Estimates 1985. - Vote 35: Fisheries (Revised Estimate).

Thursday, 27 June 1985

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 359 No. 11

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Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. O'Toole): Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I move:

That a sum not exceeding £18,448,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1985, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, including certain services administered by that office and sundry grants-in-aid.

I propose as in previous years to discuss the Fisheries and Forestry Estimates together and I shall move the Forestry Estimate at the conclusion of the debate.

The amount provided for the Fisheries Vote this year represents an increase of 13 per cent over last year's outturn and will be adequate to continue the development of our sea and inland fisheries resources.

During 1984 the value of landings of sea fish, excluding salmon, at ports at home and abroad by Irish registered vessels was £55 million. The value of exports [2393] of fish and fish products during the year was £85.7 million. The principal export outlets continued to be France, Britain, West Germany, the Netherlands and, outside the EC, Nigeria, Spain, Sweden and Egypt.

The importance of promoting the fish processing industry as a means of adding value to our fish landings and increasing employment in the fishing industry is recognised fully by the Government. To that end generous State and EC (FEOGA) grant aid is available for approved projects. Investment in shore base processing facilities continued in 1984. During the year seven fish processing projects — all in Gaeltacht areas — involving a total capital commitment of £3 million which included State grants amounting to £0.7 million, were approved for EC (FEOGA) grant aid of £1.5 million. I urge our industrialists to consider this area of economic enterprise to the benefit of themselves and the nation.

The promotion of marketing of our fish and fish products at home and abroad by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) continues as an on-going priority item of Government policy. An increased financial allocation has been made in 1985 to BIM in accordance with the Government's programme Building on Reality. The extra funds for marketing will enable BIM to increase our development work in the home and export markets and so broaden our national fishery marketing base.

The Advisory Committee on Marketing, which comprises representatives of all sectors of the industry, continue to meet under the chairmanship of Deputy Michael D'Arcy, Minister of State at my Department, and make valuable practical suggestions for the improvement of marketing arrangements for fish.

The Egyptian market for bulk frozen mackerel, which is the highest volume species landed by the Irish fleet, has been reopened with significant exports to date in 1985. In the case of the important Nigerian market for our frozen mackerel import licensing difficulties were experienced in early 1984. At my request, marketing officers of Bord Iascaigh Mhara visited Nigeria to investigate the situation. [2394] Subsequently the licensing difficulties were resolved and I am pleased to say that the Nigerian market for our frozen mackerel opened up again in August 1984 and no problems have been experienced since.

Exports of herring to Poland have increased substantially. In the promotion of the Polish market for our fish the Minister of State at my Department visited Poland in 1984 and the Polish Minister for Fisheries visited Ireland in March 1985 in continuance of the trade talks. Within the EC our exports to France have increased substantially and now account for about 27 per cent of our total exports. Accompanied by BIM marketing officials I visited France in 1984 to promote the market there. In early 1984 I visited Japan also in the interest of market promotion. I am pleased to say that the established export trade with Japan in herring roe has been successfully broadened to include such high value shellfish products as crab and Dublin Bay prawns. The USA market is also receiving attention and exports to that country have trebled over the past three years.

During 1984 Bord Iascaigh Mhara continued their work of developing the home market for fish by such means as advertising and publicity, consumer education, fish cookery and advisory service, training courses for the distributive trade, and retail fish distribution and advisory service.

The board's market promotion strategy is aimed at increasing the consumption of fish at home by creating a national awareness of fish as a valuable wholesome food, suitable for use at any meal. The success of the board's work in so increasing the demand for fish at home depends largely on close co-operation between BIM and the fish trade. I therefore exhort fish traders to co-operate fully with Bord Iascaigh Mhara in their market development work at home and abroad. In the area of marketing I would like to stress the importance of quality and presentation at all stages of sale. With notable exceptions the grading and handling [2395] of fish leaves a lot to be desired and I would urge all sections of the industry to take steps to remedy this situation in their own and in the national interest.

In pursuance of Government policy to develop the sea fishing industry to its fullest extent my support continues for the on-going programme of fishery harbour development. The amount allocated this year in subhead C.2 of the Vote for fishery harbour improvements is £2,700,000. This sum is provided to pay for work in progress at the start of the year and to commence some urgently needed new work.

During 1984 the work on the Howth development was completed with the exception of the final testing of the syncrolift, the installation of the ice plant and resurfacing as necessary. Work on the syncrolift and the ice plant was completed recently and the necessary resurfacing is going ahead. At Castletownbere storage accommodation for machinery and toilet facilities were provided.

In 1984 also harbour works were undertaken at Kilmore Quay, County Wexford; Cahirciveen, Cashen and Scraggane, County Kerry; Seafield, County Clare; Dooneen, Youghal and Garnish, County Cork; Skerries, County Dublin; Kilcummin and Rathlacken, County Mayo; and Rathmullen and Portmore, County Donegal. Site investigation works were undertaken at Schull, County Cork and at Carrigaholt, County Clare. At the end of 1984 works were in progress at Killala, Inch Island, Bone Rock and Belderrig, County Mayo and at Portevlin, County Donegal.

For 1985 I have approved a comprehensive programme of harbour improvement works. This programme provides for the completion of works in hand and includes major development works at Greencastle, County Donegal, and Schull, County Cork, and the provision of a syncrolift at Killybegs, County Donegal. As well provision has been made for further site investigations at Clogherhead, County Louth, and initial investigation at Darby's Point, County Mayo, and for works of a lesser degree [2396] at various other harbours and fish landing places. Work on these projects will commence as soon as the necessary financial arrangements have been finalised.

BIM will provide funds of approximately £4.8 million by way of investment in the fleet. The main thrust of investment will be directed towards the modernisation and re-equipping of existing vessels. Additional funds cannot be provided towards the construction of new vessels which require BIM loan finance, because of the substantially reduced repayments by existing vessels. For the same reason, it has been found necessary to assign £2.5 million of the £4.8 million referred to above to meet instalments due by fishermen in respect of bank loans which have been guaranteed by the board.

The scope of the board's marine credit plan has been increased to cater for white fishing vessels up to 33 metres in length and if a suitable proposal is received for such a vessel, which would qualify for a FEOGA grant, the board would be in a position to provide the necessary grant finance this year in respect of such a proposal.

Recognising the difficulties being encountered by large segments of the fleet in meeting their financial obligations, the Government agreed a package of aid measures earlier this year involving the full remission of excise duty on fuel oil used in fishing and extra funds for marketing, exploratory fishing and harbour development, together with a re-vamping of loan repayments arrangements under BIM's marine credit plan involving extra subsidies on interest rates for a three year period. I am confident that this package of measures will bring the vast majority of fishermen back to economic viability before too long. BIM are in the process of finalising agreements with the banks and individual fishermen for the implementation of the new loan arrangements.

In regard to the Common Fisheries Policy, the agreement on total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for 1985 at the Council of 19 December 1984 represented a major breakthrough, being the [2397] first occasion upon which TACs and quotas were introduced before the start of the fishing year. The fact that this was achieved under the Irish Presidency gives cause for satisfaction. In regard to the details of the quotas, I am convinced that we got a reasonable result, given the state of some of our stocks, particularly mackerel, which is such a vital component of the industry.

I am glad to say that the comparatively new surveillance force of EC inspectors is already beginning to make its presence felt and has, for instance, clearly identified cases of over-fishing by some member states. The Community's conservation policies, in particular, are the main guarantee of the availability of stocks in the future. We know that the mere introduction of regulations does not ensure compliance with those regulations in spite of the best efforts of national Governments and we therefore welcome the additional assistance which the EC inspectorate can provide.

There is one other area which, while it does not strictly come within my writ, is nevertheless of great concern to me. I refer, of course, to the accession of Spain and Portugal and, in particular, the implications for the fisheries sector. It must first be clearly stated that there was already a political decision dating back to 1979 to admit Spain and Portugal to the Community. Thus our task was to agree the details of accession in the various sectors, including fisheries which proved to be particularly difficult. We have aired these problems in the House on more than one occasion and I do not propose to deal with them in detail now. However, I think we can take particular satisfaction from the continuation of the Irish box for ten years after accession and the tight restrictions on the number of Spanish vessels permitted to fish in our general area, which will be limited to less than 100 until the next century when the whole Common Fisheries Policy falls to be renegotiated.

The negotiations were long and tedious and I take the opportunity of paying tribute to my colleagues, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his Minister of State, [2398] for their efforts in achieving agreed terms which represent a very acceptable deal for Ireland.

Work is continuing apace in my Department on the drafting of a new White Paper on Fisheries Development reflecting the views expressed in the reports of the Sectoral Development Committee and the Sectoral Consultative Committee on Fisheries. I would hope that this document will be available for publication later this year.

I would like to place on record my appreciation of the valuable work performed by all the staffs engaged in fishing protection duties, namely the Naval Service, the Garda and officers of the various fishery boards.

The interest in fish farming up and down the county remains high and generous grants will continue to be available for both pilot and commercial scale projects to enable further development to take place in 1985. I am glad to say that a start has been made with the implementation of the designation process provided for under the 1980 Fisheries Act and I am hopeful that further progress can be made with this and with licensing of individual projects in the current year. A number of public inquiries were held during the course of 1984 at which substantial objections were raised and I would hope that the series can be completed this year and the process of making designation orders proceeded with. I would like to stress here that until such time as a designation order has been made it is not possible to proceed with individual licensing in any area.

I now turn to inland fisheries. The Central and Regional Fisheries Boards, which were set up in October 1980, continue to work for the better conservation, protection and development of every aspect of our valuable inland fisheries. A total of £4,445,000 is allocated to the boards in 1985. I am glad to say that, in accordance with section 32 of the Fisheries Act, 1980, the staff scheme for the staff of the central and regional boards was agreed to by both management and [2399] unions in December 1984 and is now being implemented.

The most important aspect of our inland fisheries is our salmon fisheries. Catch figures for 1984 show that the total weight of the salmon catch by all methods was 844 tonnes valued at £4.7 million as compared with 1,515 tonnes valued at £6.7 million in 1983. This decrease of around 44 per cent on the 1983 catch is a cause of major concern. In view of this, if salmon stocks are to be preserved and rehabilitated there can be no relaxation in the various conservation measures at present in force and, indeed, more stringent measures may be necessary. Illegal salmon fishing continues to be a major factor in the decline of salmon stocks and I am considering what further steps can be taken to deal with this problem.

I have recently had a meeting with the Central Fisheries Board which represents all aspects of inland fishing and the views of the board to improve the way in which our salmon fisheries are managed will be considered in the context of the White Paper on Fisheries now being prepared. The development of our trout, coarse and eel fisheries are also of great importance and will be covered in the White Paper. The contribution of well managed fisheries to the welfare of our people in providing excellent leisure activity cannot be measured in pounds and pence. The revenue from tourism can and the benefits to the economy are considerable.

Responsibility for the control of water pollution rests with the Department of the Environment and the local authorities. However, the fisheries boards continue to play a leading role in the battle against water pollution in the interests of protecting fish life.

Progress continues in the rehabilitation of Lough Sheelin as a major trout fishery. The slurry transport subsidy scheme operated by the Lough Sheelin Management Committee had, by the time it ceased operation on 31 December 1984, succeeded in restoring the lake to an acceptable condition. I am pleased to be able to say that approximately 52 million gallons of excess slurry were removed [2400] from the Sheelin catchment under the scheme since its inception in December 1980.

In order to ensure that the improvement in the condition of the lake is maintained, a new management committee for the Lough Sheelin catchment has been set up by Cavan County Council.

The Salmon Research Trust of Ireland Incorporated continues its research into the biology of the salmon and the factors relevant to its future survival as a species. A grant-in-aid of £70,000 is allocated to the trust for 1985. Since 1972 the trust has been funded on a 50-50 basis by my Department and Arthur Guinness and Sons Limited. This agreement expired at the end of 1984 and a new agreement was reached between my Department and Messrs. Guinness. This ensures that the trust will continue its work as heretofore for the next five years to the end of 1989 when its future will be reconsidered. During this five year period the financial commitment of Messrs. Guinness will be met by way of transfer to the trust of some capital assets valued at an estimated £144,000. These include a smolt rearing station which it is estimated will yield a profit to the trust of £45,000 in 1985 and a similar amount in future years.

A sum of £142,000 is included in the Estimate to meet our contribution towards the expenses of the Foyle Fisheries Commission. It will be paid to the commission to offset part of its 1985 deficit. The Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland will be paying a grant to the commission to meet the balance of its 1985 deficit. I am satisfied that the commission is continuing to do everything possible to keep its annual deficit to a minimum consistent with fulfilling its obligations under the Foyle Fisheries Acts to conserve and manage the fisheries in the Foyle area.

I recommend this Estimate to the House.

I will now turn to the Forestry Vote for 1985. The gross total being provided for forestry for the current financial year amounts to £49.406 million which represents an increase of 4 per cent over the [2401] provisional outturn of expenditure in 1984. However, as in previous years, the demand on the Exchequer will, as I shall explain later, be reduced by some £14 million, arising mainly through timber sales and some other lesser sources of revenue such as rents from grazing and shooting lettings, the sale of foresters' houses and sales of surplus plants.

Before going on to deal with the main elements of the Forestry Vote, I think it would be appropriate at this juncture to refer briefly to a very important development since last year, namely, the establishment of the special review group on forestry. In accordance with Government policy, as set out in Building on Reality 1985-87, the group, with membership from inside and outside the public service, has been set up to examine and report on the structure, organisation and operation of the Forest and Wildlife Service and to make recommendations on the most appropriate methods of exploiting the expanding forestry asset to the best national advantage.

The establishment of this broadlybased review group is in line with the Government's overall strategy for promoting the national economic well-being and reflects a continuing commitment to promoting the ongoing development of our indigenous resources. The progress of the State forest estate over the past decades has now reached the point where wood production — both pulpwood and sawlog — has begun to expand rapidly. The review group is taking a fresh and objective appraisal of the entire structure of the Forest and Wildlife Service and will put forward proposals aimed at ensuring that the organisation will be geared to the challenges of the future. The group's deliberations are now well advanced and I have no doubt that their findings will be of major benefit in helping to chart the way ahead. I await eagerly the outcome of their deliberations.

I will now comment on the more important subheads of the Forestry Vote and, in doing so, I shall have something to say about the timber scene generally. Needless to say I will be happy, when replying to the debate, to deal with any [2402] lesser points on which Deputies may require information.

Salaries, wages and allowances are provided for under subhead A.1. the amount proposed for 1985, namely, £11.728 million represents a small reduction on the corresponding provision last year. The overall staff complement has been reduced somewhat but the current year's provision takes account of salary increases operative from 1 January 1985.

The next subhead which call for comment is B.I, which caters for travelling and incidental expenses and for which an increased provision of £298,000 is being made. The major element of the subhead concerns travelling — and more particularly home travel — which is an inescapable feature of forestry operations, including such activities as inspection work of various kinds, marking of timber for sale, supervision of felling and extraction operations and so on. It is particularly important that adequate funding be provided for these purposes to ensure an efficient service to the public and to generate maximum revenue for the FWS. I should point out that the level of expenditure incurred on foreign travel is quite low and arises mainly in the context of the need to service EC and other international organisations with which the FWS are involved.

In subhead B.2 the increased provision for postal and telecommunications services reflects, apart from increased charges by An Post and Bord Telecom, the countrywide nature of the Forest and Wildlife Service activities. Postal and telecommunications charges are expected to cost £793,000 in 1985 or 22 per cent more than in 1984.

Subhead B.3 provides £270,000 for the purchase of office machinery and other office supplies. There is an increase of 28 per cent over last year, the bulk of which is attributable to the provision of some essential computerisation facilities in the Forest and Wildlife Service.

Subhead C.1 takes the form of a grant-in-aid for acquisition of land. Under this heading a sum of £4.25 million is being provided which, when added to a balance of about £0.80 million remaining in the [2403] acquisition fund since last year, makes a total of £5.05 million available for the purchase of land for afforestation in 1985.

While in present financial circumstances an allocation of this order, which exceeds last year's provision by £775,000, must be regarded as extremely creditable, the level of land intake still continues to be inadequate, especially having regard to the existing plantable land reserve situation. However, I can assure the House that the money being provided for this purpose will be used to the best possible advantage in the interests of consolidating and expanding the national forest estate.

At the end of 1984 contracts between my Department and landowners for the purchase of land for forestry purposes stood at 8,000 hectares, 20,000 acres, and it is estimated that some 6,250 hectares, 15,625 acres, will come into the possession of the Forest and Wildlife Service in 1985. I would very much like to see a substantial increase in this level and I will continue to use my best endeavours to secure even more generous funding for land acquisition in the years immediately ahead.

Subhead C.2 makes provision for forest development and management and the proposed amount namely £27.687 million, accounts for almost 75 per cent of the total nett Vote. Not surprisingly, this subhead invariably proves to be the focal point of the debate on the Forestry Estimate as it embraces the wide range of activities inseparable from the development and management of the national forest estate, which now stands at almost one million acres.

As the breakdown in the Estimates volume of the various components of the subhead is largely self-explanatory, I do not propose to go into it in detail but there are a few aspects to which I would like to refer specifically.

In the context of part (1) of the subhead — which provides funds for my Department's 14 nurseries which produce the plant supply for the State afforestation programme — it is necessary this year to [2404] include some extra money for the purchase of seed. The reason for this is that a succession of poor years for home production of seed of some species, particularly Sitka Spruce, has resulted in depleted stocks and purchases from abroad have become necessary to provide seed for current use and for a build up of a reserve stock.

