Wednesday, 15 December 1976
Dáil Eireann Debate
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries (Mr. M.P. Murphy): This is the third time we have debated this question in recent weeks. Although I asserted in the course of my contribution on previous debates that it was helpful to have discussions on this exceptionally  important question of fishery development, in my view we are going too far now. I do not wish to stifle the Opposition but this is gimmickry. It leads us to the position whereby we have to publicise the limitations of our case and, naturally, that will move outside the House. I have not the slightest doubt that had the Opposition sought discussions with the Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries and Foreign Affairs on this vital issue they would have been forthcoming.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Deputy interrupted me during the course of the previous debate also. We were available for discussions with all interested parties. As everybody is aware, we had discussions with representatives of the fishermen and organisations interested in this vital issue. We set down in our case that we thought it was vital in order to develop our fishery industry that we should get an exclusive band of 50 miles. The Government's view is that we must make the best effort possible to achieve that objective.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: In the course of the debate last night some niceties were exchanged between the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Kelly, and Deputy Haughey and both of them affirmed that they were committed Europeans. They were in agreement that any moves made on this and any other question should be made by this House on the basis that we are committed Europeans. An interjection of Deputy Haughey's removed any doubt. He was surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary should express some doubts. I agree with their conclusions. The people want us to remain in the community and, as one who opposed entry, I feel we should  continue our membership and try to get from the Community the best concessions in all fields.
In my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries I am mainly concerned with the development of our fisheries and the efforts to get the best possible concessions for our fishermen. The big question of renegotiating our fisheries position arose some time ago. We expressed the view on many occasions that we were dissatisfied with the disastrous policy obtaining and that it was necessary to make changes. The Minister for Foreign Affairs indicated that his Department, who are mainly concerned with the discussions with the EEC Commission and the Council of Ministers, would go along with such discussions with our partners in a constitutional way and within the framework of the Community. That is the best approach. An exclusive band is necessary and essential but I cannot agree with the assertion of Deputy Fahey, my predecessor, that a 50-mile exclusive band is there for the taking. It is not there for the taking and for that reason I am sure that when Deputy Fahey contributed he was talking with his tongue in his cheek.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I am satisfied that Deputy Kelly is as conversant with legislative proposals and their legality as any member of the Opposition and I am satisfied that the legal advice available to the Government is as good, if not better, than any advice available, and, being the Government,  it is the advice that prevails. Let me say that quite clearly.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: Nobody wrote my speech. I am able to speak, thank God, and I have sufficient knowledge to speak on this subject off the cuff if necessary but I want to ensure that I am completely factual.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I do not have to rely on a supplied speech. I am in this House much longer than the Deputy and I may be here after him. I appreciate the importance of this position and I have spoken in fishery debates over a period of a quarter of a century. When Deputy Haughey spoke here last night for 40 minutes nobody interrupted him.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Parliamentary Secretary will make his own case. I do not know whether the people opposite want me to use up my time answering ridiculous questions and suggestions from them. I do not propose to do that. We have an objective, this exclusive band, and it requires completely new negotiations. That is what we are trying to achieve with, if possible, the approval of our Community partners. This is not a short cut to an exclusive fishery band, in my view. We must get there piecemeal and first, we had to consider how to bridge the gap created by the differences of opinion expressed by the different Governments and particularly the difference of opinion which this Government put forward with the Governments of at least seven out of the nine member countries. I felt we must have an interim agreement, that there was no possible hope in Ireland abruptly telling the Community “We must get a 50-mile exclusive band or nothing.” If we were to do that, we would not get a hearing. We would not get approval and whatever action would be taken inside or outside this House by the Government to establish this band would not get recognition. That is the difference between trying to get a band in such a way and trying to get it with the consent and approval of our Community partners.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: The Fianna Fáil Party conscience is now pricking them about the way they let down the fishermen and nobody knows that better than the fishermen. My view was that we must have an interim agreement because of the ravishing of our stocks by boats from outside, whether from Eastern Europe or from our Community partners.
