Tuesday, 8 March 1983
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. 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): 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: 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: 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. 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: 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. 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. P. 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?
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