Private Notice Questions. - Fishing by Spanish Trawlers.

Tuesday, 8 March 1983

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 340 No. 10

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Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  asked the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry if he would make a statement regarding the proposed fishing off the west coast of Ireland by Spanish trawlers registered by an Irish company or companies.

Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. O'Toole): Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I have become aware of this proposal only in the last few days. My Department have not been approached in the matter but I can confirm that the proposal would not have my support. I have instituted urgent consultations with the Attorney General's office with a view to our taking whatever steps are necessary to protect the interests of our fishermen in the event of the proposal being proceeded with.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  Will the Minister give an assurance that he will introduce emergency legislation, just as the House of Commons did at 2 a.m. this morning, to block off the legal loophole which exists and in order to protect the livelihood of our fishermen? Will he do so as a matter of urgency?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I assure the Deputy and the House that consultations are taking place. As a result of these, if it is found necessary to introduce legislation, such amending legislation will be introduced.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  Is the Minister saying that the Spanish trawlers can fish away at present?

[1888]Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Under current legislation Spanish trawlers registered in the UK and fishing here as British trawlers may fish waters which normally British trawlers are allowed to fish.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  Is the Minister saying that if these trawlers fly the Irish flag they can fish in Irish waters?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Under those circumstances that could be so. That is why urgent consultations are now taking place with the Attorney General to amend the legislation, if that is found to be necessary. The Deputy can take it that every effort will be made to ensure that our stocks are not depleted by trawlers such as Spanish trawlers and that the fisheries are protected for our fishermen.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  How long will it be before the Minister has a report from the Attorney General? Although these 16 boats propose coming to Ireland without the blessing of the Department or the Minister, under EEC legislation they can fish here. Is the Minister aware that the 62 boats which are fishing off Penzance and Falmouth are prepared to come and that there are a further 90 Spanish boats prepared to set up in Dingle?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Dingle?

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  That is the reason for the question.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  To allay the fears of the Deputy and the House, and particularly the Leader of the Opposition's concern at the mention of Dingle, every effort is being made to expedite the consultations and find out exactly what must be done to ensure what the Deputy says does not happen.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  Has the Minister received any communication from the British Government in this matter since they also had a problem but got rid of it?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  The only communication we had from them was last week when [1889] they notified us of their intention to introduce legislation in relation to their own fishery and fishermen.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  We have already spent five minutes on this question.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  It is of vital importance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The question has been adequately dealt with.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  There is a legal loophole whereby the Spanish can use the flag of convenience to fish here if they want to. Has the Minister been in consultation with the Spanish Government or Spanish Embassy?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  No.


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