is something radically wrong with a state of affairs under which we, living in an island like this, are not able to supply our people with fish at a pretty reasonable price. Most Deputies feel that they should not speak at great length on this debate and I have no intention of doing so either, but I would point out to the Minister that if he wants to get larger boats the people of Cork are in a position to build these boats for him. We have docks there which are quite capable of building them, and the construction of these boats would provide much-needed employment while the docks are waiting for larger vessels to come in for repair. Finally, I should like to impress upon the Minister that we shall never get our people to become a fish-eating people unless they have regular supplies and unless fish is made available at a price as reasonable as that at which it is sold over in England.
Mr. Palmer: It has been pointed out by many Deputies that the fishing industry is second only in importance to agriculture and, as the present Minister has introduced a land rehabilitation scheme for the improvement of the land of this country, perhaps it would be no harm to suggest that in order also to promote the fishing industry, he should initiate what I might call a fishing project. He has set aside £40,000,000 for the land project, and perhaps he could find money somewhere, even by deducting say at least £2,000,000 from that £40,000,000, for the improvement of the fishing industry.  We might consider the improvement of the fishing industry from the point of view first of all of the conditions under which fishing is carried on, the landing of the fish, the marketing of the fish, and the encouragement of the consumption of fish in larger quantities. Certainly, the Minister and his Department are doing all they can to provide the fishermen with proper boats and fishing gear. Now that boats are being built in greater numbers, I hope that their distribution in the various fishing areas will be uniform, and that no particular area will get a larger number than that to which it is legitimately entitled. I represent a very important fishing area and while numbers of applications have been made for the 50-foot boats, so far only one has been actually allocated and delivered. We hope that in the near future we shall get at least four in the Cahirciveen area. In connection with deposits, I know that under the last Government, a 50 per cent. deposit was required to obtain boats and gear. The present Minister reduced the deposit to 10 per cent. but at present, I understand, it is necessary to make a deposit of 20 per cent. I hope that in the near future arrangements will be made by the Minister whereby at least a good fisherman will be able to get a boat on a deposit of 10 per cent.
Mr. Palmer: I am glad to hear that but even with the 10 per cent. deposit, if there is a case of hardship and there is a fisherman with a good record, I would suggest that if he can make a deposit of 5 per cent., he should not be deprived of a boat so as to enable him to carry on his ordinary occupation. In regard to the protection of fisheries, I would say that recently the work of protection has been very good but I do not know if the corvettes are really successful. I understand they are rather expensive also, when being used in that capacity. Might I suggest that fishermen here and there might be equipped with the necessary arms by which they would be able to deal with foreign trawlers when they come within  our territorial waters? Perhaps they could be given special concessions or remuneration to carry out that work in addition to carrying on their calling as fishermen. It has been suggested that the three-mile limit might be extended to five, seven or ten miles, but I do not see what would be the object of that if we cannot sufficiently protect our waters within the three-mile limit. Some Deputies seemed to be in favour of deep-sea trawling but personally I fail to see how deep-sea trawlers and inshore fishermen can carry on side by side. In this country, where you have had not such a big demand up to the present at any rate for fish, my idea would be that with deep-sea trawling you would have a glut of fish from that source alone and there would be no market for fish coming from the inshore fishermen. The result would be eventually that the inshore fishermen would be wiped out and that would be disastrous. I hope that the Minister, in his wisdom, will not bring about that situation by which the inshore fishermen would be. wiped out for the sake of the deep-sea trawling.
As to the landing of fish, it is necessary that we should have suitable piers and slips. While it is not exactly the duty of the Minister for Agriculture and his Department to erect and improve piers, still I would like to draw his attention to the Reenard Point Pier at Cahirciveen in connection with which an inspection was made two years ago by the engineers from the Board of Works. While the sum necessary, namely, £64,000, has not been exactly allocated, I understand that the Fishery Department has to make some report in the matter. Perhaps the delay in connection with that report is holding up the improvement and expansion of the pier.
Then there is a matter connected with net fishermen who were deprived of their nets under a recent Act of Parliament. I understand that some of these have not yet been compensated. In some cases that may be their own fault in not supplying the information required, but as these people were deprived of their calling there should not be any undue delay in giving them  the compensation to which they are entitled.
In connection with the protection of fishermen, it would be well if some look-out stations were manned and equipped around the coast. While we have one in Bray Head in Valentia and one at Bolus Head, they are still, more or less, derelict, but could very easily be set in order. Perhaps if they had been in working order some months ago the tragic drowning accident which occurred there might not have taken place. Of course, that is a matter for the Department of Industry and Commerce, but if the Minister would make a recommendation that it should be looked into I am sure it would hasten matters. On the whole, I must say that the fishermen feel that the Minister and his Department are doing their best under difficult conditions. They have such great confidence in the present Minister that they feel sure that, within a certain period, everything possible will be done for the welfare of the fishermen so that they can successfully carry on their work.
Mr. Breslin: As everybody is aware, this Vote is of the utmost importance to thousands of fishermen around our coasts. Even at the best of times fishermen eke out a very precarious livelihood in following their calling. During the years of the war the fishing industry enjoyed a certain amount of prosperity. Despite the difficulties of that period and the shortage of boats, gear and oil, the fishermen did pretty well on the whole. Now that we have entered on more normal times and are meeting with a good deal of outside and up-to-date competition, many people in close touch with it feel that the industry is now passing through its testing time and that the organisation behind the fishing industry is passing through a very severe test. The Minister will recollect that after the 1914-18 War the prosperity that the fishermen enjoyed during that period was followed by a disastrous slump during which hundreds of fishermen around our coasts sold their boats and gear and got out of the industry. None of us wants that to recur in the years that lie ahead. We want to see the industry  prosper and a good many more fishermen engaged in it than there are to-day.
I said here before and I repeat that we are only nibbling at this question of the fishing industry. If successive Governments were in earnest about developing the industry and building it up as we would like to see it built up in this island of ours, we should have a separate Ministry for Fisheries and let the Minister devote all his attention to building up what should be in the first three of our industries in this country. After agriculture, I would say that fishing should be one of the most important industries and that this should be one of the most important Estimates coming before the House. If Deputies were paying proper attention to it, this Estimate would be debated here for some days. Other countries have built up, under great difficulties, a great fishing industry and the same should be possible here. When I say that we should have a separate Ministry, I do not for a moment intend to disparage the present Minister in any way. I feel that the Minister for Agriculture has so much to do and so many things to look after, as was evident during the last three weeks during the debate we had on his Estimate, that he cannot give to this industry the attention that it certainly deserves. All Governments seem to agree on one point, namely, that fisheries should be handled as rather the Cinderella of Governments and should be debated with agriculture. Until we have that separate Minister and separate Department dealing with this important industry I do not think that we will get anywhere so far as building up the industry is concerned.
Despite the good work which the Sea Fisheries Association has done in the past, and undoubtedly it has done a great deal to help the fishing industry, we in Donegal feel that it does not pay proper attention to the cured herring fishing, which for years has been the backbone and the mainstay of the industry in Donegal. We contend that the association leaves it to the fishermen themselves to look after that  important part of the industry and we think that the time has now come when it should pay a good deal more attention to that branch of the fishing industry and help the fishermen to get markets and also guarantee a minimum price for the herrings. If the herringfishing industry fails in Donegal, it will have a disastrous effect on the fishing industry generally. For years the cured-herring industry and the work in connection with the catching of herrings in Donegal have employed thousands of people and we are afraid that if something is not done to ensure that the herring industry is given some attention by the Sea Fisheries Association it will lead to more emigration.