Part (2) of the subhead relates to the various elements involved in the establishment of plantations, in other words, the current year's planting programme. It is expected that the level of funding proposed, which is at about the same level as last year, will result in the afforestation or reforestation of some 7,000 hectares. I would draw attention to the fact that, out of the total subhead C.2 provision of £27.687 million, upwards of £19½ million represents wages, reflecting the fact that the Forest and Wildlife Service continues to be a major source of rural employment. Indeed, the labour content of this subhead, together with the wages provisions in some other minor elements of the Vote, means that the FWS currently has a total workforce of approximately 2,450, the majority of whom are engaged in manual and machine operations at 246 forest centres throughout the country.

Another facet of subhead C2 which merits special mention — and one in which Deputies on all sides of the House usually show a very keen interest — is the forest amenity programme provided for in part (3) of the subhead. Some 20 years have passed since my Department originally decided to exploit the amenity and recreational potential of State forests in the public interest. It has been an extremely rewarding process achieved at comparatively moderate cost and I am glad to say that progress is continuing satisfactorily.

At present the Forest and Wildlife Service is primarily concerned with the upkeep of a network of 11 forest parks and more than 400 other lesser amenity developments which have been provided throughout the country. Over 90 per cent of the relevant provision relates to labour costs necessary to maintain these amenity [2405] areas in the interests of the 1.5 to 2 million visitors who use them annually.

Last year I mentioned a proposal to provide a holiday chalet complex in Killykeen Forest Park, County Cavan. I am pleased to say that work on this project, which is being assisted by the EC Regional Fund and which involves the construction of 20 self-catering wooden chalets, made almost exclusively from Irish timber, is now at an advanced stage. I have no doubt that, when operational, this novel and exciting development will considerably enhance the economy of the locality. I am also pleased to say that my Department, again with assistance from the EC Regional Fund, is actively considering the establishment of a long distance walk in the Cooley peninsula. It is envisaged that this walk will link up with the “Ulster Way” and eventually with an “All-Ireland Way”. It is proposed to include an interpretative centre in the Carlingford district as a feature of the project.

Provision is made in subhead D for the payment of grants to encourage the expansion and promotion of private forestry. While obviously there has been tremendous progress in the sphere of State afforestation over the years, a contribution of any major significance from the private sector has still to emerge.

I am particularly anxious, and indeed quite determined, to see an early substantial increase in the level of private planting and I am encouraged by the interest in such activity which has been shown of late in some quarters and especially by investment agencies. The available grants are extremely attractive and expert advice is available from technical officers of the Forest and Wildlife Service.

This makes the slowness of the response to date all the more surprising. I hope later in the year to engage in more intensive publicity for the planting grant schemes but, in the meantime, I urge Deputies, through their normal contacts with landowners and other potential planting agencies, to encourage an interest in forestry in every way they can. In doing so they will be stimulating a [2406] development which will not only benefit those directly involved and their successors but will also augment in a meaningful way the important national asset which woodlands constitute.

Subhead H covers expenditure on the wildlife conservation programme, the provision for 1985 being £178,000. A major element of the programme consists of research into wildlife species and their habitats. The Forest and Wildlife Service has recently compiled a comprehensive list of areas of importance for wildlife throughout the country and the appropriate maps have been sent to all planning authorities. While, due to prevailing constraints, progress in giving statutory protection to a representative sample of these sites has not been as rapid as I would wish, nevertheless some progress has been possible. I am pleased to say that in the past year the number of nature reserves established under the Wildlife Act, 1976, has been brought to 21 and these reserves are now being managed by the Department to ensure the conservation of the important ecosystems which they constitute. Further areas are being examined by my Department with a view to granting them nature reserve status during the year.

Having regard to our international obligations as a member of the European Community and our contractual commitments under international conventions ratified by Ireland, nature conservation cannot be regarded solely as a national responsibility. My Department are responsible for implementing a range of Community directives and regulations as well as a number of international conventions relating to the protection of wildlife and natural habitats. During the past year Ireland ratified another such convention, namely, the “Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat.”

Public interest in wildlife continues to be keen and there is a constant demand for information and literature. My Department meets this demand by distributing a range of educational leaflets — a service which is supplemented at a local level by the wildlife ranger corps who, [2407] in addition to giving lectures and advice, contribute articles on wildlife to local newspapers. Incidentally, subhead G, which provides for game development and management, relates almost entirely to the pay of these wildlife rangers whose duties also include enforcement of the Wildlife Act, 1976.

The Wildlife Advisory Council, established under section 13 of the Wildlife Act, continues to provide me with on-going advice on various wildlife conservation matters and it would be ungracious of me not to acknowledge wholeheartedly the dedication of this voluntary group and their valuable contribution to the conservation scene.

Subhead I refers to agency, advisory and special services. The main provision in the subhead relates to the funding of timber technology research undertaken on behalf of my Department by the IIRS. The expenses of bodies such as the Wildlife Advisory Council and the review group to which I referred earlier are also borne by this subhead.

I come now to subhead J — Appropriations in Aid of the Forestry Vote. As Deputies will see, total receipts for 1985 were projected at £12.861 million, it now seems likely that this forecast, the bulk of which concerns timber sales, may well be undercast and that receipts may turn out to be slightly higher than the eventual outturn for 1984 which amounted to just over £14 million. Through 1984 the market price of home grown sawlog from the State forests increased steadily in line with the price of imported sawn softwood. This trend continued into the early months of 1985 but now shows some signs of levelling out as the lower level of activity in building continues not only in this country but also in Europe and even further afield. There is, however, no sign of any general collapse in the price of imported sawnwood although occasionally some small lots at keen prices may be on offer.

I understand that many highly efficient mills throughout the world are currently operating at a level of no more than 60 per cent of their normal production, with [2408] very tight profit margins. It would be unrealistic to expect the general scene in Ireland to be different. Indeed, since there is now substantial excess sawing capacity in this country, the average production level here could conceivably be lower than 60 per cent.

I have already drawn the attention of the trade here to the problem of national over-capacity in sawing relative to the real availability of sawlog supply from the State forests. This supply, which amounts to 600,000 cubic metres in the current year — admittedly somewhat lower than the theoretical annual production — is the best that can be achieved in the light of various silvicultural and other constraints. There are, however, some 150 mills of varying size and efficiency striving for supplies and, even now, some other individuals are — unwisely, in my view — seeking to open additional new mills. This is quite unrealistic in the prevailing supply situation and there are bound to be some casualties because in a free market only the most efficient can survive.

I am gravely concerned at recent reports of sawmill closures, whether temporary or permanent. I accept of course that these occur for well-founded commercial reasons, but I reject any suggestion that they relate solely to the supply or price of the timber made available by my Department. Such factors as the prevailing scale of activity in the housing sector, the extent of overheads relative to possible production levels in existing supply and market conditions, the staffing situation in older mills compared with the more modern enterprises using newer technology, product quality and mix, management expertise, production and marketing efficiency — these are but some of the many complex factors affecting viability and profitability in the timber industry no less than in other industries.

The policy and practice of my Department in regard to the disposal of State-owned timber has been fully documented in the report of an inter-departmental committee on the tender-quota system of timber sales which was published within the past year and copies of [2409] which I circulated to all Deputies. Most of the recommendations in that report are in the process of implementation. Specifically, the sale of timber by auction is being introduced as an addition to the tender system, the first such sale being scheduled for the latter part of next month. Moreover, the criteria for assessment of sawmills for purposes of awarding quotas are being reviewed by my Department in association with the timber trade itself, the IDA and the IIRS.

Incidentally, subsidised prices for sawlog sales under the quota scheme have been discontinued and market price is now being charged for such allocations.

For the moment, however, I have deliberately deferred the setting up of a timber advisory committee as recommended by the inter-departmental committee because I feel it would be more prudent to await the review group's examination of the structure of the Forest and Wildlife Service before doing so.

I must now refer to repeated criticisms in regard to timber supply contracts entered into by my Department with our two major pulpwood processing concerns, namely, Medite of Europe Limited at Clonmel and Finsa Forest Products Limited in Scariff. I would remind the House that, when various pulpwoodusing mills closed around the late seventies, no positive interest was shown by Irish enterprise in establishing a replacement outlet for the large volume of pulpwood involved. Such pulpwood processing outlets are essential to the development of the long term supply of sawlog for the sawmilling industry. It is normal practice, here and elsewhere, to give some contractual guarantee for a substantial part of the necessary supply in order to attract investment of the magnitude required for pulpmill development. Indeed, such supply contracts reflect both the very high level of investment involved in these mills and also the high production level required in order to establish minimum viability and service the investment.

I would remind the House that, at the time when the contract with the larger of these companies was being negotiated, [2410] there was a serious crisis in Irish forestry with regard to pulpwood. Forests were in arrears as regards thinning and temporary exports and sales of firewood helped to remedy the problem until this company began production and, incidentally, opened up a major new outlet for sawmill residues.

Forestry is one of the few areas which, generally speaking, has traditionally enjoyed the support of all parties in the House. Certain Deputies now in opposition were the Ministers with responsibility for Forestry when the House commended the establishment of the Medite mill and the first restructuring of the chipboard mill in Scariff. I was the Minister concerned when a second restructuring of the latter mill took place. It is worth recording that no Member of the House objected to the limited supply contracts then negotiated with these companies when many new jobs were created and maintained.

In so far as pulpwood utilisation is concerned, it has been the longstanding policy of successive Governments to encourage industry which would manufacture products with high added-value and good export potential, create jobs in the mills themselves as well as in ancillary harvesting and transport services and pay a fair price to the State relative to the value of the product involved. That continues to be the policy of this Government. As soon as adequate supplies of pulpwood and sawmill residues to warrant another processing industry become available, similar criteria will be used by my Department, in consultation with the IDA, in the context of recommending to Government the type of enterprise to be established, whether with native or foreign investment. If this should also involve some contractual guarantee of pulpwood supply, I would not hesitate to recommend it; and from past experience I would anticipate the continued understanding and support of the House in that regard.

Let me say clearly now that any sawmill interests seeking pulpwood supplies who can convince my Department and the IDA that a new project proposed by them [2411] is in the best national interest vis-á-vis other prospective projects will have my unhesitating support in their claim for a contractual guarantee of supply. I could not, however, at the present time give any one sawmill or group such a pulpwood supply contract which would bestow on it unfair advantage over the many other competing mills.

Contractual guarantees of sawlog supply, however, are an entirely different matter. Whereas there are only a few major pulpwood using mills, there are some 150 sawmills of varying sizes and it would be quite impractical to give guarantees to all of them, even if this were permissible from an EC standpoint. I would suggest to the House that the quota scheme for large sawlog — to which I referred earlier — is a positive, welldesigned concept for giving a degree of security of supply to those mills most likely to use it in the best national interest and which are therefore, because of their enlightened and creative managements in the spheres of production and marketing, also likely to be the most efficient and profitable. Quotas for small sawlog are much more difficult from a practical point of view and I cannot at this time undertake to introduce them. However, while making no positive commitment at this stage, I am investigating whether some limited arrangements for major users of small sawlog could be worked out.

Perhaps one of the biggest dangers facing Irish forestry and the sawmill industry lies in underselling the quality of Irish timber. There is no economic or technical reason why well-sawn, graded, dried and finished Irish sawnwood should command a lower price in the construction market than imported timber, allegedly of better quality but, in practice, sometimes found to be of dubious grades. I would earnestly urge architects and specifiers to look again at the qualities of Irish timber and discard some longstanding, unfounded prejudices about it.

On a more optimistic note I look to progressive mills in sawmilling to translate the results of heavily-funded research by my Department — both directly and [2412] through its financing of work by the IIRS — into market-penetrating quality products with increased added value, thereby generating new jobs in efficient mills and seeking out, either through their own efforts or with the co-operation of relevant State agencies wider export markets within the EEC and elsewhere. These are challenging times for us all but, if the dedication and commitment of the staff in all disciplines throughout the Forest and Wildlife Service are reflected in the timber-based industries, then the foresight of successive Governments in forestry investment will be realised handsomely and the long-awaited return on the taxpayers' investment in this vital national asset will be realised.

Before concluding, it would be remiss on my part if I let this occasion pass without drawing the attention of the House to the fact that 1985 has been declared by FAO as International Year of the Forest. The basic short term objective is to call public and political attention to the threats to the world's forests and the need to conserve forest resources. Member nations of FAO have been asked to give special recognition to the forest in 1985, including the mobilisation of people — especially youth — to participate in forest-oriented activities. The fact that FAO's decision to declare 1985 as International Year of the Forest was not finalised until very near the end of 1984 has meant that the preparation and stimulation of suitable programmes and events by many countries, including Ireland, could not be developed as speedily as they would otherwise have wished. However, my Department are currently formulating a series of events for the second half of the year and will welcome involvement by any outside agencies who may be in a position to make some contribution to the success of the venture.

I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible in dealing with the Fisheries and Forestry Votes but I appreciate that there may be matters which I have overlooked and on which Deputies may wish to be informed. As already stated, I will endeavour to deal with any such points in my reply to what I trust will be a [2413] constructive debate on two of our greatest natural resources, namely fisheries and forestry.

I now commend both Estimates to the House.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The Estimates presented here this evening, in our view, are totally inadequate to meet present requirements and will do very little, if anything, to restore confidence in either the fisheries or forestry sectors of our economy. At a time when major investment is required to stimulate development, to create new employment opportunities and to protect jobs in existing industries, in both the fishing and forestry industries, we have a continuation of the same disastrous policies being pursued by the Minister and the Government which have brought hardship to many people involved in the fishing and timber industries already.

After the massive rejection of this Government last week in the local elections one would have expected the Government would be changing their ideas, views and ways of dealing with the present unsatisfactory position. This Government are showing very little indication that they learned any lesson from the events of last week, particularly in presenting Estimates here this evening totally inadequate to meet present needs. Not alone are they insufficient to create any new development or incentives in both sectors but I would predict that a further damaging curtailment of services will take place before the end of 1985 on the figures presented to the House here today. There is little prospect of any worthwhile development taking place in either sector of our economy while this situation obtains.

Irish fisheries today do not provide a good living for many of the people who participate in that industry. Generally speaking it can be maintained that whether one be a fisherman with a boat of one's own, a crew member on someone else's vessel, a worker in a processing plant or a shareholder in a fishermen's co-operative, one is unlikely to get a decent return on one's labour or capital. This should not and need not be so. Our [2414] fishing industry is a chain made up of many links which fails to work because many of these links are weak and unsupported. As an island nation we have failed to exploit to the full the potential of our fisheries. Viewed from an economic or social perspective sea fisheries is in decline with fishing boats being repossessed and stocks endangered. In such a situation today's Estimate constituted merely a holding operation, totally inadequate to meet the ever-deteriorating position and hopelessly devoid of any new ideas and incentives which might stimulate what is an ailing industry.

I believe that the Minister, who was enthusiastic when he took up office, has lost initiative also and is now prepared to mark time while the industry flounders from one crisis to another. The general public demonstrated last week that a general election was needed but I do not think we will see one. That would be the major initiative needed to get the necessary type of development under way——

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Definitely not a new Minister for Forestry.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  ——in an endeavour to change the present demoralising situation. No meaningful development will take place in sea fisheries until such time as we see a new fisheries policy. A national fisheries policy has been promised since the Common Fisheries Policy negotiations were completed. As we have said on numerous occasions the Common Fisheries Policy was regarded by all of us as the cornerstone of our development for the next 20 years. Therefore it was essential that, alongside the Community policy, we would have a national policy, which would be presented at a very early stage after completion of the negotiations of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The Minister has continuously promised us a White Paper to deal with the fishing industry and he gave a promise again at Question Time today that it would be forthcoming later. I should have expected that the Minister would have availed of this opportunity to unveil what [2415] is contained in this much awaited document. The fact that it is delayed further will depress the industry, leading to speculation that the delay is caused by an absence of any worthwhile policies or ideas at Government level. We in Fianna Fáil recognised this when we put forward our policy document on Roinn na Mara, a detailed and clearcut policy statement setting out what were our views on the development of our resources. That policy document was widely welcomed and carefully studied by many people who genuinely acknowledged that it was a worthwhile, progressive document whose policies, if implemented, would ensure that the economic potential of the resources in and under the sea would be fully developed and exploited. We shall have to await the implementation of that policy document until we return to office.

The Irish sea fishing fleet is now in a state of financial crisis. Never before has there been such a high level of boat loan repayments outstanding. The promise earlier this year of a financial rescue package for the fleet has been shamefully broken. We have instead a completely watered down proposal which does not go anywhere near resolving the current crisis in the fishing fleet. The figure involved is now well over £8 million for arrears on loan repayments which, in itself, constitutes a major handicap and impediment to progressive development of the industry.

It would be in the interests of the Government and of BIM to ensure that the rescue package promised is implemented. The rescue package would have been implemented if the Minister and his officials had had their way and if the Department of Finance had not vetoed the worthwhile proposals which they had under consideration. These proposals now have been watered down due to financial curtailments so that they have become a meaningless formula which has been rejected by the IFO and by the fishermen. Both fishermen and boat owners are disillusioned. Loan repayments are mounting and BIM are unable [2416] to continue funding new ventures. The promise of a financial rescue package has only damaged the situation and created further difficulties.