 We had a clear picture of the position when our Naval Service arrested two boats off the south coast. Everybody knows what fish the Bulgarian boat contained, fish some of which possibly was caught inside our existing limit and the remainder quite close to it. We had the same position when the Russian boat was arrested with a complement of 101 men which indicates its size and the magnitude of its fishing activity. In my discussions with the Minister for Foreign Affairs we decided that one of the first things we should try to achieve—I have always been factual on this matter and I shall be factual tonight—was to secure, if possible, Community approval for the removal of such people as the Bulgarians, Rumanians, East Germans, Russians and others. It would be a step forward towards our goal if we could remove them and the third countries such as Spain, if at all possible. In the negotiations that took place this week that was one of the main items put forward by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: We met Commissioner Gundelach on a number of occasions and I can say that there is a great deal of sympathy—which we welcome—built up within the Community for our case. That sympathy is shared by the Commissioner in charge of fisheries at present.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: That build-up of sympathetic consideration for our case is in no small measure due to the spade work of our teams in Europe from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the fishermen's organisation. They have given these people the background.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: You did nothing but in my view this so-called Front Bench Opposition want to spoil my time. Long they will be in Opposition. Our view was that we should work, if possible, with the consent of the Commission. Is this not what this firmly committed European, Deputy Haughey, last night said he would do to see how far we would get? The Minister did say that if we did not make the progress that we felt we should make at this stage other action would be taken. It was made abundantly clear, and it is my conviction, that we should go to the Community to get the assistance we require to police the 50-mile band and to develop our fishing industry. We are expecting aid from the Community for our fishery development before the year is out. We are tied to the Community. I do not think the knot can be cut to loosen us from them. If there is such an opinion held by Members of this House, it should be expressed in no uncertain terms.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: I know what the Minister for Foreign Affairs got. I was with him during all the negotiations, public and private. He put his case fully and clearly before his fellow Ministers of the Nine.
Mr. M.P. Murphy: First we want to deal with the eastern question and then get the best concessions in the interim period. That is not a general statement but a reasonable one. We tried to bring the people in the Community  towards our view of a 50-mile exclusive band. That is how I see it and I have no doubt the way the Minister for Foreign Affairs saw it too. It is one thing to talk in this House but when one goes abroad and hears Ministers of equal importance giving their views which are violently opposed to ours, what do you find?
Mr. M.P. Murphy: Do you pull out? No. Despite that violent opposition, there is an air of sympathy which we are cultivating as best we can. This package, if I may use the term, is a unit, an internal regime on an interim basis and an external regime. One is contingent on the other. It was made clear that if one failed so would the other. What would happen if no agreement was reached? I will give my own views; I do not want to express views for the Minister or anybody else. We would reach a chaotic state. If we took unilateral action, I doubt if it would get respect from anybody, irrespective of what might be said here. It would not help us, in the Council of Ministers, to rid our waters of East Europeans—Russians, Bulgarians and others. That is the first essential step we must take but we cannot do it alone because we do not have the power or authority to do so. It may be even more difficult than anticipated for the Community, with all their strength, to get these people out of our waters but we are heartened by the fact that Russia has declared a 200-mile zone.
A fisherman from Killybegs might not find much comfort in the fact that although the Russians have gone the Dutch have moved in. We are trying to make interim regulations that will put us in a favourable light and bring us part of the way towards our ultimate goal. At every meeting it is clearly set down that these discussions were without prejudice to our final objective of a 50-mile exclusive band.
At the meeting of the Council of Ministers on Monday the Commissioner repeated that our ultimate objective of the 50-mile band was  reserved. The members of the Council failed to agree, and I do not know if any agreement will be reached at their next meeting. No one knows what the position will be. I believe it would be a marked advantage for our fishery development if a fair and reasonable agreement was reached. I would not like to see the meetings of the Council break up without reaching agreement. We have set down measures which we consider fair and reasonable and which will satisfy us in the interim period. We are conscious of our obligations as members of the Community and we are not treading softly. We are fighting softly the hard way.
It might be said that the Government in their negotiations in this vital matter are too soft. That is far from the truth. As I said, we are fighting softly the hard way. We are giving facts and figures to people who have their own problems and trying to get them to see our point of view. We only concern ourselves with their problems in so far as they affect us. We belong to a group of Nine. We are dealing with a policy which Deputy Haughey told the Dáil last night was drawn up before the three additional countries joined so that it would be binding on them. Everybody knows Norway in their referendum voted against accession and that they did so mainly because of what they regarded as a disastrous fishing policy.