I agree with other Deputies who have spoken on the question of the home market. The home market has not been developed at all and the Minister should pay more attention to developing that end of the business. There are various towns that certainly would buy fish if there were any facilities to ensure that supplies would be fairly regular. It is a very strange thing that even in the maritime County of Donegal if hotels want to ensure a sufficient supply of fish they must order it from Dublin. In many instances, we have fish from Killybegs and other ports being sent to Dublin and from there being sent back to hotels in Donegal. That shows very poor organisation and the association responsible for it is not deserving of very much credit. There may be difficulties in the way, but the association has taken over this problem and it is up to it to find a remedy and to ensure that the various towns throughout the country that will be only too glad to get fish, not alone on a Friday, but on one or two other days of the week, will have supplies made available for them.
I also agree with those Deputies who have talked about the importation of fish. It is an extraordinary thing that after so many years of native government we still have to import sufficient fish for our markets. If our industry had been looked after there would be no need to import fish, and it is an extraordinary situation that we still have to carry on that same old method.
 I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the need for helping the fishermen by erecting piers and slipways in various parts of Donegal. We have from time to time made application to the Department for grants, and in that connection I should like to say that the Donegal County Council has never yet turned down one of these applications when they found out from their engineer that it was needed, but the Department often inform us that they have examined the question and that their information is that the fishing industry in the particular area would not justify the expenditure. Our point is that if we had a slip or pier at the particular point in respect of which we had made application the expenditure would certainly be justified, because the fishing industry would benefit and more fish could be caught if the fishermen had landing-places at various points on our rocky coasts. We get that reply from time to time and it is a reply with which we are not at all satisfied, because we who have local knowledge know where the fishing grounds are and know where the piers should be situated. Where the Department cannot see their way to give a large grant for the erection of a pier, I would ask the Minister to consider the building of small slips which would be very useful for the landing of catches by small boats. All these things have a bearing on the fishing industry and we should help these fishermen in the matter of landing-places and in the matter of making the existing landing-places safer.
County Donegal has recently been responsible for focussing the attention of the Government and of the Minister on this question of poaching by foreign trawlers, and we hope steps will be taken in the future to ensure that no foreign trawler will be allowed to patrol for half a day or a whole day within three miles of our coast. That has been and is being done, and, as I say, some of these trawlers spend 24 hours, and others less, trawling within one or two miles of the shore, and if the people lose their tempers, it is only natural. I hope that from now on steps will be taken to ensure that this will be stopped, and that our own  fishermen will be enabled to enjoy the fruits which are being taken elsewhere by these foreign trawlers.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: Anybody listen ing to the Minister's introductory statement on the Vote for Agriculture, as I did, and to his introductory statement last night on this Vote will have noticed the marked contrast between the two statements. It struck me very forcibly that his speech on agriculture showed, as befitted the occasion, profound care and preparation. It was a speech which was obviously well prepared, but it was evident to me, and I am sure to others, that the dynamic drive and energy which was written all over that statement was entirely missing from the Minister's speech last night on Fisheries. The speech, to my mind, was very largely a defence of the Sea Fisheries Association and, to some extent, a denunciation of certain individuals attached to Muintir na Mara. I speak on behalf of the ordinary member of the public, and I suggest that the public are not interested in any way in the Sea Fisheries Association, as such, or in certain members of Muintir na Mara. They are, however, seriously concerned with the fact that they have not got an adequate supply of fish and that, when fish is available, it is available only at prices beyond the amount which the ordinary housewife can pay.
My purpose in rising to speak in this debate is to disturb the feeling of complacency which characterised the Minister's speech. He seemed to indicate that things were not too good but were not too bad and that we should leave them alone. That was largely the policy. I have been listening to speeches on this Vote for a considerable number of years and I am bound to say, in the light of what I heard last night, that no great improvement can be recorded. All previous holders of this office seemed to move along in the same way as we are now moving and I am convinced that the view I have held for some time is correct, that is, that Fisheries is the unwanted stepchild of the Department of Agriculture. I agree thoroughly with Deputy Breslin when he suggests that there  should be a break away from the present form of administration.
Is it not obvious, since fish cannot be secured throughout the year in the quantities in which it should be secured and can be secured only at prohibitive prices in many cases, there is something radically wrong with the whole organisation? This is particularly the case since round about the middle 20's. One has only to examine the figures of the personnel in the fishing industry in 1925 and to compare it with the position which obtains to-day to see the startling position that personnel, so far as full-time occupied fishermen are concerned, have halved and part-time fishermen have decreased by 25 per cent. It is suggested—and this is always the excuse, no matter what Minister is in office—that we are not a fish-eating people. That is perfectly true, but how could it be otherwise?
Some Deputies expressed an interest in the exact figures and I have gone to some trouble to find out what the position is in regard to consumption here and to relate it to the position in other countries which might be looked upon as being similarly circumstanced. According to a return issued by F.A.O. for 1947-48, the consumption of fish per head per annum in Denmark is 28½ kilograms, a kilogram being a fraction over two lbs.; in Sweden, 23¼ kilograms; in what is known as the United Kingdom, 13¼ kilograms; New Zealand, 11½ kilograms; Ireland, an island nation, 2¾ kilograms.
To dismiss the question, therefore, simply that we are not a fish-consuming community is merely to ignore the problem altogether. As Deputy de Valera pointed out, there is one day in the week that is, for obvious reasons, meatless. I put it to the Minister—and no one knows it better than he does because he knows the traditions of the country—how many families in the country can rely on a fish dinner as an alternative to meat on Friday? Rural Deputies in the House will answer that fish, as far as the rural community is concerned, is practically nil. I know small towns  and villages—some of them, mark you, along the coast—where practically the whole year round fish is unobtainable.
That is a deplorable position, but it has not arisen during the past 12 months or during the past two years or five years. The position, in fact, was somewhat better shortly after we got our own Government and I would quote, in particular, the period from 1925 to show that, after a long extension of home government, the home fishing industry has deteriorated.
I suggest to the Minister that there will have to be a radical change. I agree that as the Minister presides over one of the most important, if not the most important and difficult Ministries in the State, with his hands fully occupied right, left and centre, and with new schemes like the rehabilitation scheme thrust upon him, it is utterly absurd to think that with all these responsibilities he can also deal with what is regarded as—if not an equally important industry—the nonetheless very important industry of fishing. I suggest that the industry has suffered because of lax administration from the top. We need somebody in this House—if not a Minister, a Parliamentary Secretary or a person of that type—who will be here at call to give the House an account of the stewardship in the Ministry more often than unfortunately is the case at the present time when the only discussion on fisheries occupies three or four hours in the year. Until we have a person of that type and until the House as a whole, irrespective of Party, insists on a change of that kind, you will have the miserable presentation of the fishery position that we have to-day and that was presented, I am sorry to say, in that form last night.