Earlier this year by way of Private Members' Motions and parliamentary questions we raised the issue of the enlargement of the Community and the effect it would have here. The failure of the Government to secure, on the accession of Spain and Portugal, an agreement which would protect our fisheries in an enlarged Community was a major disappointment. It was evident from the progress of the talks that the Government were adopting a weak position in the negotiations. Several times we sought assurances from the Minister which would have protected our national fishery interest, but without success. It is clear that the final agreement negotiated spells immediate and imminent danger for the fishing industry. The arrest of so many Spanish trawlers for illegal fishing is only the first indication of what is to be expected when enlargement takes place on 1 January 1986. The size of the Spanish fleet, which represents 70 per cent of the entire Community fishing fleet, represents an immediate and dangerous threat to our fishing industry. The Government, by failing to secure an adequate transitional period, proper limits and controls over Spanish activities, have put the jobs of thousands in the fishing industry at risk. There is no indication from this Estimate that the Government are proposing new initiatives to ensure that controls are stepped up on illegal activities by foreign boats. I had expected that in this Estimate we would see new major expenditure on fishery protection services. I compliment the existing service for doing an excellent job, but it needs to be supplemented. The Minister should provide additional resources to meet the changing circumstances arising from enlargement of the Community and to meet this new threat which faces the Irish industry.

Concern has been expressed that the TAC for mackerel may be substantially reduced for 1986. In the whole area of [2417] TAC's and quotas the enlarged Community represents many difficulties for Ireland. A reduction in the TAC on mackerel will have a damaging effect on some of the Irish fishermen unless our percentage share of the TAC is substantially increased. I would urge the Minister to seek an immediate increase in our mackerel quotas bearing in mind the importance for our fleet and for our processors of the mackerel industry.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Who agreed the percentage?

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Adequate quotas in this species are essential for the future development of the fishing industry. The situation has changed dramatically since enlargement and the Minister is fully aware of it.

It is important to press the Commission to implement suspensions against the Dutch fishermen for blatantly exceeding catch limits especially in mackerel. Allegations have been made that Dutch fishermen have been taking more than double their mackerel quota with the full knowledge of their Government. The Minister should take action to prevent massive over-fishing and the Commission, under the articles of the Treaty, should take proceedings against the Netherlands for over-fishing. The total disregard for Community quotas which these member states are showing must be put to an end. The Minister should take immediate action to draw attention to the well-documented statements which have been made that the Netherlands and Dutch fishermen are massively over-fishing their quotas and are flagrantly violating the arrangements which have been negotiated by the Community. Unless action is taken there will not be a mackerel fishing possibility for any member state.

One of the weakest aspects of the Estimate is the small amount of financial support which is being provided for fishery harbour work in general and for structural development. In almost every part of the coastline there are demands for the improvement of landing and handling [2418] facilities. Many of the works which so urgently need to be done will never be done under the present system. It is not necessary to go over the various proposals and the urgency of them. I need only mention Rossaveal, Burtonport, Clogherhead, Carrigaholt in my own constituency and Kilmore Quay in the Minister of State's constituency, where many of these harbours are almost in danger of callapse. I would refer the Minister to the magnificent work done in Doolin where it was possible under a joint venture organised by Clare County Council to undertake a very major development.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  It was an excellent job initiated by myself when I raked out the files on Doolin Harbour before the Minister took office. It was well prepared and was examined fully by engineers sent there by me as Minister for Fisheries.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I did not interrupt the Minister or anybody else who was speaking. The information in relation to Doolin is clearcut and available to anybody who cares to go to the bother to find it.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The Deputy across the way should know precisely what happened to Doolin when I was Minister and the amount of activity that took place there. We sent engineers there in 1982 to examine it and to——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The major engineering inspections had been carried out there by officials of the Minister's Department. It was an excellent proposal carried out by Clare County Council — a joint venture initiated by me and for which I now claim the credit.

[2419]Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  You are in for trouble.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I would not have continued on that were it not for the fact that the Deputy came in a few minutes ago to try to interrupt what was a very orderly debate until she arrived.

In every area huge financial support is needed to tackle the infrastructural problems in the coastline areas and in the islands. This is where financial funding could be sought from the Regional Fund of the European Community for a scheme organised by the local authorities and supervised by the Department in conjunction with the council and with the Board of Works. All these bodies working together could undertake a major crash programme of repairs, reconstruction and the provision of adequate landing places.

I will not go into detail on all the aspects, as other speakers will cover them, but I will refer to inland fisheries. Inland fisheries are at a critical turning point. Unless the Central Board and the regional boards are given support soon, poachers and illegal fishermen will take over in every area and the good work that has been done in the past will have been in vain. Already senior personnel in the inland fisheries services are admitting openly that the battle against the poacher is being lost. Almost every day we hear of violent attacks on fishery officers, protection boats being rammed, slash hooks and concrete blocks being used against waterkeepers, widespread illegal activities and numerous other incidents of harassment and intimidation of fishery protection staff. In some cases, due to the lack of facilities and back-up support, officers have been put at risk. Is it any wonder that waterkeepers and fishery protection officers are disillustioned and frustrated at present and are endeavouring desperately to keep up the fight against all the odds? I have never seen the situation in relation to poaching and illegal activities so bad previously. The Minister must give assurances that fishery officers will be protected and that those who interfere with them in the course of [2420] their duties will be dealt with severely. No waterkeeper or member of fishery boat staff will undertake protection work and the whole system will break down unless these assurances and this support are given to the fishery protection staff.

The carry on off the west coast and particularly off the west coast of Clare over the past few weeks since the salmon run began is almost unbelievable. The Shannon catchment, which is the backbone of the salmon industry, has been devastated. Huge nets have virtually blocked the mouth of the Shannon estuary since the salmon run began. Not only has the stock been damaged but the small inshore salmon fishermen have had their livelihood almost wiped out. You can speak to traditional salmon fishermen who have been involved in salmon driftnetting along the Shannon estuary in Kilrush, in west Clare, in Kerry and right up to Limerick city, in Clarecastle, and any one of them will tell you now that their livelihood has been wiped out, that their industry is being put in jeopardy, that the stocks are in danger of being wiped out by the illegal activities of a few irresponsible and reckless people whom I would not describe as fishermen and who are flagrantly violating the laws and regulations in the mouth of the Shannon. This situation must be controlled.

I was appalled to watch on television the vice-chairman of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board making statements to the effect that he had been waiting for weeks and weeks for sanction from the Department of Fisheries and Forestry to undertake the purchase of a vessel which he claimed would be adequate to deal with the situation and which would help to solve part of the problem there. This is deplorable and I am not satisfied with the Minister's reply this afternoon to the allegations made by the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board. They are a responsible board who have stood up to intimidation since their establishment. In the interests of conservation since the salmon netting controls came into operation they failed to issue either authorisations or licences on the mouth of the Shannon or on the Clare coastline [2421] because they believed it vital and essential to keep the mouth of the Shannon and the Clare coast free to allow the escapement of salmon into the Shannon catchment. It is depressing for the genuine, traditional salmon fishermen of Clarecastle, Kilrush and everywhere along the Shannon estuary and around the coastline — because their livelihood is affected also — to see the vice-chairman of a responsible body like the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board blaming the Minister and the Department for failing to provide them with the few pounds necessary to help restore law and order where law and order is breaking down at such a pace that they will not be able to control the situation unless something is done about it soon.

The situation is so much out of control there now that boats are coming from various areas with no authority whatever to fish in that area which is under the jurisdiction of the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board. The board issue two or three licences there and the licensees are responsible people who comply with the law, the by-laws, controls and so on. The people I have referred to are not only interfering with the livelihood of the two or three properly licensed people there but are damaging the prospect of Shannon salmon stocks being replenished. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue any longer.

One way in which the situation might well be dealt with on the Clare coastline would be to licence a number of genuine Clare fishermen who have sought licences for a number of years since the controls came in in 1963 or whenever they were introduced. A number of fishermen along the Clare coast who are deprived of licences genuinely feel that they are entitled to fish there. They are traditional fishermen who have been involved in fishing activity all their lives. That is why when I was Minister I made an order to give power to the Shannon Fisheries Board to issue eight licences along the coastline there. It was done as a conservation measure, so to speak, because it was licensing genuine traditional fishermen and giving them authority to fish in an area which is being [2422] raped now by people who have no leave or licence whatsoever to be there and who are flagrantly breaking the law. I believe that if seven or eight traditional fishermen along there were licensed they would be a protection service on their own. They would act responsibly and ensure that nobody else acted irresponsibly. It is unfortunate that the fisheries board at the time did not see fit to issue those licences. I appeal to the Minister now to use his good offices with the fisheries board to make them aware that it is in the interest of conservation to issue the licences where the order is there to issue those seven or eight licences.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I do not interfere with the regional boards, and the Deputy should know better than to suggest that.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The Minister has made an order which entitled the fisheries board to issue licences. In my opinion, once that order is made and applications are tendered the board have a legal obligation to issue them.

As I am referring to that issue I might as well raise another one which has developed recently in relation to certain boards refusing licences. I refer to eel live fishing licences. The Department have issued authorisations for eel fishing operations in various board areas. The boards have set themselves up as an authority to determine that even though the Minister issues an authorisation to fishermen to fish for eels they will not issue them with a licence. The boards are not acting properly in that way, and the Minister has an obligation as Minister to point out to the boards that they are not complying with the legal situation as I know it and as I think he knows it. The same applies to eel net licences as to salmon net licences, and where the Minister has made an order empowering the board to issue licences and people apply, the board has a legal obligation to respond to those applications and to issue those licences. Boards without any authority are refusing to issue licences. I do not think that they [2423] have the authority to refuse to issue them.

Let me refer to the delays and the frustration caused to many genuine applicants for aquaculture and fish farming licences. I do not want to go into this in detail because I am sure there is a genuine reason why the Minister is not speeding up the issue of those authorisations, but I have received some complaints from people who have been waiting a long time for authorisations to develop oyster fisheries in particular and because of delays in designating the areas these developments cannot take place. These are important developments and research shows that there are opportunities for job creation and revenue generation, especially in isolated areas, but because of some bureaucratic nonsense licences and authorisations are not being issued and inquiries are not being held to determine who is entitled to acquaculture licences. I would ask the Minister to look into the matter immediately and see that the process is speeded up.

We see huge potential in the development of acquaculture and mariculture and I welcome the kind of initiative which has been taken in my constituency by the West Clare Co-operative who have undertaken the development of mussel and other fisheries in an ideal location at Carrigaholt. Some 38 agencies deal with the issue of a simple licence to engage in mariculture along the coastline. This type of bureaucracy is stifling the prospects of early development and of job creation in isolated coastal communities where prospects of any other type of employment are very remote.

The Central Fisheries Board and the regional boards have been doing excellent work within the limits of the financial resources available to them. The Minister has not come near to meeting their requirements in dealing with problems of pollution, poaching and various illegal activities. The boards are in the best possible position to deal with these problems but they are not being given adequate finance. Last year several boards had to abandon their meetings because they did [2424] not have sufficient funds. The Central Fisheries Board and their staff have done excellent work in stocking and restocking and controlling a difficult situation. I compliment the Central Fisheries Board and Kevin Linnane who has produced some excellent films on salmon and trout fisheries. I hope many people will get an opportunity to see these films and appreciate the work which can be done with proper management and investment in our inland fisheries. These films were shown quite recently in Leinster House and anyone who saw them must have been impressed not only as to the opportunities for job creation but also by the potential revenue which could accrue to the State through the proper development and exploitation of our salmon and trout fisheries.

I regret that the Forestry Estimate is totally inadequate to deal with the crisis in the Irish timber industry. This industry is poised for major expansion and offers fairly significant economic potential to the nation. The contribution which the development of the timber industry can make in higher direct financial returns to the State, in greater employment in both the harvesting and processing of timber and in the potential level of import substitution indicates the necessity for new policies and strategies. Under this Government the planting programme is in decline and is not reaching the stated objectives. We need a revitalised, vigorous new forestry policy which would make this country self-sufficient in timber. It would stimulate economic growth and make the optimum use of marginal land, much of which is not producing anything at present. It would distribute income more evenly since much of this marginal land is in isolated areas where activity could be stimulated. It would improve our balance of payments since timber imports are in the region of £1,000 million. It would create new wealth and form the basis of further industrialisation. It would save us foreign exchange and earn valuable foreign currency. It would also improve tourism and enhance our research projects. It would create new jobs and spread those jobs [2425] into areas where they are most needed, thus creating a more healthy economic environment. Instead the whole State planting programme is in decline. Is it any wonder that the Irish forests have been described as uncontrolled jungles? These are not my words but ones which have been widely spoken by people who are familiar with the business and who say that because of the shortage of staff within the Department and the failure to carry out the necessary thinning there are trees which have been knocked down by gales during the last few years which have not yet been cleared away, thus impeding the development of the forests. This cannot be allowed to continue.

There is also a need to consider the establishment of a commercially oriented body to exploit fully in the marketing area the huge potential of our forests. We must continue to press ahead with private afforestation and encourage as many people as possible to utilise the western package. To date it has been totally under-utilised. Substantial grants are available from the Community to private individuals for the development of forestry. The Minister and the Minister of State were on the right lines when it was suggested that there was a need for a new leasing policy which would involve some joint venture arrangement between the Department and private individuals interested in investing in forestry. We understood this new arrangement was to be put before the Cabinet and we felt it would attract more people into forestry development and utilise State and private resources in a joint operation aimed at our becoming self-sufficient in timber. Perhaps the Minister will give some indication that he is in a position to press ahead with that proposal.

I welcome the investigation the Minister has set in train to find means of supplying the major users of small sawlog. I would ask him also to examine the position of the small mill owners who are now in some difficulties. I spoke to one mill to day which is finding it extremely difficult to get small sawlogs because the lots which are on offer are too large. The Minister might find a way to support these [2426] small mill owners who are finding it difficult to continue operating.

I welcome the very valuable report issued by the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. This is an excellent document covering every aspect of timber policy which sets out quite clearly the existing potential and the need for initiatives such as a European policy for the development of the timber industry.

It spells out very clearly the views of people involved in the industry and an official of the Minister's Department carefully analyses the situation and clearly sets out the way in which the development and exploitation of our timber resources can be utilised over the next couple of years. Perhaps we will get an opportunity to debate this very valuable and useful report before the end of the year.

I should like to compliment the Forestry and Wildlife Service for their excellent work in developing amenities in forestry areas throughout the country. There are now in the region of 400 amenities and about two million visitors come every year. We must compliment the staff for the magnificent work which they are doing in this area. It will be even more important in the future and more diligence will be required to avoid the difficulties which have arisen in most member states where acid rain and other problems are creating major hazards for forestry. I urge the Forestry and Wildlife Service to be vigilant in ensuring that we have a continuation of the magnificent developments which have taken place in the amenities already provided. However, we have been appalled to see the huge increase in the number of forest fires during the year and I am sure the Minister agrees that the damage done by fires to forestry development and amenities is very great. We must encourage anybody who has any responsibility in this area to put an end to this menace.

I should like to hear the Minister's views in relation to game stocks. Representations were made to me recently in relation to the Greenland white-fronted goose. As the Minister is aware, when I [2427] was Minister we imposed a ban on the shooting of this goose because of the risk to the species and the danger of wiping out stocks. I know that surveys have been undertaken regarding the white-fronted goose and perhaps the situation in regard to stock now warrants having another look at the ban to see if there is a need to maintain it any longer.

I am glad that this is the International Year of the Forest and I also encourage the Minister to press ahead with the Trees for Ireland project which was initiated by Deputy Haughey when he was Taoiseach. In 1982 when he was in the United States he took a major initiative in encouraging people in the United States to plant trees here. I know the Minister followed up that scheme and I should like to hear how it is progressing.

We are disappointed with the Estimate because, although there is a need for major investment, initiatives and incentives which would encourage the development of fisheries and forestry resources, we are not getting them in the Estimates and, accordingly, we will oppose them.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  I welcome the Estimate and, unlike Deputy Daly, I am not as frightened as he appears to be. Some of his remarks on the Estimate surprised me, especially when one looks at the record of Fianna Fáil in office in relation to forestry and fisheries.

In relation to forestry, I should like to remind Deputy Daly of the proposals in The Way Forward in 1982 which stated that there would be a planting target of 7,500 hectares per annum. That was the first reversal of forestry policy here since 1880. If you look at the figures for the amount of land acquired from 1977 to 1981 you will see a steady decline from year to year. In 1977,8,178 hectares were acquired; the figure steadily declined and by 1981 it was down to 5,561 hectares. Those figures speak for themselves. Any statements to the contrary mean nothing, because action in office speaks louder than words in opposition. While I disagree with most of what Deputy Daly said, there are points with which I am in agreement——

[2428]Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  The people in the Deputy's electoral area seem to disagree with her policies.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  No, they did not disagree and they supported us extremely well. It was one of the few areas in the country where Fianna Fáil failed to gain a council seat. They lost a seat on Kilrush Urban District Council.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  The Deputy should get back to the Bill and forget about seats.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Deputy Daly spoke particularly about fishing and the industry in general. I agree with him in his comments regarding fishery protection. We must look at the problem which exists on the Shannon Estuary and right across the Clare coast. I agree with everything he said on that issue. I am most disappointed that concrete action has not been taken by now. I made representations months ago to the Department of Fisheries asking them to provide money to the Shannon Fishery Board to purchase a boat which would alleviate the serious problems at the mouth of the Shannon and the Clare coast. The fishermen on the Shannon Estuary have been deprived of their livelihood this year. Some of them have not caught any salmon and I know of another who has caught only two salmon so far this year. The Minister will have to seriously examine the licensing system on the Shannon Estuary and the charges for those fishing on the Shannon. Every weekend there are miles and miles of monofilament net which is catching the gear of small fishermen. Not alone are the small fishermen not catching anything but their gear is also being hauled off. The Minister should take account of that and act on it urgently. I wholeheartedly endorse what Deputy Daly said on that matter. I hope that the Department will act on the situation immediately and that we will have action by the weekend.

