Tuesday, 1 July 1958
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mr. Palmer: When I moved to report progress on the last occasion, I was speaking about the necessity for supplying our fisherment with the best boats and gear to carry on their calling. Unfortunately at that time, I had not read the Minister's speech on the Estimate, but I have since done so. It is the same type of speech as that which we have heard here down the years since the State was established. The only improvement we had during all that time was when Deputy Dillon became Minister in 1948. Up to then, it was impossible for fishermen to get boats or gear, unless they paid a 50 per cent. deposit.
Mr. Palmer: I will come to that later. It was reduced later When Deputy Dillon took over, it was 20 per cent. That cannot be denied. At one time previously, it was 50 per cent. deposit. I am not too sure that it is not much the same to-day.
Mr. Palmer: Deputy Dillon reduced it to 10 per cent. and later to 5 per cent. In fact, he made a statement here—and it is only right that the House should be reminded of it—that if any good, efficient fisherman could not afford that 5 per cent., he would not be deprived of a boat or gear to enable him to carry on his occupation. I think that is correct.
Mr. Palmer: That is perfectly correct, and during my time, while Deputy Dillon was Minister, that was done. He was the first to introduce the 50-foot boats. Previously, there  were small boats, 30-foot and 35-foot, which were all right for inshore fishermen. The whole trouble during the years was that there was a certain competition between the inshore fishermen and the trawlers. I do not think we had any trawlers until Deputy Bartley was Parliamentary Secretary. He bought five German trawlers and they were to supply the whole country with fish.
Mr. Palmer: Very well; I will say there were three. That is three too many. I wonder where they are now. They must have cost a lot of money in their purchase, their repair and their upkeep. So far as I remember, we read of their being broken down along the west coast whenever they went out to fish. I wonder if they were disposed of and what was lost in their purchase and sale, if they have been sold.
Anyone would think, by the Minister's statement, that this was the first time ever we did anything in this country to promote the fishing industry. During the long years since 1923 or 1924, I suppose every Government has done something to try to advance it. However, prior to the taking over of the Government of this country, the fishing industry was much more prosperous than it is now, after 35 years of native government. I remember that, in my town and all the neighbouring towns and anywhere you went around the country, you could get fresh fish delivered to you, even at your door. It may not have been done in a very hygienic way, but the fish was in plentiful supply. At present I can see no fish, although I live near the coast. There must be something wrong in the catching of the fish, in the distribution or the marketing of the fish. Living near the coast, near a fishing centre, we cannot get fresh fish even on Friday;  so what must be the position of those in inland towns? We have heard the Minister and others state that our people are noted for the lowest consumption of fish in Europe. How is it that during all those years we have not educated our people to eat more fish? It is a healthy food, but it cannot be obtained, even on a Friday, either near the coast or far inland. Whether An Bord Iascaigh Mhara or the Department is responsible, I could not say, but that is the position and it cannot be denied.
We have heard a good deal about what is being done in Killybegs, Galway and Dunmore East. I have not heard of anything at all being done in South Kerry, in Cahirciveen, Portmagee or Ballinskelligs, where the fishing was once very prosperous. By the way, the Minister went down there, in state, some few weeks ago. I could not tell for what purpose, but I may say it was never known before that a Minister entered a constituency to receive a deputation of fishermen or to see the conditions prevailing there and that the Deputies of the area were not invited to that conference. If the Minister wants to carry out his duty, he must not be politically minded. He must not go to any area anywhere within the State, without inviting all the representatives of the people to whatever conference he holds. I was not invited to that conference, whoever was responsible. On the previous occasion, when the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Flanagan, went to South Kerry, he invited all the representatives and we all went along together and gave our views. If the Minister thinks he can make a political issue out of it, he is entirely mistaken and he will do no good for fishing in South Kerry or elsewhere.
In South Kerry, it is inshore fishing. I could not say what it is in other areas, but it has never become an issue to be decided whether we would have inshore fishing or whether boats should be supplied to fishermen to fish in the open sea in competition with foreign trawlers. I suppose Deputy Bartley's idea when he was Parliamentary Secretary and when he got the German trawlers, three or five of them, was  that they would go out and fish outside territorial waters. I do not believe they have ever caught a fish, but it was very strange to see—in the Cork Examiner—I think—that Spanish fishing fleets were taking shelter in Bantry Bay from storms outside. They must be fishing outside our territorial waters. Will the time ever come when our fishing fleet will shelter in Spanish ports when fishing outside Spanish territorial waters, or even shelter in the ports of the country nearest ours— England—when fishing outside English territorial waters?
I know that efforts have been made in the past, but we must have been working in the wrong direction. The Minister has spoken about the export of fish, and we may have exported it, but people in our own country did not get any fish. There is something wrong with the distribution and marketing of fish. I suppose when our fishermen must purchase boats on the hire-purchase system, through An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the board must market the fish for them so that they can hold back a certain percentage of the price to pay for the boats. The problem is a most peculiar one and I cannot say how it can be solved because of the hire-purchase question. Fish caught in Cahirciveen must first be sent to Dublin and it is quite possible it will be sent back again to Cahirciveen or some other place. Why could not some arrangement be made by which fish caught along the coast near a certain port would be marketed from that port within a certain area and the surplus, if any, put in cold storage or exported to a country that will accept such surplus?
I have heard fishermen talk about this and surely they would know best. I believe we have experts in our Department connected with the fishing industry as good as in any other country. I would not say that the Minister himself should have expert knowledge, nor would I expect him to have it and, in fact, it may be just as well if he has not, but I have often thought that it is strange that since the Irish Government was established, we have had no Minister or Parliamentary Secretary with a full knowledge of fish or the fishing industry. I do  not profess to know very much about it but I have often gone fishing both in the sea and inland and I am in constant touch with fishermen.
Something should have been done down the years to make our people more fish-conscious because fish is a very useful and healthy food. I do not suppose it would be possible for the Department to teach people how to cook fish. We know that in hotels and cafés and such places, it is perfectly cooked, but the ordinary girl or woman in the country, if she knew how to cook fish in its different varieties, could make it more palatable. The only hope is that with the progress of technical education and the teaching of cookery, the housewives of the future will be able to cook fish properly and make it more palatable than is possible by merely throwing it into a pot and boiling it. That is what is very often done.
At the present time, we must give our fishermen the biggest possible boats. Even the 50-footers are now outdated and instead something about 70-foot or 80-foot long is needed. The Department's technical advisers could decide that, but if we want the fishermen to follow the fish instead of adopting the old method of the inshore fishermen and waiting until the fish come in, if we want to make the industry successful and have sufficient fish for our people and for export, we must supply the fishermen with boats and gear to enable them to follow the fish out beyond our territorial waters. It is a bit of a problem because the inshore fishermen think their case should be considered, first of all.
So far as I know, the inshore fishermen are people who go out in small boats, in 30 or 35-foot boats, and they are often small farmers or have some other occupations. The supply of fish from that source is entirely inadequate to supply this country's home requirements or to provide for fish exports. Therefore, the Department must decide what they will do and, no matter what the expense may be, we must have a fishing fleet like the other countries of Europe, like England, Iceland, Norway, Spain, France and so on. We are a maritime country and fish abound in  the ocean around our coasts. I do realise that the question of finance may present a difficulty but, during the years, we have not done very much to build our own boats, even with the boatyards we have. We have to bring many boats from abroad, from Scotland and elsewhere.
There were great hopes in North Kerry, in the Dingle area, when the Dingle boatyard was to be extended, that we would secure all the 50-foot and 70-foot boats that were necessary. Though the Minister has talked about all this, I do not know that any boats at all have been issued in that area. I am sure that not one 50- or 70-foot boat has been delivered to any fisherman in Kerry since the Minister came into office, though we have some of the best fishermen in the country there. One of them, in fact, was trained some months ago at the school in Galway and he was supposed to get a boat, but it has not reached him. I may be wrong.
Mr. Palmer: I do not think I am far wrong because we have been waiting for those boats for a long time. To make it quite plain, neither did the Minister's predecessor give us any of those boats and it is about time we got them.
The Minister's predecessor made some arrangements to erect a cold storage or ice plant in Cahirciveen. Certain steps were taken. The erection of that plant reached a certain stage but it has never been completed.
Mr. Palmer: Before we had Dunmore East, Killybegs or anywhere else, the Cahirciveen area, and Ballinskelligs were famous for the catching of fish. However, that area has been entirely neglected, and I do not know why that should be because all Parties have been making representations in that area. There must be something wrong and we must not have the real political pull they may have in other areas.
I have nothing at all to say against An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, except that they change their personnel too often. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should not be constituted principally of Fianna Fáil personnel, or even Fine Gael personnel, either. It should be representative of the fishing industry in every part of the country.
Mr. Palmer: The board should be constituted on the lines of Bord na Móna, Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann, the E.S.B. and so on, and, if that were done, I would not mind what political affiliations the members had, or if they had none at all. Choose the best men for the purpose and do not change them about every time there is a change of Government. The whole trouble with the fishing industry, with the agricultural industry and with all industries is that there is no continuity at all in the policy adopted in regard to them. When there is a change of Government, each Minister tries to carry out the work in his own way and that is the whole trouble. As was stated on the previous day, the fishing industry at one time was second to agriculture in importance, and that was the case until we got a native Government.
Every Minister and every Parliamentary Secretary who has since been responsible for fisheries has been messing about, with the result that nothing has been done. Every Minister thinks that his views are the best. We should have the experts of the Department of Fisheries, and experienced members who know all about fishing and the marketing of fish, on a proper board. I do not say that such a proper board would prove successful or not,  but I can say that while all the boards of the past did their best, I do not think they have been too successful in their efforts.
I would advise the Minister that when the board is distributing 50 and 70-foot boats, they should be given to the best fishermen, to the most desirable and most experienced fishermen, to the fishermen who have received proper training, to the fishermen who have had 35-foot boats in the past and who paid their instalments in the shortest possible time. They should forget whether they are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour or anything else. If we want this country to advance in fishing or anything else, we must forget politics.
Mr. Palmer: I am sorry to say they are and I happen to know it. Especially during the 15 years Fianna Fáil were in office, they were awarded on a political basis. I can stand over that and I know it. Unfortunately, the other Party were not long enough in power that we could get some boats.