Mr. Corry: Unfortunately in this House, on this Vote, as on the Vote for Agriculture, we have to face again the position of the square peg in the round hole. I appreciate the speech made by Deputy Martin O'Sullivan, but I would like to point out to him that a large portion of the responsibility is his and his alone. Speaking at the conclusion of this Estimate on  the 25th May, 1949 (column 1991 of the Official Debates), the Minister stated:—
“Remember, we are not a fish-eating people. Since 95 per cent. of us are good, pious Roman Catholics, we have to eat fish on Friday, but we are damned if we will eat it any other day. I would not eat fish if I could get out of it. I detest fish. Why anyone should feel bound to eat fish I do not know. I detest the stuff and I always did.”
Mr. Corry: Of fish; of “cod” if I was dealing with the Deputy. That is the man picked out by this House and put in charge of the fishing industry of an island. After all we are an island, and surely to heavens you would expect that with water all around our coast we would at least be able to pull enough out of the water. to supply our needs, and not have £300,000——
Speaking on this Estimate last year I drew the Minister's attention to a few matters, and I would like to know what has been done since. The first was the position with regard to Ballycotton. I pointed out to him in column 1978:—
“I have been approached in this matter by the Ballycotton Development Association on a few occasions and I have been informed that the man in charge there is not prepared to recommend the purchase of any extra boats in the district until the pier there is extended and protection afforded to those boats.”
Representing portion of the tax-paying area which must pay for these boats,  I want my share for my constituents. The present boats have no protection and they are being damaged and damaged severely. I mentioned the matter one year and gave the Minister 12 months—I said I did not want to press him as I wanted to give him a chance—to have the pier extended. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle himself is aware that the matter was brought to the attention of Cork County Council by me and we sent recommendations to the Minister in that respect, but we have not heard from the Fisheries Department since. It is about time that this Department woke up from the Methuselah state it is in. As Deputy O'Sullivan said, if somebody took charge of it and woke it up we would find ourselves getting somewhere.
In that little village we have some of the best sailors, I might say, in the world. We have men there who must on several occasions each year risk their lives going out in the lifeboat to rescue distressed ships off the coast. They got the very highest honours for their work in that respect that could be given in either of the two islands. There is no protection for them or anybody else at that pier. We are now in the position that the young men growing up have no further room. If they buy a boat, there is no place in which to keep it and, as I pointed out on the last Estimate, we will lose these young men, one by one, who have to go elsewhere to earn a livelihood which they are denied at home. That is why I am concentrating as far as possible on this one spot. If I am put to the trouble of having to get up here again on the question of Ballycotton pier I will give trouble enough in this House in regard to it, both on the Adjournment and otherwise. I can stand for so much, but I will not stand for it all.
Although we pointed out to the Minister the position as regards foreign trawlers, he came along with a smiling face to tell us that they only came in for shelter in stormy weather. I am sorry the Minister is not in the House. I had an amusing experience a month or a fortnight afterwards of seeing Deputy Con Lehane very busily engaged in Bantry canvassing nine  Spaniards for votes for Deputy Murphy. Those gentlemen are only distressed persons coming in for shelter! I am sorry the Minister did not succeed in getting as far as Bantry, but anyone who travelled the town of Bantry during the election period would be struck by the fact that some 25 per cent. of the population there at that period were the crews of either French or Spanish trawlers, and there is no fear that they were trawling outside the three-mile limit and there is no good in pretending that they were.
It is a scandalous state of affairs that while we have facilities for the supply of all our needs in fish we should have to pay foreigners £300,000 or £400,000 a year for foreign fish. There is no justification for it. There is a livelihood there for our own people and our own people are entitled to the facilities.
I, in common with other Deputies from Cork, got a round-up last week in connection with the position there. Last Tuesday I happened to go to what we call the English market in Cork and travelled around the stalls. At every step I was stopped and asked to look at the condition of the stalls and was told that they had nothing to offer the people except salmon at 7/- a lb. I saw that for myself.
Because the Minister does not like fish and would not be seen dead along-side it, like wheat, does not mean that other people who have a different taste from the Minister would not like a bit of fish for their breakfast or their tea. Fish is a luxury to-day for the rural community. It cannot be got at all, good, bad or indifferent. I am being quite frank. I am not blaming the present Government for it. I say that the present Government made a mistake when they put in charge the man that they did put in charge; but that is all. Imagine any Minister in charge of a Department expressing himself in such a manner in this House. It was not in one of his wild periods, before he was brought into control and the curb and the bit put on his jaws, as in agriculture; it was on 25th May, 1949, when, speaking as  Minister for Agriculture from that seat there, he said he hated fish, that he disliked the stuff. That is a very bad lead from a Minister in charge of that particular Department. The Minister should at least control his tongue. I may not be too good a hand at controlling my own at times but, thank God, I am free of all responsibility except responsibility to my own people.
I may say-that-the fishing industry has been a neglected industry. There is very little use in talking about protecting the inshore fishermen against the trawling fishermen when you import £300,000 to £500,000 worth of fish. There is £500,000 to be earned by somebody in this country rather than abroad. That is my anxiety. I do not want to take up the time of the House in regard to it, but I hope to hear from the Minister the definite reasons why he has taken no steps in regard to Ballycotton pier. I do not want to be put to the trouble of having to raise this matter here by question and on the Adjournment, and if I am not successful in that way, I will get some other means of raising it that will be very distasteful to the Minister concerned.
Mr. J. Flynn: I would like to stress the point in regard to inshore fishermen as against deep-sea trawling. I believe that if we can encourage the smaller men along the coastline, even with smaller craft, to carry on their economy and maintain their little holdings and at the same time eke out an existence as fishermen, it is the best in the long run.
The larger craft could be worked on a commercial basis supplying large centres and would help to compete against the foreign trawlers but, if you put one system in competition with the other, you will defeat the whole object of your economy and destroy the livelihood of the small men around the coast who are the backbone of the Gaeltacht and of the fishing industry in those districts.
The point that I made some time ago in regard to handing over fisheries to riparian owners has been raised here to-day. I regret to state that  the Minister seems to forget the fundamental point in that regard. In one statement he claims that under his new proposal he is prepared to establish what he calls a central fishery board, a central authority, and that he is prepared to recognise farmers as owners and, in the next breath, he states that, even though he recognises them as owners, he is not allowing them to establish their right; he is not allowing them to develop fisheries adjacent to their own lands. I claim the fundamental point is missed there. Why talk about restoring their right if you do not allow them to develop their right, or to use their right as riparian owners? I think that is a fundamental point and that the State should not come in and dictate to those men. The Minister went so far as to say that he would allow them to fish with a rod and line up their land. That would give them the same right as a tourist from outside. I admit at the same time that it would be essential for the State to develop a stretch of river and get all to co-operate. If these men are to be denied the right they should have at all times, that is, the right to these fisheries which were taken from them by landlords 60 or 80 years ago, that will be against all fundamental democratic principles. I will refer to that when the Minister is bringing in his new proposal.
There is a question on compensation for men who were deprived of netting on fresh waters. Under previous legislation, certain difficulties arose, and I understand the Minister is now bringing in an amending Bill to clarify some of those points. I appreciate that. As a matter of fact, in our district in County Kerry the workers were compensated but received compensation as low as £40 or £50 for a long period of work for the owner of the fishery. That is all they received in some of those cases. I would like to make that point when the matter is being introduced, that these men should get some reasonable compensation. The rate of compensation allowed under that Act was not at all in keeping with the years of employment of these men in the particular fresh water fisheries.