In relation to harbour development, Clare has not been as fortunate as other counties. A major disaster had to take place in Doolin before we got action. I [2429] should like to compliment the Departments of Fisheries and Forestry and the Environment and Clare County Council on the tremendous work carried out at Doolin. I should like to appeal to the Department of Fisheries to seriously examine the position in Carrigaholt. In the course of his speech the Minister told us that an examination was carried out on the pier there. That is fine, but we do not want examinations, White Papers or reports. We have had too many of them for too long. We want action. I am sure the Department, having considered this matter, will act a little quicker than they have to date.

I have a funny feeling that the Department of Fisheries work at a snail's pace. From my experience as a public representative I wonder what speed the Department work at. They should get out of first gear fast. We must view our fishing industry as one with tremendous potential. It has an opportunity for great development. The Department and the industry have been in the same old rut for the last 12 years operating the same system and literally falling into the same line of action. Nothing new has happened. There has not been a radical change although we joined the EC. We have not expanded in the way we should have in recent years. We must look at this urgently, realising that many of our young people are unemployed. We must bear in mind that we have a fine natural resource that has not been properly tapped. There is a duty on us, and on the Department, to act urgently and exploit that natural resource.

Many things need to be done. Harbours need to be updated and facilities at them improved. Training courses must be implemented fast and a lot of the bureaucracy in the Department eliminated. At present we are being choked by bureaucracy. I should like to refer to a co-operative proposal in my constituency to establish a fish farm where the people involved might as well be trying to get gold dust as to get a licence to proceed with a small fish farm outside Carrigaholt. [2430] The amount of bureaucracy involved in granting permission to a co-operative to start a small mussel farm off Carrigaholt is laughable. It is more than two and a half years since the co-op sought a licence and they are as far ahead today as they were when they put in their original application. It is a fiasco.

We are operating within a system that commenced 60 years ago and has not changed with the times. There is an onus on us to change fast. In isolated areas like west Clare and West Cork, or in the west of Ireland, if action is not taken on these issues there will not be any hope for the young people. Outside of getting involved in agriculture they cannot hope for employment except within the fishing industry. I hope there will be a new sense of purpose in the Department. It would exist if there was a proper push. I do not know if that will mean that all civil servants in the Department of Fisheries will have to be switched to another Department. That is something the internal administration will have to examine. Suffice it to say that there is a need for urgent action.

Forestry is another area where there is tremendous potential but somehow we are stifled by bureaucracy. Over the last 30 or 40 years the forestry division has done a fine job but at this stage it may have outlived its usefulness. At this stage should we be looking for something other than a forestry division? I suggest that the Government seriously consider setting up a forestry authority. Government Departments are run by civil servants who carry out policies that have been part of the system for decades. Things operate in an organised manner and fall into certain rules and regulations, but the Civil Service lacks a business management approach for a major industry. Forestry is a major industry that must be managed by business people or people other than civil servants.

My suggestion of establishing a forestry authority may sound radical and be unacceptable, but we must consider what will happen if our young people do not get employment at home. Are we to continue [2431] to entice foreign firms to establish electronic or computer industries? Why do we not develop our natural resources to the full and then go elsewhere? There is a need for a radical examination of our approach towards industrial policy.

A new forestry authority could create a lot of employment here. We must remember that we have the least amount of acreage under afforestation of any member state of the EC. That should be examined. It is accepted that there is a serious problem in regard to timber imports in the Community. There is a great potential for timber exports and we should be taking radical steps now to ensure we make the maximum use of our land, particularly the poor land that is suitable for afforestation.

I should like to refer to the problem of land acquisition and what follows from it. In my dealings with the Department I have come to the conclusion that land acquisition is ridiculous. It is ludicrous that a person who signs a contract with the Department for the sale of his or her land is not paid for it four or five years later. I am aware of many such cases. I accept that the forestry division is not entirely responsible for the delays and that a number of other Departments are involved. I accept that legal factors can mean a long delay. When the person eventually gets the money, it has reduced in value so much that he no longer finds it attractive to sell land to the Department. I ask the Minister to seriously examine the present system of land acquisition and ensure that, from the initial signing of a contract of sale, at most only a year elapses before the person is paid for his property. The approach adopted by the Department up to now has not encouraged people to sell to the Department and the bureaucracy involved has encouraged people to sell elsewhere.

There is great potential in this area which we are not exploiting to the full. We should seriously consider scrapping the Department of Forestry and setting up a forestry authority. That might be a radical move but it should be seriously [2432] considered given the enormous work which needs to be done. The civil servants have done their job but there is need for a major change in the approach which had been adopted in the past.

The Estimate for the Department of Forestry is welcome but there are areas where I hoped more finance would have been made available. I recognise the constraints under which the Minister has to operate but I believe that given the constraints imposed on him he has done a very good job giving a fair proportion of the finance to the areas which need it.

I want to impress on the Department of Fisheries the very serious position that exists in relation to fisheries protection on the Shannon Estuary and the west Clare coast. Urgent action needs to be taken and I hope that before this Dáil meets next Tuesday the Department of Fisheries will have taken corrective action on the Shannon.

Mr. Faulkner: Information on Padraig Faulkner  Zoom on Padraig Faulkner  I am deeply concerned about the lack of progress being made in respect of the development of Clogherhead Harbour in my constituency. The fishermen have every reason to be despondent about this matter and can be forgiven for believing that nothing of consequence will be done in respect of this harbour for a long time to come and that the promises made to them will not be fulfilled.

I have personal knowledge of Clogherhead. I began my teaching career there when only a few small boats fished out of that harbour. Clogherhead is now one of the most important fishery harbours in the country. I have no doubt that if the survey on the development of fishery harbours, which took place some years ago and which designated particular harbours for major development, had taken place in recent times, Clogherhead would have been one of those designated harbours and badly needed development would have taken place long ago. This is one of the fastest growing fishery areas in the country. More fishing boats can be found there than in some of the designated ports on which very large sums of money were spent.

[2433] The harbour is in a chronically bad condition. If one were to stand at the centre of the pier in rough winter weather the swaying of the pier is such that one could be forgiven for expecting it to break in two at any moment. The condition of the pier is only one part of the problem. Safe berthing for the Clogherhead fishing fleet is another. A few months ago during a storm the pier was particularly badly damaged; in fact, it was nearly swept away. It is undermined at the front and at the back. I dread to think what will happen to that pier next winter. I understand that only minor repairs will be carried out by the county council.

There are 29 fishing boats in the Clogherhead fleet and the dock can take 13 boats. If the weather is bad there is no safety at the pier and the reminder of the boats must dock at a number of other places — at Mornington and Howth. Apart from the problems arising at these places it should be obvious that this type of situation provides a very poor base for the development of fisheries at Clogherhead, which is a traditional fishing area. The jetty at Mornington is privately owned and is for sale. It was attached to a fishmeal factory which is no longer in operation and should the factory and jetty be sold to a private concern, the jetty will no longer be available to the Clogherhead fishermen. This would be a calamity because they have nowhere else to go and certainly no other place which is as convenient to home.

I suggested some time ago that the Department should purchase the jetty and develop it to provide proper berthing facilities but the Minister said the Department were not interested and did not propose to purchase it. I ask him to reconsider that decision because I believe that with the full and proper development of Clogherhead Harbour, and with proper facilities provided at the jetty in Mornington, we would have an excellent base in the area for the further expansion of fishing facilities. This would not only help the fishing industry but would help the recovery of the economy generally.

A number of Clogherhead boats tie up at the Drogheda Port. At this stage I [2434] should express my appreciation of the consideration shown by the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners for not only facilitating the Clogherhead fishermen but also for their help and co-operation in including the needs of these fishermen in their plans for their development of the Drogheda port until such time as proper facilities are made available in Clogherhead. At Drogheda however there are considerable problems for the Clogherhead fishermen who are tying up there. They must keep men aboard the trawlers over the week-end because the trawlers must be moved each time a ship enters or leaves the port of Drogheda. The fact that the Clogherhead fleet cannot berth at Clogherhead is most unsatisfactory and is unacceptable. The work to develop the harbour must proceed forthwith.

A survey was cared out by University College Cork on the development of the Clogherhead Harbour. The reply given to every Dáil question about the development of the Clogherhead Harbour was that the work could not proceed until such time as this report was received by the Office of Public Works and then studied by the Department of Fisheries and Forestry and Louth County Council. This report was made available a considerable time ago. When I made further inquiries I was informed that it had been sent to Louth County Council for their consideration and comments. I requested a copy of the report from both the Minister and the county council but I failed to get it from either source. I was informed that it was not usual to supply such reports until they were fully considered and decisions made on them. In this instance I am strongly of the opinion that this is a totally incorrect approach.

My purpose in requesting the report was so that the opinions of the people most concerned, the Clogherhead fishermen, could be ascertained. This is a ridiculous situation because if this report is adopted by the Minister in whole or in part, it will affect the future of the fishing industry in Clogherhead but the Clogherhead fishermen, who are the experts, do not even know what is in the report and [2435] therefore will have no opportunity to contribute to the development of the harbour which will affect their future. It is not good enough to say that they will be consulted at a later date. They should be consulted now and I can assure the Minister that they have a lot to offer in this area. I have also been in touch with Louth County Council in the matter and they informed me that they have considered the report and have requested a meeting with the Department to discuss the project further. When I spoke to them, admittedly not recently, they had not as yet had the meeting. If such a meeting is not held, I hope that there will not be any hold-up on account of letters passing between the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, Louth County Council and the Office of Public Works.

The Clogherhead fishermen want immediate action. I recommend that the Minister set up a committee consisting of representatives of each of these three bodies, make the money available to get the work under way, tell the people to go ahead with the job and also give the Clogherhead fishermen an opportunity to have an input into the project. If this is done the end of the Clogherhead development saga could be in sight, but if it is not done and time is taken up with futile letters passing between those concerned and with minor changes, we can only assume that the Minister and his Department are engaging in delaying tactics. Might I point out that by the time they come to a decision there might not be a pier left at Clogherhead. For the sake of fishery development in my constituency, I hope that this development, which is of national interest, will be the subject of immediate action.

I had intended appealing to the Minister to get the work started immediately. However, I have a feeling that such a request would be futile, in view of what he had to say about Clogherhead. I quote from his speech:

As well, provision has been made for [2436] further site investigations at Clogherhead, County Louth,...

Later on, he states:

Work on these projects will commence as soon as the necessary financial arrangements have been finalised.

All I can say to the Minister is that the fishermen of Clogherhead are sick, sore and tired of investigations. There have been investigations prior to the UCC report and then the UCC report which held up work on the development of the harbour for a very considerable period and now all the Minister is offering to these fishermen are further site investigations. As I said, the pier is in such a bad condition that it is possible if we have bad storms in the winter that there will be no pier left. The least I would have expected is that the Minister would have provided money in this Estimate to start work on the development of the harbour rather than simply stating that he is prepared to make financial arrangements for further site investigations. I urge him to reconsider this whole situation and to ask the Government immediately to make money available to start this work. It is not sufficient simply to have the county council carry out some repairs. I want to emphasise the extremely bad condition of the harbour.

Another matter which should be attended to immediately and to which I have already referred in this House, which would considerably help to improve the efficiency of the fishing fleet at Clogherhead, would be the provision of proper facilities to provide the fleet with ice. The ice plant which is now there is in a most unsuitable position and is much too small. To get ice to the trawlers, boxes of ice must be filled, loaded on lorries, taken down to the pier, unloaded there, lowered to the inside boat at the pier and then carried across sometimes as many as ten boats. In this day and age, that would hardly be regarded as a highly efficient service. One would only have to witness this exercise to recognise the dangers involved, apart from any other considerations.

[2437] I mentioned that the ice plant was too small. In fact there are occasions during the summer when boats have to put to sea without ice, which is very serious. If they are unable, either because there is not sufficient ice or for any other reason, to get ice to the boats, then the time spent fishing is severely curtailed, especially in summertime. It could be as short as one day's fishing before returning to port and this is both expensive and inefficient.

As I said previously in this House, I would suggest that the area west of the dock be examined with a view to developing it and installing a sufficiently large ice plant there. There is sufficient depth of water and boats could move in and get their consignment of ice without having to undergo the difficulties and dangers of the present outmoded method. More ice could be stored and the general efficiency of the fishing operation at Clogherhead would be considerably improved. I would suggest that this is one way in which the Minister could effectively assist the Clogherhead fishermen.

The place in the landings table occupied by Clogherhead has disimproved in recent years when the increase in the number of boats there should have shown the opposite trend. The reason for this is the deteriorating condition of the pier and the lack of safe berthage. This combination results in Clogherhead trawlers being forced to land their catches at other ports such as Howth, which is a designated major port although its fishing fleet has only a fraction of the number of trawlers from Clogherhead. The result is that other ports show higher landings in some instances because of landings made there by Clogherhead trawlers, while Clogherhead loses out through no fault of its own. I make this point simply to forestall any attempt which might be made to lower the status of the Clogherhead harbour on the basis of landings there.

On the fishing industry generally, if you were to ask any fisherman what were the major problems in that industry, he would say that the price of fish is a problem, allied to the cost of fuel. To [2438] the fisherman, the enormous difference between the price paid to him for his produce and that paid by the housewife for the same produce is inexplicable. The fishermen feel that the Department of Fisheries and Forestry should be concentrating on marketing, so that a better return will be available to the fishermen. For example, in respect of plaice some time ago the fisherman was getting a particular price per pound but the housewife was paying about eight times that price. Even though the fish were filleted when sold to the housewife, the difference in price was enormous.

The fisherman's costs are very high; he is highly taxed, oil being one of the major costs. There are commission and tariffs to the market to be paid and very many other expenses involved, such as repayments to Bord Iascaigh Mhara. It is quite clear that a very worthwhile income is needed to meet these expenses. The whole market system must be streamlined, in the interests both of the fishermen and the housewife. What I have said relates to the home market aspect of the business. If the Minister has any plans to set about improving the marketing of fish here, I should be glad if he would let me know in his reply what those plans are.

If this very important industry is to prosper, there are two major elements, apart from marketing at home, which must exercise our attention. First is the processing of fish here and, second, is the development of markets for our fish in other countries. I know that the Minister referred to this matter. Much more can be done to develop our processing industry and our markets abroad.

Far too few of our fish catches are processed at home and very many jobs are being lost because of a lack of real effort to develop the fish processing business. Large quantities of our fish — cod, prawns and so on — are exported whole to Britain and processed there. Therefore, we lose much-needed jobs here and our fishermen lose out, in that better prices would be obtainable here if processing were developed and if we were not putting all our fish into one basket, as it were. We send some of our fish to [2439] countries other than Britain but in much smaller amounts. Again, in the main they are sent in bulk to these countries and processed abroad.

There is an urgent need to have this whole matter of processing fish at home examined and efforts made to establish it on a firm footing. I am not going to pretend it will be easy to overcome all the problems involved, but it must be done if we are to gain a full return from a great natural resource. It may well be that old attitudes deeply entrenched on all sides must be changed and very often such change can be painful. However, the long-term needs of the industry must be quickly identified and the problems tackled if the future of our fishermen is to be assured and the maximum number of jobs ashore related to the industry made available.

I should like to make reference to the interference by submarine traffic in the Irish Sea with fishing in the Clogherhead area. There have been a number of episodes in the Irish Sea which resulted some time ago in the feeling among fishermen in that area that it is becoming unsafe to fish there. One would have thought that the sinking of the sheralga and the admission of liability, albeit after a long period had elapsed, by the British Government would have meant an end to this type of interference in the Irish Sea. However, many incidents along the east coast have been reported since then culminating in the incident involving the trawler Oriel. This underlines the fact that the great powers are not in the least concerned about the safety or livelihood of Irish fishermen.

With regard to the loss of the Sheralga, the British Government have accepted that one of their submarines, the Porpoise, was responsible for the sinking of the trawler. This admission had to be extracted from the British Government. Quite obviously they were unwilling to accept responsibility, but because of the certain known movements and future movements of the submarine they had little option but to accept that their submarine was involved. However, since then my information is that the owner of [2440] the trawler has failed to get a reasonable compensation agreement with the British Government, with the result that he has been without his boat and without compensation since the boat was sunk some years ago. As I understand the position of the trawler owner, he has been offered a sum of money in compensation for the loss of his boat and for loss of earnings which is far less than the cost of replacing the vessel. In fact, it is only a fraction of the cost of replacing the vessel. I feel very strongly this is not acceptable.

The British submarine was responsible for the loss of the boat. The trawler owner and crew were pursuing their lawful business of fishing when the accident occured. Had the accident not occurred they would have been fishing during the whole period since then and they would continue to fish in the Sheralga for many years to come, earning their living as they were entitled to do. It is nonsense to suggest that a sum of money which is a long way from being sufficient to replace the boat should be offered. How is it expected that the skipper and his crew will be able to continue to earn their living at sea in these circumstances? The trawler owner, his relatives and his crew have suffered financially and the stress and strain they have endured have been exceptional. This matter arose a long time ago and it should have been settled a long time ago.

There are two points I should like to make here. First, the Government should put pressure on the British Government to ensure that the trawler owner is given proper compensation and enabled to return to sea with his crew. The second point is this: the Irish Government are aware of the fact that a British submarine sank the Sheralga. Will the Minister inform me of what action the Government took in response to this matter and will he say what has been the response of the British Government? The action taken by the Irish Government and the response of the British Government could be the base from which a thorough examination of the entire problem could be made.

