Thursday, 4 June 1959
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £234,320 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1960, for Salaries and Expenses in connection with Sea and Inland Fisheries, including sundry Grants-in-Aid.
In introducing this Estimate for a highly productive service I am glad to point to the substantial increase of 80 per cent. over the net total amount provided last year. The main increase is under subhead G which includes for the first time grants to assist in the purchase of fishing boats. There are other notable increases under subheads A and B which reflect the strengthening of the technical staff to cope with essential scientific and engineering work.
In the past six months fisheries policy has received a good deal of publicity — both in the Government White Paper on the Programme for Economic Expansion and in supplementary memoranda which I circulated widely. My main object on this occasion, therefore, is to report on the progress being made in putting the policy into effect. But first I should like to mention the principal sea fisheries statistics for the last calendar year.
There were 1,687 men and 471 motor vessels solely engaged in sea fishing in 1958; of these vessels 142 were classed as 25 tons gross and over. During the year ended 31st March, 1959, nine new boats — seven of 50 foot and two of 56 foot — were issued by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to hire purchasers. Six further boats — four of  26 foot and two of 56 foot — were allocated under the special Gaeltacht Scheme financed from the National Development Fund. Another 56 foot boat issued was one of two for which grants had been provided in the Fisheries Vote. Advances totalling £130,000 were made to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara for the provision of boats and gear bringing the Board's expenditure for that purpose to about £200,000 in the year. The Board's four boatyards have been fully employed and I look forward to expanding activity to meet increasing demand for boats.
Landings in 1958 were valued at £1,317,000 for all varieties of sea fish — including shellfish but excluding salmon — an increase of 13 per cent. over 1957 or 27 per cent. over 1956. The greatest single increase — £95,000 — once again came from herrings. The overall quantities reached 259,000 cwts. for demersal fish and 288,000 cwts. for pelagic fish. The value of shellfish landed, at £291,000 was 21 per cent. higher than in the previous year. The catch of Norway lobsters or Dublin Bay prawns showed the greatest relative increase in quantity — from 6,800 cwts. in 1957 to 12,000 cwts. in 1958. Lobsters and crayfish represented almost two-thirds of the value of the shellfish and I should like to see further intensification of fishing for these valuable crustanceans. Relatively small economical boats are found quite effective for this purpose and could at the same time be profitably used for sea angling at many centres.
The greater part of 1958 was notable for a decline in landings of demersal fish: for the first nine months the quantity lagged about 11 per cent. behind that for the corresponding period in 1957 but the fisherman received prices averaging 15 per cent. more. In the last quarter of 1958, however, the catch of whiting rose by about 78 per cent over that for the same quarter in the previous year and, despite the increased quantity, the average price realised was about 9 per cent. higher — thus illustrating the satisfactory outlets available and the scope for increased landings. The average prices received by fishermen for the whole of 1958  were above the 1957 level — about 4 per cent. higher for demersal fish or 11 per cent. taking both demersal and pelagic varieties. The average price of handdock rose 36 per cent. and that of herrings 43 per cent. The high price for herrings is an indication of the fact that the demand — both at Dunmore East and in County Donegal — was sufficiently strong to absorb much greater quantities.
In the first quarter of 1959 the increase in landings of whiting was maintained, the quantity being 44 per cent. higher and the value 75 per cent. higher than in the corresponding period in 1958. For the quarter, landings of demersal fish rose from 44,000 cwts. valued at £140,000 to 52,000 cwts. valued at £176,000, landings of herrings from 70,000 cwts. valued at £63,000 to 82,000 cwts. valued at £100,000, the value of shellfish from £9,000 to £18,000 and the total value for all varieties from £214,000 to £296,000.
The inadequacy of home landings of white fish to meet the demand on the expanding home market inevitably gave rise to demands for increased imports of fresh fish. It is important that the demand from housewives, hoteliers, etc., which is encouraged when supplies from home sources are plentiful, be not allowed to dry up because of seasonal scarcities. If there are extended periods during which fish cannot be supplied, many customers will lose interest in it and change over to alternative foods. On the other hand, the maintenance of supplies to meet the demand will benefit the fisherman by ensuring that there is an established market available for his catch when landed.
I accept the principle that the importation of fresh or frozen fish should be controlled in the interest of the home fishermen. This, of course, has been recognised for the past 20 years. I came to the conclusion, however, that the control exercised until recently was too rigid to achieve the desired object: import licences were issued only at the last moment and lack of time sometimes prevented importers from locating the supplies needed or from buying to the best  advantage. In these circumstances I decided in January last to revise the licensing arrangements and at the same time ensure that the overall quantities imported would be strictly controlled and never excessive.
The merchants who auction and wholesale fish told me that, when normal supplies of home landed fish are available, it would not be an economic proposition for them to import fish because of the extra transport cost involved. They went further, however, and suggested the establishment of a fund to which they would voluntarily contribute a sum of 3/6d. for each stone of fresh fish imported by them. The Fishing Industry Development Fund was thus created and importers pay their contributions before issue of licences so as to eliminate collection costs. This fund will be utilised for the benefit of the fishing industry as directed by me after consultation with representatives of fishermen, wholesalers and retailers. As an example of expenditure from the fund I may mention recent advertisements to encourage demand for fish — which had then become more plentiful.
It is gratifying to note that in 1958 further progress was recorded in the export of fish. Excluding salmon and freshwater eels, the export value of which was £565,000 in each of the last two years, exports in 1958 were valued at £796,000 which represents an increase of 28 per cent. over 1957 or 80 per cent. over 1956. Exports of fresh herrings alone were worth £255,000 — an increase of almost £100,000 over the previous year. The upward trend in fish exports has been maintained in the opening months of 1959.
The scheme of reduced freight rates for the bulk transport of fish to Billingsgate Market, which had been in operation via Waterford and Rosslare for the previous twelve months, was extended in December last to cover exports from Cork. Negotiations for its further extension are proceeding. I might also mention that our boats are now free to make direct landings into British ports without payment of the 10 per cent. duty which applied up to January last.
 I am confident that certain new undertakings promoted by private interests which are due to be brought into operation this year will play a useful part in the expansion of exports. Encouraging progress is being made by private enterprise in the development of the processing side of the industry, particularly in regard to fish canning. During the recent herring season, canning on a pilot scale was undertaken at Dunmore East producing canned herring for export. A cannery is being erected at Kinsale. A commercial fish meal factory has been established in Killybegs. I expect too that a number of other undertakings will develop this year from proposals for the production of various kinds of processed fish. Where home landings are insufficient to supply the requirements of canneries and processing stations, I am prepared to license landings by foreign vessels. The interests of our own fishermen will, of course, be safeguarded.
Subhead E. 1 of the Estimate shows increased provision for scientific investigations — mainly in relation to shellfish and herrings. The expansion of scientific activity is also reflected in subhead E. 2 which includes expenses of a second delegate to meetings of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In connection with subhead E. 5, perhaps I should say that a new and more comprehensive International Convention recently signed will, when ratified, supersede that of 1946. It will extend to all species of sea fish and provide machinery for agreement on a wide range of measures for the conservation of fish stocks; the Convention of 1946 related only to certain species of fish — not including herring, for instance — and the mesh sizes of certain types of nets. I should like to take this opportunity of making a further appeal to fishermen to realise that it is in their own interest to observe the existing orders in relation to undersized fish and net meshes. These orders must be strictly enforced and for that purpose inspections are being intensified.
I am glad to be in a position to report  that a contract has been placed for the construction of the exploratory fishing vessel for which £45,000 is provided under subhead E. 6. Of the sum of £20,000 voted last year, it was not practicable to spend more than £6,000. The vessel is to be delivered before the end of this year and I need scarcely say that there will be a very extensive and important programme of work awaiting it — particularly in relation to herring. In the meantime the technical staff is being strengthened and plans are being prepared for a fully equipped fisheries research station.