I will not go into other matters that Deputy Haughey mentioned because of the time at my disposal. Everybody knows it was essential to set down in writing the interim proposals we have in mind. They are the subject of discussions in the Commission and we hope they will be acceptable as an interim arrangement. I say with all the vehemence at my command that it will be the first beneficial step, far more beneficial than this Bill which has been brought in by Fianna Fáil as a political football. We are charged with the responsibility of governing and we will govern, as far as fisheries are concerned, with responsibility.
Mr. Brennan: It is accepted that members of national parliaments read, discuss and assess debates in other member states. We have sought to establish a case for an exclusive fishery limit of 50 miles and we have said we should take unilateral action in this Bill to do so. Both the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach have been making a case for those with whom they will be negotiating and if the Government are not prepared to accept this Bill it shows they are prepared to compromise.
Mr. Brennan: I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary said anything of interest or of help to the case but I was interested in what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach said yesterday, as reported in today's Irish Times. He said we have to admit that we have been substantial net beneficiaries in the EEC. That is another way of saying that we must be nice, that we will do very well if we sell our fishermen down the river.
Mr. Brennan: The Government have been trying to accuse us of having accepted something in the Accession Treaty which they say is an obstacle to what they are seeking and we have been given this 200 mile limit as a magnanimous gift from the EEC to Ireland. I dispute both contentions. What they are doing is giving in advance a weapon to those with whom we will be negotiating.
Mr. Brennan: Let us examine the case for the 200-mile limit. Of course, we are glad to get it but it is nothing  without the exclusive limit we are seeking for our own fishermen. It will put some people out but it will leave our wealthy fishing grounds as a playground to other EEC members who in turn will have the right to barter that 200-mile limit to others in return for access to their waters. The Russians have been given until 1st January unless they negotiate, but obviously, they will be back in a matter of weeks.
This 200-mile limit is not the great gift it is being held out to be and our fishermen see the uselessness of it. They want to see an exclusive limit available only for our own people, and this prospect has been seriously diminished.
Mr. Brennan: Apart from that they must have that 50-mile limit to give them a sense of security. Without that we will not get the necessary continuity in the development of fisheries. If people contemplate a 50-mile limit that is going to be exhausted within a particular time then they are not going to be so interested in expensive equipment and gear in order to hand down to their sons and those who will come after them a valuable industry. Continuity gives security and without security and long-term planning this cannot be brought about.
When we entered the EEC, which the Parliamentary Secretary and his party sternly opposed, we knew we were putting ourselves in a position to develop certain sectors of our economy with the assistance of EEC membership. Indeed, if we were not members we would not be talking here today about the possibility of doing things we can, must and should do. It is in that context that we should make the most  of what is available to us to develop our most important industry. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach pointed out that we are beneficiaries under the EEC. That was a generalisation with relation to our membership. We can easily point out on the other side that in our fisheries and the 200-mile limit which has been set up we are placing at the disposal of other members a bonanza which they did not possess but which is of magnificent benefit to them. All we are asking is that part of that 200 miles, one-fourth of it, be exclusively provided for our own development of our own industry. That is a simple thing. What Fianna Fáil did or did not do in the Treaty of Accession has no relevance here now. There was no question of the 200-mile limit then.
Remember that immediately prior to the Treaty of Accession there was a common fishery policy agreed between the then Six and when we signed the Treaty of Accession there was a derogation, if you like, at Article 2141/70 which covered the entire nine members, not the three then entered. Any other derogation from any existing article related to the new entrants only including ourselves and the other two partners being admitted at that time. This related only to a 12-mile limit. There was no question of a 200-mile limit then. The 200-mile limit has come up since and we are now in a completely new ball game.
Mr. Brennan: We would be invoking our rights as a national Parliament to do unilaterally what we are entitled to do, what the British have  done and what the present Government are afraid to do. They are now admitting that they cannot do certain things, which is really selling the pass before they sit down to finalise anything. They are now admitting that they cannot take unilateral action. We believe there is a sustainable case for it and it should be one of their best bargaining points——
Mr. Brennan: ——when they go to negotiate. They are admitting that they cannot take any action. In other words, they are throwing away one of the best cards they had if they had held them close to their chest. They are claiming that the Articles of Accession which we signed are precluding them from taking the action they should take and they are claiming that the 200-mile limit is a terrific gift and they are obviously perfectly satisfied with it. These are not the arguments they should be making in their home Parliament.