[2441] Recently I was in touch with the Minister for Foreign Affairs with regard to the matter. Incidentally, when I asked what the Minister had done I was referring to the Minister for Fisheries and Forestry. In reply to my query the Minister said the Department had been in regular contact with the British authorities concerning the question of compensation to the owner of the trawler and that they had emphasised their interest in a speedy and satisfactory settlement of the case. While I appreciate what has been done, I say that all of us must increase our efforts in respect of this matter. The family in question are a small family who are endeavouring to get their rights from a large nation, without success to date. Through our Government, and in any other way possible, we must exert all the pressure we can to ensure that the family get what they are justly entitled to get.

Clogherhead is in my constituency and is, therefore, a Border constituency. I am interested to know how much of the cross-Border money allocated by the EC for cross-Border purposes is being made available for the development of Clogherhead harbour and for the development of fishing facilities in County Louth, whether sea fisheries or inland fisheries. There are few better ways in which the money could be spent than on our fisheries. In the first instance it would put fishing at sea on a sounder basis and would be of considerable help in tourism development if applied to improving inland fisheries.

I am aware that the Minister has not got direct responsibility for the prevention of pollution in rivers and in the sea. However, he referred to the matter in his speech and, as he has responsibility for the development of the fishing industry generally, I am sure he takes particular note of the problems arising from pollution and the serious damage caused to our fish stocks.

There are rivers in my constituency that once abounded with salmon, as did the seas contiguous to these rivers, but in recent years very few salmon have been caught there. This is an immeasurable [2442] loss to the fishermen in these areas who made a living out of salmon fishing and it has damaged a once prosperous tourist trade. A major problem is not alone to find out who is causing the pollution but also to find out who is responsible for containing and eradicating it. When one tries to have the matter investigated one tends to be sent from one authority to another. We should try to place the responsibility on one authority, whether State or local, and have them follow up the matter as one of urgency. The damage being done to our fisheries by pollution is incalculable and cannot be tolerated.

In this speech the Minister said:

I am also pleased to say that my Department, again with assistance from the EC Regional Fund, is actively considering the establishment of a long distance walk in the Cooley peninsula. It is envisaged that this walk will link up with the “Ulster Way” and eventually with the “All-Ireland Way”. It is proposed to include an interpretative centre in the Carlingford district as a feature of the project.

I am very pleased that this work will be done in the Cooley peninsula. It is one of the most beautiful districts in the country. It is famed for its natural beauty and history. I am glad to see that this money is being spent. From the point of view of tourism it will be well spent. I have always been interested in promoting that area. When I was Minister for Tourism the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Bord Fáilte issued a booklet From the Mournes to the Boyne which has been helpful to tourists. It is vital that the Minister ask the Government to provide money and start work immediately on the development of Clogherhead harbour.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell  Zoom on Michael Bell  I join with Deputy Faulkner in relation to his remarks about Sheralga. We received many representations on this matter, as I am sure every Deputy in the constituency did. It is very frustrating trying to deal with this matter. The Department of Foreign Affairs are not [2443] making the effort to assist in solving this problem. It is not possible for a trawler owner to negotiate with the British Government or the Department concerned. It would require a much more high-powered effort on the part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Minister's Department.

The family have suffered a lot of frustration as a result of this incident. I am very familiar with the subject and would make a special plea to the Minister to set a light under whoever is dealing with this matter. It should not take this length of time to resolve such a problem. If it takes so long to negotiate the value of the boat and the amount of compensation for loss of earnings, how long will it take to solve the problems of Northern Ireland?

I join with Deputy Faulkner in asking the Minister to use his good offices to have this matter finally resolved. I understand that the offer originally made was ridiculous by any standards. It will require the good offices of the senior officers of the Department to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

I agree with many of the sentiments expressed by Deputy Faulkner, but I must clarify some of the points he made. I have been a member of Louth County Council and from the first time I took office I have been involved in a number of meetings with fishermen from Clogherhead. There were many promises made by successive Governments. I would remind the Deputy that his party were in Government for the majority of the time that the problem with the pier was under consideration and that he was a member of a number of those Governments. That is not to cast any aspersions on him, but I would not want to create the impression in the House or in the Drogheda Independent or the Dundalk Argus that all the problems in Clogherhead arose since November 1982. They were promised 20 piers before November 1982 and many of those promises were made by Ministers representing Fianna Fáil Governments. Deputy Faulkner was a senior member of Fianna Fáil Governments for 15 years. While I might disagree with the manner [2444] in which this matter has been handled by the Department, I do not want the Minister of the day to carry responsibility for what is a deplorable situation in Clogherhead.

Every Minister has visited Clogherhead for the last 20 years since the cracks on the pier began to appear. If we put everyone together we would be able to build a pier from Clogherhead to Carlingford Lough. That is not counting officials who have visited the pier or the Deputies or candidates seeking election. Every local and general election in that area has been fought on the issue of the pier at Clogherhead.

The Department of Fisheries, OPW and Louth County Council are all dealing with the matter. There are a number of consultants, engineers and so on. The hydraulic testing took a substantial period of time. The matter went through the Department of Fisheries, OPW Louth County Council and then back to the Department. I was going around in circles trying to follow up the matter. We would need the submarine the Deputy spoke about to keep track of the issue. Even at this stage we are not too clear what the situation is.

The Minister referred to this matter in his speech. I should like him to clarify what he means. I have been trying to have a meeting with the officials of Louth County Council or the officials of whatever Department is responsible for making a decision and I have failed to do so. I could not get a copy of the report.

The fishermen will have an input to make concerning the form the pier will take. At present there is a big “Danger” sign on the pier. One cannot drive a car down it and we are afraid that someone will fall into the holes in the pier. During the recent storms the front part of the pier fell into the sea and the boats could not dock. As has rightly been said, were it not for the fact that the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners and those in Howth co-operated fully, the fishermen would have had to dock their boats in Clogherhead village. This matter is not being treated seriously. It is one of the most important fleets in the country. In [2445] a reply to a question I asked, the Minister said he was treating the matter as one of priority. I do not doubt that, but as a Deputy from the area it would not appear to me as if the people who are advising the Minister are treating it with priority.

I urge the Minister to give a positive commitment in that regard in addition to what is contained in his speech. The men have to cope with that problem in addition to coping with the deplorable situation in the industry. I suppose if I were in Opposition I would be making the same sort of case as the people opposite are making but we must put this matter into proper prospective. The problems of the fishing industry did not begin after November 1982. They were there before then. Fuel costs represent about 70 per cent of the cost of maintaining a boat. I can only speak for the Clogherhead area and I am aware that fishermen in that area are in substantial arrears of payment. I have here a document from BIM concerning the owner of one boat who is substantially in arrears. These arrears resulted from his boat having been out of action for between six and nine months. During that time the owner was trying to negotiate money to have the engine replaced, so he was not able to engage in any fishing for that period with the result that the payments were mounting. When he was able to return to fishing he was so much in the red that he would have needed to be earning about £150,000 per year to come to terms with the arrears and with the current payments. Therefore, I consider the submission from the IFO to be reasonable and the Minister should consider that submission in relation to this factor.

In their recent report the IFO, dealing with this subject, say:

The answer is that fishermen will think what they have long thought — that they will have to continue operating from inadequate (indeed, frequently primitive) harbours, with the dearest boats in Europe. Consider, for example, the financial package available to French fishermen of 5½% interest repayable over 8 years with the [2446] murderous repayments Irish vessels have to meet — frequently as high as 19/20%. Consider also the huge difference in the price of fuel (subsidised) against the dearest fuel in Europe. And consider the level of mainland Continental fish prices against Irish prices when transport costs are taken into account.

That is a fair case. In places such as Clogherhead, Howth and so on, where there is much unemployment, there is great opportunity for increasing employment but this would involve the implementation of an overall national and constructive policy.

In the report of the sectoral development committee there are set down a number of very interesting points. We might compare that report with the recommendations of the IFO. There is very little difference in emphasis. The SDC report was produced in October 1984 but all these months later there is no sign of either a White Paper or a Green Paper or of whatever kind of paper the Government intend introducing in this regard. At a time when unemployment is at such a high level, fishing is one of the few industries in which employment can be increased. It is one of the areas of Government into which the least amount of money is invested. In many cases the boats are too small. The fishermen at Clogherhead, for example, find it necessary to take their boats from there to the Aran Islands to fish off the coast there. This involves a huge cost in respect of fuel alone and there is also the human factor whereby these men must leave their families on a Sunday and travel all the way by sea to the Aran Islands in boats that are too small for fishing in the Clogherhead area. These men fish for prawn. Our priorities are all wrong. It would cost a good deal less to provide more employment in the fishing industry than it would cost to provide, for instance, a £6 million factory in Drogheda. That factory has been idle for two years and two others have been provided since perhaps at a total value of about £10 million. Apart from a few security guards and [2447] a few alsatian dogs, these premises are unoccupied. There are more people employed at Clogherhead than are employed in a number of major factories established in the area in recent years. We could double the number of people employed in fish processing if only our priorities were right. It is impossible to extract a simple decision in relation to a harbour. Because of the lack of a proper harbour the fishermen of Clogherhead cannot have an ice plant and this again puts them to additional cost and inconvenience.

There seems to be no clear indication that anyone cares about the fishing industry. The only people who have made money out of the industry in the area I come from are solicitors or accountants. Boatowners who go from the area to Galway are lucky if they can pay £100 each to the men after they have fished all week. Can anyone think of any group of workers in industry who would be prepared to work seven days per week in the type of conditions in which these fishermen work for £100 each? They would be better off if the boat owners allowed BIM take back the boats and sell them or do whatever they wished with them. The men could then sign on for the dole. At least they would be with their families all week instead of their families having to worry all the time as to whether the men would return safely from the Aran Islands and they would be getting as much money as if they were working.

We do not want any more ministerial visits to Clogherhead. We want positive replies from the Minister responsible for dealing with this subject. Perhaps I am being very parochial in this but I sought to speak on this Estimate because of a very strong sense of frustration about what is happening at Clogherhead. If we got a reasonable response from the Government not only would we be able to create jobs but we would also be able to develop the tourist industry. We are talking about one of the greatest tourist areas in the north-east, as I am sure the Ceann Comhairle will appreciate.

The whole situation was summed up [2448] very well in a letter to The Irish Times of Friday, 18 January 1985. This letter was from Mr. Michael J. Murphy, who is chairman of the Labour Party Fisheries Committee in Limerick and contains the following paragraph:

The prognosis is not good. There has been little recognition by successive Governments of the importance of fisheries. For example, while the IDA poured £2,800,000 into foreign enterprise between 1970 and 1980 the IDA investment in developing fish processing, in 1981 and 1982, was £1,466,387: BIM grant-aided processing facilities between January 1st, 1980 and May 31st, 1983 to the extent of £123,551.

The result of this level of investment is that it takes two Irish fishermen to produce one processing job while one EEC fisherman on average produces six processing jobs: a differential of 12 to 1. The bulk of our fish is, of course, exported unprocessed.

The Spanish have a fleet of 17,500 vessels, two-thirds of which fish away from home waters; the Irish have 3,000 vessels which fish almost exclusively around the Irish coast.

That there is still, despite the years of neglect, a significant development potential for Irish fisheries is beyond argument. The Spanish intention bears evidence of this, as do indeed the Dutch who are presently building huge beam trawlers to exploit the Irish Sea and six trawlers in excess of 200 feet for the Atlantic fishery.

That part of his letter to The Irish Times really summed up the position. It was by coincidence I happened to come across that letter. It was not because it was written by a member of my own party. If he was down in Clogherhead and made that statement I am sure all of the fishermen there, irrespective of their political allegiances, would agree with him.

I say to the Minister and his Minister of State that theirs is an area in which they can create jobs, saving from virtual extinction a very valuable, natural, Irish resource industry and develop it. But they can do so only if they convince their [2449] Cabinet colleagues of the need for more money for harbour development, to subsidise and help our fishermen through a very difficult time. If they do not do so the majority of our fishermen, certainly the majority of those in the area I represent, will not be in business in the very near future.

Mr. Hyland: Information on Liam Hyland  Zoom on Liam Hyland  I welcome this opportunity of contributing to the debate on the Estimates for the Department of Fisheries and Forestry. While recognising the potential and value of our fishing industry to our economy, I am neither expert nor sufficiently qualified to deal with that subject. Having listened to the debate I realise there are sufficient Deputies on both sides of the House who are well qualified to deal adequately with that aspect of the Estimate. I followed with interest the fishing exploits of Deputy Taylor-Quinn and the leisurely walk of Deputy Faulkner along the proposed new walk in the Cooley peninsula.

Fisheries and Forestry comprise rather strange bed fellows. To the extent that they both represent very important areas of economic development I feel strongly that they deserve greater parliamentary recognition and a much higher priority rating in terms of economic commitment on the part of the Government.

For the reasons I have stated I will confine my brief observations to dealing with the forestry aspect of the Minister's Estimates. I do not wish to spend my time condemning Government failure over the years to maximise opportunity for forest development except to say that part of our problem, particularly that in the sawmilling industry at present, arises from the fact that there are too many customers for the relatively limited output of our State forests. The present contracting arrangements in operation within the Department of Forestry in relation to the sale of the produce of our State forests leaves very much to be desired in terms of the efficient operation of the sawmilling industry. The immediate, obvious challenge confronting the Government and this House is whether [2450] at this time we make a commitment in the national interest to expanding and developing the timber industry so that future generations can benefit from the decisions we need to take.

I said I would not look back over our lack of commitment in the past except to say that we did not get our priorities right in terms of economic commitment and development. That aspect of the Estimate was referred to by Deputies on all sides of the House who spoke here this evening. I have always held the view that, for a country of our size and composition, our priority always should have been the development of our natural resources. Forestry, after agriculture, is one of the most important and obvious resources for development. I suggest that one of the reasons for our failure in this area is the absence of any kind of long term economic planning and a realisation that the return on investment in Forestry is relatively slow and would not give an economic return during the lifespan of any particular Government. I have expressed the view in the past in this House that there are certain areas of economic development requiring long term planning and investment and that these areas should not be subjected to the changes and variations in policies arising from changes in Governments which have taken place with such frequency in recent years. The House will readily recognise that forestry is such an area. I put it to the Minister that he and the Government should give serious thought to developing these important aspects at this time.

I am extremely disappointed to see no evidence of any trend in that direction in the Estimate before us this evening. It saddens me to observe that the Minister and the Government have ignored the opportunity of creating perhaps thousands of jobs were there an adequate and full commitment on their part to the development of forestry. We are living from hand to mouth, with no long term planning and no real vision. We talk much in this House about oil exploration and about attracting foreign industry. Yet we close our eyes to a natural resource awaiting development for years. [2451] We did the same with regard to the food processing industry. It is a shame on the part of everybody associated with economic planning that that kind of situation was allowed to develop. It is a shame on the part of the Minister and the Government, in a crisis employment situation, that they failed to recognise credible, productive areas of potential development where jobs could and can still be productively created. What kind of Government have we which pursue negative economic policies deliberately geared at creating unemployment, opting for a continuation of social welfare payments as distinct from creating opportunities to provide employment?

I said to the Minister today at Question Time that I know of no other area which has greater potential for job creation and which would give a good return to this nation. Every forester would readily admit that staffs are inadequate to deal with the appropriate maintenance of young forests which have been planted at great national expense. What is the sense in pursuing economic policies where one Department, the Department of Social Welfare, seems to have an unlimited reserve of money to pay out unemployment benefit to a large unemployed population, when at the same time areas of potential economic development which could provide employment are being ignored by the Government in their policies?

I pay tribute to the many very dedicated people in the forestry and wildlife sections of the Department who pioneered forestry development down through the years and who were responsible for giving us a base for the limited industry which we have today. I know that many of them, some now in retirement and some gone to their reward were men of vision who had their efforts frustrated by the heavy and cumbersome hand of the Civil Service. The evidence of that form of bureaucratic control lives on in the Department today and continues to restrict the development of the forestry industry. What is even more disappointing is the fact that the Government [2452] in Building on Reality, which is still the only economic development document available from the Government, failed to recognise the potential and to provide the necessary financial resources for the development of the forestry industry. The Estimate before us is confirmation of the Government's failure and lack of commitment in this area. In the final analysis Government policy and the allocation of resources necessary for promoting the industry is the only means by which it can be developed.

I call on the Minister and the Government to bring before the House a long term plan for the economic development of the forestry industry. I have no doubt that the House will give the necessary approval to any such plan and neither have I a doubt that future generations will benefit from such a commitment in terms of employment and economic development. It is important that the House recognise that Ireland has the lowest area of land under afforestation in the European Community. Six per cent of our land is under forestry compared with 20 per cent in the European Community. The productive capacity of Irish forests is one of the highest in Europe. Ireland has an average output in terms of cubic metres per hectare of 16 as compared with 11 in the UK, three in Scandinavia and a European average of two and a half. Surely those two instances are clear evidence and a clear indication that we have tremendous potential which we have failed to develop in the national interest. Surely no further evidence is needed of the potential capacity in the forestry industry and what it could be if there was any commitment to its development. Without doubt we have more favourable conditions for the production of timber than any of our partners in the EC, yet the Government and the Minister have failed to recognise that potential. Our economy has suffered and will continue to suffer unless there is a commitment to a long term uninterrupted development of our forests.

What plans has the Minister for the development of 3.3 million hectares of land which is marginal for agriculture but [2453] suitable for forestry? This aspect of national development must present one of the greatest challenges in terms of future economic development. It is nothing short of a disgrace that we have 3.3 million hectares of land which has potential for development, which could yield a worthwhile economic return and which could provide valuable and urgent employment yet even in this Estimate there is no commitment in relation to job creation in forestry in the short term or in relation to the long term development of forests. We cannot afford to leave such a large potentially productive resource underdeveloped. A priority development programme for forestry would prove to be a positive and sustainable base for job creation. I wish the Government and the Minister would recognise that potential.