 I am in agreement with all the Deputies who referred to the provision of facilities for fishermen—slipways and piers. I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance is present, as I understand that there would be co-operation there between the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Finance. In that way, we can appeal to both Departments to make grants available for the provision of slipways and the repair of piers. We have sent in several applications from County Kerry in regard to these matters. I had several motions before the Kerry County Council asking the Department to consider these proposals, as the fishermen in some cases were not able to land safely. In another case, in Cromane, County Kerry, where men engaged in salmon fishery wanted boulders removed from the fishing grounds, it would cost £200 to £300 to clear them, and we have not received any consideration of it. That is my contention on this Estimate.
The question of marketing has been raised. In Cahirciveen we have a development association which put up proposals to the Minister in regard to a freezing plant. I claim that, in the period when you have a glut of fish, if you have a plant like that in an area, with proper facilities for storage, you could then transport fish to all the towns inland. If the Cork, Donegal and other areas round the coast have such plant and equipment, there could be an all-the-year-round delivery from those points inland, which would prevent the imports of fish from outside in the slack period. The American system is well worthy of consideration and our people in Cahirciveen recommended to the Minister to consider the new type of freezing plants now on sale and offered by the American people, which would be very suitable for our trade here and for this type of development. We worked it out in detail and gave the costings and the accommodation. In Cahirciveen, as well as in other districts—in Dingle, for instance—at certain periods there is a glut of fish and it is a question of rush and hustle to try to get it away to Dublin or across channel, perhaps  at not very satisfactory prices. Whereas, if we had some alternative, a system whereby you could deal with a greater quantity of that glut of fish and utilise it for distribution at a later date, that would help towards a solution. At any rate, it would be well worth consideration. It would solve all our difficulties in regard to the complete exclusion of imports. Perhaps there would have to be imports of fish at some stage, but I would like to make that point.
On the point made by Deputy Palmer about fishing boats, we have made certain recommendations from time to time with regard to fishermen along the coast and I would like to support Deputy Palmer in regard to that matter. We seem to have got—except in one case—no response or satisfactory recognition of our claims on behalf of the fishermen down there. There again, I appreciate the difficulties and know that the Minister and his Department are doing their utmost to meet us, but we still persist in making the claim that we must get our quota, as in common with all other areas we are entitled to it.
I believe that some adjustment in regard to the sea fisheries is necessary. I am not criticising the Sea Fisheries Association unduly. I know that probably the system under which they operate is difficult, but I think the time is opportune, especially when the Minister is contemplating new legislation in regard to a central fishery authority, to make some adjustment of the whole fishery organisation of this country, including the sea fisheries. He will probably re-establish it on different lines and have more co-operation from other sections of the fishing industry than at the moment. Until something is done in that direction, there is no good in criticising unduly or in blaming them for one thing or another without being fully conversant with the facts. I am not in a position to criticise any section of that organisation, because I have not the full facts. I want to say again that the Minister, his Department and this Government —and every Government which we have had in this country so far—regard the  Fisheries Department as a sort of a sideline, with the result that it is not getting its proper place in our economy, in our Departments and in our Government which it should get. It is tied up with agriculture. I support the suggestion that it should be a separate Department, because I feel that it is not receiving the respect to which such an important industry is entitled. Unless that is done and unless you have a new outlook altogether and a new personnel attached to the organisation and work of that Department, you will find Deputies coming back here year after year and making the same statements on this Estimate. Almost every Deputy who spoke on this Estimate to-day has more or less reiterated statements which he made on the same Estimate 12 months ago. I was present in the House then and, with very slight adjustments, it is obvious that the same line of thought exists to-day as existed then, and the same type of criticism which was made then was made again to-day. That in itself proves that there has been no advance—that we are coming back and blaming one section of the organisation as against another. Unless the Minister comes along, as he did in connection with the land rehabilitation scheme, and says: “I want £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 for this Department,” we cannot hope for very much.
Mr. T. Brennan: I think it is conceded by everyone that, this country being an island, the fishing industry is second only to that of the basic industry of the country, agriculture. In the old days of Sinn Féin the industry was considered of such high importance and as having such great potentialities that when the first Dáil was setting up the different Ministers it was decided that fisheries should have a separate Department. That position obtained during the lifetime, I think, of the first Dáil and of the second Dáil. We got control over most of our country in 1922, and I do not consider that the fishing industry was involved in any controversy as between ourselves and Great Britain at the time of the Treaty. I think we had full control to deal with the matter of fisheries. Why we ever allowed that all-important industry to be regarded  as worthy only of a subsidiary Department, with only one Minister to deal with another Department and it I do not know. We have now had 26 or 28 years' experience of the system whereby the fishing industry has been controlled either under a single or a dual Ministry. We have had a number of years' experience of the Sea Fisheries Association. Despite all that experience, it is obvious to-day that our fishing industry and its potentialities have not been taken advantage of. Those potentialities, as they appeared to those who were responsible for the establishment of this State—if they were ever there—have not, apparently, been taken advantage of. I am not going to apportion blame in any way. I do not feel I am qualified to do so. The fact is that this all-important industry has not been taken advantage of and developed properly, with the result that it has made no strides worth talking about during the 26 or 28 years of the lifetime of this State. Can we give any reason why the industry has not been developed on a larger scale? To start with, we have not fully developed either the distribution or the marketing of fish, and perhaps that is one of the reasons why the industry is not quite what it should be. We must now ask ourselves why we have not looked after these aspects of the matter. There must be some good reasons, and I should like to hear the Minister tell us why the distribution and marketing of fish throughout the country has not been developed not alone since he came into office but during the years since the foundation of this State. The fact that these steps were not taken reacts not alone against the proper development of the industry but also, in different ways, against the fishermen.
Some Deputies have complained about the excessive price of fish at present. My information is that, in so far as fish landed by the fishermen who have boats from the Sea Fisheries Association is concerned, it is sold and must be sold at a controlled price.
Those fish are sold, and must be sold, at a controlled price. They are sold in the Dublin market by some representative of the Sea Fisheries Association.  When there is a plentiful supply of fish, the controlled price is not realised, for the simple reason that there is plenty of fish in the market, and I suppose the demand controls the price. In some cases fish may be sold 50 or 60 per cent. under the controlled price. The retailer who buys that fish from the fisherman, if I am informed correctly, at 20, 30, 40 or 60 per cent. under the controlled price, when selling that fish over the counter to the ordinary housewife, gets his full controlled retail price, so that when the Almighty sends a plentiful supply of fish those engaged in the industry have to put up with the slump price, but the people who eat the fish still have to pay the same price. I think that is wrong.
I am glad to know that the Minister is about to take steps to meet a situation such as this. When we have a plentiful supply of fish, and there is a surplus over the amount required, the surplus fish should be stored in certain areas throughout the country, so that when the lean period occurs there will be a plentiful supply of fish for the country as a whole, thereby obviating the necessity of the Sea Fisheries Association or any other responsible authority having to import fish during the lean period. That, to my mind, would be one way of developing the sea fishing industry. It would be one way of meeting the demand for fish, and it would play a very important part in helping those engaged in the rather hazardous work of fishing.