Mr. Brennan: This is the opposite of what they should be standing on. These are the arguments we are making now in support of unilateral action and the arguments they should be making when they get down to what the Parliamentary Secretary said in contradictory terms was a hardsoft bargain. I do not know what that is but it is something.
Mr. Brennan: We heard a lot, too, about doubling our catch in three years. That was a tremendous achievement and some of us were only a little apprehensive as to whether we would be able to provide the fleet necessary to enable us to double the catch. Indeed, I was wondering whether it was in value or in quantity. The Parliamentary Secretary in answer to a parliamentary question assured me it was in quantity that we would double our catch in three years. I have been  informed, as the newspapers say, reliably informed, that there are terms worked out for 1977 and that the provision in those terms for 1977 in relation to the Irish catch makes for a 6 per cent increase. I hope that is not true. The Parliamentary Secretary will deny it if it is not. I will give him the opportunity to interrupt now and say I am wrong.
Mr. Brennan: The provision of a 6 per cent increase in our catch which was confidentially conveyed to the Department and reported as such the other day without any mention of terms is untrue, the Parliamentary Secretary states, but I have been reliably informed that in those terms which can be confidentially conveyed to our Government, they provided for only a 6 per cent increase. Therefore, the other 94 per cent increase would then have to take place in the following two years. The Parliamentary Secretary says that is wrong and I am prepared to accept that. He has the inside information and I will say nothing further about it. However, I could not help noticing the lack of reference to this double catch arrangement that had been made for three years. I am delighted that the Parliamentary Secretary has corrected me and said that the arrangement for 1977 of 6 per cent is not correct.
We had a lot of sympathy for the position in which the Government found themselves in relation to our fishing industry. I am not at all hopeful that they see the way so clearly after some of the comments I heard and read in relation to the recent efforts to establish this 50-mile limit. I am a little despondent about the approach of the Government in this debate as in the motion we had down last week. They seem to rely entirely on criticising Fianna Fáil or pointing out what Fianna Fáil had done wrong  and emphasising what was wrong; emphasising too, that unilateral action is not acceptable to them, that we must be good boys within the Community where we are such net beneficiaries and we must remain good boys and take no action that would offend in any way any of our partners. That spells only despondency to me, a fear of what is ahead and that there is compromise, preparing us for something that will not be in keeping with what we want. I would have liked to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say “We are delighted the Opposition have made those proposals in this Bill. We are not prepared to accept them because it is the Government's duty to oppose such a Bill. It strengthens our hand and we will stick out for a 50-mile limit no matter what happens.” We have had no such statement. We had references to what Fianna Fáil did not do and gimmickry.
Mr. Brennan: Whenever the Opposition take a stand on behalf of the Irish people we are told it is gimmickry. The people will decide whether or not it is gimmickry. The fishermen, not a Parliamentary Secretary interrupting from the front benches, will decide on that. We are prepared to stand over the claim we make in the belief that it is our duty in Opposition to do it. We are prepared to pursue it to the end.
Mr. Brennan: I would like the Government to approach those matters in a proper fashion instead of accusing the Opposition of playing politics. Since the debate last week I can feel a greater sense of determination by the Government to try to retrieve some of the ground they lost when they accepted the 200-mile limit. It is immaterial to us what the Government accuse us of. We will do our duty as an Opposition should. This will place  the Government in a position where they will feel bound to make the best possible effort and to settle for nothing less than the 50-mile exclusive limit.
The former Minister for Defence is on record as saying that if we got the 50-mile limit we could not police it. I heard him on radio in the last few days defending that attitude. I suppose one could say that we can police nothing, that we would need to have a policeman at the door of every business premises and bank and also a soldier if we were to do what is regarded as policing in relation to the mainland alone. We do not need to have destroyers and battleships rigged around the coast to protect our fisheries but we need to have sufficient not to make it worth-while for those who want to risk using our waters illegally.
I do not believe it would require a great deal of money to provide that type of service. One or two helicopters can do a great job in this respect. The amount of money involved for protection, against the background of the potential value to us, is not prohibitive. It can be done over a period. We have the right to get every possible assistance from the EEC to do this. The overall spirit of the Treaty of Rome is that the EEC members should ensure that the economy of each member is brought into harmony with the others. In order to do that they must be allowed to exploit to the utmost whatever resources are available to them. It is essential that those resources be confined to the use of the nation using them as much as possible.