I realise that there are other speakers and I do not have the amount of time I would wish but I will refer briefly to the processing side of the forestry industry. This area is in urgent need of attention if we are to avoid serious job losses in the industry. Through most of my contribution I have talked in terms of creating jobs but as far as the saw milling industry is concerned jobs are being placed at serious risk throughout the country. On an Adjournment debate here last week I referred to the threat to the future of 50 saw mill workers in Irish Forest Products in Mountrath who have been laid off for six weeks and whose future is seriously in doubt because of the present serious crisis in the saw milling industry. What is happening in Mountrath will happen in Abbeyleix Sawmills tomorrow and in all of the small processing and saw milling factories throughout the length and breadth of the country.

The Minister in consultation with the Minister for Industry and Energy who has responsibility for that aspect of economic development should make available to the saw milling industry, saw logs at a price which would enable them to keep in production and to retain their present employees at least. Something which is very obvious at present is the lack of co-ordination between Government Departments. Surely it would be better [2454] to make saw logs available at a realistic price to the saw milling industry than to have the saw mills lay off their workers and another arm of Government having to step in to pay those workers and compensate them by way of redundancy payments and unemployment payments. There should be a level of co-ordination and co-operation in the national interest between various Government Departments. In a time of crisis for the saw milling industry something should be done to protect the present employment which is under serious threat.

I do not want to take the time of other speakers who wish to contribute so I will conclude by appealing to the Minister and the Government to recognise the fact before it is too late that this major national industry is now under serious threat for a number of reasons. One reason which I did not refer to is the declining market for timber products here and that has arisen because this Government have undermined the construction industry which has always been a sector which utilised timber products. Because of the increased 10 per cent VAT rate on the construction industry this market has seriously diminished. Stocks are accumulating in saw mill yards throughout the country because the demand is no longer there as a direct result of Government policy in relation to the construction industry. It would be far better and more financially rewarding for the Government if instead of increasing the VAT rate to 10 per cent they left the saw milling industry in a competitive position instead of having in the near future to pay out through the Department of Social Welfare an increasing level of social welfare benefits to workers who have been forced into redundancy because of the recession in the construction industry and our failure to invest in and develop the forests.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  I have spoken in previous years about the state of our fisheries and particularly about salmon fishing. The salmon industry is at grave risk. I am not satisfied that all the actions necessary to maintain stocks of salmon are being [2455] taken. Extensive poaching is taking place off the Clare coast. Some years ago I asked the then Minister for Fisheries to arrange for protection vessels to visit the Shannon estuary on a frequent basis. This would help to protect our stock since the ESB hatchery station is at Parteen. The fish are not being allowed to get up the river because of the operations of licensed and unlicensed trawlers, some of which belong to national figures, people who are exploiting the sea and taking away the bread from poor inland fishermen along the tributaries of the Shannon. The salmon fishery stocks will be wiped out unless fishery protection vessels visit the area frequently.

Poaching is taking place not only along the Clare coast but also along the coasts of Mayo and Donegal. The law is being broken by unlicensed boats and we have seen fishermen blatantly and violently resisting the forces of law and order at sea. The Minister must take a stronger stand and if he succeeds in keeping the Shannon estuary clear of poachers, whatever few stragglers are let through the Donegal nets, at least we will have some fingerlings and some fish in the Parteen hatcheries to keep stocks going.

Recently mariculture has become an important enterprise. Salmon has been a major boost to this country. On the River Fergus there is a joint venture between a private company and local fishermen in an effort to improve stocks in the river. I do not see why voluntary bodies should invest money and spend their time minding growing fingerlings while the sea is being raped by wealthy people from Dublin, Kerry and Donegal. Why should we do that in County Clare? The Minister has a duty to see that the protection vessel comes to the Shannon estuary more often to protect the small rivers in North Kerry, Clare and Limerick. I deplore the violence used at sea when the protection vessel tried to arrest some poachers. Successive Governments have ignored the fact that there is illegal fishing. There is also inequity in relation to licences. There are even people who hold licences [2456] and auction them. It is not good enough to say, as Deputy Daly did, that the various fisheries boards are doing a good job in spite of limited funds. Certainly they do not prevent people from poaching and fishing illegally. I appeal to the Minister to use his good offices to stop the decline of the salmon industry.

The debate on the Estimates for Fisheries and Forestry usually ends up being rather dull and repetitive. Deputies on the Opposition side criticise the Minister of the day for not doing anything about fisheries and forestry. This Government have an opportunity to inject some new life and ideas into what have been failing industries. There is no reason why forestry should not be a thriving industry. The same applies in the case of fisheries. We lack a sense of direction. These industries have been seriously inhibited by their immediate association with a Department of State. The Government should consider the setting up of two semi-State companies, one to run fisheries and another to run forestry. They should get some new ideas and management into these two areas.

Deputy Hyland said it was a disgrace that the Government were not looking after forestry, but he ignored the fact that money must be found somewhere,. He does not seem to think there is any economic crisis. He does not seem to remember that this Government took over at a time of serious financial difficulty.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  Things are worse now. The Deputy's party started the rot with deficit budgeting.

Mr. Carey: Information on Donal Carey  Zoom on Donal Carey  We did not realise how bad the situation was until we came into office. When one inherits a ragbag one can do very little with it. Deputies opposite would want to put their heads together and see if they have a proper policy for fisheries and forestry. In 1982 we inherited a nice little dose down in Scarriff where they could not come to a proper agreement about supplies. That matter has been straightened out. Finsa are now in production but are not utilising the full amount of wood allocated by the [2457] Minister. This is indicative of decline in the building industry and loss of market share. There are better products on the market and competition is very stiff, some of it from abroad. We must improve the quality of our products.

The Minister and his Department should examine seriously the cost of handing over the Department's responsibilities to two semi-State bodies, somewhat like An Post and An Bord Telecom. These two bodies have been hugely successful. This kind of development would give an injection to what I believe to be two dull, uninteresting and slow moving sectors in the Department.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  I must express my disappointment and that of my party at the Estimate this year. We have no option but to oppose it. The Minister suggested that there was an increase of 13 per cent over the outturn on last year. I remind the House that the Estimate in the year 1982 was in the region of £18.782 million and in 1984 there was a decrease of some 2 per cent over that year. The increase in the Department of Forestry in real terms is a reduction also, being an increase of only some 4 per cent to bring it up to £49 million this year.

We must look at both fisheries and forestry and realise that we are dealing with renewable resources and that there should be a greater investment there. We can justify a greater investment dealing with a renewable resource at this time and in difficult times like this we do not need to be reminded that a quarter of a million people are unemployed, an increase of some 85,000 people since our Government left office. We must reduce this and we want to assist the Government in any way possible to reduce the rate of unemployment. The industries of fisheries and forestry, with a greater investment by the Government matched by an investment by private enterprise, would reduce, not by a great extent perhaps, the rate of unemployment particularly in regions where unemployment is high; along the western seaboard it is twice the national average.

[2458] The fishing industry is in severe difficulties. Indeed, it is almost paralysed due to the lack of interest and initiative by the present Government. Investment in the industry in real terms has been reduced year after year and it would appear that the Minister and the Minister of State are not making sufficient effort within their own Government to obtain further moneys for this industry. If they are, I fail to see where the money has been made available to an important industry like fishing that employs 13,000 people, most of them in areas where the rate of unemployment is almost twice the national average, on the western seaboard and the south-west coast. The value of our landings last year, as the Minister pointed out, was in the region of £55 million excluding salmon and exports of fish last year amounted to £85.7 million. That plays a part in ensuring a reduction in the deficit in the balance of payments, but I fail to see that the Government realise fully or appreciate this.

The industry is facing a challenge and we all must face this challenge if we are to overcome more easily the problems that confront us. We could have done it much more easily but for the recent agreement entered into when the terms of the Spanish accession were finalised. Our Government, our Minister for Foreign Affairs and our Minister for Fisheries and Forestry did not achieve for this country the best available deal at that time, but we must accept reality and we have to live with the fact that we have a ten year transitionary period and we must try to mix it with our European partners. However, we will not have much opportunity to mix it and to buy bigger boats because the Government say in Building on Reality that the development of the fishing industry must now be based on improved productivity rather than fleet expansion. If we are to mix it with the Spaniards and our other European partners we must expand our fleet and buy larger vessels of greater horsepower. Building on Reality prevents us from doing that from day one.

We must all agree with the conclusions [2459] of the sector development committee who refer to the modernisation and adaptation of the fleet, exploratory fishing, market research and marketing of our fish, the expansion of aquaculture, more secondary processing with which we must all agree, and I add to that the necessity to ensure that we have greater import substitution. To say the least, it is embarrassing to quote figures in relation to the tonnage of fish imported into this country. From 1978 to 1982 the tonnage increased from 7,400 to 31,000 tonnes and in value terms from £10.3 million to £25.5 million. The fish imported into this country is 41 per cent of the total domestic consumption. We must all strive to reverse this trend.

In addition to the problem with the Spaniards we must refer to the serious problem of the high operating cost of boats, low fish prices and the other general recessionary pressures that have caused serious financial difficulties for the industry. While we agree on the conclusion of the SDC, I was rather surprised to learn after the budget speech that no finance whatsoever was made available in the budget to carry out the recommendations of the SDC. That was a study carried out by all sections of the industry and they were unanimous in their conclusions, but now we must await a White Paper. We have had this report for the last 12 months and the White Paper will take another 12 months at least. I see no reason why. We have a full knowledge of the industry, the Department and BIM have it, and the industry and those in private enterprise are all available to give their advice; still it will take 12 months to issue the White Paper. I believe that the reason we must wait 12 months is that when it becomes available there will be no money and that there is no initiative by the Government — perhaps by the Minister but not the Government — to grant any extra money to implement the necessary steps which will be agreed after the White Paper is issued.

A report in The Sunday Tribune of 24 March 1985 stated that the income to the [2460] industry was only 1 per cent up and that only 1 per cent of the complete labourforce was involved in the fishing industry. I am afraid that the thinking running through the Government is that the return on investment is not as great as they would like it to be, that we do not see the fruits of it as quickly as we would like and for that reason, because no short term gains are to be derived from this, the Government are not prepared to invest more money in it. This is unlike references to forestry by previous speakers. The fruits of investment are not seen in the lifetime of a Government; we are only passing through and a decision should be taken now which will have beneficial effects in ten or 15 years' time. The Government should see that. The Minister has a responsibility to impress upon his colleagues in Cabinet that we require a greater percentage of the national cake for this vitally important industry. The Government seem to be abandoning the industry rather than trying to assist it. What has the Minister derived from his visits abroad, to Japan, New Zealand and Europe? He should visit the Irish ports as often as he goes abroad and he should stay there and see precisely what the problems are, and not do as he did when he and the Minister for Foreign Affairs went to Europe on the last day of the negotiations and when they found that the kitchen was too hot flew home and left the final negotiations to the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  That is untrue.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  The Minister will get his opportunity and I hope his Minister of State will be addressing the House also.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Get the facts right.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  ——and that he will confirm it. I refer the Minister to a decision taken in November 1983 when the export refund on mackerel was terminated. The Minister gave a solemn promise at that time that he would do his [2461] utmost to ensure in lieu of that that there would be special compensation measures. So much for special compensation measures. We have seen absolutely nothing made available since then. It came when nobody was forewarned, when contracts were entered into by industrialists in the fishing industry to sell their fish to third countries, bearing in mind that an extra subsidy would be available. However, it was obviously known in the Department that this was going to be terminated and the industry were informed when it was much too late and many people suffered losses as a result of that decision. No case was made by the Minister and we have not heard anything about the special compensation measures. Does the Minister propose to have discussions with his counterparts in Europe regarding an extra subsidy for herrings?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  That subsidy is there but it is not being availed of.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  What is the amount of the subsidy?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  It is a matter for the industry to work out.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  The Minister is saying that he does not know the amount——

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  You do not understand.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  You do not know the amount. That is why I asked you and you were foolish enough to fall into the trap.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputies should address the Chair.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Is it in order for the Minister to address me in that manner?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Deputy speaking should address the Chair and he should not be interrupted.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  It is deplorable that a man in the Minister's position is not [2462] aware of the amount of the subsidy available for herrings——

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Do not try to cover up the mistakes.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Donegal and the west coast are largely dependent on mackerel and our boats are not versatile enough to change over to other types of fishing. We must ensure that there will be no further reductions in mackerel quotas. We can obtain increases in species which are no use to us, but the question of reduction in mackerel quotas just cannot be accepted. There are suggestions in Europe at the moment that the total allowable catch of mackerel for 1985 will be something in the region of 160,000 tonnes, of which we will have — as in other years—21.3 per cent, which would give us a quota of something in the region of 35,000 tonnes. I appreciate that this can only be recommended to the scientific and technical committee and I ask the Minister to ensure that nothing like this will be accepted, because a quota like this would be detrimental to the industry.

The Minister took pride in the fact that last year, when we held the Presidency, they agreed on a total allowable catch. It was unfortunate that there was any agreement because, if it had not been agreed, the Minister would not have to order the boats not to fish out of our ports for mackerel although we could sell them to third countries who are crying out for fish.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  The Deputy is still in cloud cuckoo land.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  The Minister took pride in the agreement.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Come down to the ground.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Minister will have an opportunity of replying.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  If the Minister wishes to come in now I will concede to him for a few minutes. They cobbled the [2463] total allowable catch together because they were instructed by the Taoiseach that we must be good Europeans. It would have been time enough to do it in October or November when we had exceeded the quota because we want a much greater quota than the one we have. There is no point in the Minister shaking his head, let him tell the fishermen——

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  The Deputy does not understand the system and that is his problem.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Deputy Gallagher should address the Chair. He is provoking the Minister into interruptions and he should not do that.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  If the Minister does not understand what is happening on the coast I cannot help him, but I will try to enlighten him. Is the Minister telling the House that the boats are allowed to fish for 12 months of the year and that there is no problem? The Minister is indicating that there is no problem, but if that is the case why can the boats not fish for 12 months of the year?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  The Deputy is even worse than I thought.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  If the Minister wants to become personal I can also become personal.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  The Deputy does not understand.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  If the Minister wants me to pull out a few leaflets which he would not like to be read in the House——

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I defy him to do so. The Deputy has alleged that he has documents which are detrimental to me personally. I challenge him now to produce them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Minister [2464] will have an opportunity of challenging him when he is replying.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  He said he has documents in his possession which are detrimental to me personally.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  You are not entitled to interrupt in this way.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  If I am insulted personally by a Deputy I am entitled to ask him to produce the documents he mentioned and if he does not have them let him shut up.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Such language.

An Cheann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  He did not say what was in the documents and it is not disorderly.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  He said that they were detrimental to me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am ruling that the Deputy was not disorderly.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Produce the documents.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  What is the Minister talking about?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Minister will have to restrain himself. He can reply later.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Obviously, when the Minister gets so ruffled, he is not too happy with the state of the industry and with the attacks coming from my colleagues.

In the period from 1976 to 1982 there has been an increase in the cost of fuel of 300 per cent, a severe tax on fishermen and on the industry generally. From 1980 to 1983, there was an increase of 134 per cent at a time when the CPI was in the region of 56 per cent. The price of fuel in this country is much higher than in any other European Community country. It is 18 per cent higher than the average cost of fuel in Europe. Over the same period the price of fish has reduced by 19 [2465] per cent in real terms. Therefore, with the increase in oil and the reduction in fish prices, there has been a significant decrease in profitability.

The rescue package was introduced by the Minister many months ago, but as late as three or four weeks ago the industry and the IFO did not know what it contained. It was a cosmetic exercise, an announcement of millions being made available by way of a rescue package to the industry. A substantial amount of it was already covered in the budget, to which I will refer later. It is unfortunate that, although we have a Common Fisheries Policy, no serious steps have been taken to formulate a national policy. While we have the very important document from the consultative committee, it will still take 12 months to get a White Paper. If we have to wait until we have a national policy, it will be much too late.

The initial rescue package which was presented to the Department of Finance should have been accepted by them. However, the rescue package eventually agreed cost only 25 per cent of the original one which we understand was presented to the Department. I am sure that the Department of Fisheries and BIM felt it was necessary, but the Minister for Finance and the Government decided that the industry, the Department and BIM were looking for far too much. The extra £500,000 for fuel oil is not satisfactory. The £1.2 million for loans is not satisfactory. The £500,000, which had been included in the Book of Estimates, for marketing and exploratory fishing is not satisfactory. The £2.7 million for harbour development — £2.2 million was included in the budget — is not sufficient for that work. We welcome the provision of a synchrolift at Killybegs and the commencement of the works at Greencastle but it would be remiss of me not to mention the long awaited harbour development work at Burtonport.

Many small harbours around the country await maintenance and repair but money has not been made available to Donegal County Council, or any county [2466] council, to carry out such work. Our harbours are deteriorating to such an extent that it will cost a lot more to repair them in five or ten years time. The Government should make money available to county councils for repair and maintenance work.

I will be parochial now and refer to a grant of £18,000 made available by Roinn na Gaeltachta for a which on Inishbofin Island. That winch is badly needed. The Minister should try to ascertain why the which has not been provided. He should also inquire about a grant for the leading lights at Aphort on Aranmore Island. They were to have been provided by the Office of Public Works when completing the slipway on that island but we have been told that the grant may be withdrawn if the work is not carried out soon. Lights there are essential. An extension to Aphort pier is essential but the response from Roinn na Gaeltachta has been negative. The base for it has been there since the time of the British and all we have to do is build on it to accommodate the extra boats using the pier in recent years. Such work should be considered for 1986.