Mr. Childers: I do not mind criticism but I do not accept that. I make no representations to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to give anybody a boat on the grounds of his political affiliations. I ask only that he be a good fisherman and be able to pay for it.
Mr. Palmer: I shall accept that. I shall keep in touch and see how that will be done. I can give the Minister some cases, if he likes, where, because of a person having certain political views, he has been looking for a boat for many years and would not get it.
Mr. Palmer: Having regard to all the talk about fishing and the money expended on it, it is remarkable that we still have to import a lot of fish. We export some fish. I have before me The Kerryman, to which the Minister referred on a previous occasion. I know he likes it very much. The Kerryman shows importations of tinned salmon from Japan, Norway, Canada and so forth. If we have salmon or any other kind of fish, it is remarkable that we cannot can that fish and eliminate imports. There are various fish products that we could make use of. There are agricultural products also of which we do not make proper use. The Fisheries Branch should consider all these problems with a view, not only to helping the fishing industry, but of helping the national economy and thus save a lot of trouble about the balance of payments.
Mr. J. Brennan: At the outset, I should congratulate the Minister. I do not want to be extravagant with bouquets or over-generous with praise but I do say that the Minister had a reasonably encouraging statement to make when he introduced the Estimate in the Dáil last week. He was able to show substantial increases both in quantity and value of all qualities and grades of fish.
Mr. J. Brennan: Anybody who makes a fair appraisal of his efforts will agree that the Minister is making a good job of one of the most difficult Departments of State. That is only fair comment on his efforts. When I said that he had  a reasonbly encouraging statement to make I had in mind that the leeway yet to be made up is considerable. The greatest cause for optimism is the method by which the industry is being tackled at the present time. That holds out very high hopes for an industry that has the greatest potential of wealth and employment for the western seaboard. The efforts that have been made to direct industries to the western seaboard and undeveloped areas are important but there are a few industries which are native to that area and it is on those that we can base our hopes for the future.
I was more than delighted on Thursday last to see a Bill going through the Dáil in almost record time which makes provision for research into the development of bogs. The fishing industry, like the peat industry, is an industry for which we have the raw material. We do not need to import any material for that industry with, perhaps, the exception of equipment.
I do not envy the Minister his task. I would not envy any Minister or Parliamentry Secretary who ever occupied the position. I know perfectly well the difficulties with which he has to contend. Any member of the House who might take on that appointment would find the same difficulties. For that reason, I never liked to be unfair in my criticism of any occupant of the post, whether a Parliamentary Secretary or a Minister.
The fishermen are never really satisfied with their lot. Private enterprise believes that the State is interfering too much in what should be its affair. The consumers believe that they are paying too high a price for fish. It is no easy task to resolve the differences of these three groups. I am satisfied that the Minister has made a fair effort to tackle the problem in the proper manner. I believe there is some reconciliation at the moment between private enterprise and the State-sponsored side of the industry. I have discussed this matter hundreds of times with practical fishermen. They blame An Bord Iascaigh Mhara for not handling the problem properly. Yet, they all admit that our fisheries could never have been developed to the  stage at which they have been developed by private enterprise. Private enterprise is sometimes unduly critical of the efforts of the board but I think the Minister is succeeding to some extent and I am sure he will have the co-operation of every member of this House in bringing about harmony between private enterprise and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara so that they may all pull in the same direction for the benefit of the industry.
The primary concern of those who must necessarily be interested in the fishing industry is that as many people as possible should be employed in the industry, with reasonably good conditions of living and reasonably good working conditions. I was surprised that Deputy Palmer should compare conditions in the fishing industry to-day with those which prevailed before the establishment of native government. I remember years of activity in Killybegs when I was not very old. The year 1938 was a year of great activity in fishing for herring in Donegal Bay from the port of Killybegs but I do not think there was a single Irish boat participating in that fishing. Eventually there may have been one or two. It was mainly Scotch drifters that took part in that fishing. To-day we have a growing fishing fleet of which we have a right to be proud. When we consider this industry from the point of view of the producer and the consumer, I wonder if the people in Dublin who complain of high prices for fish realise what a fisherman's lot is, or what type of life he leads in catching the fish that is marketed in what is, unfortunately, the only central marketing place we have, the City of Dublin.
In passing, I should say for the Minister's information, that I have had deputations from the Killybegs fishermen who were not quite clear or satisfied with regard to the Minister's opening statement in relation to the competence or otherwise of the fishermen in the industry. The statement the Minister made was that he was not completely satisfied. I should like the Minister to clarify that position in replying. Some of our fishermen interpreted his statement as meaning that they were not putting their best foot  forward, that they were not competent or making the best possible effort to produce the fish.
I do not want to move too quickly from the general to the particular or to become too parochial but it is only fair to say in relation to the Killybegs fishermen—and I say it in all sincerity —that they are second to none. Those men go to sea any time from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. and their day's work concludes about 10.30 p.m. It is not unusual for them to remain at sea overnight, a fact which may not be generally known. That is all very well but they may return with very little for their day's effort. Fortunately in many cases they draw reasonably good catches and I think I can say that for some time past the market has been entirely dependent on supplies from Killybegs.
Mr. J. Brennan: I was waiting for that. There is only one reason why the port is well developed and that is because there is a good supply there of competent fishermen, and competent fishermen will make a port anywhere. Before you get boats or anything else you want competent skippers and crews; otherwise it is a waste of time and public money to provide facilities. The Killybegs and Donegal fishermen generally are hard workers and intelligent workers. By their own efforts they built up the industry to its present strong position and fish landed at Killybegs, on the figures available for the past year, showed an increase in value from £116,000 to £143,000. That is a creditable record. These fishermen have an excellent record for paying up for their boats which they have secured on the hire-purchase system.
Mr. J. Brennan: No, it is because they had the most suitable fishermen. I should like to refute what Deputy Palmer has said. He may have made the statement in good faith. We have a fleet of 30 boats worth from £10,000 to £16,000 each according to equipment and age. They were never allocated on  any political basis and if you go to Killybegs to-morrow you will not hear a single complaint in that direction. You may get plenty of other complaints but you will never get any person to say that because of his politics he was deprived of a boat or got one because he had certain political views.
Those people who complain about the high cost of fish do not realise that before a crew can go to sea they must have a boat worth £16,000 complete with gear which enables them to work under reasonably good conditions. It has adequate sleeping accommodation, echo sounder, wireless transmitter, and all the other facilities necessary to make for satisfactory conditions at sea. That boat is issued on payment of 10 per cent., a percentage that has been in operation since the time that Deputy Bartley was Parliamentary Secretary.
Mr. J. Brennan: The deposit was 20 per cent. and was 10 per cent. in exceptional cases prior to that. Fifty per cent. was charged where it was procurable. There is nothing yet to stop any purchaser of a new boat from paying 50 per cent. if he wishes. It is all the better for himself if he can because it leaves the instalments easier for him. It never was as low as 5 per cent. as Deputy Palmer suggested.
Mr. J. Brennan: I shall be glad if the Minister will indicate what the position is. To get back to the point I was making. We are not trying to cast aspersions on any other harbour around the coast—I would like to see a good fishing fleet in every port from Donegal to Cork as well as on the east coast—but the main reason we have a reasonably good fleet in Killybegs is that there is an ample supply of fishermen available. I am sorry the Minister did not see fit to accede to our request at the time to have a nautical school established in Donegal instead of Galway. I believe that, if he had, we would have a better record than eight or ten students enrolled. I guarantee we would have the maximum number at all times. Be that as it may, we can continue to train fishermen in the boats which are there and I hope that applications for further boats will come in.
As regards applications for boats, there is a rather peculiar situation. Our own boat building yards are not working to capacity. Applications for boats are not coming in as frequently as they were. That seems to me an indication that perhaps we have almost exhausted the number of highly competent fishermen here interested in fishing in the first instance.
There is another matter which is rather serious. Boats built in our own areas are costing too much. I wonder  if the Minister would get An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to examine the position of the costings of these boats. There are fishermen seeking boats and if they can pay down cash they can buy fairly decent secondhand boats in Scotland for as low as £3,000 complete. The Minister is naturally opposed to financing the hire-purchase of those boats from State funds because we would be competing with the boat-building industry in our own country. None of us wants to see the boatyards closed down. We want to see them do more and more work.
I should like the Minister to examine costings. Young fishermen dread taking on the huge responsibility of going to sea with £16,000 worth of boat and gear and only 10 per cent. paid down. They are faced with the terrible task of paying that back by the deduction of instalments from the marketing of their fish through the board. It takes a bit of courage and a bit of confidence in oneself. Fewer people these days seem to be prepared to take the risk. I should like to see more of it.
The question of increasing the number of people employed in the industry is tied up (1) with having enough boats to increase production and (2) with being able to market the amount of fish landed. I said the Minister's opening statement was encouraging. The most encouraging thing he said was that the market was there for more and more fish if we could land it. It is not so many years ago that a small fleet of inshore craft could glut the market to the extent that the fish had to be used as dung. There is hardly a port around the coast, certainly in Donegal, where adjoining fields have not been manured, at different times, with herrings when no markets were available.
The Minister seems optimistic with regard to the future marketing of fish. If we can dispose of more fish, I can assure the Minister more and more people will go into the industry and provide those fish. Donegal fishermen were alarmed at his threat to take in foreign trawlers or outsiders to catch fish. They are confident they are equal to the task.
The marketing of fish does not merely  mean having somebody to buy fresh catches. We have to market them in every conceivable way, canned, cured or kippered, making the maximum use of quick freeze in order to obviate those spasmodic gluts which, down through the years, have been a characteristic of Irish fishing. When there is a scarcity, the price is high and when there is a plentiful supply the price is poor. That can be eliminated only by processing plants and quick-freeze facilities at the different ports so that continuity of supplies may be passed evenly on to the market and so that a reasonably fair price level may be maintained throughout the year.
I find that, at the moment, boats refuse to go to sea on Friday and Saturday because they feel no market would be available for their catches. If we are to extend the time for fishing, those boats should be in a position to work every day. Our salmon, which fetch such a high price on the market as fresh salmon, if canned, would be a prohibitive price and could not be marketed at the same price as cheap imported Japanese salmon. I estimate that if home salmon were canned it would cost at least four times what we pay for that imported salmon. Speaking subject to correction—the Minister may have information to the contrary —I doubt if any commercial enterprise would ever attempt to can home salmon.
