Thursday, 11 November 1976
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Gallagher: asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries his projections in relation to (a) boat-building (b) development of harbours and (c) processing for the years 1977, 1978 and 1979; the estimated cost of these projects; and the sum being provided by the Government for this development in 1977.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: Targets have been set which envisage the addition of an average of 76 boats of all sizes  to the Irish fishing fleet in each of the years 1977, 1978 and 1979. These targets will be monitored and if necessary up-dated each year.
The development of major fishery harbours and other landing places will continue on the basis of national priorities and local needs. Detailed programmes of work under this heading are settled from year to year.
The expansion of fish processing is a matter for private enterprise in the first instance and the scale of such expansion in the years ahead will, of course, depend to a large extent on the supplies of fish available. Financial assistance for this work is available from a number of agencies including the Industrial Development Authority, Gaeltarra Éireann, and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara. Suitable projects also qualify for FEOGA grants.
It is estimated that the cost of new boats in the three years in question will amount to about £30 million at current prices. Because of the factors which I have mentioned, it would be extremely difficult to frame realistic estimates for this period in respect of harbour development and fish processing. The sum to be provided in 1977 for fishery development generally is still under consideration.
Mr. Gallagher: In view of the fact that fisheries development, boat building, and so on, is something that must be done over a period of years, is it not strange that the Parliamentary Secretary cannot give me a figure for 1977 as to what he has in mind for boat building, harbour development and processing? We are nearly into 1977.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: As the Deputy knows, the estimates for budgetary proposals are being dealt with. They will come before the House in January and the figure has not been finalised. These figures are subject to Government approval and until that is forthcoming I cannot give a definite figure.
Mr. Haughey: Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that the gist of his reply under the headings boat building, harbour development and processing of fish is to the effect that there is no fisheries development plan in existence at this moment?
Mr. Haughey: Would the Parliamentary Secretary then explain to me, if this plan is in existence, whether it has been published? Is there any documentary evidence of it? Where can that be found? Does it indicate the amount to be spent on harbour development and the amount to be provided by the Government even for 1977, never mind the years thereafter? Is there on paper any such development plan? To that extent is not what the Minister for Foreign Affairs said on his way home from The Hague——
Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Deputy must be thinking that Fianna Fáil are still in office. Our first job when we came to office in 1973 was to set down a development plan on the basis of conditions then existing. It is working reasonably well by virtue of the additional sums made available by the Exchequer towards fishery development generally and these far exceed the inflationary trend that has obtained in the past few years. What is happening is that we are updating our plan in accordance with the agreement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs during the month with the European Commission.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: We have certain targets to achieve and we are trying to achieve them by this plan which envisages an additional 300 boats up to the end of 1979. We are to have 72 additional boats this year and 76 in each of the years 1977, 1978 and 1979. Our objective, and I hope it will be realised—I am not a prophet—is to double our fish catch from 75,000 tons to 150,000 tons, excluding salmon which, as everybody knows, is a very important species at the moment as far as money returns are concerned.
Mr. Gallagher: Would the Parliamentary Secretary accept that there is no tie-up between the answers he has been giving us in relation to the future of the fishing industry and the information given publicly by the Minister for Foreign Affairs as a result of the recent Hague talks?
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I have given clearly in reasonable detail replies to Deputy Gallagher's questions because I thought it necessary to give the Deputy the fullest possible information. I accept that Deputy Gallagher posed his questions in a businesslike way and that he is entitled to get the fullest possible information. That I have given him. There is no further information at my disposal. We hope our targets will be attainable and realised. I am quite optimistic that we will measure up to the requirements set out.
Mr. Haughey: Optimism is no substitute for realistic planning. Would the Parliamentary Secretary agree that after a protest by fishermen he asked them to submit a development plan for our sea fishing industry? If there had been in existence a plan, such as he has told us about today, was it not odd that he should ask the fishermen to submit a plan? Would he agree that a fine detailed plan was submitted by the fishing industry to him and will he now indicate if any of the proposals in that plan have been adopted by him?