Take the price of a boat at the present time. The cost of an average boat, with modern gear, I am informed, is somewhere in the region of £5,000. Of that £5,000 the applicant has to lay down £1,000. He agrees to sell his fish to the Sea Fisheries Association and the repayment of the £4,000 is made to the association by way of a percentage or portion of the catch. That individual has a big outlay, if I am informed correctly, between insurance and other items. Indeed, the cost to the boat owner would be in the region of £300 or £330 a year. He has already deposited £1,000, and there is handed over to him £4,000 of public money, representing  the value of the boat. Every step should be taken by the Sea Fisheries Association or the Fishery Department, or whoever is responsible for the recoupment of such money as I have referred to, namely, £4,000, to ensure that the boat owner gets every opportunity to make his living by the boat and is placed in a position to meet current expenses in the running of the boat and honour his obligations with regard to the £4,000, in the shortest possible period.
One reason why we should have storage stations distributed all over the country is because that man, having put down £1,000 and received a boat worth £5,000, of which £4,000 is public money, should be guaranteed at all times a price for his fish; let the demand be there or not for all the fish he catches, he should receive a price commensurate with what would give him a decent livelihood and place him in a position to meet his current expenses. He should receive that price for all fish, and the quantity of fish not utilised or in demand should be put in cold storage and distributed to the public during the lean fishing periods which we have generally over the year. There is an obligation on the responsible body to ensure that that man is placed in a position to repay the money to the general public purse within a reasonable period. At the same time, he should be given an opportunity to make a decent living for himself.
I understand, on the question of importing fish, that certain nonnational bodies can register in this country, and the very fact that they can register gives them a licence to come into the Port of Dublin or somewhere else and dump their fish. That should not be allowed, because if we want to develop the fishing industry, we must give encouragement to those engaged in it. We must give them some incentive and we must save them from outside interference in every way we can in order to ensure that, whatever be the result of their work, the fish they catch will be disposed of in the best interests of the individual and  in the best interests of the community. Why should we allow non nationals, when it suits them, to come in here and dump their fish at the Port of Dublin or at some other port in competition with the fish caught by our own nationals? To allow that to happen is not playing the game with our own people and is not giving them the protection to which they are entitled. The Department should be concerned to see that, when public moneys are handed over to those engaged in the fishing industry to purchase boats, the purchasers are put in a position to enable them to repay the loan they get which, in some cases, represents four-fifths of the cost of a boat.
There is another matter to which I wish to direct the Minister's attention, and that is the necessity for carrying out improvements to our harbours so that our fishermen, when they have catches of fish, will be able to land them without either a risk to their boats or to themselves personally. In the case of Arklow Harbour, we have what is known as a sand bar. It silts up perhaps two, three or four times in the year, with the result that neither fishing boats nor commercial boats can get in or out of the harbour. That has occurred from time to time when there were plentiful supplies of fish outside the harbour. In that situation the boats could not go out. On other occasions, it has happened that when the boats had good catches they could not risk entering the harbour, and so had to go to Wicklow or some other port to make a landing of the fish.
The bar has been in a very bad state this year. Thanks to the three Departments concerned—the Fisheries Department, the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Board of Works—the service of a dredger was secured. The work of dredging went on during the winter, but the work was only half done, when the Faugh a Ballagh, the dredger concerned, was recalled for repairs. I know that we have the sympathy of the Fisheries Department so far as the dredging of the harbour is concerned. I am taking advantage of the presence of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister  for Finance who is in charge of the Board of Works, which is concerned in this, to refer to the matter. It is a pity that the job was only half done. It would be a greater pity still if, during these summer months, the work of dredging was not completed. If its completion is not resumed until the winter months, the value of the dredging already carried out will be rendered useless.
Mr. T. Brennan: I do not know about that. I have first-hand information about it. At any rate, at the moment the channel half-way across, or perhaps a little more than half-way, is clear; but the remaining portion has still to be cleared. If the dredger were available, it would be desirable to have the work carried out and the job finished in the summer months. If that were done, we possibly could look forward to another 12 months before appearing before the Minister again to ask him to use his influence to have the bar cleared again.
Mr. T. Brennan: We will have a proposition to put up to the Minister in regard to that too. At the moment I am speaking about keeping the bar open until such time as the big job, which we hope will eventually be carried out, is set on foot. I hope, if the Minister is there, that he will be 100 per cent. in support of us in getting that big job done.
Mr. T. Brennan: I do not expect that because I think you will be a lucky man if you are there for two more years. I am urging on the Minister how important it is for the harbour commissioners in Arklow to have this job completed during the summer months. I understand that the Faugh a Ballagh will not be available until late in August or early in September.  That might be too late to start completing this job. If the Faugh a Ballagh is not available, then I suggest that a proposal, backed by the Minister, should be put up to the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Board of Works to have a Dutch dredger employed on the completion of this job. If it were undertaken now it probably would be completed in three weeks, but if the work is delayed until mid-August or early September it will mean making a fresh start all over again on the work that was undertaken last December. I might mention that the cost of the dredging that was carried out from the 1st December last until some time in May was between £8,500 and £9,000, of which the harbour commissioners had to pay £750. That sum is hanging like a rope around their necks and will continue to do so until they are able to collect enough revenues to pay it off. I would ask the Minister to give every help he can to ensure that the dredging of the bar will be completed before the bad weather breaks.
If we have to wait for the Faugh a Ballagh, those who are in a position to judge are of the opinion that it is more than likely the work carried out during the months from May to December on the sand bar will be undone. I am sure neither of the Departments concerned would wish to have £8,000 or £9,000 thrown away to sea, so to speak.
Mr. Desmond: In this Estimate we are faced with two main problems. We are faced with the problem of providing adequate supplies of fish for the home market and, at the same time, ensuring adequate protection for the inshore fishermen. I was glad to note in the Minister's introductory statement that an increased quantity of fish was landed during the year. It is some satisfaction to know that. It was also satisfactory to learn that there has been an increase in the number of persons engaged whole-time and part-time in the fishing industry. It was gratifying to learn that the Minister is willing to give fishermen all the facilities they require. It is admitted that the inshore fishermen in many  areas are yet in need of boats, gear and so on. If the Minister is determined to supply them with all the necessary facilities, that will go a long way towards helping them and towards ensuring adequate supplies on the home market. We cannot, of course, say much in view of the proposed introduction of the codifying measure in the near future. A good deal will depend on that and we shall have to wait to see how far it will help the inshore fishermen and improve the position in the fishing industry generally.
The Minister dealt with the rights and wrongs of the dispute between the Sea Fisheries Association and Muintir na Mara. I am not connected with either of them and I do not propose to say very much about them. It may be that the Minister found it necessary to dwell on the rights and wrongs of that dispute, believing, as he obviously did last night, that the line taken by Muintir na Mara was not at all times the correct one and I think he was justified in making the points he did. The Minister stated that he was having a memorandum prepared on the problem of the shortage of fish throughout the country. I come from the sea coast—the mouth of Cork harbour—and I can tell the Minister that people living five miles away from me never see a bit of fish. I hope that in the preparation of this memorandum it will not be a matter of dealing solely with Dublin, Cork, Limerick and the large towns. I hope it will cover the entire country, taking in villages of a certain size. It is quite true that there are towns and villages at the moment where the only bit of fish the people ever see is a small bit of salt fish, and they are lucky if they can get that.