One of our main industries after agriculture is fishing. Our EEC partners could not for one moment sustain a case against our seeking to hold a certain area of the sea for the exclusive use of our industry to enable us to plan and arrange, on a long-term basis, the proper expansion of that industry.
Mr. Brennan: We assume that not merely should we have that exclusive limit but that we should have, as members of the EEC, the necessary assistance from EEC funds to enable  us to do it. It takes a lot of money to establish and expand a fishing industry. We made it possible for men who had not the price of boats to get them by paying a percentage of the cost and paying the remainder by a deduction from their catch. We took a first step then towards enabling young men to put boats to sea which they could not possibly have done if that arrangement was not made. This is the way we established an industry which required a huge amount of capital.
We have prospects, as EEC members, of getting extra capital to more rapidly develop that industry. I am sure that each of the other eight members must concede that we are only within our rights in seeking, for the benefit of our economy and allowing us to come into harmony with their economies, to have an absolute right to declare, as the Parliamentary Secretary says, a coastal band which will be exclusive to our fishermen. This will enable our fishermen to have security. There will be time at our disposal and we can do whatever we want in connection with our fishing industry.
How can we conserve our fisheries if we allow 200 miles to be used by virtually everyone, by the other eight member states and those with whom they make arrangements to fish within that limit for the rights they will seek to get fishing in other waters? That is what this debate is about. There is no need for Members on the other side to get hot under the collar, be worried and make excuses which should only be made by the people who are opposed to our getting this limit if they were sure they could get away with it. I would not blame the other member states for seeking to keep us off this exclusive limit because these waters will be a playground for them. If we were in their position, we would try hard also. Surely there should be no difficulty in establishing what we are now seeking to do. We must forget about the Treaty of Accession because we are in a completely new ball game now.
Mr. Brennan: Let the Parliamentary Secretary not try to advocate any surrender. When the Minister for Foreign Affairs accepted the 200 mile limit without making it contingent on our having an exclusive band inside, I am afraid this was the biggest mistake yet made. I am sure nobody is more conscious of that than he is now. I hope he will be able to overcome it and that what we are doing here will strengthen his hand to get what the Irish fishermen and the Irish people want and will insist on.
Mr. Esmonde: I have listened to three Opposition speakers in relation to this private Bill that is propounded by the Opposition and I note a great note of dejection. Speaking as a lawyer, I note an irrational and rather misguided approach to this entire subject. We are members of the EEC. We signed the Act of Accession and we are not entitled to resign from our obligations under the treaty or under the Act of Accession. Our fellow partners in the EEC and in the Commission must observe their responsibilities and their duties also. The Opposition are making the case that the Irish sea fisheries industry would be safe and secure for all time if we took unilateral action and declared an exclusive 50-miles zone. They say that this measure that they have brought before the House is necessary. They seem to forget that we have already on the Statute Books, the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, which gives the Government of the day power to declare an exclusive fishing zone which is not limited to three, six or 12 miles. There is also power in that Act to discriminate if they can between the boats of different nationalities.
This hullabaloo that is going on under this proposed Bill is utterly unnecessary. The legal instrument is already there in our Statute Book, that is, the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1959, as amended by the Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 1964. When we were negotiating for the EEC we on this side of the House did not know what the inside operations or difficulties were in relation to the negotiations. We could  only judge the negotiations by what we were told officially in this House. As far as I can gather from reading the debate prior to the finalisation of our accession to the EEC, the Government of the day took the view that we would be in a better position if we got in and negotiated afterwards rather than laying down hard and fast rules before we went in. I understand that was the attitude taken by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs and I assume that he did that with the encouragement of the other Ministers in the Cabinet of that time. Maybe the Government of the day did not appreciate that if they signed a document they were bound by that document, particularly if that document was a treaty of international standing with wide ranging effects. It was primarily an economic treaty. It was not like the Convention on Human Rights which dealt with other matters.