Mr. J. Brennan: Certainly. Various varieties have been processed economically at home and exported. If you have a canning factory for salmon in Kerry and the Kerry fishermen bring in salmon at 10/- a lb. you will not buy them for canning when they can sell them at three times the price the cannery could afford to pay them as an economic price.
Every year on this Estimate the usual complaints are made with regard to marketing organisation. I do not know if any definite progress has been made. I think it is seven years since I first spoke on this Estimate and I referred, and every Deputy referred, to the problem whereby fish are brought from the western coast right  into Dublin and people who want continuous supplies have to be in touch with Dublin in order to get them. That, largely, is the position but it is somewhat better now.
If anybody is interested in having a suitable shop in any provincial village or town for the disposal of fish by setting up the appropriate cold storage plant or keeping a simple fridge for the purpose, he can arrange to have constant supplies from some of our ports. There are people who, by contract system or otherwise, go in for private distribution of fish from the ports—certainly from Killybegs. The Minister should ask the board to consider giving better terms to those people who are interested in the distribution of fish from the ports. Men who are pretty well qualified in handling fish and who are prepared to market them under the best conditions will get no better terms, I think, at the port than any private person would get if he went to buy fish.
A wholesale system should be operated for the benefit of those people who are prepared to go into distribution, and even a credit system which would enable them to pay at what was the wholesale price on the particular date, because sometimes when they pick up their supplies, it is not possible to ascertain what the price may be on the market the following morning. If we were to give those people who are prepared to go into distribution a fair wholesale system, we would have many more people distributing fish. Ultimately, it would be bound to have the effect of opening more centres and developing the home market to a greater extent.
As I said, I do not want to appear to be too parochial on this Vote, but I should be failing in my duty as a representative of West Donegal, when the opportunity presents itself, if I did not advocate additional and better facilities for the port of Killybegs. We make no bones of the fact that we regard Killybegs as the finest fishing port in Ireland. I do not apologise to any other port for that and I think it is——
Mr. J. Brennan: I was advocating further and better facilities for Killybegs. I have done it every year and it is no harm to repeat it. The Minister agrees that certain ports should be developed with full facilities and Dunmore East, I suppose, will come under that, too.
Mr. J. Brennan: With regard to the development of Killybegs, there are demands which are imperative at present, one of which is a suitable slip way. I have appealed year after year for this amenity at Killybegs. I understand that some technician, a marine engineer, has recently examined the position and I urge that this development will now take place to give that much needed facility to Killybegs. A port which has so many boats, 30 or more, operating, cannot operate successfully without it.
Mr. J. Brennan: Most of those who have already spoken on this Estimate, particularly Deputy Palmer, to whom I listened with interest, referred to the question of a larger boat. It is a  question on which there is everything but unanimity of opinion in the fishing industry. I could not, for the moment, fully grasp Deputy Palmer's point of view when he condemned the action of the previous Parliamentary Secretary for purchasing new trawlers. He said five trawlers, but it was only three.
Mr. J. Brennan: And fishing successfully, too. As I said, there is everything but unanimity on the question of purchasing larger boats. As the Minister pointed out, I think correctly, we are the only maritime country in the world which has not got mid-water boats. I doubt if anybody can argue that we will ever make a success of our fishing industry without those boats, but when one Minister ventured to purchase three larger boats, he was condemned on every possible occasion. I think the experiment would be worth while. How are we to know whether or not we can use larger boats, or what type of larger boats or to what extent we can use them, if we do not try to use them?
I have discussed this question with fishermen and some have pointed out that the Seine boat which is being used at present, is adequate, if we have sufficient numbers of that type of boat around the coast. Their contention is that foreign trawlers are attempting to  operate within our limits, and therefore, why do we want to go outside them? That is not a foolproof argument because those boats follow the fish. If our fishermen had the larger boat, they could go outside after the fish, if they wanted to. Another point is that they will be able to go out to sea on days when the small boats are not able to go out.
I advise the Minister to move with the greatest caution in that respect. He will be criticised in this House if he plunges into the larger boat and fails, but I think he should try it as an experiment. I think we should try a 75-foot boat—I think anything under 65 feet is not considered capable of mid-water fishing—and see how it goes and then it would be time enough to move into a larger boat, but I would like to see them operated in a manner that would not hamper the efforts of the smaller fleet, which are doing such a good job.
I believe you will get fishermen, not in every port, but in some ports, who will be prepared to go out and stay at sea, as they would have to do in the larger boats. One can easily visualise that, if the fishing industry should expand to the point to which we would all like to see it expanded, there will definitely arise an inevitable need for those larger boats, because if we have an export market which we are not able to meet—if the home market develops to the proper extent—then I am afraid the inevitable is a further step forward. While many of our fishermen do not agree with that, it is the inevitable outcome of a successfully pursued fishing industry, with the proper rate of expansion which one would reasonably expect, if the present impetus is maintained. I think we are moving rapidly towards that stage.
I want to say something briefly on inland fisheries. We had a great hue and cry when the rod licences were increased. It is never popular to increase anything. I have discussed this question with some of the anglers. They admitted that, at present-day prices for salmon, one salmon would pay for the licence.
Mr. J. Brennan: I have known anglers who caught one salmon which would pay three years' licence fees. At a time when everybody is crying out for the conservation and protection of our salmon fisheries, it is only natural to expect that the cost of the licence would be increased. I was glad to hear the Minister say that every penny of the levy would be used for the protection of salmon. Like other Deputies, I am a member of a board of conservators. I know how perplexed the members of that board are in regard to salmon preservation. They are anxious to do everything possible in regard to protection and restocking, but it is a question of funds. It is only reasonable to expect that the money should come out of the industry itself.
I should like to mention something about the system whereby ministerial Orders are made closing salmon fisheries. The Minister will have no difficulty in anticipating what I am getting at. The Erne Fisheries Order, which prohibits fishing in the Erne estuary and the upper reaches of the river, has not been very popular. Everyone agrees there was evidence of the depreciation of salmon in the Erne, but not all of us agreed about the reason. The Minister should reopen the Erne next year for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the decline in the landing of fish was only temporary. I am satisfied it was not brought about by the action of the fishermen. It was the result of the unusual operations during the erection of the hydro-electric scheme which undoubtedly upset the salmon and allowed them to be caught in large numbers in the lower reaches of the river.
We also made allegations that the E.S.B. were responsible for the destruction of the fish by preventing them getting down through the falls. Experiments have been carried out recently in order to establish where the trouble lies. I have no up-to-date information about the results of these experiments, but the Minister might have something to say about it when replying. I should like him to give us any information he has. The fishermen should not be unduly penalised for something not of their making. Letterly, there were not many boats  employed on the Erne. Those crews who fished the river season after season depended on it for part of their livelihood. In fact, it was the main source of their livelihood. They have been particularly disturbed.
What they object to most, and I agree with them, is the manner in which an inquiry is held for the purpose of having an Order made. It is a statutory matter that an inquiry take place before the Minister can make an Order prohibiting fishing. That inquiry was rather hastily summoned and the report was issued so rapidly that one can come to no other conclusion than that the holding of the inquiry was merely a perfunctory operation. It would appear that the powers that be simply made up their minds that an Order would be made prohibiting the fishing, and that the holding of the inquirly was merely a perfunctory operation to comply with the statute.
Such inquiries should not be held by any person from the Fishery Branch, although it should be allowed to have observers present. It would be better if the inquiry were constituted of persons from the legal profession, persons with no vested or indirect interest in the particular fishery, but having available to them whatever expect knowledge they would require from the Minister's Department. I have never yet seen a fishery inquiry in which what was sought was not obtained. I do not think we have on record any inquiry which has resulted in the Department changing its mind in regard to what it set out to do. I am not suggesting it was not done for the best possible motive. It is silly for anybody to suggest that the Department would go up to Ballyshannon and deliberately deprive fishermen of their livelihood for no good reason.
The decline in the salmon fishery became so alarming that some action had to be taken, but I would have preferred if the examination of the possible causes of decline and the restocking of the river had been undertaken years ago, or even if the number of boats had been limited. That would have been much better than coming to a town already burdened with unemployment  and depression after the busy period of the hydro-electric scheme operations and taking away its final source of employment. This was done by the Minister's signature, following an inquiry in which evidence was taken in a few days. Such inquiries usually take months before any decision is promulgated.
I do not want to delay the House, but I should like to close on the note on which I opened and that is to say that any reasonable appraisal of the Minister's efforts since he took over this important office could not be otherwise than that he is making a very good job of a very difficult office. I am very hopeful that we can look forward to expanding production and providing greater employment in the fishing industry with the consequent improvement in our exports which is bound to result from that effort. I would ask the Minister to allay any misgivings in regard to his opening statement about the competency or otherwise of our fishermen. I challenge anyone to say that we have in Donegal anything other than the best possible type of fishermen, a type of fisherman who has always done a good job, who has a tradition behind him and who will continue to do a good job if given half a chance by the Department.
Mr. Blowick: If it were impracticable economically, it would be disastrous to attempt it. If Deputy Brennan has sound reason for putting forward that statement and we follow it to its logical conclusion, it would mean that we would gradually find our way into non-production in practically every item. If we follow that with regard to wheat and imported all our requirements, we would have the two-pound loaf at 8¼d. instead of the 1/1 that the home grown wheat is costing us.
I do not agree with Deputy  Brennan's statement regarding the export market for our surplus. It is far better policy to have production and to have a surplus and then try to find a market for that surplus. No country in the world has a ready market for its surpluses. In England, in regard to heavy machinery, they had to penalise their own people and prevent them from buying by a heavy purchase tax in order to sell abroad in a highly competitive market. I think it is better, even though we may reach the stage where we would have a surplus of fish, to have the surplus and then fight for a market. It would also help our own people to market their surplus in a better and more attractive condition.
We have a surplus of agricultural production; yet it would be disastrous to suggest that we cut down production in cattle, sheep and wheat, to sufficient to feed our own requirements. It is much better to get the food in the country particularly free food such as we can get from the sea. Fish is a free food except for the labour and the danger involved to the fishermen who are brave enough to go to sea to look for it.