The Minister said that it was his aim to ensure that all the fish on the home market would be put there through the activities of the inshore fishermen. I believe it is essential to concentrate on the home market to see how far we can extend the demand for fish. Deputy Corry quoted from the Official Reports in order to show that the Minister had expressed a dislike  of fish. I think we must at all times be honest and candid in discussing an Estimate and I think the best approach in such discussion is to leave out all personalities. I am not interested in whether or not the Minister likes fish. I would be surprised to learn that he does not like it. We have always been told that fish is good for developing the brain. At some period of his life the Minister must have eaten a lot of fish, because his brain is very well developed. Good luck to him for that!
I was not in the House last year when this Estimate was under discussion, but I have since read the debate on it. Several Deputies spoke of the advantages of deep-sea fishing. Last year, in his introductory speech, the Minister pointed out that inshore fishing was not economically perfect; but he stated that it was founded on something more perfect—an Irish way of life. Further on, speaking on the same theme, he said that their way of life is part of a social pattern they have woven for themselves as part-time fishermen, part-time farmer. That is correct up to a point. He mentioned the arguments against the possible views that might be expressed by those Deputies who were in favour of deep-sea fishing. His views on trawling were very strong. He said:—
He opposed that way of life in favour of the more gracious way of living by inshore fishing. It is our duty to express not our own personal views on this matter, but the views of those who sent us here. In all constituencies there are people engaged in different types of livelihood, and we have to take into consideration their views as a whole. I can see the difficulties facing the inshore fishermen. I know places where adequate protection has not yet been given to them, through no fault of the Minister. They are waiting for gear and proper boats in Cork harbour, Blackrock and elsewhere. Taking the matter as a whole, I do not think sufficient attention has been given to those areas where the  people cannot be classed as part-time fishermen. I admit that part-time fisherman part-time farmer is a grand way of life, but if the Minister would cast his eyes on those areas it is not the sordid horror of the trawler and modern industrial ideas that is the difficulty, but the sordid horror of the way in which the people have to live. I am thinking now of towns like Kinsale, where the sole occupation is that of fisherman. There is no hope of any other type of occupation for these people; their livelihood is connected solely with the sea. We have a responsibility to face in their regard. We have an obligation on us, of which the Minister is aware, to provide as far as possible employment for all our people irrespective of whether they live on the sea-coast or inland.
If we take into consideration the dire distress under which some of these people have had to live for years past and under which they are still living, we must ask ourselves the question: “Is inshore fishing adequate, so far as these people are concerned?” I remember occasions when these poor people brought in good catches and, because there was a glut in the market, they could not get buyers. Things may be somewhat different under the co-operative system introduced by the Minister, but yet when people are solely dependent on fishing for a livelihood, we should not be content with talking of their graceful way of life and the beautiful atmosphere surrounding their little homes. We have to face the hard realities of life. It is no use saying to them: “Let you continue as others before you did,” because they cannot continue their present mode of existence. It is a hard sight to see some of our young men around Cork harbour year after year, going to England and other foreign countries looking for employment on ships and trawlers which we should be able to provide for them here at home. The Minister may say, of course, that deep-sea fishing will not pay. Perhaps that is true; I will go so far as to say that inshore fishing of itself will never pay. One statement made by the Minister last night was very significant. I am glad to see the  Minister giving full consideration to inshore fisheries in so far as guaranteeing a good market price is concerned, but there is no use in guaranteeing a price unless we have a sufficient number of consumers to buy on the market. The question arises are we satisfied, even though there has been some increase in the quantity of fish landed, that that increase is sufficient? I believe that it is not sufficient, because for these increased landings of fish we got a ready market.
Deputies have spoken about the supplies available in Cork. I do not want to repeat these statements, but I would say to the Minister that he was mistaken in his statement last night that fish was not available in Cork on Monday. The people of Cork, so far as I know, do not usually go in for fish on Monday. They might have a bit of cold meat left over after Sunday, but the fact is that people down there—a certain proportion of them, at any rate—will not wait until Friday to eat fish if they can get it. Can we put fish on the market for them? I am not suggesting that the Minister should have to put the fish on the market just when they require it. I believe that we cannot get supplies in that way overnight. I realise that regularity of supply is one of the most difficult problems that we have to face. Perhaps even if we had more trawlers to engage in deep-sea fishing, and an easterly wind came along when they put out to sea, their trip might be quite fruitless, but yet I believe that inshore fishing and deep-sea fishing could be made complementary one to the other and we could then perhaps put supplies on the home market as they were required.
On the 26th April last I addressed a question to the Taoiseach as to the amount of fish imported during 1949. Without going in too much detail into the answer, I may say that it indicated that the total quantity of fish of all kinds imported during the year was 70,360 cwts. of a total value of £578,514. Even allowing for all the fish that our inshore fishermen were able to put on the market, we had to import fish to the value of £578,514. That proves that we have a market  for an additional quantity of fish to the value of £600,000. I believe that if we are going to leave the question of supplying this fish to the inshore fisheries alone, the danger may be that, as in the case of other commodities in this country, people may say: “As long as we have a guaranteed market why should we bother about increasing the quantity to be put on the market?” You cannot compel them to do that, and I quite realise that, even with deep-sea fishing, we could not have a guaranteed supply at any particular time. The question is: should we go in for deep-sea fishing if there is no use in sending out a few trawlers at a given time with the knowledge that they can return within a certain time limit with plentiful supplies of fish?
The question was asked here last year—and it indicated a view I expressed often myself in other places— would it not be possible for our fishermen to work in co-operation with our still small navy? Down at Ringaskiddy, near Haulbowline, we see our naval boats high and dry at the moment. I do not know what we want them for. Would it not be possible even to barter them for a few decent trawlers? Round the south coast and in various parts of the country we have the material in the way of splendid specimens of manhood who are anxious to adopt this way of living. If we brought them into our navy and gave them a training for the work, it would be most advantageous, because the Minister must realise that the younger generation are not perhaps willing to endure the same amount of hardship and the trials and sorrows through which their fathers before them went. The younger generation realise that if they stay at home to work as fishermen in the inshore fishing industry—that is, if they have no other jobs in which to employ their idle time—there is going to be many a week in the year when they will not have a penny in their pockets, whereas if they take it into their heads to emigrate they are at least guaranteed better conditions, better wages and certain facilities on trawlers in other countries.
 I, of course, fully understand that it would be useless, in fact madness for us, to think that we can go into this industry on the same scale as other countries have been conducting it for years, but I think we should realise that countries such as Norway, Denmark and others have set a headline for us that we could copy with advantage. There is no use in our thinking that at present we can go half the distance they have gone, because while supplies from foreign trawlers are flooding the English market, we are not justified in thinking that we have a guaranteed market at all times for our surplus fish, but there is one point to which we should give close consideration. If we were to operate deep-sea fisheries, even on a small scale, would it be possible for us to utilise fish for purposes other than human consumption? The Minister, of course, mentioned as against deep-sea fishing the question of iced fish coming into this country. It is perfectly true also to say that our people use a lot of salt fish and a considerable quantity of that is imported. We do not know where it comes from; we do not know what way it is done up, but yet people have to use it. I believe there would be a ready market here if you could get a sufficient quantity of certain types of fish required for fishmeal. I believe that towns such as Kinsale are crying out for some assistance in this way and though each Department fails in turn to give help, I believe the Minister's Department could assist to a certain degree, even by the utilisation of surplus fish for a canning industry. It may be said that we have it already, but that in itself does not secure enough for us. I believe there is an opening there and that there is an obligation on us to go into the matter in full detail to see if there is a possibility of taking advantage of it.