As a result of my recent researches, I have become more and more convinced that our negotiators of that time were not aware of the seriousness with which the wording of the Act of Accession required to be scrutinised and, if necessary, amended before signature. Deputy Brennan this evening has been unequivocal in advocating unilateral action. He used that phrase again and again. We signed the Act of Accession in 1972 or early in 1973. Surely our negotiators were aware of the fact that one of the institutions of the EEC was the European Court of Justice, and surely they were aware that the function of the EEC Court of Justice functions was not to make regulations or clauses in the treaty but to interpret them as they stood. If that was the case, how is it that our negotiating Minister and the Taoiseach, both of whom signed the Act of Accession, were not aware of a case decided by the European Court called Costa v. Enel. Judgment of the court was delivered on the 15th July, 1964, and now we hear mighty voices propounding a doctrine of unilateral action. On page 586, paragraph 3, of the Official Report of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, 1964 it is stated:
 By contrast with ordinary international Treaties, the EEC Treaty created its own legal system, which, on the entry into force of the Treaty, they became an integral part of the legal systems of the Member States and which their courts are bound to apply.
By creating a Community of unlimited duration, having its own institutions, its own personality, its own legal capacity, and capacity of representation on the international plane and, more particularly, real powers stemming from a limitation of sovereignty or a transfer of powers from the States, to the Community, the Member States have limited their sovereign rights and have thus created a body of law which binds both their nationals and themselves.
Listening to Deputy Brennan this evening, and he was a member of the Cabinet at that time, it is patently obvious that neither he nor the Cabinet were aware of what the meaning or the effect of signing the Act of Accession would be. However, one has to go a little further. I see a useful chink of light which helps us to deal with the awkward predicament in which we have been placed by the faulty negotiation procedures of the previous Government.
Not alone do member states have obligations, the Commission also has obligations. It must see that the terms of the EEC Treaty are put into full and proper force. I would recommend a recent case to the Deputies on the opposite benches who have been propounding their views in relation to the laws concerning the EEC Treaty. I am referring to the Kramer case. In fact, there were three cases heard at the same time—Nos. 3, 4 and 6 of 1976.
Under Article 3 (d), the adoption of a common policy in the sphere of agriculture is specially mentioned amongst the objectives of the Community.  Under the combined provisions of Article 38 (3) and Annex II to the Treaty, fishery products are subject to the provisions of Articles 39 to 46 concerning agriculture. Article 39 specifies, among the objectives laid down for the common agricultural policy, those of ensuring the rational development of production and of assuring the availability of supplies. Under the combined provisions of the first three paragraphs of Article 40, the Community must establish, by the end of the transitional period at the latest, a common organisation of agricultural markets, able to include all measures required to attain the objectives set out in Article 39. To that end, Article 43 (2) confers on the Council the power, and imposes on it the duty, to make regulations, issue directives or take decisions.
We know that the regulation affecting fishery structures has already been referred to in this House. In Article 1 of that regulation it is stated “the aim of encouraging rational use of the biological resources of the sea and inland waters...” These are duties that are imposed already on the Commission and on the Council of Ministers. The point I want to stress—I think the Minister for Foreign Affairs has done so already, as have other spokesmen on this side of the House—is that we can only operate within the context of the EEC Treaty and the regulations emanating therefrom. I want to stress my attitude which is this: I do not decry any exclusive 50-mile zone but, at the same time, that is by no means the end of the story. Deputy Brennan blithely said: “We will declare a 50-mile zone. There is money available in the EEC to develop our fisheries.” Is he out of his mind? Does he think the EEC will give us all the money we want if we are going to take unilateral action without consultation with our fellow partners in the EEC? These are dreams, an utterly unreal approach to these matters. We must be factual, we must deal with the situation as we find it.
Let this House not forget that the situation as we find it is the situation that was handed to us by the previous  Government and no amount of shouting and roaring and fine speeches from the Opposition benches will do any good. We must use our brains to get the best deal we can, having regard to the rather awkward position in which we have been placed. It is more than evident that when the Opposition were negotiating not alone did they not realise the economic implications but they did not know at the time the legal implications. The case I have quoted was a 1964 case and the negotiations for the Treaty were in 1972 and 1973. The former Government must have been aware that of all the EEC countries, excluding Norway and Italy, we had the largest increase in our GNP in respect of our fisheries. It was a very important matter for us. It was a new industry growing rapidly with every prospect for the future but no safeguards were provided for in the negotiations because of the reason given by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs. He said: “It is better to get in first; we will see how we can work out afterwards.”