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I asked everybody concerned with the industry, certain organisations and individuals  to submit proposals. I made it clear that any suggestions coming from the fishermen's organisations, from individual fishermen, from the Department's staff or from the processing or boat building side would be welcomed. All these would be assessed and, possibly, some of the more useful suggestions could be implemented as policy. Therefore, not only did I invite recommendations from the various organisations but I sought suggestions from individuals associated with the industry.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: Having received the recommendations and suggestions it was our job to make an assessment and we have done that in accordance with our negotiated agreement last month with our EEC partners. I would remind Deputy Haughey again that there was no plan for fisheries during Fianna Fáil's time in office and that the main difficulty now stems from the fact that Fianna Fáil overlooked fisheries completely in the negotiations for accession to the EEC. This has made our task more difficult.
An Ceann Comhairle: This question has been going on for too long. I shall allow a brief supplementary each from Deputy O'Kennedy and Deputy Allen, following which we must pass on to the next question.
Mr. O'Kennedy: ——and if he can reconcile that situation with the boast of the Minister for Foreign Affairs regarding his achievement, namely, that by leave and licence of the EEC, he had achieved the right to introduce a plan, a plan which according to the Parliamentary Secretary was in existence before then?
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I trust that the position in the not-too-distant future will not be as it is now. I have expressed the desirability of having an exclusive band, a question that was overlooked by Fianna Fáil between 1970 and 1972. So far as the negotiations then were concerned, they disregarded fisheries.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: Six are being built here. Three timber boats and three imported steel hulls are being fitted out here. We hope to have these completed before September, 1977. Four of the ten are being built abroad.
Mr. Haughey: In reply to a previous question the Parliamentary Secretary gave me a figure of 72 boats to be completed by 1977. How can he relate that figure to his reference to six boats being built in Irish yards?
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I am satisfied that the number of boats completed in Irish yards this year will be about 66 and that taking into account those built outside the country for us, the total will be 72 boats. I might add that of the boats being built in Irish yards, 31 are less than 50 feet in length. The question put down by Deputy  Gallagher related to vessels of more than 80 feet long.
|Period||Number of boats||*Cost to Fishermen|
|Under 50 feet long||50 to 65 feet long||66 to 90 feet long|
|Year ended 31/3/1974||47||12||2||£1,105,743|
|9 months ended 31/12/1974||35||4||5||£1,099,237|
|1976 (to 6th November)||31||4||6||£2,554,948|
Mr. Gallagher: asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries the amount of money made available to BIM during each of the years 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976; the sum provided for administration by BIM; the sum provided for boat building; and the grants provided for processing and other onshore facilities.
|Description||Year ended 31/3/1974||9 months ended 31/12/1974||1975||1976 (estimated)|
|*Administration and Development||750,000||670,000||1,020,000||1,425,000|
|Boats and equipment||1,700,139||2,428,234||4,072,212||4,410,000|
|Processing and onshore facilities||129,861||141,766||197,788||590,000|
Mr. Allen: Arising, not from the answer since that is not available to us, but from the question, is the Parliamentary Secretary aware of the situation whereby the owners of boats bought in Norway are experiencing difficulty in regard to repayments because of the devaluation of the £?
Mr. M.P. Murphy: There are no restrictions imposed on skippers regarding where they might have their vessels built but we have indicated that where possible boats should be built in Ireland. I am satisfied that the Irish boatyards are capable of meeting requirements in full except for steel boats. In the not-too-distant future, perhaps next year, they shall be able to meet steel boat requirements. I do not know whether we have been pursuing the correct policy in not stipulating where skippers should have their boats built. Because the number of boats built abroad for Irish skippers is relatively small we have not imposed a clampdown so far as grants or other aids are concerned. However, this is something that might be reviewed particularly when we reach the stage of building steel boats here. As I said earlier, the demand for steel boats is a relatively new concept.
Mr. Allen: The Parliamentary Secretary seems to have misunderstood my question. I was referring to boats purchased, perhaps, in 1972 and in respect of which skippers are now having difficulty in meeting repayments because of devaluation. What do the Department intend doing to help?
Mr. Haughey: Immediately arising out of this question and strictly relating to it I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if, at this stage—for the next three-year period—he could give us some indication of the total capital investment envisaged by him as part of his development plan, year by year?
Mr. Haughey: My question arises specifically out of Question No. 10. It is capable of a simple answer by the Parliamentary Secretary and I should be grateful if he would give it to me. All I want to know is, in pursuance of his development programme, what roughly will be the order of total capital investment in 1977, 1978 and 1979?
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