I want to ask the Minister what he is doing with the old traditional fishing industry that existed in my constituency, particularly that centred around Clew Bay. As a matter of fact it existed all along the west coast from Galway to Enniscrone. To my mind, despite what Deputy Brennan said, we had the best type of traditional Irish fisherman along that coast. That does not take from what he has said about the Donegal fishermen who, I am sure, are hard-working, competent fishermen. There exist in my constituency, especially round Clew Bay, as good traditional fishermen as there are anywhere in the country. These are the best fishing grounds in the West of Ireland, particularly in the neighbourhood of Murrisk and on both sides of Clew bay down to Achill Island. The Mayo fishermen knew these fishing grounds intimately but unfortunately, due to the carelessness of successive Governments, many of our best fishermen had to emigrate.
The last thing these fishermen want is to emigrate. In that way they are  different from people on the land and people in towns throughout the country. The last thing they want is to leave their homes and settle down in England or Scotland. They are always anxious to get boats to pursue their normal activities. I am informed on good authority that a well-equipped modern 50-foot boat costs £15,000. It is ridiculous to ask a small farmer in a little mountain holding of £2 or £3 valuation who is also a fisherman, to contribute 10 per cent. of the cost of such a boat. That would mean a contribution of £1,500 and you might as well ask him for £500,000. He has not got it; if he had £1,500, it is very hard to say if he would put it into a boat particularly when he would own only one-tenth of that boat. I would ask the Minister to give the deepest consideration to that part of the problem before the whole tradition of fishing dies in the country.
Deputy Brennan took exception to the statement made, I think, by Deputy Palmer, to the effect that fishing was more prosperous in this country before the take-over by a native Government. As far as my part of the country is concerned I can verify that statement. It is true of the West of Ireland, particularly of Mayo and Galway. There was a thriving fishing industry in that part of the country in days gone by. If the Minister wants to revive that industry, and to hold on to the nucleus of good fishermen left in the country, he should place boats at their disposal without any charge at all or, at least, at a very small charge which is within their competence to pay. There is no use in asking them for a contribution of £1,500. They have not got it; you might as well ask them for a slice of the moon. The Minister will find, if he trusts them, that they are the most trustworthy people it is possible to have and that every single one of them will pay for the boats in time.
On the question of trawlers, mention has been made of the three German trawlers which Deputy Bartley caused to be purchased when he was Parliamentary Secretary. I think we want much larger boats. We cannot be hugging the shore all the time. There is  a good field for inshore fishermen but we shall have to go further afield if we want to develop the industry properly. I am informed on good authority that the Spanish trawlers, mentioned as sheltering in Bantry Bay, are a free gift by the Spanish Government to the Spanish fishermen. We shall have to do something on the same lines.
Those engaged in the fishing industry have little or no finance to back them or support them. If the Minister or the Government does not step in, it will be completely outside the power of those people to get the boats and gear necessary to compete with the foreigners. If the Minister has any information on the subject, perhaps he would give it to us when he is replying. Is it true that Spanish and French trawlers are given wholly and entirely to the fishermen by their respective Governments? If such is the case, it leaves our fishermen at a terrific disadvantage, apart from the poaching right into our very shores.
Since this new scheme, which Deputy Dillon started when he was Minister, how many boats have been allotted to the Mayo and Galway fisherment? I do not want the figures from the Minister right now, but when he is replying, he might have the details to give us. Once again, let me impress on him the fact that it is useless to ask contributions from these people. I can understand what the Minister is up against and can understand his feelings in the matter. When he is giving such a valuable means of livelihood into the hands of fishermen, he would like to have some reasonable deposit put down. However, the contribution is too high for the cost of the boat.
If the Minister does not feel like making it a flat rule all round to give the boats without any contribution, would he try one or two boats in certain areas? They will not be lost or damaged and, at the worst, they can be taken back if the fishermen prove unworthy of them. I think I can give the Minister a guarantee they will not prove unworthy. If they get the boats, they will operate them, particularly when they know that every catch they bring in is enlarging their claim on the boat until it will be completely their own.
 At present in Clew Bay we have an international fishing competition, and just as I am speaking here the town of Westport is buzzing with practically every foreign tongue and reports on all sides are of the suprise and amazement of those foreigners at the teaming fish in Clew Bay. If that is the case, what must it be like just outside? There is a veritable source of wealth in those waters if we but go out and catch it. The Minister is the only authority who can put it within the power of our fishermen to do that. In addition, he would be making a very serious dent in the emigration problem by going ahead with fisheries.
What is happening to the processing factory established in Galway? I am told that, while it has been completed and opened a considerable length of time, no work has been done there. It seems to be a magnificent factory. If it is not in working order, why is it not? Perhaps the Minister can give some explanation. Why has it been completed, if it is to become a white elephant? I sincerely hope it will not, but the Minister might tell us about it.
In conclusion, I wish the Minister God-speed and the best of luck in his work. Just like the other branch of the service under his control, afforestation, he has means in fisheries of stopping a certain amount of the flight from our country around the coastline and, at the same time, helping to gather in free food which is there for the taking. When it pays the Spaniards to come 750 miles across a dangerous ocean to fish close inshore in our waters, surely it must be much more profitable to those at home who are beside those waters? I do not understand why more effort was not made in the past. When I was a member of the Government, I was always anxious to see fisheries developed. It is one branch of our living which has been sadly neglected. I remember that I was very glad to give every assistance to the boatyards in Killybegs and Donegal in their boat building operations, to do the little I could by asking Forestry to make timber available to them for the building of fishing boats, of which they make a very good job.
Might I ask the Minister to consider  changing the 10 per cent. contribution; or, if he does not make it a flat rule all round, would he try the experiment —he has tried a few experiments—of requiring no contribution, in a few experimental cases? If it is all a loss, it will not sink the State or put the Minister for Finance out of business. It would be an experiment well worth trying and I think I can assure him that he will not be sorry if he gives the boats to these people without a contribution.
Mr. Cunningham: The fishing industry is one of the most complex we have. It is easy to say that we have the fish, the fishermen and to a great extent the markets; and to ask why we do not make greater progress. It is not as simple as that, in modern days. In order to compete with other countries and in order to increase the supply to the home market, we need better boats, more modern boats and safer boats. The young people of to-day will not become fishermen and operate under the conditions under which their fathers and grandfathers worked.
Great attention should be paid to the building of the most suitable kind of boats. Furthermore, the crews who man them must be given the most expert guidance and they must have a good period of apprenticeship, so that they may be able to operate the various safety devices, which should be installed on the medium and larger types of fishing boats which go out into the deeper waters.
In the past year, in various parts of the country but more especially in Donegal, we had unfortunate tragedies amongst the fishing fleet. It is sad when it occurs, when we see mothers, sons and daughters, left without the breadwinners. That is one of the hazards which these men put up with when they go out to fish daily. I wonder if the Minister would consider some scheme of insurance which would cover those people in the event of such tragedies? It is very praiseworthy and typical of the Irish character that, when these tragedies occur, the public in general, not alone in the particular locality but all over the country, come to the assistance of those who are left without the breadwinners. I still think  it is a source of worry to fishermen when they go to sea and do not know what will happen and possibly are not covered by insurance.
Regarding the training of fishermen and skippers for these boats and training of men who will maintain the engines and other gear, I think an all-out effort should be made to conduct training courses in various centres throughout the country. Vocational committees could be of great assistance in any training or apprenticeship scheme, if given assistance by the central Government. A start was to be made in Killybegs this year in marine engineering and other classes connected with the fishing industry. I do not know whether that is progressing or not. There were some difficulties but I trust they will be overcome.
The third essential in the fishing industry is the provision of suitable and central ports. I do not agree with those who say we should have ports all over the place, but we should have safe ports along the coast. In the main, Donegal is fairly well catered for. We have Glen Bay, Burtonport and Downings, but when one comes to North Donegal, the fishermen have very many serious problems. From Downings right around to Derry, the fishermen are not catered for as they should be. For years, the provision of a first-class port at Glengad was under consideration. Some years ago, Greencastle was improved. There is a suitable port at Buncrana, but the type of fishing tradition which was there, based on herring-fishing and the operation of a Scottish fleet which landed catches there at one time, has gone. An effort is now being made to re-establish a fishing industry in Buncrana. Applications have come in for boats, and, as this is the first effort to get the industry going again, I ask the Minister to consider the applications as favourably as possible.
At Greencastle Harbour, following the expenditure of about £20,000 five years ago, the fishing fleet more than doubled. At yesterday's meeting of our county council, we had before us a letter from the Minister in which he indicated that certain further repairs  were required at Greencastle and that he was in favour of having those repairs carried out because he was convinced they would result in further development. The feature of that letter which disappointed us was that the local authority would be required to contribute 50 per cent. of the estimated cost of £68,000. If the local authority is asked to put up that £34,000 and further to guarantee maintenance of the work done in proper repair ever afterwards, I think the central authority is not taking a fair amount of responsibility, because a good deal of the expenditure envisaged concerns dredging, and if the council has to put up 50 per cent. and guarantee to maintain the work afterwards, it will mean that the council will have to carry out dredging itself later on.
In view of the fact that both the present Minister and the past Minister turned down proposals for the expenditure of a large sum at Glengad, I would urge the Minister to give more favourable consideration to the case of Greencastle. At present, with a rate of 45/- in the £, Donegal County Council could not possibly think of paying 50 per cent. of a £68,000 job and we hope that sanction will be forthcoming for a much lower percentage.
I agree with those who advocate that the fishing industry should not consist merely of fresh fishing. We should pay as much, or possibly more, attention to canning, freezing and so on. Export of salmon is a valuable part of our fishing industry because salmon command high prices and I agree with Deputy Brennan that canming of salmon would be totally uneconomic. I understand smoking of salmon enhances its value as well as making it available all the year round. I do not know if any commercial smoking of salmon is done in the country, but I think the Minister should consider that aspect.
The efforts the Minister is making in regard to the further development of our inland fisheries are indeed very praiseworthy. In England and Scotland, there seems to be a switch from other pastimes to fishing. It has replaced golf and other forms of sport, with the result that holiday-makers, most of whom come from across the  water, try to take part in fishing competitions, both sea and inland. The money that is being spent on the development of our inland fisheries, on the restocking of our rivers and so on, will yield a large dividend through the tourist industry in years to come.