I wish to deal with a matter which Deputy Haughey has been propounding for some time. I think he said it twice—once in the debate on the motion and again in regard to this measure. He takes the view that as we had only exclusive fishery limits of 12 miles, that as that was all that was contemplated in the Treaty of Accession, we can simply by virtue of that fact pass legislation in this Parliament declaring a 50-mile exclusive zone. He takes the view that in doing so we would not be in breach of our obligations under the Treaty. That is far too facile an argument. It is based on a false legal premise. It is based on a time argument, namely, that as there was only a 12-mile exclusive zone in 1972-73 in 1976 we are not bound by that any longer. He maintains it only speaks as of the date the Treaty was signed. If Deputies examine both the Enel and the Kramer cases they will find that argument is knocked on the head and has no legal validity.
It has also been contended that we are prepared to take an indifferent view on this side of the House of the fishermen's demand for a 50-mile  zone. Apparently that idea has emanated from the fact that we have pointed out to the Opposition the difficulties that have resulted from the terminology of the Treaty of Accession. All we have done is to tell Deputies exactly what the legal position is so far as we know it. Apparently some Members on the other side of the House feel that, if we declare a 50-mile zone, that is an end of the story and everything else will work out all right after that.
There is no precedent for the steps the Opposition Deputies advocate, none in either international law or under the law of the EEC. If you want a legal instrument to stand up, you have to get some minimal consensus from other countries. There is no such thing as a pure unilateral action in terms of international law. Would we not look right idiots if we were to make now, as of this moment, a declaration for a 50-mile exclusive zone without at least getting the understanding, sympathy and support of our EEC partners? The wording of that judgment that I quoted pointed out the duties and obligations of the Council of the Commission and of all the members of the EEC in relation to CAP, and fisheries falls under CAP, and shows we have a good argument in law within the realms of the terms of the EEC Treaty and this business of dashing off and producing a little two-section Bill here is not a solution. Indeed, this Bill is a very dangerous one. I have already referred to part of the wording which appeared in the original motion debated on 7th or 8th December. The same dangerous wording appears again in this Bill in section 2 which purports to be an amendment of section 3 of the 1964 Maritime Jurisdiction (Amendment) Act and purports to replace subsection (1) and (2) of that section.
Fishing in that portion of the exclusive fishery limits of the State which lies inside the line every point of which is at a distance of 50 nautical miles from the nearest point of the base-line shall be restricted  exclusively to vessels operating from ports in the State.
Mr. Esmonde: Right and, if you are fishing in a 50-mile zone, you are, of course, registered there. All you need is to take your ship and come in and collect your take. I do not share the same confidence in the wording of the section as Deputy Gallagher does because the words “operating from ports in the State” are used. That is not a trade term in legal language. This is a layman's wording. It has no legal significance and no special connotation. It does not cover the word “registered” and, if registered was intended why was it not put into the section?
Mr. Esmonde: It may be one registration over here, but that is sufficient,  if it even means that, but it uses the words “operating from”. A boat could be operating for three months from Brest and operating for three months out of Dunmore East. That is the danger. I take the view, and I have pointed this out to Deputy Gallagher and his colleagues, that this Bill is absolutely unnecessary because the power is already there in the Maritime Jurisdiction Act of 1959 as amended by the 1964 Act. Of course, I know what is behind this Bill. It is giving the Opposition an opportunity to keep shouting “A 50-mile exclusive zone”.
Mr. Esmonde: I am a realist and I do not agree with unilateral action, but the only solution the Fianna Fáil Party have to get us out of the jam they created themselves under the Accession Treaty is a unilateral declaration.
Mr. Esmonde: Deputy Fitzgerald has only just come into the House and he has not heard the arguments made, arguments intended to be helpful and which, unfortunately, I had to point out, namely, that the negotiators in his own party apparently were not aware of the legal position when they were negotiating the Treaty of Accession judging by the statements made this evening here by Deputy Brennan.
Mr. Esmonde: I have pointed out where the difficulties lie and what the obligations are and that is something no Member across the floor has thought it worth his while to do. He has not looked it up and done his homework and Deputies on the Opposition benches come in here and make emotive speeches about 50-mile zones and do not say on what basis this can be done. We all know our fishing grounds are being poached. We all know they were left wide open under the Treaty of Accession. We know we are supposed to fling all our fishing grounds open to every EEC country under the terms of the Act of Accession negotiated by the previous Government.
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