I should now like to refer to the training scheme for fishermen for which provision is made under subhead E.7. Good, trained skippers and fishermen enjoy earnings comparable with those of business managers and highly skilled craftsmen on shore: There are skippers earning £1,500 a year and crew members £14 to £18 a week. Herring fishing in particular is a source of very substantial income. The fishermen's product is in international demand under conditions of market buoyancy. As I have said many times, the market for fish of prime quality is as certain as anything in this world. Apart from the export potential, the retailers have told me that they can envisage a 25 per cent. to 50 per cent. increase in home consumption. Fishing grounds are within our reach. The seas around our coasts — the inshore waters, the Porcupine and Great Sole Banks — are all part of our heritage and should form the basis of one of our greatest industries. Young men should be coming forward for training to fit them for a fishing career.
I am pleased to be able to tell the House that some little progress has been made. Seven fishermen who recently completed the course of training at the Town of Galway Vocational Sshool have been successful at the examination for certificates of competency under the Merchant Shipping Acts as second hands of fishing boats.
Mr. Childers: Yes. These fishermen are the first to receive Irish certificates of competency issued under regulations recently made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am confident that this marks an important development in the history of the fishing industry. I should like to record my appreciation of the co-operation of the town of Galway Vocational Education Committee and of their teachers in making the first course the 100 per cent. success it was. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara have also played an important part in giving practical instruction on their offshore fishing vessels which, I hope, will be used to a still greater extent for training purposes in future.
As I said when introducing last year's Estimate, I was disappointed at the numbers applying for training. Despite widespread publicity the response this year has been even less encouraging; only eleven candidates attended for interview. I hope, however, that, as fishermen learn of the success of the first group of trainees and of the valuable knowledge and experience provided by the courses, applicants will come forward in ever increasing numbers. It may well be that men who have for years been out of touch with school subjects — mathematics in particular — do not find it easy to face the prospect of going back to study at the theoretical course. If that is the case it should be of great benefit to them if some preparatory spare time instruction could be organised in their home ports. I feel sure that Vocational Education Committees would be willing to co-operate in this way should there be local demand for classes. Indeed I understand that some committees are already providing instruction in navigational subjects.
In addition to the pressing need for qualified fishing skippers and second hands there is a dearth of deck hands and enginemen for our existing vessels. As the fleet expands the position will become acute. A fundamental need is the recruitment into the catching side of the industry of boys of about  16 years of age for training over a period of years as competent fishermen. With this in mind I am introducing a scheme for the training of deck hands and enginemen. I am inviting the co-operation of competent skippers to make a success of this scheme.
An allowance of up to £4 a week will be payable to a learner for a period of not more than two years if training as a deck hand or two-and-a-half years, including six months ashore, if training as an engineman. Applications for admission under this scheme will be invited shortly. When the learners have become experienced fishermen it is hoped that many of them will go on to take navigational training under the existing scheme and secure certificates of competency.
These training schemes should lead to increasing demand for fishing boats — for which, as I mentioned at the outset, grants are provided under subhead G. Perhaps I might here refer briefly to the attractive facilities now available for the purchase of new boats:—
These facilities do not apply to boats issued before they were announced. I have received representations from An Bord Iascaigh Mhara for extension of the 4 per cent. interest rate to other transactions and I am having the matter examined. I have also received a petition from the National Fishermen's Organisation requesting application of the 4 per cent. interest rate and 15 per cent. grant to boats already issued and I have recently discussed this and other matters with a deputation from the organisation. I am afraid, however, that I cannot hold out hope of applying the 15 per cent. grant to boats issued before November last.
There is another new provision under subhead G of special interest  to fishermen. A grant is being given to enable An Bord Iascaigh Mhara to sell ice at the reasonable price of £4 per ton ex-factory. I hope this will lead to the use of greatly increased quantities of ice which is essential to maintain the prime quality of our fish. The Board have ice-making plants in operation at Killybegs, Murrisk, Cleggan, Galway, Dingle, Schull, Ballycotton and Dunmore East and are providing plants at Caherciveen and Castletownbere.
A further new item provided for is a fish cookery book in which I am particularly interested because I am convinced that fish consumption in this country can be appreciably increased by encouraging greater variety both as regards cooking methods and the types of fish used. This is largely a matter for our schools and I am happy to acknowledge the co-operation of the Minister for Education and his Department in bringing it to the notice of educational authorities who, I feel sure, will play their part in popularising the use of fish.
Subhead G. also provides grants for other development projects of the usual type undertaken by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara, including premises and plant at various centres. A sum of £43,250 is made available for salaries, fees, travelling expenses, miscellaneous items such as stationery, postage and telephones, and expenditure in connection with the head office premises. A large part of this grant for administration relates to development activities. For instance, payments in respect of boats do not cover the overhead expenses of administering the hire purchase scheme as distinct from the capital cost of the boats themselves. On the other hand, the building and repairing of boats and the marketing of fish should be conducted on normal business lines. I should add that the Board are carrying out a reorganisation to separate as far as practicable the purely commercial from the development side of their activities.
I might also mention that the arangements made to permit hire purchasers of boats to market their  catches through approved auctioneers other than the Board have been operating satisfactorily. Now that this contentious matter has been settled, I am relying on private interests to increase their capital investment in the industry and intensify their efforts to develop market outlets at home and abroad.
In addition to the grant-in-aid, repayable advances are made to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara from the Central Fund. For the current year, advances have been authorised to a total of £240,000 of which almost 90 per cent. is for boats and gear. Incidentally, I shall shortly have to introduce amending legislation to increase the aggregate amount which may be advanced to the Board.
Subhead H. provides for a number of very important items described as technical assistance projects which include advice from foreign experts and visits abroad to study export prospects and improved techniques in fish handling and marketing and also to gather first hand information on fishing practice and on scientific work in a number of fields in which we are planning expansion. In January last, for instance, three representatives of the retail fish trade accompanied by an officer of the Department attended a seminar on the improvement of distribution and retail marketing of fish and fish products which was held in Neuwied, Germany, under the auspices of the European Productivity Agency of O.E.E.C. The seminar emphasised the need for special training facilities. This and other recommendations are being studied and will, I have no doubt, lead to improved handling, presentation and display of fish in the shops and thus make it more attractive to the consumer.
The Icelandic expert engaged to advise fishermen in modern methods and techniques visited various ports and took charge of a boat for demonstration purposes. Apart from his advice to individual fishermen, he made some general suggestions which are being considered.
The Swedish consultant on fishery harbours will not complete his assignment for some time. He is, however,  making good progress with the assistance of the specially augmented engineering staff of the Commissioners of Public Works.
A Canadian fisheries economist has been engaged through FAO to review the sea fishing industry. He is to suggest the lines on which it should be developed as an export industry and to advise on the measures required to increase catching power and processing, to facilitate marketing and to attract the necessary capital.
International experts can be of great assistance to us in giving detailed technical advice and making objective studies of our problems. I should, however, make it clear that we have already formulated a general policy for sea fisheries expansion.
I may repeat that, in the last analysis, the development of the fishing industry will depend on the attitude of our own people to the catching side — in which more men and more boats are urgently needed. As I announced earlier, I am introducing a scheme of allowances to enable boys who could not otherwise do so to take up sea fishing as a career. I am sure Deputies will join with me in inviting boys of the most promising type to come forward under this scheme and also in encouraging competent fishermen to seek training as skippers and to purchase boats for themselves on the attractive terms now available.
Before passing from sea fisheries I should refer to the live question of exclusive fishery limits even though there is nothing new to report. It is hoped that international agreement will be reached on this important issue at the further conference on the Law of the Sea which has been fixed for the Spring of next year. The House will appreciate that it is most desirable that any extension of our limits should be achieved in the context of what is acceptable internationally rather than by unilateral action. The system of drawing straight baselines from which to measure the breadth of the limits was, however, adopted at last year's conference. This system has been under consideration with a view to its application to the Irish coast and the Minister for External Affairs has  already stated that he will soon be introducing legislation to deal with the matter.
Perhaps I should add that the drawing of straight baselines in accordance with international law is not a simple matter. As an indication of the considerations involved, it may be helpful to quote the opening paragraphs of Article 4 of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone:—
1. In localities where the coast line is deeply indented and cut into, or if there is a fringe of islands along the coast in its immediate vicinity, the method of straight baselines joining appropriate points may be employed in drawing the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
2. The drawing of such baselines must not depart to any appreciable extent from the general direction of the coast, and the sea areas within the lines must be sufficiently closely linked to the land domain to be subject to the régime of internal waters.