I am inclined to agree with those who advocate the reduction of the 10 per cent. deposit on the purchase price of boats, especially in regard to the larger boats. If a fisherman wishes to buy a small boat of 40 or 45-foot, then the cost is lower and 10 per cent. of the purchase price is not any great hardship, but in the case of larger boats of 50 and 56-foot, 10 per cent. is a big bite and it may prevent some really good fishermen from acquiring them. I have urged that the Minister should reconsider helping those who wish to purchase secondhand boats. There is the danger, mentioned by Deputy Brennan, that in so doing, the Minister may create a certain amount of unemployment in our boatyards, but I believe the position at the moment is that not enough boats are available, that the turnout is not equal to the demand. In Scotland, and in some of the English ports, very good boats of from 40-foot upwards are available at a very low price. They are first-class boats and I think we should utilise the availability of them as far as possible.
Looking at the fishing industry, especially as it exists in Donegal from Malin Head to Killybegs, I want to say that conditions, prices and the whole industry have improved immensely during the past 20 years. Fishing is becoming an easier life now, though it still has some of the hazards that will always be connected with it. The conditions under which men work, the rates of wages they receive, and other features connected with the industry, have improved immensely, and naturally with the increased fleet we have, landings of fish also increased.
It is true to say that during the first World War when we had no boats ourselves, when freezing and other methods of keeping fish were not available, the British trawlers used our ports for landing fish. It was safer to land them here than in England, but when people look back, they see only  that period in the days of long ago in the fishing industry, and they compare that small period with the present. By and large, however, we have progressed very much and under the Minister, judging from the efforts he has put into the running of his Department since he took office, we feel sure that we will have the same, sound, steady progress in the years to come.
Mr. T. Lynch: I believe that the policy that has been carried out for years in connection with the Department of Fisheries, even by the Government that I supported, has been a kind of kettle of fish. One could say that this kettle boiled up when we had the Pinta, the Nina and the SantaMaria, the three German trawlers that were purchased. We still find people coming into this House defending the expenditure of £120,000 on those boats. That money went down the drain. They were tied up for years and God knows what it cost to repair them. If the money that was spent on them had been spread around the east coast, where fish can be caught and are caught, we would have been achieving something. Instead of that, the policy seemed to be that it did not matter if £70,000 were spent on one of them and £90,000 on another.
During the period 1948 to 1957, 80 boats were given out by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara and of those 80, Dunmore East got two. I was twitted by a Deputy on the opposite side that the boats that went into Dunmore East were not from Dunmore East. It would be hard for them. It might be said that the people in Dunmore East did not apply for boats. They had a definite qualification for getting boats; they did not have to attend any schools of navigation. Some of them joined the British Navy and, of course, committed a mortal sin by going into the British Navy as young men and boys. When they left the navy, they went into the mercantile marine service, sailed the Seven Seas and came home as qualified master seamen. Some of them would have liked to set up as fishermen at home, but they would have no chance at all, if they applied for a boat.
The Department the Minister is now  in charge of would not spend twopence on Dunmore Pier, but that is something I do not think is the responsibility of the Minister. He gave me his word it was a misprint, but this shows the policy of the Department of Fisheries. Over a year ago, when the Fianna Fáil Government came into office, Deputy Dr. Ryan, in his Budget statement, at column 944, of Volume 161 of the Dáil Debates, stated:—
“I propose to make available for the benefit of the sea and inland fisheries an additional sum of approximately £50,000. Of this sum, £45,000 will be used to erect an ice plant at Dunmore East and to provide additional fishing boats.”
Mr. T. Lynch: There were more fish caught at Dunmore East last year than at any other port. We did not get £78,000 spent on piers. We did not get fleets of boats. Our fishermen are serving on the P. & O. Line and God knows where. They have no chance of getting a boat. The Minister should make a statement that men who are still young and have service at sea, who come from fishing families in fishing villages and have master's tickets, are invited to apply for boats.
Reference has been made to-night to the 10 per cent. deposit. The Minister for Industry and Commerce and all previous Ministers for Industry and Commerce have endeavoured by grants and every means in their power to have industries established and have backed such industries to the last penny. I do not ask the Minister to present boats to people but he should be prepared to give boats to suitable people on better terms than they have been offered heretofore.
It has been stated in the House that  applications for boats have been falling steadily. We have not exhausted the supply of fishermen, but the patience of many people has been exhausted. They could not wait for years and years. I have no doubt that the Minister means what he says, that he will see to it that the boats are given to the best type of applicants, irrespective of political affiliation. There was a day when the man from the cumann had the best chance. That policy is coming home to roost now. Many people came to the conclusion that it is no good their applying for a boat. They got tired of it. They saw what happened other people and they crossed to the other side and signed themselves up in the foreign ships that Deputies opposite frequently refer to. They tried to earn a living for their wives and families on the sea that called them.
It is suggested that the schools for fishermen and for navigation should be centred in Galway. Perhaps they should be in Galway. Galway has a great tradition. There is a bigger population on the east coast. I am not asking the Minister to place the school in Dunmore East or anywhere in particular but he should consider having a school of fishing on the east or south coast. That school should be a travelling school. When finished in Galway, they should pack up and operate in other centres.
On the question of seeking a 12-mile limit, my opinion is that we should not bother so much about it. We are not able to fish the waters we have. When we are able to fish what we have, we should go to some trouble to have the limit extended.
I have here a publication in Irish, Fairrgí an Domhan. The writer is Seán Ó Ciosáin. According to that publication, the Japanese are able to catch 4,000,000 tons of fish in a year. It gives the figures for Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, for which the figure is the lowest in the world, 18,000 tons. I am sure the Minister knows that. Even if we expanded the output by ten we would still be last. There is plenty of room for expansion.
I shall not look for political  advantage in this or any other debate. It was during the term of office of Deputy Oliver Flanagan that the factory was built in Galway. It appears that that was a mistake. I shall not go into that now. It was good to build it It is a pity that they did not build it somewhere else. The Department should see to it that fishing is carried out from Galway even with bigger boats or that the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria are sent to Galway in order to bring fish into that factory. I was in Galway recently. There is a fine crop of weeds growing around the factory. The Minister should ask the people responsible for it to have the weeds removed. The factory is a beautiful piece of work architecturally and it is a shame that it should look as if it were already scrapped.
Several Deputies have referred to the home market for fish and mentioned in a nostalgic way the little boats that used to fish. I remember those little boats. There were fish joulters in Ireland at that time. They used to travel with donkeys and carts and ponies and carts, carrying the fish to inland centres. It is a pity there is not somebody carrying fish inland now. In times of glut it would be a good thing if fish could be brought into centres, filleted, deep-frozen and brought inland where there is a demand for fish. The amount of fish being landed is infinitesimal. The home market does not take a great deal but the home market should be developed. The fact that fish is not sent to inland centres compels people living there to buy tinned salmon and other imported fish, often at the cost of dollars. The Minister has experimented in other ways and I respectfully suggest to him that he experiment with some refrigerated vans from some centre and see could a round be built up in certain towns.
Coming to the inland fisheries, I compliment the Department on the good job they have done in that direction, in the setting up of the factory in Roscrea and the way it has been handled since. The inland fisheries are a great source of revenue to us. I am saying that on this Vote and I shall not come into the House on some other Vote screaming about foreigners as other  Deputies have done. On some Votes, such as External Affairs, Deputies speak of foreigners as if they had the mange or some other disease, saying they should not be allowed to come here, and when you come to the Fisheries Vote they say these people should be brought in to fish and to spend money. I do not speak with two voices. I believe they should be brought in and should be encouraged to come here and I know the Minister welcomes them here.
A good job was done in stocking streams and lakes. I met people in hotels who were delighted with the fishing here. We all know how it is with fishermen. A man who came into a bar recently in Galway was asked how he had done. He said he had caught 12 trout and said he would buy everybody a drink. I am sure when he got back to England, he would tell everybody about the 36 trout he caught. Our inland fisheries have been well looked after by the Department and the Tourist Board.
Since I came into this House and before that, it has been the habit of Deputies from various constituencies to come in here asking for boats. If they get the boats, they want piers. The only other thing they want is somebody to go down and catch the fish for them. I suggest to the Minister that he should not be influenced by any more of that claptrap. There are enough piers to accommodate for some time all the fishing boats we have. We should concentrate on the piers we have and, if repairs are necessary, they should be done, especially those used by fishermen.
As far as the boats are concerned, even though they are costing much more, I would prefer if the boats were built at home. Several Deputies, to my horror, said it would be better to buy cheap secondhand boats away. The fewer secondhand boats we bring in, the better. We have had the experience of the three trawlers that were bought abroad and it should be a lesson to us. I think the Minister's policy is to have new boats built at home, even at a greater cost, and he should be encouraged in that.
I want to thank the Minister for his  courtesy in inviting me to Dunmore when he came there. I have heard complaints being made by other Deputies on the visits of Ministers. The Dáil is the Parliament of the Irish people and when a Minister of State comes to a constituency, he should, as a matter of etiquette, recognise the representatives of the people and see to it that local bodies, no matter from what Party they come, are made aware of his visit to that place and be invited to meet whatever people are at the meeting.
I know the Minister is very keen on making a success of his Department. I wish him the best of luck and I can assure him that he has the good wishes of everybody in this House. If there is anything I can do as a Deputy—perhaps it would be very little—to help the Minister and his Department, I am at their service. I would again say to him: do not be afraid to give out the boats to people who have master tickets and who have a background of fishing. Do not let the 10 per cent. deposit stop the Minister from giving out the boats. Let him follow the line taken by the Department of Industry and Commerce; they are prepared to spend a great deal of money to establish an industry. Every boat that is put on the sea is a small industry in itself, a small unit that will give a livelihood to Irishmen and bring wealth to the country.
Mr. Desmond: Speaking as a Labour Deputy, I said last year that we were prepared to give the Minister an opportunity to show whether the Fisheries Section of the Department of Lands would succeed under his administration. We are not yet in a position to judge that adequately and, therefore, we do not wish to be overcritical in relation to the activities of the past 12 months.