I must point out that power points are essential on all small piers. I do not think any official from the Department of Labour would accept that a cable running 200 yards on a main road is safe. It is dangerous. The Department and county councils have a responsibility to provide safe power points under lock and key at all small piers, irrespective of the number of boats using them. The pier at Kincasslagh should be resurfaced by the Department. Many of the piers around Donegal are in need of repair.

I should like to give the history of the Burtonport project. Some years ago it was agreed that Burtonport harbour should be dredged at the cost of £1 million and that the finance should come from the Government, 50 per cent from Fisheries, and 50 per cent from Roinn na Gaeltachta as was customary down the years. On numerous occasions when we met the Minister, the Minister of State, and their officials, we were given to understand that the job would be done [2467] with a 100 per cent grant from the Government immediately money became available. Obviously, it was very embarrassing for the Minister when he could not secure sufficient money because he decided that there should be an increase in the allocation from Fisheries to 75 per cent, no contribution from Roinn na Gaeltachta, leaving the onus on Donegal County Council to provide the remaining 25 per cent. In fact, Donegal County Council have not yet been informed of that decision by the Government. The Minister, realising the financial constraints on the county council and the necessity to dredge Burtonport harbour, should have a rethink about that work and where the finance should come from. In his capacity as Minister for the Gaeltacht he should have another look at this project.

We would welcome a grant of 75 per cent but we were under the illusion for some years that a 100 per cent grant would be available. For that reason there is an onus on the Minister to have another look at this and consider making a full cost grant from the Departments or 75 per cent from Fisheries and 25 per cent from Roinn na Gaeltachta.

Some time ago the Minister said he was disappointed that the industry was not taking advantage of FEOGA grants for the modernisation and restructuring of boats up to 33 ft. We can all be disappointed about that but while the industry is in such serious difficulties that cannot be done. The Government must give the lead. We must give credit to the industry for having matched Government investment down the years when they were in a position to do so. It is unfortunate that the industry is not in a position to invest now. There was also reference to exploratory fishing. An intensive programme of exploratory fishing is necessary to provide the processing and retail sectors with more fish. A reliable fresh fish market would help the fleet to return to profitability.

An increase of £500,000 for marketing and exploratory fishing is not sufficient. There should be a greater investment in [2468] exploratory fishing. We must have a greater increase in quotas for the species off our coast, particularly mackerel. In the sharing of total allowable catches it appears that we are being treated as a country with a fully developed industry, equal to developed industries in Europe. It should be remembered that our industry is only in its infancy and far from being developed. The Minister should revert to the 1976 Hague Agreement which recognised our difficulties. Our difficulties now are more serious and the Minister should strive for a similar agreement now. Under the Hague agreement we were allowed to double the catch over a period and we got room to develop but we do not have any room to develop under the common fisheries policy.

Some people may not be fully aware of the ratio of jobs ashore to jobs at sea. There is a fallacy that we are at the bottom of the league in Europe, that one job at sea can create seven jobs ashore. The ratio in Denmark is one at sea to one ashore and in Germany it is one at sea to three ashore but a factor in regard to that country is that a substantial amount of the raw material processed in Germany is conveyed overland from other countries and is not necessarily caught by German boats. The ratio in Holland is 1:1.5; Norway, 2:1; UK, 1:1. We should make that known because too many people are critical of the industry, the fishermen and the Department because we do not have more jobs ashore. We can compete with other countries as far as that ratio is concerned.

With regard to herring, will the Minister confirm if duty-free herring still come in from Canada and third countries. While that was acceptable some years ago when the North Sea and the Baltic Sea were closed it cannot be now since stocks have recovered there and the seas have been opened. I understand that there is still no duty on herring from Canada and third countries. We should pressurise our partners in Europe to add a duty to herring from those countries. Those imports are having a serious effect on the European market resulting in a reduced price for herring from here. As [2469] well as suffering from low prices, we suffer because of our remoteness from the market.

Aquaculture and fish farming are covered in this report. We can increase the number of those employed in that industry by a reasonable number over the next few years. At present 3 per cent of those involved in the industry are in fish farming and there is scope to double this figure over a five or six year period. While the numbers in terms of labour may double, the figure will more than double in terms of value and prices.

In Donegal we are fortunate in having some areas with non-polluted waters. Great strides are being made in fish farming, particularly at Dunkineely where private enterprise, the ESB and BIM are working together and we will see results in a few years. These people have made a tremendous investment in this area and they may not get any return for two or three years. Eight or ten people are employed there. It is time for everyone to cease being critical of people who are prepared to invest in industry, and especially fish farming which is an extremely high risk business.

More money should be made available for the training of young fishermen in the training centre in Greencastle which the Minister of State opened last year. There is room for expansion there. More young people are interested in attending this centre but are unfortunately unable to gain admittance because of the size of the school. This might be considered by the Minister when he is preparing next year's Estimates.

I have to refer to section 84 of the Fisheries Act, 1980. Since that time no aquaculture licence has been granted. If one is interested in fish farming one must obtain a licence from the Department of Communications. They can only issue a draft licence until such time as an aquaculture licence is obtained from the Department. If the Minister does not have the information at hand, perhaps he would tell us later the number of licences that have been granted since 1980. I cannot understand why it has taken so long to issue these licences.

[2470] I would like to refer to the salmon industry and salmon fishing off our coasts. Is there anybody in this modern age who is prepared to use a method of fishing which is not the best? The fishermen want to use monofilament nets because they are best. There would be no difficulty in reaching agreement with the Department because these people are willing to fish only between sunrise and sunset, no night fishing, and a five day week, but I believe the officials are not willing to meet the wishes of the fishermen. They are prepared to continue this antiquated system. The bigger boats are allowed to use these nets but the small fishermen in their 30 foot or 40 foot boats are not allowed use the most up to date methods available, although the Government are quite happy to take the VAT they pay on their nets. The fishermen would be prepared to get involved in a restocking programme with the local anglers, the regional boards and the Department. They would agree to a percentage of their catch being retained by the co-operatives to ensure that enough fish was available for restocking purposes.

If too many fish get up the river, that also can create problems. The Minister referred to the reduction in the number of salmon caught last year. We are all aware of the reasons for this. If we go back over the years we will find that once in every five years stock numbers fall. This year it appears that fish numbers will be up not only on the 1984 figures but on the 1983 figures too.

I would like to compliment the local angling associations for the very good job they do in helping to restock. These people do not benefit directly or indirectly from this: they do it for their love of fishing and their interest in developing the industry. The Minister's officials should consider making more money available through the regional boards or the local anglers association for restocking rivers.

I want to express my gratitude to the crews of the lifeboats. They do an excellent job. They are available at all times but, unfortunately, they are most often [2471] called out during atrocious weather. These people receive no financial rewards and are prepared to help the many people who unfortunately find themselves in difficulties.

I will now refer to forestry. It is regrettable that there is no common forestry policy in Europe and that we do not have a national forestry policy. More money must be made available by the Department for thinning because we cannot afford to have uncontrolled jungles. I welcome the auction system mentioned by the Minister, even though there might be a transitional period before we have the full auction system in operation. I believe those involved in this industry will welcome this move. The Minister said if there was sufficient raw materials there would be more processing plants. In my county we have sufficient raw materials and a processing plant should be considered for that area over the next few years.

Minister of State at the Department of Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. D'Arcy): Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I want to contribute briefly to this debate because of my responsibility in the Department of Fisheries and Forestry. I thank all who contributed to the debate which has been an extremely good one, apart from a few nasty remarks from Deputy Gallagher who makes a very good contribution but spoils it by some very unfortunate remarks, but we do not worry about that.

The fishing industry is a natural resource and its value to the economy is somewhere in the region of £150 million annually. It has considerable potential for job creation, and more importantly, it has considerable potential for wealth creation which the country very badly needs.

As indicated by the Minister in introducing the Estimate, the provision for fisheries this year represents approximately a 13 per cent increase on the 1984 output. This is an indication of the Government's commitment to and interest in the area. The Opposition have consistently [2472] made the claim that there is a reduction of 2 per cent, but that is incorrect. The value of fish landings and imports have continued to expand in recent years, despite the difficulties which have faced the industry. These difficulties, I am glad to say, are being gradually overcome, particularly in relation to prices. Prices for most varieties have improved considerably over the past 12 months and with the total removal of excise duty on fuel oil used in fishing, the net return to fishermen is increasing. Because of the high dependency on oil, operating costs are difficult to control and it is therefore important that the best possible marketing strategy be adopted for our fish catches.

The marketing development strategy aimed at expanding the Irish market for fresh and processed fish products was drawn up and introduced back in 1984 by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara. The main components of this market strategy are as follows: to protect the established Friday market for fish, to expand the demand in market share on other weekdays in the household and the catering segments of the market and to increase import substitution. The home market development objectives which formed the basis of the board's promotional strategy for the period 1984-88 include the following: Increased per capita consumption of fish; increased market share of fish against the main protein alternatives; increase in the number of housewives serving fish twice or more per week to 16 per cent by 1988; development of retail fish sales in supermarket outlets so that 50 per cent of fish is purchased in supermarkets in 1988 compared with around 22 per cent in 1983; improvements in fish distribution and increasing import substitution in processed fish. Our aim is to secure a 25 per cent share of the market for those imported prepared fish products which could be manufactured here. BIM have been allocated an additional £.350 million for marketing in 1985 with a total of £685,000 for that purpose. In addition, an increased allocation of £190,000 has been made available for exploratory [2473] fishing. This assistance, together with the revised arrangements for loan repayments and removal of the excise duty on fuel should help considerably in the return of the fleet's viability.

Investment in fish processing is also continuing at a satisfactory level, with both State and EC aid. This investment not only provides an outlet for fish landed by our fishermen but also provides employment in areas where little alternative employment is available. My major objective is to expand the level of exports of fishing products, especially processed fish. The Market Advisory Committee, which I chair, are succeeding in developing new outlets for the fish——

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  On a point of order, could I ask if the Minister would distribute copies of his speech?

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I have not a speech written down. I am speaking on points noted.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  The Minister could have fooled me.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  The Deputy could have fooled me, too. He had his own speech written out and he did not distribute it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Continue, Minister, please.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  Once this page is finished, the rest is dealing with points, rather than being a speech. The Market Advisory Committee, which I chair, has succeeded in developing new outlets for fish exports in countries as far away as Japan, Poland and Canada.

In relation to a recent Canadian deal — and no doubt Deputy Pat Cope Gallagher will be glad to hear this — with a major importing firm, I am glad to say that the Irish fish processing companies within the next couple of weeks will be commencing exports to Canada. In this regard——

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Exports of what?

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  What species of fish?

[2474]Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  Exports of salmon in particular and about five other species.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  Salmon to Canada?

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  There will be smoked mackerel and smoked herring. I am glad to say that the first 22 tonne consignment will leave Wexford within the next three weeks. We have also designated a well known firm from a major port in Donegal, one in Dublin and one in Galway — four areas. One might pose the question, why export fish to a place like Canada? During our research into this market, which was done by the Market Advisory Committee at the request of the industry who said that this market was available, it was found that the Canadian market is wide open in relation to a demand for different species of fish. While it is a very large fish producing country, nevertheless there is tremendous room for markets there. I am very glad to say that fish could leave this country and be on the shelves there in two days. This was something on which research was carried out, also. We can also compete rather well on price. Ten names were given in and four firms were selected. I appeal to those firms to make sure that they uphold the highest possible standards, because that is all that will be accepted over there. It takes three to four years to build up these markets.

I wish to inform the Opposition that it is my intention, through this advisory committee which represents all sections of the industry, to attempt to get two large markets outside this country, in countries which have not been explored in the past, on an annual basis. We were successful last year. We brought in Poland which had not imported fish before, except on a very limited basis, and we will also bring in Canada. As far as the industry is concerned, that is a very worthwhile development. One of the greatest problems that I found in the fishing industry is the very bad state of the market. I think that this has been accepted by the industry as a whole.

One question was asked by Deputy Daly which I have been requested to [2475] answer, in relation to the Greenland white-fronted goose. A ban on shooting was imposed three years ago to enable research to be carried out and that report is expected within the next couple of weeks. I shall then ask the Wildlife Advisory Council to examine that and report back to me. It is right that I should not comment any further.

Several points were made but I have been asked just to deal with the fishing side of things and the problems in relation to that. Deputy Pat Cope Gallagher and each Deputy raised the question of the development of our harbours. I am prepared to accept that there is a problem in that regard, but this is something which did not come about in the last two or three years. We have had that problem over ten or 12 years and I question the wisdom of the previous Governments in allowing all the money to be put into our five major harbour sites at the expense of all the small harbours.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  I do not want to interrupt, but is the Minister of State replying?

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  No, I am contributing. The Minister has to reply. I am replying to questions in small areas and contributing to the debate, as well. It is the Minister's duty to reply, not mine. That is the regulation in relation to an Estimate.

In relation to harbours, we are providing £2.7 million for this year. I am prepared to accept that this is inadequate. However — and this is where the Opposition fail to recognise the point — the Government's policies have been to cut down on public expenditure. Nevertheless, as a result of prudent budgeting on the one hand and the reduction of public expenditure on the other, there are benefits accruing to the industry as a whole. In 1977, the interest rate was around 12 or 13 per cent. Within two years it was 20 per cent and inflation was also 20 per cent. Today inflation stands at 5 per cent. I am prepared to accept that interest rates have not reflected the sudden reduction in inflation but we are hopeful over the next couple of years that [2476] we will have interest rates down from 20 per cent to 15 per cent. I am also hopeful that over the next 12 months we will have a further reduction in interest rates, which will reflect itself in the entire industry and will be very beneficial to it.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  More people out of work.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  That is where the Deputy is incorrect. More people will not be out of work. The greatest enemy of industry was the high inflation and interest rates. From 1978 to 1983 when there were high interest rates and high inflation rates great damage was caused to industry. We are hopeful that the policies of this Government will be beneficial to the entire economy. Every fisherman and every industrialist has an overdraft. They have working capital and they have borrowings. All of us would love to spend another £4 million or £5 million on our ports but the policy of the Government will not be changed with regard to public spending, except perhaps in minor ways. We will ensure that public expenditure is controlled and as a result, interest and inflation rates will come down.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Half of what the Government's pay to the handlers would dredge Burtonport.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I reject that type of remark.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  I do not withdraw it.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  That is the Deputy's usual performance. We would be very surprised if he did. He always makes some nasty remarks so far as the Minister and I are concerned. We have our senior civil servants and we do our job properly. After another two and a half years the benefits that will have accrued to the fishing and forestry industries will be obvious to all.

[2477] There has been some criticism regarding the aid package put forward by this Government. People fail to realise that fishermen have loans for boats at 9 per cent and the same rate applies in respect of the refurbishing of the boats. Other sections of industry would be happy to have that rate of interest. In addition, the aid package included a reduction in the price of oil by 7p per gallon. I reject the claim of the Opposition that the aid package has not done a good job. The majority of the people who qualify have now applied and they are making repayments. There will be a considerable reduction in arrears to BIM and I hope that within the next six or eight months all those who are entitled apply for the scheme and benefit from it.

I have made my case in relation to marketing. I will continue to work with the committee. The people on that committee represent the industry. I am not interested in their politics; I am only interested that they should make a reasonable contribution. Last year there were 20,000 tonnes of mackerel in storage in Killybegs. Both money and storage space were running out but the committee, with the help of the Minister, worked extremely well in disposing of that amount of mackerel to Nigeria and Egypt. If the Deputies opposite want further confirmation of that they may contact the industry in Killybegs. The people concerned there have thanked us personally. Today there is no mackerel in Killybegs because all of it has been sold. That is the result of work that was done properly by the Department of Fisheries and BIM.

It is my intention to try to reduce the volume of fish withdrawn from the market. There has been a quite an amount of dumping in the past six or eight years. The reason was that we did not have a marketing system. In 1984 some 12,800 tonnes were withdrawn, in 1983 the figure was 14,000 tonnes and it was higher in 1982. The Minister was asked for a report on the benefits accruing from his visit to Japan. We are happy to say that the Japanese are over here now [2478] and contracts have been drawn up for the supply of herring roe from this country. There is one factory in Galway that employs 140 people and a new factory is being set up in Wexford that will employ 120 people. These contracts are a direct result of the Minister's visit to Japan and I have no doubt that other factories will follow.

It is not my intention to deal with afforestation because this will be dealt with by the Minister. The policies pursued by the Government are beneficial to the industry as a whole. However, these are not being taken into consideration by the Opposition and in some cases by the fishermen themselves.

After the disastrous salmon fishing season of 1984, I am glad to say that catches have improved considerably this year. However, that does not mean we can forget the conservation measures that are necessary. Because of the life cycle of salmon and of most fish conservation measures must be operated over a long period if they are to prove successful. Tomorrow I am meeting with representatives of all those involved in the salmon industry. As the House is aware, there are extreme difficulties in relation to this industry. I condemn utterly the people who are prepared to take the law into their own hands. As Deputy Daly said, we give full support to the protection staff in the regional fisheries boards.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Give them a boat.

Mr. D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I condemn anyone who is prepared to take the law into his own hands. I warn these people that the Government will not tolerate that kind of behaviour. Steps will be taken to deal with the problem. That is the reason I am asking these people to a meeting tomorrow, including perhaps some of the people who are prepared to break the law. They will be told in no uncertain terms that their conduct will not be tolerated by this Government.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá ar na Meastacháin seo. Caithfidh mé a rá nach bhfeicim dóchas ar bith do na hiascairí san méid atá curtha [2479] os ár gcomhair ag an Aire. Níl samhlaíocht ar bith ag baint leis an ráiteas atá curtha amach ag an Aire agus de réir mar a fheicimse, ní ag dul chun cinn a bheidh cúrsaí na hiascaireachta ach ag dul indonacht mar atá sé le cúpla bliain.