In connection with deep-sea trawlers coming within the three-mile limit, the Minister mentioned that very often they came in for shelter. Perhaps, as we say down the country, they come in for the good of their health. The Minister also mentioned about blowing a whistle for bringing in the fish. I can assure the Minister that we never  blow a whistle to bring in the foreign trawlers. They do not come in for the good of their health, but to catch fish for the good of their pockets. I am not in a position to measure the distance accurately, but I have seen foreign trawlers coming in very near and getting fish there. Perhaps the Minister may be right with regard to the idea of building 50-foot boats. I believe that the only way to get around this question of foreign trawlers coming within the three-mile limit is to put our fishermen in boats which will be able to go beyond the three-mile limit and carry on fishing against the invading trawlers. Deputy Corry mentioned about these trawlers being in Bantry. We know that they are all over the place. It is up to us to see if we cannot put our own fishermen in proper boats in order that they may be able to fish beyond the three-mile limit and by doing so secure adequate supplies of fish for the home market.
Of course, it all comes down to the question whether we can put sufficient supplies on the home market. Before that question can be answered we must ascertain what is necessary to supply the home market. Deputy Martin O'Sullivan made a very good point when he spoke of the work and the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture. In this island country it seems strange that fisheries should be just a small part of another Department which is concerned with problems in the heart of the country. Surely the Fisheries Department is of such importance that there should be a separate Minister in charge of it. I am not saying that the present Minister is not capable of being in charge of it. But, in fairness to the Minister, I must say that I believe that agriculture on its own is sufficient for any Minister. This is just a small section of it groping in the dark, as it were. There are men in that section for years who are experts at their work. Yet, because they are more or less isolated, or because there is more or less a fifth column system all around them, the fact is that they cannot get out. I believe it is vitally necessary, owing to the advantages which some of us believe are in the fishing industry, to  put the section in such a position that they can strike out independently on their own.
Then there is the question of piers. Deputy Corry referred to certain correspondence in connection with certain piers in County Cork. In fairness and justice to the Department, I must say that our local authorities do not recognise their own direct responsibility in the matter. They fail to realise that the upkeep of such piers is of importance to them and of vital importance to fishermen in the various areas. We have had instances where the Department offered a certain grant towards the cost and the local authorities refused it on the ground that they wanted the Department to pay the whole cost.
Mr. Desmond: In fairness to the Minister, I must say that while he was out of the House the point was made that there were certain requests made by the Cork County Council in connection with Ballycotton pier.
Mr. Desmond: That is the point I was coming to. The question arose while the Minister was out of the House and the responsibility was put on him. In fairness to him I am pointing out that that is not the case, that there is an obligation also on the local authority to face up to their side of the question. So long as we have that responsibility locally, there is no use in our attacking the Department in connection with a responsibility which is ours directly. In that connection I should like to refer to the question of a pier at the Old Head of Kinsale. The Department has offered a grant for that and we have agreed to put up our share and are waiting for the work to commence.
In view of the attitude and the views expressed by various Deputies on all  sides of the House, I hope it is not too late to consider the question of how far inshore fishing will provide adequate supplies for the home market at a fair and proper price. If we can find no other solution for that problem, will we face up to the responsibility of putting fish on the home market, to a certain limited degree, by means of deep-sea fishing? I realise that the Minister is doing his part in providing boats. Perhaps another 12 months will prove whether the intake of fish by inshore fishing is sufficient in itself. I am glad to inform the Minister that if he wants boats built we have a new boat-building yard in Crosshaven which can supply these boats.
Mr. Little: The more one examines this problem the more one realises its national importance. Perhaps some of us who are interested in our own constituency are sometimes inclined to take a partial view and pay attention just to the problems which arise in our own constituency. But I think the more you look at it the more you realise the tremendous importance of the fishing industry as a national problem which should be tackled. Some speakers to-day made that point very well and pointed out that the Department of Fisheries is almost the Cinderella of the Government. The Minister will have a very severe task before him in battling with Finance and with the Government if he is going to carry out the wishes of the House as indicated in this debate. He mentioned in another debate that the population of the country was going up. I think that he will admit that that is largely due to the development of industry in Leinster and in Dublin. But if you take the outlying areas around our coast you will find that the population is not going up in those areas. Here we have a potential industry in connection with which we could develop a population of the very finest types. That applies to every country. Fishing is a magnificent industry and one  to which great attention and considerable expenditure are devoted in other countries because it is regarded as an essential part of defence in these countries.
In Newfoundland and in other places the fishing industry was always regarded as the backbone of a navy. For that reason I would support the suggestions made here to-day that more attention should be given to the protective ships. The Minister promised, I think, last year that he would try to get aeroplanes to protect our shores. He has not told us in his opening statement what his general policy with regard to defence of our fisheries is. He did make a strong point of a particular prosecution and of what had been done by putting the law into motion, but there is something which must be done before the law can be put in motion, that is, actual physical protection by means of the proper ships. He told us in a debate in the Seanad about the plans for selling the corvettes and the M.T.B.s as not being suitable, but he had to try to buy other ships which would be more suitable. He has not told us how far he has been able to make progress in that matter, which is a very vital aspect of the defence of our fisheries. We will not get rid of the nuisance until fishermen in other countries realise that the Government is really serious about dealing with the matter. Because it is not serious, we get unfortunate incidents where shooting takes place; people get their tempers up about it due to the fact that we have not dealt with the matter.
Mr. Little: It is realistic. When I raised some years ago the question of the protection of our shores abuse was  heaped upon me by the Minister. He now realises that it is a permanent problem which faces every Minister, and which can only be dealt with each year as it arises. I do not think that his abuse at that time was justifiable.
There is just one detail which I would like to mention, Passage, where the tragedy occurred last year. I asked especially that the owner of that boat should get another boat, and that the boats generally should be looked over and if possible renewed. Above all, I would consider any scheme which might be evolved to deal with the insurance of the fishermen in the future as a very vital matter.
Deputy Lehane, following upon what Deputy de Valera had already said, referred to the question of markets. There is no doubt that one of the key problems is the creation of a market. The old discussion as to whether the demand goes before the supply or the supply before the demand is one that arises in a very acute form here. If the supply of fish were there—and judging by the statements of Deputies from different parts of the country the supply is not there—people actually would buy fish. I myself know of mountain farmers who would be delighted to get fish if they could. A market can only be created by examining the whole situation as to how fish can be put into the rural areas. I may say that the attitude taken up by the Minister on the Estimate last year, when he decried the eating of fish and said that he detested it, was not helpful. It may be expressing his own point of view, but it is not helpful to the development of the industry itself. If you say that others will say it and shrug their shoulders, and there will be a tendency against the development of the market as it should be developed.
I think that the Minister should try to make sure that people are taught how to cook fish properly. If he had got fish cooked as it is cooked elsewhere probably he would not have developed the distaste for fish that he has. Very often our fish is cooked badly, and it is sold in a condition that is not attractive, and all that is part of the whole problem. It is outlook and organisation from the market  supply point of view and from the demand point of view which is very definitely lacking. The authorities on diet point out that fish is an extremely valuable and useful diet. We cannot say that the average person living in Ireland gets too much of any food and could not do with a really good fish diet. There are plenty of places where even potatoes run short and people do not get the chance of eating meat every day, and if a supply of fish were properly put before them it would add immensely to their well-being.