What strikes me forcibly is that the returns, as shown by the Department and as announced by the Minister on various occasions, do not differ in the least from the announcements in each year in the past in relation to fisheries. Each year, we hear of extra landings and more money. That sounds good and is very important for the  fisherfolk concerned. However, coming as I do from a seaboard area, I believe, in spite of the fact that we must have the interests of fishermen at heart, first and foremost must come the welfare of the whole community and the right of the people of this community to share in what should be the wealth from the landings of fish at various places around our coasts. I am sorry to say that, notwithstanding the many statements and the returns showing increased landings, the people, even in the coastal areas, are still in the same unsatisfactory position that seldom if ever do they see a fish on the table even on a Friday.
When the Minister speaks about the importance of fish exports—any form of export means an advantage to this country—we should first put our house in order. We should give the people in the inland areas the same benefits as are being given to a few areas as we know them at present. Why must it continue that people adjacent to Cork City, and people in towns very little removed from some ports, cannot get fish? There is a variety available to people in Dublin. There is a variety in Dublin hotels and perhaps, to a certain extent, in Cork City for the tourist. The Minister is right in stressing the importance of catering for these people and the fisheries can play a big part.
I am not satisfied that, to any extent, we are being fair to our own people or to the fishing industry when we are continuing that policy. If I am to condemn in any degree the policy of the Minister, it is only because it is the policy of each Minister for Fisheries in this country every year. I would wish that to be changed. We should make some attempt to provide at least a little of such an important food as fish for the people in the inland areas.
Before we concentrate on or even before we speak about the importance of fish exports, we should put into practice a system whereby we can provide for the home market a little more in the way of supplies of this important commodity. If we are to attempt to provide the home market with anything like a fair amount of  fish it means we can release, to a certain degree, more food for export in the way of cattle, in which another Minister is interested. Such exports are, all the time, paying us good dividends. The more we export the more we gain.
The more fish we can provide for the home market the freer we are to concentrate on the export of other food products. Therefore, in the very brief statement I intend to make this evening, I want to point out how vitally important it is that the system in relation to the distribution of fish should be overhauled in order to provide some measure of benefit to the people concerned.
As well as the housewives, be they living in Cork City, or in any inland town, local authority hospitals in part of Munster cannot, unfortunately, at times, get anything like an adequate supply of fish for patients. Surely that is not satisfactory. It is important for us to realise the necessity of providing an adequate supply of fish for these institutions before we start speaking about exports in that connection. Perhaps the Minister is justified in talking about all that is being done to improve the situation in regard to increased landings and in regard to marketing.
Though it may have improved a little, marketing is not satisfactory. Therefore I suggest that, while the policy of the Minister and of the present Government, as of previous Governments, seems to concentrate on the importance of the individual fisherman I believe that will never give us the satisfactory situation which each of us must surely hope for, namely, to increase fish supplies in our inland areas.
It is essential to have a form of co-ordination in relation to the present system and the setting-up by the Minister or the Government not just of a fisheries board—whether we call it a fisheries board or An Bord Iascaigh Mhara makes no difference—because ultimately we shall have to tackle the problem by forming a State service such as, to a limited degree at least, Bord na Móna or the E.S.B. The State must accept greater responsibility. In  that way, we could have a State fleet with our present fishing fleets.
We speak of the number of boats we have and of the number of people employed in the fishing industry. A large number of those engaged in fishing are people who treat it as a little hobby. Unfortunately, I know it to my cost and I know it from the experience of the people in the areas I come from. Many people who are gainfully employed in other occupations for periods of the year go fishing for a while. They realise that certain profits can be given to them at periods when they are slack in other occupations. They are listed as part-time fishermen. The tragedy is that they are not helping to any degree to improve the situation. Notwithstanding that, each year, irrespective of who may be the Minister, while we are told the number of men engaged in fishing and the number of boats being given, we are not ultimately prepared to admit that in many instances the position is such that these people not alone are only part-time but are just engaged in fishing for a very limited period of the year.
Let us go further and admit that, as well as the trouble of lack of supplies in the inland areas, human nature being what it is, in many instances even the people landing the catches are anxious to keep down supplies because the law of supply and demand must at all times govern prices. We know, therefore, that prices are governed by the landings in most instances and that people, in relation to the landing of fish, are as interested in keeping the prices up as are the merchants who are anxious to get their own cut.
I consider it essential that, at this stage, the State must take a greater share of responsibility in relation (1) to the landing of fish and (2) to the marketing of this important food commodity. It may be said by the Minister that the introduction of a co-ordinating effort by such a State fleet may interfere with the livelihood of fishermen in different areas. It may be said by vested interests and by members of this House that such a policy would be wrong, that it would interfere with what had been known to be almost sacred in the lives of the fishery folk  in the coastal areas. I do not believe that. I believe it as little as I believe those who are trying to tell us that the welfare of the fishing industry must be based on the part-time fisherman.
I am trying to approach the subject in a constructive manner not believing for one moment that the Minister is not trying to do his best. Whatever that may be and however hard a person may work to achieve the aims towards which he strives, unless we are prepared to approach this problem from a new angle, unless we are prepared to be critical in our views when we realise that so much has been said and, I suppose, will continue to be said by merchants who are not satisfied with the system because it does not, as they believe, operate fairly, but very often because it does not suit them, we must not forget that another section would much prefer to keep the supplies low, in relation to landings.
There are further sections who wish to see Dublin well stocked with fish at all times, a position which would be deterimental to people in the country. I do not say for one moment that the people of Dublin, and the hoteliers, are not entitled to supplies but because that policy exists at a time when landings are not showing any benefits in the inland and southern areas, I ask the Minister to consider the other aspects—some form of co-ordination between a State company and our present system.
I would suggest to the Minister to do his best for areas such as Kinsale. The Minister was there recently and he knows the problem which exists in relation to the harbour at Kinsale. There is also the question of the harbour at Ballycotton. Deputy Lynch referred to the importance of Ministers of State visiting these areas and doing their best for the people concerned. I agree with that. The Minister went down to Kinsale recently, and while I have no personal animosity against him on this score, the fact is that the three Deputies for South Cork have been at all times very interested in the fishing industry as a whole but in particular in such old ports as Kinsale. I am sorry that at the time of his visit only one Party was represented and  two other Parties were ignored. I hope that if the occasion arises again, when a Minister visits Kinsale, Opposition Deputies will also be asked to show their interest in such an important industry as fishing.
Dr. Esmonde: The Minister in his opening statement stressed several very definite points of view which he holds. One is that we should increase our deep water fishing fleet as rapidly as possible as we have at our doorstep a ready market for fish. He also said that if necessary he would invite foreigners to fish in this country if we cannot get our own people to do it. Further, as far as I can see reading into his speech, he does not wish to advise the Government to interfere with our present international fishing limits.
Dr. Esmonde: One could only construe from the Minister's remarks that the conference, in which so many people are concerned with fishing and which is so vital to this country, was at a deadlock and that no changes are envisaged for the future. If the Minister likes, I shall read the extract from his speech—which I construed as having that meaning. I hope I am wrong and that it is the intention of this Government to take some action in that matter.
It is very vital—I think there is general agreement on it from all sides of the House—to expand our fishing industry. It is one of the avenues of expansion which lies open to us. We have an abundance of fish everywhere. That is evidenced by the fact that trawlers from practically every country in Europe may be seen off our shores. There is considerable ambiguity as to where the fishing limit ends. I know that the captains of the corvettes which protect our fishing rights, do not actually know what the line is. As far as I can gather from my researches, I do not think the Department know either. It would be very welcome to the fishing industry as a whole if some definite decision could be reached on that point.
It was announced to-day that the Icelandic Government had taken a  very vital and courageous decision. They were forced to take that decision by virtue of the fact that 99 per cent. of their exports depend on fishing. In our country it is a comparatively small item, due to a variety of circumstances. We have not got a big economy in the fishing industry, but the Icelandic Government took the action which they have taken because they were forced to take it by predatory trawlers from such countries as Britain and Belgium, fishing within their waters. They are big nations with plenty of money behind them and with adequate equipment and they are taking the fish in Icelandic waters. Exactly the same thing is happening off the coast of Ireland, practically without any redress of any sort over a good many years. Although the position was critical before, it is far more critical to-day than ever because other countries have out-fished their waters and their stocks have fallen so low that practically nothing is left. The two main fishing centres now are Ireland and Iceland.
I suggest that Iceland has given Ireland a good lead. The answer may well be that if we increase our territorial waters we will not be allowed to land our fish in Britain. We have special facilities there now for landing our fish which may be denied to us. I know that when the Icelandic Government decided originally, before they made a definite order, to increase their territorial waters, there was an outcry in Britain and that fishermen from Iceland were not allowed to sell their fish in the fish markets of Britain as they had done previously. I am personally aware of that because it came before the Council of Europe and was referred to the agricultural committee, of which I am a member. At the same time, Iceland was able to carry on by extending its limits, as it was entitled to, and I see no reason why Ireland should not do the same. But I see no indication in the Minister's speech that he is going to do that. I am more hopeful now, because when I was on my feet for a few moments only the Minister said that that need not be construed from his speech.
Perhaps when the Minister is replying  he will tell us whether it is his intention, as Minister, to advise the Government to extend the territorial waters. If he does not extend the territorial waters the whole basis of his speech, in my opinion, falls to the ground because what he has told us, and in the main I do not disagree with what he says, is that the object is to build our fishing fleet as rapidly as possible. Deputies are no doubt aware that Rome was not built in a day and that we cannot create a fleet overnight. Anybody who is conversant with our fishing conditions knows that that is quite impossible. Until, in the first instance, the Minister is prepared to take courageous action and extend our territorial waters, protect our ports and our waters and say, in conjunction with his colleague, the Minister for Defence, that those fishing waters are properly protected—until that is done to provide the basis for our fishing industry, then it will be impossible for us to expand very much.
The Minister very hopefully said—I think it was Shakespeare who said “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”—that there is an unlimited market for fish. I think he is right in saying there is a better market for fish than there was previously. Most of the fishing grounds in Europe have been fished out already and there is a considerable shortage of fish. There is a tendency to extend as the result of the Icelandic decision. The fish these countries were able to procure previously are not available to them now, unless they are prepared to fish outside the 12-mile limit. From Iceland's point of view, they would be welcome to that, for all the fish they could get.