Looking at the inland fisheries subheads as a whole there is a net increase of approximately £9,000 to £82,800 as compared with 1958/59. If we disregard the rearrangement as between subheads F.1 and F.9 the nature of which I will shortly indicate, the true increases on various items as compared with 1958/59 total £17,997 while there is only one decrease, namely, that in subhead F.5. In other words the £9,000 to be saved under this subhead in respect of compensation for the abolition of freshwater netting means that the sum available for productive purposes under other subheads is in effect increased by £18,000 instead of the net increase figure of £9,000 already mentioned.
The rearrangement of provisions as between subhead F.1. entitled “Payments to Boards of Conservators and to Local Authorities etc.” and subhead F.9 entitled “Contributions to the Salmon Conservancy Fund” deserves a word of explanation. Taken together, subhead F.1 provides for £28,000 and subhead F.9 for £14,000, a total of £42,000 as compared with £34,483 for the like  purposes in 1958/59. The increase will be seen almost in its entirety on comparing the former provisions of £6,000 for grant to boards of conservators and £600 for contributions towards local schemes for the improvement of fisheries with the provision of £14,000 under Subhead F.9 by way of contributions to the Salmon Conservancy Fund. This provision should be recalled when considering the new arrangements for supplementing the financing of boards of conservators which have been made under the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1958.
The new Act enables boards of conservators to issue a variety of salmon rod licences which may be available for use in all districts at £4 for the whole season, or for use in one district only at £3, or restricted licences for use after 1st July each year, as well as 21-day and 7-day licences at reduced rates. I am glad to be able to say that my expectations in regard to these revised rates have so far been fully justified: they have met with very little objection from our own anglers and I have no doubt that they will be welcomed by visiting anglers for whom the former system of district licence and endorsement was most inconvenient. These increased duties have been estimated to yield between £9,000 and £10,000 additional revenue, the greater part of which will be surrendered by the Conservators to the Salmon Conservancy Fund. The Fund will also receive — from the proceeds of the salmon export levy reintroduced in June 1957, and now incorporated in the Amendment Act of 1958 — a further sum of £8,000 to £10,000. I may say in passing, that the export levy in 1958 yielded only £8,400 due mainly to the catch of spring fish being below the average. This year's run of spring fish is widely reported as better than 1958 and it is to be hoped that the export levy will this season be nearer the £10,000 mark.
The total revenue from fishery rates  and licence duties will come to £61,000; the proceeds of salmon export levy are estimated at £10,000, and provision is made in this estimate for exchequer grants and advances to the salmon conservancy fund, totalling £14,000. The comparable figures for 1956/57 are:— rates and licence duties, £50,000; Exchequer grants to Boards of Conservators, £14,000.
The funds available to the conservators in 1956/57 were required almost in their entirety for purposes of current expenditure; of the additional £21,000 which will be available in 1959/60, £6,000, by way of grant, and £2,000, by way of advance to the salmon conservancy fund, are being provided to meet capital expenditure on projects which I shall shortly describe in some detail.
The Salmon Conservancy Fund will be fed not only from the statutory sources just mentioned but also by grants and advances from the Exchequer. The sum of £14,000 set down this year is earmarked for the following purposes:— A sum of £6,000 will be available through the Fund to aid the revenues of boards of conservators, thus repeating the direct grant provided for under subhead F. 1 last year.
Grants up to a total of £4,000 will be paid into the Fund to enable me to make contributions towards schemes for the improvement of salmon fisheries. These are of the type described in the White Paper Programme for Economic Expansion, as designed to provide access to new spawning grounds, to improve the stocks of salmon and to induce runs of fish on the rivers at present relatively barren. One such scheme has already been embarked upon. A survey has been made of the Falls on the River Inagh, near Ennistymon, and flow records are being compiled with a view to designing a passage to enable salmon to surmount these Falls which heretofore have almost completely barred the ascent of salmon to the extensive spawning grounds upstream. A number of other projects of a worth-while nature have been listed for attention — the Bandon River and the Gweebarra River may be mentioned as examples.
I should, of course, point out that works of this nature require close examination, sometimes over a prolonged  period, of a variety of problems which concern not alone the fishery engineer but also the biologist. Not only must the right conditions obtain for salmon to run the river in strength but it must also be determined before new stock is introduced that the spawning grounds are adquate and food supply sufficient and of the right types to ensure that salmon will reproduce their kind.
The balance of £4,000 payable under Subhead F.9 into the Salmon Conservancy Fund will be provided half as grant and half as repayable advance. This will enable assistance to be given from the Salmon Conservancy Fund in the first year towards the cost of a large scale salmon hatchery and rearing station at Cong, Co. Mayo, on the Corrib River system. The initial purpose of this establishment is to untilise for artificial propagation the fish which at present run past Cong into the Corrib/Mask canal and are lost to the river system as they cannot successfully spawn there due to the periodic disappearance of the canal through the porous rock which forms its bed. The fry resulting from the stripping of these fish will for the greater part be reared to summerling or fingerling stage and put out in selected portions of the Corrib system. It is hoped thereby to speed up the rehabilitation of salmon stocks following on the set-back occasioned by the disruption of spawning beds in the course of the Arterial Drainage Scheme. As the need for rebuilding stocks of the Corrib system diminishes supplies of fry will be made available in increasing quantities for the rehabilitation of other river systems which have suffered temporary injury or for the building up of stocks in newly developed rivers.
The Cong Hatchery and rearing station is estimated to cost £10,000 of which approximately 90 per cent. will be provided by the Exchequer through the Salmon Conservancy Fund — half as a free grant and half as a repayable advance, the remaining 10 per cent. being found by means of local contributions. The operation and maintenance of this establishment is being undertaken by the Galway Board of  Conservators and I have promised to help in meeting any operational losses that arise in the initial period. When the hatching and rearing facilities are being used to full capacity, the Board will be able to provide a restocking service which should not only pay for itself and enable the Board's indebtedness to be repaid but also yield a modest profit.
Returning for the moment to the increased revenues to be put at the disposal of boards of conservators, I must emphasise that in allocating such funds I shall take into account the efficiency of each Board and its organisation, the value of the work each has in hand, the capacity to undertake further work, the extent to which the work done by angling associations and the like is indicative of local initiative and self-help in such matters as protection, improvement and restocking. The officers of my Department will keep in close touch with the various bodies concerned and advise them on problems of reorganising protection services and on the type of development work best suited to local conditions. Thus I hope to ensure that the excellent spirit of voluntary service which animates the conservators and the various associations may be directed into useful channels and so integrated into the general policy for improvement of the inland fisheries.
I referred last year to the formation of a Standing Joint Committee of boards of conservators. Most useful discussions have been held with representatives of this Committee which up to the present has addressed itself primarily to co-ordinating and examining critically a considerable volume of suggestions by boards of conservators for amendment of the fishery law. I also hope to avail myself of the experience which members of this Committee can, I feel sure, bring to bear on the whole question of the measures best calculated to improve the fisheries.
The payments which fall to be made to boards of conservators and local authorities etc. under the revised subhead F.1 are statutory payments of a kind made for a number of years  past and do not call for special comment.
Subhead F.4 entitled Scientific and Technical Investigations shows an increase of £1,200 as compared with 1958/59, the new total being £1,800. This is due to the cost of equipment and miscellaneous expenses (apart from salaries for which increased provision has been made under Subhead A) arising from extended scale investigations into inland fishery problems to be undertaken this year.
Surveys already initiated of the stocks of salmon rivers will be continued. Material has so far been compiled for reports on the stocks of the Shannon, Corrib and Erne systems and investigation of material relating to the Moy is in progress. Future surveys of this kind will, of course, be extended to rivers which may be developed as salmon rivers — to which I referred earlier.
Another important investigation about to commence is the biological study to be made by arrangement with Bord na Móna of the effects on fish life and fish food of bog development work in the catchment areas of important salmon rivers. This is by no means the first step taken towards alleviating the effects of this grave source of pollution. Certain investigations were made on behalf of Bord na Móna on the River Boyne and in each of the past two years that Board has arranged with the Inland Fisheries Trust to carry out on its own behalf the reduction of predatory fish and the planting of fry in portions of the Boyne system not affected by turf production in order to maintain the salmon stocks of the river as a whole. A good deal of experimental work has also been done by Bord na Móna on other systems to try to prevent harmful discharge into the rivers from bog workings. Now that a fundamental study of this problem is being undertaken I look forward to renewed effort on the part of Bord na Móna towards  finding remedial measures. I trust that on a future occasion it will be possible to announce a successful outcome of collaboration in this matter between the interests of fisheries and turf production.