The problem of keeping fish arises, of course, and I would like to know if the Minister knows anything about the attempt which was made in Waterford City to preserve fish and sell it. I think it was not a success, but I would like to know if the Minister knows anything about it.
Mr. Little: I have no doubt that if smoked fish, salt fish and tinned fish of certain kinds were sold all over the country they would be bought up. There was a little industry in Youghal at one time where they tinned sprats or whitebait or sardines. It was a prospering industry until the man who was running it died, and I think it is a matter that requires to be looked into again.
The Minister and his colleagues have been making quite a number of promises. I counted a number and I hope that he will carry them out. He promised the aeroplanes and ships to protect the industry. He promised a school of fishing, and I do not know if he is able to tell us anything about the progress of that school.
Mr. Little: The Minister seems to be annoyed with my remarks. It is a pity that he cannot take the statements made with every intention of  being constructive by the Opposition without having to get irritated——
Mr. Little: ——and keeping on grunting. It is difficult to know what on earth he is saying. He has also promised us legislation with regard to the inland fisheries. If he carries out half his promises he will not do too badly.
A question which has aroused a good deal of controversy during the debate has been the question of the deep-sea trawler. The Minister has found a number of reasons why it should not be developed, but I think Deputy Desmond put the case very well when he said that, while the inshore fisheries should not be impaired or interfered with, a certain development of the deep-sea trawler could be used for supplementary purposes because the inshore men cannot supply all the fish required in continuity. One or two deep-sea trawlers could not possibly do great damage to the inshore men.
Mr. Little: You can hardly say it was lost by us because that experiment was commenced before we came into office. It was ultimately closed down by us and I remember that at the time it was not well organised by any means, and the criticism made of its original organisation was very severe. The whole thing was a sort of scandal at the time, but I do not intend to go back to that now.
 Then, again, there is the problem of the harbours. Deputy Desmond mentioned Ballycotton. The trouble with all these harbours is that they all seem to be under different authorities. Some of them are under the Department of Industry and Commerce; some under the Board of Works; and some under the local authority. Between them all, the Department of Fisheries can do very little. I know that they are going to do something for us in Ballymacaw, but, dotted all round the coast, are these harbours under these various conflicting authorities, and it is not easy to get the average members of a county council to be interested in fishermen or their problems, so that the whole matter of the harbours should be brought in some way under the control of the Department of Fisheries so that they could go ahead seriously to develop these harbours properly. As Deputy Breslin has pointed out, the need for slips here and there in sheltered places along the coast is very acute.
With regard to inland fisheries, Deputy Flynn some time ago introduced a Bill to deal with riparian rights and there was an extraordinary exhibition of ineptitude on the part of the Government in dealing with it. Deputy de Valera pointed out the necessity for having some control over riparian rights, so that the whole matter could be straightened out. There are a number of farmers in my constituency for whom the problem is very acute, and I may say that it is not confined to that constituency, but is to be found in other parts of the country as well. I hope the Minister, in his concluding remarks, will elaborate somewhat on how he proposes to get proper control so that the trustees will be able to ensure against poaching and so on. I do not know whether the Minister intends to deal with anything but trout—he mentioned only trout—but I think he should elaborate in his reply and tell us how far he proposes to go to remedy what he must realise is a very acute question at present. If it is properly done it will have a very big effect on the tourist traffic, which is one of the big sources of income for this country. We shall look forward  to the Minister's elaboration of his views on this point.
It is extraordinary how unmarineminded the Government are. I suppose it is one of the evil traditions left us that, although we are an island, we do not seem to take full advantage of the seas around us. I should like also to emphasise the importance, from the point of view of building up the very finest type of population, of a proper development of this industry.
Micheál Óg Mac Pháidín: Ba mhaith liom beagán a rá ar an Mheastachán seo atá romhainn—mar tá fhios ag an Aire tá dlúth-bhaint ag tionscal na hiascaireachta le muintir na Gaeltachta go h-aithrid iadsin a chónaíos cois fairrge.
Tá na céadta muiríneacha a chois cladaigh agus níl slí bheatha ar bith eile beo ach í. Ba mhaith liom mar sin, go bhfaigheadh an tionscal seo an cúram agus an cuidiú a bhfuil muid ag súil leis ón Rialtas seo. Le seal bliantaí anois chuaigh maithe na h-iascaireachta chun bamburnaigh orainn agus bhí beagán áird nó suim ar obair an iascaire bhig a chois cladaigh.
Chonnaic muid uilig mar díoladh stáisiún na hiascaireachta i dTeidhluinn i nDún na nGall, an port iascaireachta is fearr ar chóstaí an Iarthair. Rinne Fianna Fáil seo i n-ainneoin comhairle teachta, sagart agus pobal an cheantair sin. Anois tá an port sin fuar folamh agus na h-iascairí óga ar an choigcrích i gcéin. Agus tá Fianna Fáil ag mairgnigh agus ag caoineadh fán imirce. Thig liom a rá gur thamhuigh siad níos mó imirce ná Rialtas ar bith eile sa tír seo.
Tá lúcháir orm go bhfuil an tAire ag cur oiread suime i ngraithe na h-iascaireachta. Tá rudaí oiriúnacha agus gléasraí dá réir a dhíth i ngach port ar an chósta agus is maith an scéal go bhfuil na bádaí seo á ndéanamh anois sna Cealla Beaga agus Míbheath.
Mholfainn don Aire gur chóir dó timirí nó cigirí a chur thart níos minice imeasc na h-iascairí, fir a thuigeas saol na ndaoine seo. Chífeadh siad an chaoi iascaireachta atá ar na daoine seo  agus thiocfadh leo iad a chur ar mhodh oibre níos fearr. Is féidir i bhfad níos mó airgid a shoathrú ón tionscal seo dá mbeadh an treoir agus an comhairle ceart ag na h-iascairí.
Tá eagla orm nach mbeidh iomlán na n-iascairí sásta an tionscal a chur faoi stiúrú aon chumann amháin. Beidh siad ag iarraidh coimhlint eadar na ceannaitheoirí nó beidh siad ag casaoid fán luach. Beidh an pobal ag iarraidh coimhlint agus comórtas idir mangairí an éisc ar an taoibh eile.
Táim ag iarraidh ar an Aire Bord na nOibreach a bhrostú le slipeanna agus céanna a dhéanamh i Malainn Bheag agus Malainn Mór agus áiteacha eile ar chósta Dhún na nGall. Tá géarghá leo le bliantaí agus tá an t-airgead ar fáil ón Rialtas agus ón Chomhairle Contae. Acht tá Bórd na nOibreach ag teacht chugainn go mall righin ar nós na seilge.
Mr. Dillon: I appreciate that certain Deputies, in dealing with this Estimate, have been good enough to express some commiseration with the Minister on the ground that the responsibility for agriculture would be enough and that to add thereto responsibility for the Department of Fisheries is to impose too heavy a burden. I should like to ask this question and I ask it in the same friendly spirit as that in which the original question was addressed to me: what has been left undone by the Department of Fisheries in the last 12 months? We have introduced and passed three formidable Fishery Bills which consolidate the fishery legislation of the last century. We will introduce on next Tuesday a comprehensive Bill to reorganise the entire sea fisheries of this country. In the last 12 months we have issued more boats, more boats are abuilding and more are on order than have ever been in the history of the Sea Fisheries Association since it was first established. I move to report progress.
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