I do not agree with what the Minister says about middle-water trawlers, a larger type of fishing boat. We have got to be realistic. Again, the thought of the landlubber comes to mind. The cart is rather being put in front of the horse. If you are to increase the size of fishing boats, you must have harbours for them. If you are to increase your fishing fleets and encourage people to go in for fishing, you have to remember that they are human beings like everybody else. They  do not want to live on the high seas all the time. They do not want to have to dock in distant ports. They want to be able to dock in the vicinity of where they fish.
I maintain there has been considerable neglect of, shall we say, the southeastern area in regard to the development of fishing boats and harbours. It is a known fact that there is no properly protected deepwater fishing harbour for the fishing members of my own constituency, Wexford—which is a considerable maritime constituency— between the Waterford harbours and Dublin. The Minister may say that the south-eastern fishermen can go into Dunmore East. That is all very fine. If they go in there and if they live in Wexford, it is 30 miles by road for them to get home at night. They have to go all around by Waterford to get home.
There is a considerable Wexford fishing fleet which, I regret to say, has been dwindling. It varies; sometimes it improves and sometimes goes down again. In my opinion, that is largely due to the lack of harbour facilities. During my time, we have been visited by Parliamentary Secretaries and Ministers. Kilmore Quay is a particularly active place in the fishing world. They are very go-ahead people, and they formed a co-operative society of their own. They would be pleased to have a small job done to their harbour, costing a limited amount of money. It rather annoys me when I hear Deputy Brennan from Donegal getting up here —I am very fond of the Donegal people myself; I think they are magnificent seamen and fishermen—talking about more facilities. What do they want? They have got the finest fishing harbour in Ireland. Nobody can gainsay that. They have got every facility, complete shelter, freedom from any anxiety when they dock their boats. We have not got that at all, nor do we ever get anything from any Minister or Parliamentary Secretary except empty promises.
The point I want to make is this: The Minister is in this happy capacity —I said so on the Estimate last year— that he is a full member of the Government.  Therefore, his voice, since he deals directly with the matter, carries far more weight than that of a Parliamentary Secretary. He also has had the advantage of having a man in the Government—the Minister for Finance, who is responsible for giving the money—who must be fully conversant with the problems. In fact, I have often heard him state at elections and other times that he is interested in the fishermen of the south-east. Surely, if the Minister is in this happy position, being a member of the same Government, he ought to be able to get the small sum of money necessary to put Kilmore Quay into a safe, navigable condition?
The Minister knows these facts. He has been down there himself. I might add en passant that what Deputy Palmer said was perfectly true. There was no invitation to anybody outside the Minister's Party to be present to meet him when he came. That is beside the point. If the Minister wishes to be surrounded by his own political advisers, that is another matter. We all think alike in Wexford about that harbour. Only a small sum of money is required to build a breakwater. If we are to encourage fishermen to go in for bigger boats, we must give them the necessary facilities. The cart is being put before the horse.
I am in full agreement with most of what the Minister said in regard to deep sea trawlers, but I do not agree with his remarks about bringing in foreign fishermen. I may be misconstruing him. What I read in the Official Record was something slightly different from what seems to have appeared in the papers, which indicated that if he could not get Irishmen to fish in these boats, he would invite foreigners to do it. I do not know exactly how far the Minister intends to go, but our whole trouble here has been to try to keep foreigners out. If the Minister is to invite foreigners in to fish here, it seems to me that is the thin end of the wedge. He must have some cut and dried scheme to do it. There must be an adequate safeguard that they will not cut across the Irish fishermen in any way.
I take it that if the Minister is going  to invite them as entire crews in a boat, they will be strictly licensed. If the Minister offers these facilities I envisage to foreign trawlers and fishermen, it should be ensured that they will live in this country and settle down here. If they are going to take fish out of Irish waters and absorb the industrial raw material of Ireland, they should spend the money they get from it in Ireland—if necessary, buy or rent a house here, buy their clothes here and contribute to the economy of the country as a whole.
I know the Minister is ambitious in his flights of fancy. I do not think any the worse of him for that. It is good to have a Minister buoyant with hope. He appears to share the same optimism about the wellbeing of the country as a whole. Unfortunately, we cannot see it. He appears to have painted a picture here whereby we will drive ahead and have these middle water boats; we are going to build a fleet; there will be an abundance of fish brought into the harbours and for every one man in a boat, there will be 14 on the shore. We will have huge exports of fish to meet our balance of payments and so forth. Is a lot of that not wishful thinking? This will take a considerable time.
That brings me to the Estimate. If all these happy things take place—and no one will be more pleased to see them than I, because I think the fishermen have had a raw deal—one might expect to find in the Estimate some considerable sum of money made available for this all-important industry.
Yet, we look at the Estimates and what do we see? We see that there is only a matter of an additional £16,000 in this Estimate this year. Will £16,000 produce a fleet of middle-water trawlers, sufficient to expand our fisheries in the manner outlined by the Minister? I cannot see it. The major portion of that sum, £12,500, is for an exploratory fishing vessel. That leaves us only £5,000 to do all the wonderful things the Minister envisages. I do not think he will be able to do anything, unless he can persuade his colleagues in the Government that fishing is no longer the Cinderella of our industries, and he ought to be in  a position to do that. I think he has the will to try to improve our fishing industry.
In regard to inviting capital into fishing, one of the things of paramount importance is an extension of our territorial waters and, apart from that, we need proper protection for our fisheries. The supply of ships to protect our fisheries is, naturally, a matter for another Department, but the Minister in charge of that Department would greatly appreciate and act on the advice of the Minister in charge of fisheries. If the Minister conferred with his colleague who is in charge of our Naval Service and advised him on the type of vessel needed for the purpose, he would probably be able to persuade his colleague to take another look at the situation.
This time last year, actually 15 months ago, in the early part of 1957, very heavy catches of herrings were being made around the Waterford and Wexford coasts. I was approached by the local fishermen to get protection down there as soon as it possibly could be provided. I phoned the then Minister for Defence and the protection ship was down the next day. The unfortunate thing about it was that the coming of the protection vessel was known. She could be seen coming a good distance away and the foreign fishermen had plenty of time to get away. The protection vessel passed on and the foreign trawlers came back again and operated freely there. That was all right because at the time there was fish enough for all, but it was extremely irritating for our fishermen to see that state of affairs.
I suggest to the Minister that the protecion of our fisheries, as far as it affects his own Department, merits very serious consideration. This suggestion may not be strictly in order, but perhaps I will have the indulgence of the Chair in asking the Minister if it would be possible for him to arrange to have one trawler in every fleet with protective powers. I think the plan has been tried in other countries. One of the trawlers in each fleet has been given protective powers and acts as a protective vessel. It acts as a Q-ship. The unauthorised trawlers are surprised  to find that one of the fleet of what seemed to be ordinary fishing vessels can arrest them, bring them into port, have them heavily fined and their gear confiscated.
The fishing grounds of this country are more open than those of other countries and are likely to become more so. The heavy subsidisation of British fishing which took place heretofore for the purpose of securing personnel for the British navy does not obtain nearly as much now, in view of the fact that naval forces do not now play as big a part as they did some years back. In Britain, they have not now the same subsidising facilities they once had, and therefore they have more interest in coming into our waters and preying on our fishing grounds. The British are the greatest offenders and the outcry from them will be greater if we extend our territorial waters.
Several Deputies mentioned that new boats were very dear and that the cost of production was going up. The two Fianna Fáil Deputies from Donegal mentioned that you can buy good second-hand boats in Scotland for about £3,000 each. Would the Minister not consider, if he has the funds available from this limited Vote here, buying some of those boats at that price and, if necessary, refitting them in Irish boatyards? There is a precedent for that. When our famous German trawlers arrived here, it was found that they had to be refitted before they could be put into service. We can buy a few Scottish trawlers and do the same.
If we did that and they were refitted here, would the Minister consider leasing those boats to people who would be interested? That would be one way of building up a deep-water fleet. If we are to continue under the present system of building new boats and giving them to prospective purchasers at a 10 per cent. deposit, it will be a long time before we make any progress. Deputy Blowick made quite clear the difficulties of small farmers, who constitute the bulk of our fishermen, in making such deposits. It will be a long time before we build up a fleet of the  size the Minister has in mind, if we continue on those lines.
I think it would be possible to secure quite a number of secondhand boats and refit them. A market for them would exist in all part of Britain, in view of the heavy subsidisation being withdrawn. Many of our own people who have capital invested in our fisheries, as well as those of our fishermen who would like to own boats of their own, would be interested in them, particularly if they could be acquired by easy payments. A leasing fee could be charged for them and the responsibility would be on the lessee to keep the boat in good condition. In that way, it would be possible to build a fleet fairly rapidly.
Whatever we do with our fishing industry we know there is a market. The Minister says that £33,000,000 worth of fish is imported into Britain. Even though there is a ready market for exports, no industry can be soundly based unless it has home consumption. No one could consider our distribution of fish satisfactory. It is a difficult problem. It is largely concerned with ice and the preservation of fish and the question of making the Irish people fish-minded.
There seem to be several reasons why they do not become fish-minded. The primary one is that they cannot get the fish. That is a very obvious reason. It is very difficult to get fish. People in Dublin who live in places surrounded by all the comforts of life do not realise how difficult it is to get fish in many parts of the country. The cooking of the fish is very important, also. Here again, the Minister might consult with the Minister for Education, to see if some scheme could be devised to encourage the proper cooking of fish. When the housewife goes out to buy fish, she is more inclined to buy preserved fish than ordinary fresh fish, for several reasons. First of all, as I say, she cannot get fresh fish, or she is doubtful if it is fresh; or, if she gets fish which purports to be fresh, it is sometimes not as fresh as it should be. Deputy Palmer has told us about fish going up to Dublin and coming back to Kerry again.
 If fish were readily available, I think the people would use it. One of the most important things is to have a big home market for it. This is a country in which our people have to eat something other than meat on Fridays. There are periods in Lent when our people have to do that a couple of times a week, so there should be a ready market for fish. Using our creameries as a spearhead, it ought to be possible to build up a fish trade all round the country. The Minister might use his energies on those lines to circulate fish as much as possible. The fishery organisations have suggested to me that the creamery is one of the best ways to do this.