Investigations were also commenced in the Spring of 1958 into the underlying causes of another serious situation — the decline in stocks of the River Erne. The origin of this decline can be attributed to the hold up of salmon during the construction works for the hydro-electric stations and the excessive netting which occurred for a number of seasons while the construction work was in progress. As was to be expected this injury to the stocks had a cumulative effect over the years and the stocks of salmon had reached danger point by the 1957 season. It was imperative to rest the stocks and I accordingly found myself obliged to prohibit all fishing by net and weir in the Erne for the 1958 season.
At that time also my Department undertook in collaboration with the Electricity Supply Board a series of investigations into the possible causes of the continuing decline in stocks, the main subject of investigation being the conditions affecting descent of smolts passing the hydro-electric dams at Cliff and Cathaleen's Falls. An ingenious contrivance being used in these experiments is an adaptation of one which an engineer of Fisheries Division observed in operation in the course of a study tour in Sweden a few years ago.
The E.S.B. have also undertaken positive measures recommended to them to help improve the salmon stocks. A small tributary lake of the Erne system has been cleared of all resident fish — mostly perch with a few brown trout, eels and rudd — and a quantity of salmon fry, determined by the amount of natural feeding available, has been introduced and will be reared to the smolt stage before being released into the main river.
Finally, I should mention that the Erne fishery has been reopened this season on a strictly restricted basis. This decision has been welcomed by the netsmen who recognise that even the short fishing time which is being  permitted can only be regarded as a trial measure of a necessarily conservative nature. I need hardly add that the situation on the Erne will be kept under careful review from season to season and that the fishing of the river will be varied according as the evidence shows any significant change in the stock position.
During the past year the way has been cleared for development of eel fishing in certain directions by the enactment in the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1958 of provisions which will make it possible for proprietors to bring back into fishing order certain eel weirs which had fallen into disuse as a result of restrictions imposed in 1939. A further provision of the 1958 Act makes it possible to authorise the operation of an eel weir without the free gap heretofore common to all fishing weirs, subject to suitable alternative arrangements being provided for the free passage of salmon and trout. These provisions are being implemented in consultation with the Boards of Conservators by the issue of temporary authorisations which will be subject to review when conditions as to how movements of fish are affected by operations of the eel weirs have been fully assessed.
Any large-scale development of eel fishing would, of course, give rise to problems affecting not only the welfare of long-established game fisheries but also the interests of coarse fishing. It will be necessary to determine what forms of eel fishing can be practised in particular waters without detriment to other stocks of fish. This will entail making a series of determinations as to the respective zones in which game fish, coarse fish and eel stocks can most suitably be exploited, having regard to all relevant factors, economic as well as biological. A comprehensive survey of the eel stocks and potentialities for development will have to be undertaken and provision is made in the technical assistance programme for further study abroad of techniques best adapted to conditions in Ireland, both as regards fishing methods and the processing and marketing of eels.
I now come to subhead F.5 which is the only subhead showing a real  decrease. It provides for compensation for the loss of freshwater netting rights through the operation of Section 35 of the Fisheries Act, 1939. Final clearance of a number of compensation claims has been delayed partly by protracted negotiations and partly by lack of satisfactory title. Payments made to fishery owners and to netsmen up to 31st March, 1959, came to a total of £130,364 leaving about £16,000 still to be paid. I should hope to see all outstanding payments in this connection cleared in the financial year 1960/61.
The next item — Subhead F.6 — deals with the activities of the Inland Fisheries Trust. The provision under this heading shows an increase of £5,000 over last year's figure of £20,000. The Trust's activities in the past year do not call for detailed comment. Full information regarding the valuable work being done is readily available to any interested person in the Annual Report issued recently by it. Suffice it to say that the year was one of steady progress although development work on certain rivers and lakes was seriously affected by the prevailing weather conditions and survey work was hindered by high water levels. Nevertheless large scale removals of pike and perch were undertaken at some 17 centres. In all more than 33,000 pike were captured including over 10,000 at Carrigdrohid and Iniscarra reservoirs on the River Lee. Restocking with summerling and fingerling brown trout was carried out at a number of places.
Lough na Leibe, Co. Sligo, which has been stocked with rainbow trout fingerlings each autumn since 1955, now contains a big stock of fish. Test fishing carried out indicates that the fish weigh up to 1¾ lbs. Kilbrean Lake near Killarney, which was stocked with rainbows in 1957 and 1958, will be open for restricted fishing in 1959.
The additional sum of £5,000 in the Grant-in-Aid this year is to enable the Trust to clear more waters of predatory fish by the use of Rotenone. This method of clearance, although costly, and not suitable for general application, is highly effective and enables the work to be completed and restocking to be carried out in much  shorter time than by ordinary methods of predator control.
The development work being carried out by the Trust on our inland fisheries under the Bord Fáilte 5-year plan is being integrated with the work being done to encourage and expand angling tourism. The work of these two bodies in developing the fisheries last year can only be dealt with in brief summary form.
Predator reduction was carried out on some nineteen lakes and rivers, and restocking was carried out on a number of these. In sixteen rivers and lakes the predator position is now generally satisfactory. Stocks of tench were released at seven centres in Cavan and Leitrim and at two points on the Royal Canal. Stands and other facilities for fishing were provided at some eleven new centres.
Local authorities are also co-operating with Bord Fáilte in the drive to make conditions more attractive for our visitors. A new approach road has been provided at Lough Sheelin and approaches, car parks and jetties have been provided on the Corrib. At Lough Carra four new approaches have been constructed while at Crossmolina a new approach, jetty, car park and caravan site have been provided. It gives me great pleasure to state that at Lough Carra and Crossmolina the local angling associations played a constructive and active part in the carrying out of these works. It is on local co-operation of this type that the success of our angling tourist industry depends.
The scheme for building boats for angling being operated through the medium of training courses provided by the various Vocational Education Committees continues to be highly successful. It is expected that some 300 boats will have been made available as a result of this scheme up to the current year. These are additional to the boats built by the ordinary commercial builder.
Catering courses for housewives have proved popular and are being extended. Over sixty people attended the residential course at Bundoran and  courses were also arranged at eleven other centres in Leitrim, Cavan, Longford and Westmeath. Courses such as these are essential if our angling tourist industry is to continue to thrive. Our visitors will expect and must be provided with more varied and attractive fare.
Arrangements have been made this year for the holding of four international sea angling competitions and nine other competitions have also been arranged to date. The international contests have been fixed for Westport, Dingle, Wicklow and Greystones. There are now forty-two angling clubs affiliated with the Federation of Irish Sea Anglers.
I personally attended a meeting in Paris at which the Chairmen of a number of angling associations, angling journalists and executives of transport and travelling agencies were present. I also attended three similar meetings at British centres. I have met representatives of the principal development associations in the Cavan, Monaghan, Roscommon, Leitrim, Longford and Westmeath areas on several occasions.
Bord Fáilte has also been active in this direction and, early this year, decided to step-up the work of bringing anglers in touch with travel agencies and transport authorities and to assist in the organising of package tours.
Indications are that the drive to attract foreign anglers is succeeding. Checks carried out at some 30 centres for coarse fishing during 1958 showed that bookings had increased by 53 per cent. over 1957, while a similar check carried out at the same number of trout fishing centres showed the significant increase of 79 per cent. in 1958 over the 1957 figure. From the information available in respect of bookings in the current year there seems to be every reason to believe that this upward trend in the number of fishing tourists is continuing. Already the bookings over a representative area show an increase of 40 per cent. over last year and the season is only commencing.
I have no doubt whatever that  angling can and does play a very important part in our tourist industry. The Inland Fisheries Trust and Bord Fáilte are doing their utmost to assist, but ultimately, I am convinced, success or failure in this important field will depend on the many Angling and Local Development Associations which have been called into being and are still being formed.
All that is needed is fair treatment for the visitors, accurate information as to the type of fishing available and reasonable charges for accommodation, boat hire and so on. I appeal to all anglers' associations who are as yet not helping in the work to lend a hand and thus assist in this specialised sector in putting the country's economy on a sound footing.