I will not detain the House any longer on this subject, as I realise the Minister is trying to improve conditions generally. I was very critical of him on the Forestry Estimate, but I believe he has achieved more in the Fisheries line than in Forestry. I hope he will be successful in building stronger fleets and increasing our fishing industry considerably. It is capable of expansion, not only by 25 or 50 per cent. but by 100 per cent. Belgium has only 45 miles of coast, and what coast have we, with entire beds around us and the fish waiting to be taken there? In the final analysis, we cannot build up the fishing industry unless capital is made freely available for it. That is where the Minister, as a member of the Government, has an important part to play, and I hope he will continue to use his best efforts to build up this industry.
Mr. McMenamin: I have been some 30 years here, listening to debates on this Estimate. In some of those other years, more was said about fishing and we were told every year that it was “next to agriculture.” At one time, an attempt was made by the Fianna Fáil Government, when it was earlier in office, to kill the cattle industry. Of course, in those years, no one ever attempted to say they killed the fishing industry. It would not be hard to do it.
One Deputy this evening spoke until he had to sit down from exhaustion. The Minister set a bad example himself, as it took some 22 columns of the  Official Debates to tell posterity what he had to say. I want to put briefly before the House what it is all about. From a business point of view, you could write the whole subject on the back of an envelope. According to the Minister, last year, £907,000 worth of fish were landed in this country. If you take the cost of administration of the Department at £193,000, that leaves £713,000. We exported the enormous quantity of £215,000 worth of fresh fish and £100,000 worth of herrings. This is the industry that was “next to agriculture”. Is it not well that Fianna Fáil did not kill the cattle industry? Had they done so, I do not know what would happen us now. There is the whole picture.
Mr. McMenamin: Take £713,000, having deducted the cost of the administration. Imagine the repetition of all the speeches I have listened to over the years, about this industry which could be something great. There is the net result of it, and the Minister takes 22 columns of the Official Debates to tell us what it is all about.
In past years I made some suggestions as to things which are essential. What is this problem, in brief? It is (1) to get fishermen who can fish; (2) to provide boats; (3) to catch fish; (4) to land them; and (5) to market them. There is the problem. The efforts will be utterly futile and useless unless the marketing system is of the highest order. I do not like to say hard things. but after all those years of disappointment one feels like saying hard things. It seems to me that this Department could not sell lollypops. Imagine all the money of the taxpayer that has been spent to carry this on, with the net result to-day of £713,000.
I do not want to say this in a bitter way, but I have a sense of disappointment at the way this question has been talked about. The cattle industry Fianna Fáil were going to kill, brought to this country last year over £45,000,000. This Department of Fisheries brought £715,180. There is not a word about it in this House. Last year, eggs exported realised £220,364. The farmer's wife who mainly looks  after the butter, and always did, exported butter to the value of £4,349,333. Is that not a comparison?
Although this may sound hard, it is perfectly friendly—the Minister disappoints me. I read the speeches made by the Minister up and down the country and he gives the impression of being the efficiency expert of the Government. There is no efficiency about that. For years I have tried to develop the consumption of fish in this country because the first thing one must do with any native industry is to provide a home market. Surely that is obvious, but there is not a word in the 20 or 22 columns the Minister produced about fish distribution and marketing inside the country. I repeatedly asked that a fleet of insulated vans should be made available to the Department and that they should go through the country from various centres each morning into every village and town and cover the whole network with supplies of fish.
I would go so far as to say—I would be very revolutionary in this—that for a period I would give fish away free. I would give time to develop a taste for it because apparently something drastic must be done. There is no use in blaming the public for that, because, as has been said here to-night and every year for the past 30 years I have been here, the people cannot get fish. There is no use in burking that issue. When they look for fish, they cannot get fish. One might as well look for a needle in a haystack as look for fish in any country village. When I was a boy 70 years ago, a farmer would go to some fishing port with a horse and cart it, take home a load of fish and cure it, and have it for his wife and family for a whole year. I can think of the districts where that happened, districts where you would not get a sprat to-day. So why blame the people for not being fish conscious?
The Minister talks about the board and the Department developing an export market. That makes me writhe, especially when alongside that the Minister said England imports £33,000,000 worth of fish every year. Why look for markets? Our contribution  to the market, even if the whole of it went out would be about £900,000 and that does not all go out. There is a market for £33,000,000 worth at our door within an hour's reach of us and the Minister proposes to spend the taxpayers' money seeking markets elsewhere. Is there anything more fantastic than that? It reminds me of the economic war period when they were going to send the eggs and butter and the old cattle up the Mediterranean—to look at the palm trees I suppose. It vexes to hear that, when everybody is complaining about the depopulation of the country which is taking place mainly along the seaboard. Is that not a sad commentary on our work and our efforts? Should we not be ashamed of ourselves and ashamed to talk about it? I am not going to talk any more about it.
Mr. Calleary: If we went down to Westport to-day, we might realise the value and importance of the Irish fishing industry. We have there visitors from all parts of Europe and they realise that we have something in Ireland which is worth coming here for and that we have a real fishing centre here. That fishing centre, I am happy to say, is in the County of Mayo.
I have heard the Minister talking of a large exploratory fishing vessel to be designed by a naval architect. I wonder if he has heard of a vessel which came from West Germany recently to Sligo. This vessel was a deep sea trawler and one of the biggest of the German fishing vessels. It was capable of travelling to any fishing ground in the world. It was also able to sort fish, cure fish and was equipped to process fish and make fishmeal. It was really a floating factory, and I think until we settle down and realise that we must get vessels of this sort, we will not be able to have a good fishing industry. The day of the currach and the small boat has gone. The fishing industry must advance; there is no use in attempting to carry on that industry on the basis of our people going out four or five miles from their ports. We must have vessels equipped to travel to any place and they must be large enough to be able to stay out in any kind of weather. The rougher the  weather, the better chance we have of getting a market for our fish because in rough weather the fish will naturally be scarce.
We must get An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to take charge of our fishing industry in a big way and it must become something like the E.S.B. or Bord na Móna. Surely we have plenty of fishing grounds around Ireland—if we have not we should have—because we have a big coastline in comparison with the area comprising the State. If we look at what has happened in Belgium, which has one of the largest fishing fleets, with a very small coastal area, we will appreciate what must be done to make our fishing industry something good and valuable and something of which we can be proud. That is what I hope the Minister will do.
Let us get rid of the small boats and stop giving out boats on hire-purchase, boats that will go out for a day's fishing and no more, boats that will run for home when bad weather is expected. We want boats that are able to travel to any part of the world and able to fish even in bad weather, because such boats will bring home fish that will be worth bringing home at times when fish will be scarce and dear in the markets.
Mr. Calleary: I was pleased to know that such a large quantity of fish was taken on Lough Conn under such trying circumstances. I was pleased to hear of the quantity of fish taken by two boats fishing during two very bad days. I think the Minister mentioned something about 30 or 50 fish caught during those two days, and that they weighed something over 50 lbs. I am also pleased with the arrangements the Minister is making in connection with Irish lakes. Our lakes and rivers, if kept in good order and looked after properly, could be a great asset to the nation. They will attract plenty of tourist anglers and will be of great benefit in that way.
I was sorry more people did not attend the training centre at Galway. I had hoped plenty of young men would have attended those courses arranged by the Minister. Fairly decent terms and generous allowances were provided and I was disappointed that there were only 24 applicants for those courses. I have read about the Icelandic fisherman who is coming here to this country. He will give lectures but I wonder what effect they will have on the people of Portacloy, Belmullet and Blacksod? As I said before we must draw those people away from the methods of fishing that their forefathers used. It is good to realise that the currach is dead. It will become a dead industry unless we improve it, and the only way to improve it is to provide larger boats. We have plenty of young, adventurous Irishmen at home and we must ensure that they build boats of sufficient size, boats that will be equipped by some party like An Bord Iascaigh Mhara. There is no reason why plenty of young, intelligent, adventurous men should not take part in the training courses arranged for fishermen.
I was very pleased to note that we have increased our wet fish landings by 41 per cent. over last year and that the herring catches at Dunmore East have been increased so much. I was disappointed to learn that we did not increase our shellfish landings and I am wondering could anything be done to bring about an increase.
 I did not hear the Minister make any mention of one part of the fishing industry in the West. I refer to shark fishing in Achill. It is a part of the fishing industry that certainly gives great employment in that area, and also inland, and it has been carried on through the energy and enterprise of one individual in the area. Certainly I thought the Minister would have made some mention of the advantages the shark fishing industry confer on the Achill area. When one individual, such as Mr. Joe Sweeney, is able to organise such an important industry it should be possible to get plenty more people to invest in sea fisheries. That is a matter I should like the Minister to consider, to see if we could expand that industry in the West.
Counting my own constituency we have the best sea fishing areas in Ireland but we are not making enough use of them. We cannot get fish at certain times when we want them. Sometimes we have too much and sometimes none at all. There are no definite arrangements to have fish transported to market. Salmon fishing in the area is good and I hope the Minister will refer to the problem of drainage and how it may affect angling. Some of our people are wondering if the drainage of rivers such as the Moy might have a serious effect on salmon and trout fishing. I hope the Minister will be able to say when replying that he has taken certain advice on the question.
Mr. Coogan: I must refer the Minister to the statement he made on this Estimate last year. As a new Minister he said he did not know much about the Department at that time, but he continued to speak for column after column and said about as much as he has said this year. When one looks through the debate one sees something of a rehash of last year's debate. There may be a few points in the Minister's speech with which I agree, but there are quite a number of important items which are absent from his statement. He asks for more money but I do not see what will be done with this increased demand in the year to come.
I welcome the Minister's statement that he hopes to set up a permanent  nautical school in Galway Vocational Education School. As a member of the Galway Vocational Education Committee, I can assure the Minister that he has, and he will have, their fullest co-operation in that project. The Minister has expressed disappointment in the number of applicants for that course. May I suggest to him that he should try and attract young men who already have their tickets as that would short circuit a lot of the training that takes place? It would speed up the course. I should like to hear the Minister's views on that suggestion when replying. Again, I can assure him of the fullest co-operation from the vocational committee. The Minister mentioned certain figures but I suppose I shall not be able to go into them to-night.
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