I should like to refer here to recent developments on waters controlled by the Electricity Supply Board. A new fish pass has been constructed at considerable expense in the hydro-electric dam at Ardnacrusha. This is a move to restore the Shannon to its former position as an excellent salmon fishing river. Removal of predators from Lough Derg is being continued and local angling and development associations are co-operating wholeheartedly with the Board in this work. The Board has provided a large quantity of brown trout fry for restocking the lake. The Board has also undertaken at the request of the local angling associations, experimental fishing in Lough Allen, with a view to obtaining accurate information on the stocks of fish present in the lake.
Subhead F.7 provides for the usual State contribution of £1,000 to the Salmon Research Trust of Ireland. This is in respect of running expenses of which the State bears one-third of the total. This Trust, as will be recalled, was established on the initiative of Messrs. Arthur Guinness, Son & Co. Ltd., whose interest in salmon research and whose unstinted financial and other assistance I have pleasure in acknowledging. The investigations which this Trust has in hand relate to such matters as the rearing of fish of known ancestry and study of their life history — a necessarily  long term scientific investigation on the outcome of which it is hoped to throw some new light on the theory that “like breeds like” so far as salmon are concerned. Some very interesting work is also being done on the problem of predation which goes to show that small brown trout, coal fish, pollack, mergansers and cormorants, are all important as predators of young salmon and may in some conditions cause heavy mortality among migrating smolts.
The next Subhead F.8 — Fish Pond Culture — is a new one providing funds for the promotion of small scale fish farming. This type of production, the rearing of rainbow trout for table use, is one which I am advised can provide farmers of small to medium-sized agricultural holdings with a worthwhile addition to their ordinary farm incomes at a cost of comparatively small capital outlay.
It is intended to construct and operate some experimental units under varying conditions. These units will be located on small farms in locations where the conditions generally favour further development on similar holdings. The ponds which are to be the basis of a demonstration or pilot scheme will be constructed, equipped, stocked with fry and provided with food in the first year on a repayment basis. Farmers who agree to take part in the demonstration scheme will be given a short course of training in fish culture work and thereafter will be responsible for all operations entailed in rearing the fish to marketable size.
Investigations of sites for demonstration units and testing of water supplies are being made in a number of areas and it is hoped to have the first locations selected and ponds constructed within the next few months.
The token provision in respect of repayable advances to the Foyle Fisheries Commission has been deleted. This Commission, I am pleased to say,  continues its successful administration of the fisheries of the Foyle Area. From the outset the Commission has been able to manage its affairs so as to show a credit balance in its accounts each year, and as disclosed in its annual report for the fishery year ended 30th September, 1958, has surrendered out of its surplus funds up to date a total of £28,200 in equal parts to the Fishery Authorities in Dublin and Belfast. I consider it safe to assume that this satisfactory state of affairs will continue and have adopted a suggestion recently made by the Public Accounts Committee by not asking this year for the token sum formerly provided.
I have referred on previous occasions to the serious harm which poaching — more accurately called illegal fishing — can do in destroying the fruits of all efforts to improve such a valuable national asset as our inland fisheries. Fortunately the use of poison or explosives has diminished to vanishing point, and the destruction of fish on the spawning beds is becoming better understood as an indefensible and criminal act which strikes at the very life of this industry. Minor instances of illegal fishing are, however, only too plentiful and I shall continue to give full support to boards of conservators in upholding their efforts to stamp out such practices.
It is with considerable satisfaction that I refer in conclusion to the task of consolidating the Fisheries statutes. The revised version of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Bill which was introduced in Seanad Éireann in November last has recently been reported upon by the Standing Joint Committee of both Houses and the Bill is due for its remaining stages in the very near future. Once the existing fishery laws have been re-enacted within the compass of a single statute the work of amending that law to take full account of present-day conditions will be undertaken. Certain proposals to this end have already been elicited from boards of conservators and these, together with some matters of an urgent but non-controversial nature which have been noted by my Department as calling for amendment  of existing legislation, are now being examined and I hope in due course to bring in proposals for amending legislation of fairly general scope.
Mr. Dillon: I hope the Minister will not charge me with any discourtesy if I say to him that his discourse to-day reminded me of William Shakespeare who wrote a comedy once with the title Much Ado About Nothing. The Minister spoke at excessive length of results which do not justify such extensive oratory. There are certain topics to which he referred on which I should like to comment. One topic to which he did not refer at all and on which I should like a little information is the experiment of planting oysters at Killary Bay.
Mr. Dillon: I thought it was Killary Bay? There were oysters planted in Killary Bay. I am pretty sure of that. The Minister should look it up. I should not like them to be forgotten. I have a recollection of oysters being planted in Killary Bay and if they are in Clew Bay also I should like to know what has become of them. It is extremely difficult to establish oyster beds on our coasts and it would be very interesting to know whether that experiment had any success.
I listened to the Minister referring to a number of enterprises that are proceeding and, as I listened, something struck me which recently happened in my own constituency. I was making inquiries about the success of the work of the Inland Fisheries Trust, which I established. One of my constituents came along and asked: “Is Mr. Childers not doing great work with this Inland Fisheries Trust?” I said to him with, I think, some pardonable indignation: “Are you aware who started the Inland Fisheries Trust?” He said: “Mr. Childers has the name of it.” It took me about a quarter of an hour to explain to him that, before the name Childers was ever heard in the Department of Lands, the inter-Party Government, of which I was a member, instituted the Inland Fisheries Trust.
 I give the present Minister full credit for helping the Trust since he came into office, but I want to salute the Inland Fisheries Trust, and Bord Fáilte which is collaborating with it, for having done invaluable work, not only in the sphere of trout fishing but of coarse fishing as well. The full value of its work is now coming to be appreciated; the fruit of its labour is coming to be garnered now and will be garnered in the immediate future. I remember when we started it, there was a good deal of doubt as to its value and, when we extended the ambit of its activities to coarse fishing, there were many who thought that we were making a great mistake. I am glad that the decisions we then took to press forward on both fronts have been so amply vindicated by the results. I am particularly satisfied because the Inland Fisheries Trust was inaugurated on the basis of close co-operation between itself and the independent and voluntary angling associations throughout the country. That colse co-operation has continued with great benefit to the country as a whole.
I still think that there is scope for more intensive work both in the preservation of the canals and in the development of their fishing amenities. I am sometimes worried when I see the intention of the transport authority to abandon the canals being made more and more clear lest that very valuable fishing amenity should be suffered to perish. I think now is the time when something should be done to concentrate more attention on the coarse fishing facilities already available there with a view to improving and expanding them.
I want to deal generally with the question of fisheries. I see Deputy Cunningham here but I do not see any other Fianna Fáil members who are representative of the fishing areas in this country. I want it to be made quite clear to me, and the Minister has a duty to make it clear to this House, what his policy is with regard to sea fishing. Are we to go over to steam trawlers and wipe out the independent fishermen around our north-west, west and south-west coasts, or are we to continue the policy of protecting  their interests as being the primary interest in the fishing industry? This is a very grave decision.
I want to warn the House if we slither or stumble into a policy founded on steam trawlers, we shall wipe out the entire sea fishing industry all around our western coast and, having once wiped it out, we shall never be able to revive it. When I hear the present Minister “pot-walloping” about what can be done and what should be done, and how we should become a rival of Norway, or Iceland, I ask myself if he, or the Government, or the Party to which he belongs, have taken any clear decision as to what their intentions in this regard are.
I have put down a Parliamentary Question to the Minister which is, presumably, to be answered next week. I shall repeat it now. I am told that four trawlers have been ordered from a Dutch firm; two I think on behalf of some private fishmonger, and two on behalf of An Bord lascaigh Mhara. I want to know what are they ordered for? What do we propose to do with them? Are they the beginning of a trawler fleet? Because if they are, that is the end of inshore fishing. What I am wholly unable to understand is, if there is to be a system of trawlers and people encouraged to buy these deep sea trawlers, why we are continuing to provide 50 feet and 60 foot boats for the fishermen. They will not be wanted if the trawlers are allowed function.
I recall to the House that there were trawlers operating into Dublin port years ago which were operated by a particular firm of fishmongers in this city. I notified that firm that they could not continue, that if these trawlers were permitted to continue they must be operated on behalf of An Bord lascaigh Mhara and the proceeds go to the fishermen who were members of An Bord lascaigh Mhara. Ultimately I was told at that time that if I insisted on that I would have to find vast compensation for the fishmonger who operated these boats. Subsequently I went out of office and I heard that this firm went out of existence because there was no compensation forthcoming.
 I was approached repeatedly when I was Minister for Fisheries by Icelandic combines, Dutch combines, Norwegian combines and British combines who were most anxious to establish a trawling industry based on this country and I turned them all down quite deliberately. There would be no difficulty about getting a trawling company based in this country. All you would have to do would be to put a notice in the newspapers in the morning and you would get half a dozen applications from powerful combines in either Norway, Iceland or Great Britain, who would be glad to operate a fleet from this country, but the result of that would be the complete disappearance of the entire fishing fleet of our north-west, west and south-west coasts. I think that policy is wrong. I believe the right policy is to develop the 50 or 60 foot boat to promote the fishing industry among the fishing population of our western seaboard. If I did not believe that, I would throw open the fish market of this country to free and open competition from all quarters.
There is only one possible justification for protecting the fish market of this country. That is to provide the kind of employment that the fish market is providing in these inaccessible parts of the country where alternative employment is virtually unobtainable. If you establish the trawler business, you will not only wipe out all the fish but all the boatyards which are giving very good employment in these places and providing invaluable technical training for young men who can either go to work in these boatyards or go to the shipbuilding yards in Great Britain and get highly paid work as skilled technicians. There is no other kind of training available to youngsters in these places, such as Fanny's Bay, Baltimore, Killybegs and West Donegal.
The Minister ought to have the courage to get up and say bluntly does he intend to introduce steam trawlers designed to go to sea for a fortnight  and to return with the kind of catches that steam trawlers must bring back, if they are to be economically operated at all. If they do bring catches of that volume into the ports of Dublin and Cork, they may wipe out completely the entire fishing fleet along our west coast. It is time the Minister stopped indulging in ambiguous declarations and stated quite categorically what his view is on that fundamental question. Until that fundamental question is settled, there can be no intelligible fishery policy in this country. I have no doubt at all on that question; I never had. I am 100 per cent. in favour of the family fisherman with his crew and boat operating from our own shores. I am against the establishment of large trawling companies operating into Cork and Dublin.
When the Minister talked about the landings of fish and so forth, he ought to have dwelt more clearly on the remarkable and indeed unpredictable event of the arrival of the herring shoals on our shores. At some stage in his speech, he stated he would set up a great scientific inquiry into the ways of the herring, why they come in shoals and why they go away again. If he finds out the answer to that question, his name will go down to posterity as one of the most remarkable contributors to the fishing science in all of history. As far as I know, since the dawn of time, nobody knows why herring shoals arrive and why they go away. They simply come and they go. You are lucky when they come; you are unlucky when they go. I am told that herring shoals have left certain parts of the coast of England recently and turned up on our south-east coast in great volume. It is something about which we may well rejoice, because their disappearance from the traditional fishing grounds in England has created a strong demand in England for our fresh fish and has opened markets for our cured and processed fish which heretofore were relatively glutted.
There is one thing which worries me a little. We have the boats and we have the men, but it does not appear to me that this fortunate development of the arrival of the herring on our  coast, contemporaneously with its disappearance from certain parts of the British coast, has been fully exploited by our own fishermen. As far as I know, we are now in the ridiculous situation that we have the herring shoals and have a scarcity of herring, relative to the demand that exists in our own territory. The Minister might have said a word about that. I do not understand it. It seems a shocking thing that the fish should be there and that our own boats should not go out and get it.
I am not a bit excited by the announcement that the catch of whiting rose by 78 per cent. over the same quarter in 1957. When I was Minister for Fisheries, I was exasperated by the quantity of small unsalable whiting that used to be dumped upon us. Some of the fellows would not go out beyond the whiting for good fish, but would sail out and collect a cart load of unsalable whiting, dump it on top of us and have a demonstration because they could not be purchased by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara at prices that would yield an immense profit.
The arrival of great quantites of herring is a matter of great significance, but I believe at present, far from even meeting the demand for herring for the fresh market and for processing, we are not producing a surplus requisite to keep the fishmeal factory at Killybegs operating. I see the Minister says that a fishmeal factory is being built at Killybegs. The factory was started two years ago by a German firm, which came here in 1956, but I am told that although there is this great abundance of herring around our shores, we are not bringing in enough of it to provide the surplus requisite to keep the fishmeal factory in full operation. The Minister ought to face that problem.
I have always championed the rights of our fishermen in this House, but I am quite prepared to criticise them where criticism is due. If the fish are there and if they have the boats and do not go out to get them, they ought to answer for their conduct. The community here has been asked in the past, and is being asked now, to make quite substantial sacrifices to keep the  fishermen in a state of relative prosperity, which they have been in for the last ten years, but there is a corresponding duty on them to use the equipment made available to them to the very best advantage. If they do not do that, the Minister should tell us and should not recoil from his duty of seeing that what ought to be done is done.
I am told there will be an exploratory fishing vessel. The Minister spoke 27 pages long. He said this vessel is to be delivered before the end of this year “and I need scarcely say there will be a very extensive and important programme of work awaiting it — particularly in relation to herring.” Now, what is the programme for it in relation to herring? I think that is all ballyhoo — if the Minister had anything present to his mind, he would have told us what it was. What is the important programme of work in relation to herring that awaits delivery of the £45,000 boat which is being purchased as an exploratory fishing vessel?
Mr. Childers: No; it is to look for and locate herring shoals that are known to exist and are no longer fished. They were fished years ago. That is one of its purposes. It will serve the whole herring industry.
Mr. Dillon: I am not prepared to pour cold water on any scheme which has in it any germ of sense, but I am damned if I can understand why we want the boat to go out and search for shoals of herring  when we know if the herring shoals are there, they will very quickly be found by anybody looking for them without an Irish exploratory vessel ploughing the Seven Seas to look for them.
Let us come down to brass tacks. Great herring fishing fleets are being operated by every country in Europe, all looking for herring. None of us knows where the herring are; they simply turn up. None of us knows why they turn up or whence they come. I very well remember suggesting that we should fertilise Galway Bay — I am not sure it was not right — and spread superphosphate on top of Galway Bay in order to maximise the growth of plankton known to draw into an enclosed body of water of that kind the small marine life on which pelagic and demersal fish live. It might never succeed but the thought occurred to me for the reason that when you are dealing with pelagic fish, it is a completely unresolved mystery why they shoal in certain places and an even greater mystery why herring shoal in places for generations, and suddenly in one year disappear. I do not suppose an exploratory fishing vessel ploughing the Seven Seas looking for shoals of fish which the seagulls will find much more quickly will make any material contribution to that problem. However, I do not want to pour cold water on anything the Minister said but I think he should tell us more about the purposes for which this £45,000 vessel is required, because I believe it is largely brouhaha.
The Minister says that he is training men as second hands on fishing boats. Perhaps this is necessary now: I was trying to train skippers and I brought a man up from the marine division of the Army and put him to sea with the fishermen in an effort to get them trained. He did train them. I believe he subsequently resigned from the Army and became a fisherman himself because he found it such a remunerative occupation. I was never aware in my time that the urgent need was for second hands; what it appeared to me we  wanted badly was skippers. I wish the Minister success but I do not think he is going to engender very great enthusiasm in Ireland if he is to propose a five year course to train men to be second hands on fishing boats.
I see the Minister is to establish a hatchery at Cong and that he anticipates this will in due course prove self-supporting. We have had a hatchery at Glenties for the past 40 years which I understand is very efficiently run, but I have no recollection of its ever having been self-supporting. Perhaps I am wrong, but my recollection is that it requires a subvention every year of its existence and that, on the whole, it was thought the subvention was worth while. I often wonder if these salmon hatcheries are of very real value. I remember inspecting the hatchery at Glenties where they were stripping the fish, rearing fingerlings and working away as busy as a cow calving. Suddenly somebody said: Did it ever occur to you. Minister, that one good hungry pike sweeping through a lake would eat more salmon fry in an afternoon than this hatchery could produce in 12 months?” I said that it had not occurred to me but he said it was so.
I often stood and watched them taking out the salmon, solemnly stripping them and going through all the paraphernalia and it often occurred to me that if you let the poor salmon go on up the river and let her have her children where she was in the habit of having them, everything would be all right. What is the purpose of these if you are trying to restock ab initio a river that had become denuded of fish. That is really a transferring operation from one river to another; but I often wonder has the whole business of hatcheries been investigated as to whether they are a useful activity. There are two schools of thought and I do not profess to be sufficiently expert in regard to them to form a final opinion in this matter, but I never experienced any great urge when I was Minister for Fisheries to increase the number of hatcheries beyond the number we had at Glenties. On the  other hand, I never felt sufficiently strongly about it to direct that it should be closed down.
I think it was started some years ago by some private person and taken over by the Department which has operated if for some time now. I have never been convinced that hatcheries serve any useful purpose, even though a good many people get “het up” and excited if you question the value of hatcheries because, at first glance, it seems to them so obvious. But when you stop to think why you do not let the poor salmon go up river and have its family in peace and quiet, the answer appears to me to be a lemon. What we want is to prevent the pirate fish eating the family, whether the family is born in the spawning bed or the hatchery and that, I think, the Inland Fishery Trust is very effectively doing.
I heard the Minister's observations about the bog pollution study. What is the study? The plain fact is that Bord na Móna have got the bit between their teeth and have said they do not give a damn about pollution and that they are going to pour more and more dirt into the Boyne River. They are large employers and they are blooming well not going to submit to any kind of control. I think they should be required to do so. The situation on the Boyne is a great scandal and I believe that if Bord na Móna were required to refrain from river pollution as everybody else is, the problem would be easy to overcome by an adequate system of settling beds.
What is wrong at present is that they are pouring unrestricted quantities of “moolach” into the Boyne, raising the acid level of water to a point which is almost inconsistent with the maintenance of fish life. If an unfortunate flax scutcher up in Monaghan did that, he would be up before the District Justice in the morning. He has to provide settling beds. A creamery in the South of Ireland would be prosecuted ruthlessly and threatened with the removal of their licence if they did not provide the necessary settling beds  to enable the milk solvent to settle out of an effluent before it was poured into an adjoining river. However, Bord na Móna does not give a damn. I would strongly urge upon the Minister to enforce the law and tell Bord na Móna that simply because they are under the aegis of Kildare Street they are not above the law and that if they pollute a river they will be prosecuted. If you prosecute sufficiently often they will find a way very quickly of preventing the continued pollution of rivers.
I am glad to see the fundamental research on Shannon salmon conducted by the Salmon Research Board of Ireland is progressing so satisfactorily, more especially as I had the pleasure of inaugurating it in collaboration, as the Minister says, with the firm of Messrs. Arthur Guinness & Son who, consistent with their well-known reputation for public spirit, have made a very valuable contribution to this desirable work.
I am glad to hear the Foyle Fisheries Commission is now realising a comfortable profit, when I look back upon the fact that I established it. In fact I am glad to read from the Minister's statement the satisfactory progress report of the valuable work here referred to, almost all of which I am happy to think the inter-Party Government of which I was a Minister had the prescience and the privilege of inaugurating: the Foyle Fisheries Board, the salmon research enterprise, the Inland Fishery Trust, and, I hope, the expansion of what used to be called our inshore fishing industry. My present apprehension is that they may be destroyed by the Minister if he allows himself to be induced to stumble into the catastrophe of having a trawler industry established in this country.
Mr. Dillon: No. This is the main interest. This happened twice before. Twice before the Fisheries Consolidation Bill has been brought to this exact point and twice before a general election has intervened and we have had to start all over again. It is the third time the Fisheries Consolidation Bill has reached the penultimate stage of enactment.
Mr. Dillon: It is not. It is true. The Minister will confirm that. Each time the Government has fallen, and the Minister is whistling valiantly as he passes the graveyard, and says: “This time I am going to get past.” I wonder, but it has this interesting facet. You know the old story, third time lucky. The last two occasions it was our Government fell. This time perhaps yours will.
Mr. Cunningham: Deputy Dillon complained about the length of the Minister's statement and the suubstance of it. In the course of his own speech he wanted more information. The Minister's statement was very informative and gave us a good outline of the substantial progress that has been made over the last few years but especially within the last twelve months. I welcome the new approach to various aspects of the fishing industry which he has mentioned and outlined.
Mr. Cunningham: I heard Deputy Dillon on this subject before. He was very strong on this idea of the inshore fishermen and the inshore fishing industry, and maintained that anything that would in any way interfere with that industry should not be tolerated. We must look at it this way. We have three markets for the products of the fishing industry. First, we have the home consumption; secondly, we have the foreign market, which according to the Minister's statement is growing apace, and, thirdly, we have the industrial market, that is, the manufacture of fishmeal and of other products. The production of fishmeal is an important industry, an industry which helps other industries within the country and if we are to go into the foreign market we must adopt some of the modern methods employed by other countries.
We cannot afford to compete in foreign markets with our fish if we adopt the older, more expensive and less scientific methods of catching fish that other nations have. Therefore, as well as the inshore fishing fleets we must have the larger vessels. These must be manned by experienced fishermen and they must have, above all, the latest devices by way of radar, echo sounders, and so on. Take the case of the ordinary fisherman of  which Deputy Dillon speaks, who with his sons goes out to fish in a 30- or 40-foot boat. I do not think they can compete in foreign markets or in the fishmeal industry with the larger type of trawler manned by experienced and trained technicians and equipped with all the modern devices. I do not think there is any hope that the family fisherman of whom Deputy Dillon speaks can compete in that activity.
Mr. Cunningham: If we want to set up a further protected industry, we can do that but I maintain that we must have the other if we are to expand the fishing industry, increase exports of fish and satisfy the needs of the fishmeal factories and other factories which may be started based on the fishing industry. What Deputy Dillon says is true, that the existing fishmeal factories cannot get supplies.
Mr. Cunningham: Their set-up at the moment is such and the home and foreign markets are such that there is no surplus of fish for that industry. The only way to get fish for them is to get bigger boats so as to increase landings of herrings, for which there is a market in the three places I have mentioned — the home market, foreign markets and the fishmeal factories.
Mr. Cunningham: As far as I can judge from the Minister's statement, I think his policy in that regard is  correct, that we must march with the times and, while we should not allow large foreign trawler fleets to be established in this country, I do not think there is any danger that huge combines will come into being within the country or will be fostered by the Minister's Department. The Minister has stated that he will not allow foreign trawlers to operate from here, apart from landing fish at a time of shortage.
The biggest obstacle to expansion at the moment is the non-availability of fishing boats. The younger people are more interested in the fishing industry now than was the case heretofore. I know several young men who are trying to get boats from An Bord Iascaigh Mhara. There is long delay in that regard. Some time ago I suggested that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should avail of some of the second-hand boats which can be found outside the country.
Mr. Cunningham: I understand that many of the smaller private fishermen in Scotland and England have sold out to some of the bigger co-operative trawler combines and that, as a result, second-hand fishing boats of the 50 to 60 foot class and over are readily available at a reasonable price. An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should be empowered to purchase these boats and have them serviced, where necessary, and made available at prices much lower than those obtaining for new boats. That would be a way of rapidly increasing our fishing fleet and would entice people who may not be prepared to purchase a new boat, the cost of which would be at least £12,000, to invest in a second-hand boat at half that price.
I welcome the work which is being done in regard to inland fisheries, the development of lakes and rivers. In this regard the Inland Fisheries Trust must be complimented together with Bord Fáilte. Angling Associations who, among other activities, run very successful fishing festivals, have contributed a great deal to this development.  It is a development that is benefiting and improving the rivers and lakes of the country and clearing them of marauding fish. It is improving the stocks of trout, salmon and so on. The fact that good fishing exists on most of our lakes and rivers is being advertised by these festivals and many tourists, who hitherto spent their holidays on English lakes and rivers, very few of which are very good, the better ones being preserved, private property, find that excellent fishing is obtainable in this country. Some of them are greatly surprised to find that fishing on quite good rivers and lakes in this country is completely free. The result is that over the last few years and particularly last year there was a very large influx of angling tourists. Nothing pleases these people so much as to take part in a competition and to go home with a record and, perhaps, cups and medals to show for their holiday in this country.
Any efforts which the Minister may make in regard to the training of fishermen and of fishing hands and experts with knowledge of navigation should meet with general support. In that connection, an effort should be made to enlist the aid of the various vocational committees, especially along the western seaboard. Some of these committees are already doing certain work along certain lines, but it is not altogether easy for them. The cost is sometimes more than these vocational committees can bear. If the Minister would make available to these committees persons who could give lectures and classes and generally train fishing trainees, that would go a long way towards solving the present problem. The other facilities needed could then be provided by the vocational committees themselves.
I understand the course in Galway was a success and I should like to see more courses along the same lines instituted in other areas. I would suggest in that connection that the courses should be, first of all, of shorter duration and, secondly, cover other subjects as well. If a boy is given a short course, whether it be as a deck hand,  in the engine rooms or in the navigational sphere, if he is really keen he will himself subsequently find other ways of increasing his knowledge.
Deputy Dillon mentioned the Foyle Fishery Commission. We are glad to note that that is working very successfully, both financially and otherwise. Last year the profits of the Commission were in the region of £20,000. The Commission has been making money steadily since it commenced operations. As well as making money, it is developing the fishery at the same time.
Some of us in touch with the fishermen along the Foyle feel that in some cases too stringent regulations are in operation. During the year there was a change in the regulations; instead of the season opening in the middle of April the season was curtailed and a new opening date fixed for 1st May. Nothing in the records and nothing in the reports of the Foyle Fishery Commission would seem to warrant or justify any curtailment because the run of spring fish and the catches of spring fish on the various rivers are on the increase. It is a pity the fishermen there would not be given an opportunity of getting some benefit from this increased run of fish which start to run from March until the end of April. There is a break then and it is only about the beginning of June that any more fishing operations can be carried on. The last fortnight of April would, therefore, give the fishermen there an opportunity of catching some of the earlier run fish. At the moment, although the season has now been opened from 1st May, very few of the people who have taken out licences have gone near the river at all.
It is not the licensed fishermen on the Foyle who are doing the greatest damage; these fishermen operate on a very wide stretch of the river there. Private netting on the river Finn is doing much more damage. Instead of shortening the season down river, which really is tantamount to putting fishermen off altogether down river, this private fishery on the fresh waters of the River Finn should be purchased by the Commission and be brought in under the ordinary regulations governing operations on the Foyle. That  would be a better step to take towards preserving and improving the fishing on the Foyle network than any other action that could be taken. However, there is nothing that can be done about that this year, but I suggest those two points should be kept in mind for the coming year.
Killybegs is our premier fishing port and expenditure there has proved both successful and profitable. There is one part of the Donegal coast — almost half the coast — about which we are worried. It extends from Downings right round to Lough Foyle. All that coast line is being steadily neglected because of the absence of landing facilities. We are trying to have the position remedied. The Minister is very much alive to the situation and I would urge that a decision in regard to Glengad and Greencastle should be taken at a very early date. The provision of facilities in these places will fill a long felt want and will cater for that large section of coastline off which there are some of the finest fishing grounds in Ireland.
I want to take this opportunity of congratulating the Minister for Defence on having sent into the waters of Lough Foyle, for the first time in recent Irish history, the fishery patrol vessel “Cliona” carrying the Irish flag into the waters of Lough Foyle.
Some years ago Buncrana had the greatest landings of herrings as compared with anywhere else. For some reason that trade has disappeared. I think one of the reasons is that the industry there was confined to Scotch fishing boats landing herrings at Buncrana and having them shipped subsequently to various markets elsewhere. Modern methods of fishing have obviated the necessity of landing fish at intermediate stages. It is my belief that the fish are still there and the trawlers come along and catch them but, instead of landing them at Buncrana, they are now able to bring them back direct to the Scotch ports.
An effort is being made to revive the fishing industry in Buncrana and along the Swilly. A request was made to the previous Minister to have a survey carried out of all the fishing grounds in the mouth of Lough Swilly. I do  not think that is the correct approach. Even if fishing beds are to be found there, the best we can hope for is that some trawlers or some Irish fishing boats may come along but their catches will not be landed in Buncrana. I have been advocating for some time that Sea Fishery boats which belong to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara should be lent. We could start with a small nucleus like that, and if these boats are as successful as we are quite confident they will be, we feel that other private individuals will come along with a demand for further boats and, in that way, we can hope to revive, while some men with fishing experience are still there, the fishing industry there.
Some time ago the emphasis was on the disposal of fish. The difficulty was not in getting fish, but in disposing of it. That difficulty has been solved, to a great extent, and we now find that the needs of the various markets we have, both inside and outside the country, are not filled by our catches. In future, our efforts should be directed of course to improving the markets, but, first of all, to increasing our catches by adopting better boats, better methods and by giving better technical training to the crews who will man them.
Another thing that would improve the volume of our catches is an extension of the three-mile limit. That is something all the fishing organisations throughout the country are advocating. Everyone seems to be in favour of it, and it is something which, to my mind, would help very much in the improvement of our fishing industry. It would mean that we could not only operate the inshore type of boats which Deputy Dillon talked about, but we could also operate side by side with them the larger type of boat. I must say that with the three-mile limit, we hear and have heard in previous years, many complaints about the lack of protection given to fishermen and to the fishing beds inside our three-mile limit. Over the past 12 months, except in one special case, the fishery patrol service has been doing a very good job and the fines which have been imposed in cases where captures have been made have been reasonably  high, and have acted as a deterrent to those people who chanced coming inside the three-mile limit. While it would be very difficult to patrol an extended limit, still the benefits which would accrue are so great that no opportunity should be neglected, when this matter is being discussed at international level, in backing up any suggestions or any plans which would enable us to have a much extended territorial limit.
It must be very disappointing and discouraging for the Minister, having given us a very clear outline of what has been done and what is proposed for the coming year and, having during the course of the year done very good work, when he comes to render an account of his stewardship for a person like Deputy Dillon to get up and start off with the statement which Deputy Dillon used in his opening remarks. In the first place, that statement is not correct, and in the second place, it will do no good, and I for one would say to Deputy Dillon that it would have been better if that statement had not been made.
Mr. Blowick: The Deputy who has just spoken misrepresents what Deputy Dillon said. Deputy Dillon was very fair to the Minister and he congratulated him on the work he has done and made a really constructive speech.
I want to ask the Minister if he will tell us when he is replying what the position is with regard to salmon fishing in particular, where arterial drainage is carried out. I suppose the Minister knows what I have in mind. In relation to the proposed arterial drainage of the Moy — I am not, I think, taking the Minister at a disadvantage when I ask him at this stage because a good deal of the work has been completed — in view of the fact that the Moy is, to my knowledge, the next of the seven, eight or ten rivers already completed or partially completed and that very serious opposition was raised on the question of the alleged destruction of the salmon fisheries, I should like the Minister to clear up that point.
In the case of the other rivers that  have been done, I do not think any complaints have been received. The Corrib, like the Moy, is also one of the best salmon rivers in Western Europe and at the time work was commenced on it, I do not think the same outcry was raised as is being raised in this instance. For myself, I am seeking information because I do not know where the truth lies. I do not know whether or not a good deal of the scare created has any substance behind it, and if people's livelihoods would be threatened, but I have a suspicion, and I should like the Minister to let me know if I am right or wrong in thinking that a good deal of the noise which has been created has no substance or foundation in fact.
The second point to which I want to refer is that during the year, very good work has been carried out around some of the fishing lakes of the west — Lough Carra, Lough Mask and Lough Corrib — in the line of providing small piers and so on. Might I suggest to the Minister that is not even half of the work which is necessary. The suggestion I make is that he could use some of the funds under Subhead F. (6) to improve the approach roads, steam-rolling them, if necessary. That would be of terrific benefit to tourists. It would be a terrific draw to tourists and it would increase the tourist potential of these lake areas. The work done during the year certainly deserves great credit and it was work which needed to be done in the past. I ask the Minister, if he can do so, to take it up with the local authorities or whoever is concerned, and to have the roads steam-rolled and improved right up to these piers. If he does so, he will be making a very worth while contribution to the tourist business.
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