I have to agree with many of the Deputies who have spoken here tonight who stated that in the presentation of the Estimate there was no imagination or positive thinking shown. Indeed, there is little hope for the future of the fishing industry as a result of what we have heard from the Minister tonight.

All of us have to accept that because of the problems created by the entry of the Spanish fleet to our waters we are at a crossroads so far as the industry is concerned. I would not agree with those who have said that during the years nothing has been done for the fishing industry. In line with the resources available to us we built up an industry of which all of us can be proud. We have seen the benefit of the investment that has taken place along the coastline. There are various degrees of benefit or progress in the different ports. Donegal and other areas were very much ahead of the rest. We can be proud of the standard of living that has been brought about in these areas as a result of progress made over the years. Perhaps we do not agree with the rate of progress and would like to see more rapid growth, but one of the problems is that too many agencies are involved in development.

When BIM were set up as a development board they were little more than a lending agency which had the right to select suitable fishermen for craft. Beyond that they had very little power in relation to the development of the industry. The Board of Works, the Department of Finance, the county councils and in some cases the Department of Transport and Power all had to be consulted on various aspects of the industry. That led to delays and frustration. As a result the rate of progress was not what we would have liked it to be.

A huge Spanish fleet will be operating in EC waters and at present we have [2480] only about six boats which are capable of competing with that fleet. I take issue with the Minister regarding many of the items which he mentioned tonight. Take, for instance, harbour development. We were given a figure of £2.7 million but that is not for development this year because most of that money is already committed to other works. We must develop our harbours so that they will be in a position to cater for bigger boats. There are very few ports at present capable of taking large boats. Killybegs is one such port but even there the situation is not entirely satisfactory. We must take positive steps to ensure that our fleet is expanded in a methodical way. If our fishing industry is to survive we must be in a position to compete with our partners in Europe.

I take issue with the Minister in relation to the refurbishing of boats and grant aid for this purpose. I do not understand what is meant by that. Is the Minister talking about 65 ft boats or 80 ft boats? How is it proposed to refurbish these boats? What exactly is involved? In his speech the Minister said that more new boats were being provided but that no additional funds could be provided towards the construction of new vessels which would require BIM loan finance. That is a sad statement when we should be taking steps to improve our fleet.

We are talking about the development of a natural resource and we realise that the possibility of creating jobs in many areas in the future will be rather limited. We could expand this natural resource which would provide more employment. We can be cynical and political, especially when we see a figure of £2 million provided for the employment of experts, publicity managers and so on to assist the Department. Deputy Bell spoke about Clogherhead this evening. Perhaps the £500,000 which was provided for his party leader might have been better used for the development of Clogherhead pier. The Government are going astray in the policies they have adopted.

One of the problems in the fishing industry is in relation to the marketing of [2481] fish and the price the fisherman gets for his fish. The Minister in his speech mentioned a number of areas — for example, the Egyptian market, the Nigerian market, the Polish market for the sale of herring, the French market, the Japanese market and the USA market. The Minister of State told us that the greatest market of all was in Canada. How was it that the Minister did not refer to the fact that we had such a wonderful market in Canada? I hope it is correct, but exporting fish to Canada sounds very much like bringing coals to Newcastle. The Minister of State did not specify the exact species of fish that is marketable in Canada. I hope we will see some worthwhile development as far as the price the fisherman gets for his fish in these markets is concerned. However, I am doubtful about it. Fish is every expensive to buy, but the price the fishermen get is completely different from what the housewife pays for it. BIM would have to take the blame for not being more positive in making markets available locally for fish landed in the various ports. Most of the fish caught on the west coast comes to Dublin whereas, with the co-operation of BIM, local co-operatives could easily have that fish distributed in the nearby towns. At present fish are transported by lorries to Dublin to the various merchants who then transport it back to the west for distribution in the various towns.

I commend the Minister of State for his initiative in trying to have something positive done in the area of marketing, but though the committee have been sitting for some time there are as yet no worthwhile results in terms of the amounts of money going into the hands of the fishermen.

Some time ago during a Private Members' motion, the Minister of State said in relation to harbour development that he questioned the wisdom of investing huge sums of money in five main harbours at the expense of approximately 40 smaller ones. I cannot understand what the Minister was talking about, because with an expanding fishing fleet and the move towards larger boats [2482] adequate harbour facilities must be provided. This brings me to another point, and that is that when talking about the development of smaller ports we must have some definite policy as to where our larger boats should fish and we must do something positive to protect our small inshore fleet. The part time fisherman, though not as important to the industry as the full time fisherman, has an important role to play, too. Most fishermen who fish on a seasonal basis do so to supplement the incomes from their small holdings or are following a tradition that has been continued around our coast for many years.

Therefore, we must have a two-tier development. We must endeavour to develop our inshore fleet while providing the necessary facilities for our larger fleet. The question of harbour development in my part of the country is very serious and this is true of the Minister's county also. Development in these counties has been slow by comparison with what has happened in other parts of the country. I am disappointed that the Minister in referring to Darby's Point, where there is a considerable fleet and where the landings for this year are expected to be of the order of £1 million in value, said that an initial investigation is being undertaken in relation to development of that harbour. In other words, we are only at the initial stage of considering the possibility of development there. This question has been tossed about for a number of years but the development is necessary because, apart from the fact that the local fleet has expanded, the situation arises very often whereby boats from Donegal or the Aran Islands land at Darby's Point but find it impossible to berth because of the overcrowded situation there. I trust the Minister will have news for us soon regarding something positive being done at this harbour.

Another area with which the Minister is familiar is Blacksod where some boats find it impossible to land during low tide. Consequently, they must anchor out for most of the year. It is very unsatisfactory that this should happen and that the fishermen should have to row into the [2483] shore in punts during the fishing season, having worked a hard day at sea and maybe at night also. It would be much more satisfactory if they could bring their fishing vessels all the way in. I do not think I am unreasonable in asking the Minister to ensure that steps are taken to rectify these situations as soon as possible.

There are many other small areas in need of development but I shall not bore the House with details of these. Instead, I will speak with the Minister personally about them in the near future.

The inland fisheries boards are doing their best in regard to the preservation of our salmon and trout stocks and they should have our support. More money should be made available for development that would enable work to continue in the winter months such as taking care of the spawning of fish and so on. The cost in that regard would not be likely to be very high but in any case there should be more interest in that kind of work.

The whole area of the preservation of salmon must be considered more seriously. I am not convinced that we are using the right approach in meeting the fishermen on this question. I am aware that the bigger boats have posed a problem and that traditionally salmon fishing was the preserve of the small inshore fisherman, but the owner of the bigger boat who has substantial commitments does not accept that he should be as restricted as the smaller man in regard to fishing for salmon. Communications seem to have broken down in this regard. Perhaps if a different approach were adopted the matter might be resolved and we would be able to avoid the kind of confrontation that takes place year after year in relation to this matter.

Another very serious problem is the whole question of the stocks of crayfish and lobster. The time has come for the Minister and the Department to act very quickly in this regard, particularly in relation to the crayfish stocks. The introduction of tangle nets has had a serious effect on the stocks of crayfish. Since the tangle nets were first introduced much damage [2484] has been done to our stocks of cray fish. Two-thirds of the fish that get caught in these tangle nets are lost, with about onethird only being landed. Anybody fishing crayfish at present in traditional areas where formerly large stocks were available will find such stocks greatly diminished. I remember that in 1953 with 40 pots it was possible to land five or six dozen crayfish in one day but the situation now is that one would not catch that amount in a month. Unless the Minister takes immediate action stocks will be wiped out entirely. Unless something is done about the use of tangle nets for crayfish we will not have any left. We will then have lose a valuable stock, a species for which we always had a good market particularly in France.

Lobster have been over-fished as well with the situation worsening year by year. One must consider the position of our inshore fleet who, in the main, were the fishermen involved in that kind of fishing over the years; traditionally that was the kind of fishing from which they earned their living. Unless positive steps are taken I dread to think what will be the future position.

There are a few things I want to say about forestry. I mentioned one or two already today at Question Time. I know that the brief of the Department of Forestry is to plant as many acres as they possibly can. I am worried about the situation in many areas in the west where large tracts of bog are being taken over and planted by the Department of Forestry without any liaison with the Department of Agriculture or other Government Departments. In some areas in the west, in the middle of bogland with the rate of planting at present taking place, people will not even have these bogs in which to cut turf in the future. There is something wrong when that kind of planting goes ahead without any liaison with other Government Departments. In many cases I believe the acreage involved would be more beneficial to the small farmer. I am sure the Minister is aware of developments in Doohooma and other such places where farmers have had ten or 20 extra acres added to their holdings [2485] and on which they can now graze five or six more cows, adding considerably to their incomes. As many people here have suggested, one wonders whether it would not have been better that such farmers would have planted trees, watched them grow, rather than develop the land under the present system, with de-ploughing and so on. In such instances, perhaps it would be better that the extra acreage be made available to the small farmer, giving him the benefit of the farm modernisations grant and other EC grants rather than grants for growing trees. There should be some liason with the Department of Agriculture in such circumstances.

I might refer now to the development of amenity and recreational areas which has taken place in our forests over the years and which is very worthwhile. I am sure the Minister is aware of the many forests in our county that can be developed and used in that manner. I might mention the Letterkeen forest in the Dromore area. There is a beautiful forest there, with lovely scenery. The same applies in Murrisk and the Killaries area, in Louisburgh, Drummin, all around that area, with scenery comparable to anything in the country. I would ask the Minister to examine the possibility of doing something in our county by way of having some of these forests made accessible to the public.

One problem that has arisen in the case of one forest is that when the local authority erect gates or grids to prevent animals going through they will not then take over such a road as a public road, which creates problems. It is a question of the Department and the local authority involved getting together to hammer out these difficulties that might arise on account of the Department of Forestry opening such roads to the public. If I might revert to the Fisheries Estimate, while realising our present financial position, that it is not easy for the Minister or the Government to provide the necessary sums of money to gear out our fleet properly to meet the problems with which they are faced in relation to our EC partners, [2486] nonetheless we must do something positive because, if we merely continue the holding operation we are doing, the future of the industry will be anything but bright.

The Minister should sit down with his officials, take a serious look at this whole question, ascertaining how far we can go by way of positive steps in order to prepare our fishing fleet to meet the competition with which they are faced at present and that they will face when the Spanish fleet becomes fully operational in EC waters.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  I welcome the announcement by the Minister of State that negotiations have been concluded with the Canadian authorities to export several species of fish to Canada. I understand that one species being exported there is crab. I am particularly glad to hear that because we have one of the most modern crab processing plants in the country in my constituency. Fishermen from north east Donegal as far north as Malin Head and as far south as Mayo and Galway transport their crabs to Meenaneary in south west Donegal. Only last week or the week before the Minister in his other role as the Minister for the Gaeltacht approved a grant of almost £150,000 to this processing plant so that they could expand their plant and increase their workforce. It will be good news for the workers to learn that some of their product will probably be exported to Canada.

The Minister stated that this year's Estimate is in excess of £18½ million, an increase of 13 per cent on last year's Estimate. That is a concrete indication of the Government's commitment to the fishing industry. We are going through difficult economic times. The Minister's Department have succeeded in keeping abreast of inflation and it is most reassuring that the Department of Fisheries will have their Estimate more than doubled. In spite of the doom and gloom that is being preached about the fishing industry there are many indications that progress is taking place in that industry. For instance, the landings of fish in 1984 were [2487] in excess of £54 million and that is up from £47 million in 1972. We hope it will be in excess of £60 million this year. Another interesting statistic is that exports last year were about £90 million and in 1982 it was about £72 million. These are concrete indications of expansion and development in the fishing industry.

I welcome the special measures that were adopted to help the fishing industry last year. In the budget the remission of excise duty on fuel oil to fishermen cost the Exchequer £500,000. To individual fishermen that means anything from £2,000 per annum, to £14,000 per annum. That is a significant amount especially to the people going through difficult times. Also a special aid scheme was introduced for fishermen in relation to loan repayments. It was an incentive to those who had fallen behind in their payments to BIM to purchase their way into this scheme which cost £1.2 million. I understand that a number of fishermen in arrears in their payments to BIM have availed of this measure but I hope more will be enticed into the scheme before the end of the year. Funds were also made available for marketing. This is important because one of the complaints as to why the fishing industry is in such difficult times is that the price fishermen get for their fish has not kept up with inflation. There is a very close relationship between demand and supply and one of BIM's priorities at the moment is to promote fish as a source of protein. We have traditionally been fish eaters on Friday only. I welcome the decision to encourage housewives to purchase it a number of days a week and to have it available in restaurants not just on Fridays.

The processing industry is very important especially in the west. We have a high rate of unemployment in the west. Indeed in my county it is in excess of 20 per cent. There is great potential in the processing industry. I welcome the announcement made yesterday by the Minister that he has been informed that a FEOGA grant of £638,000 has been [2488] sanctioned for a processing industry in south west Donegal near Killybegs. I hope that will contribute towards creating more employment in that firm. These last few years the Government have grant-aided through the Department of the Gaeltacht, the IDA and Údarás na Gaeltachta 14 or 15 processing plants. The emphasis is right because much more employment can be created on land. In some of the European counties the ratio between those fishing and those working in fishery-related industries on the mainland is 1 to 6, 1 to 7 or 1 to 8, whereas in this country it is on a 1 to 1 ratio. There is great scope for further improvement.

In the Estimate this year £2.7 million has been allocated for harbour development. I am glad that a significant amount of this money will go to Donegal. For many years representations were made by the fishermen and the people of Green castle to have development work started on the harbour there. We are glad that money has been sanctioned this year to start work. In my area there is the premier fishing port of this country, Killybegs. For a number of years now they have been awaiting their synchrolift and I understand the funds have been sanctioned for that purpose. The second most important harbour in Donegal is Burtonport. The co-op, the fishermen and the people there are anxious that funds be made available to dredge the harbour and extend the pier. About five years ago at a certain by-election in the county rash promises were made by the new Leader of the Opposition that there would be no difficulty and that it was to start almost immediately. He did not start it while he was Taoiseach although he has been in Government twice since then.

The Minister has met a number of deputations from Burtonport and it is high on the agenda. If the dredging of that harbour cannot be commenced this year I hope that at least next year urgent consideration will be give to it. Not alone does it facilitate the fishermen who use the harbour, it has a number of other uses also. Since the Arranmore ferry was launched officially by the Minister about a year ago the traffic between Arranmore [2489] and Burtonport has increased very much. This harbour serves another purpose in that a number of industries, in particular the Gweedore industrial estate, bring in raw material from Hamburg through Burtonport. They have experienced difficulties on the last few occasions when they were bringing this raw material in. Therefore, I consider the dredging of the harbour more important than the extension of the pier. It is costly, nevertheless it would give a great boost to that area. In view of the fact that Greencastle and Killybegs have been sanctioned for this year, I hope that Burtonport will be given top priority as the next development in Donegal.

There are a number of smaller harbours also. There was big development at Bunbeg in my area a number of years ago and I understand that stage three of that work has yet to be completed. I ask the Minister to consider that along with Cladaghnagerragh in the Kilcar area and Portnablagh further north.

Probably the most significant event in the fishing industry during the year was the negotiations to bring Spain and Portugal into the Community. I compliment the Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the successful completion of these negotiations. It is reassuring that no Spanish fishing vessels will be allowed in the Irish box before 1 January 1996. That will give our fishing industry and our fleet time for further development so that we can compete with the Spaniards when they are allowed in eventually. I understand also that even after 1996 further bilateral negotiations will take place between us and the Spaniards for a phased entry of their fleet and that no matter how many are allowed in the number of vessels will not exceed 93. Regarding the accession of Spain and Portugal into the Community we can exploit their entry because they are great consumers of fish and there is a huge market of a quarter of a million tonnes per annum there. I hope that the Department and BIM will be aware of the potential market there for our fish and expecially our processed fish. The Minister of State has announced that a [2490] meeting is to take place tomorrow with the IFO and other representatives of the fishermen and that one item on the agenda is salmon fishing, protection and conservation. I welcome this meeting. Those of us here who are associated with the coastal regions know that at this time of year we have difficulties in that area. The salmon fishermen are as anxious as anyone else to conserve salmon stocks because they realise that they depend on those stocks for their own and their children's livelihood. My only regret is that these meetings were not held at some time other than in the middle of the salmon season. However, they are taking place tomorrow and I hope that the meeting will be fruitful and that each side will understand the difficulties of the other.

I would like to refer briefly to the Forestry Estimate which is almost £50 million this year. We all regret that, even though we have a temperate climate here that is very suitable for forestry, we have the lowest percentage of territory under forest of any country in Europe. That is a source of regret to us all and it shows that this important area has been neglected by various Governments for a long number of years. However, I welcome the establishment of the special review group on forestry. Deputy Denis Gallagher mentioned a number of conflicts, which exist also in areas other than Mayo, where we must be very careful. The forestry section are inclined to plant trees in what will be used as turf cutting areas. The various Departments involved should co-operate to make sure that we are not sacrificing one source of energy in order to provide another source. There is great potential in forestry, considering the amount of timber imports into this country every year in excess of £100 million. That gives an indication of the potential. Not alone could we save on imports but we could create employment where it is so badly needed.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Meastachán seo do Roinn na hIascaireachta. Tá sé suas go mór ar an Meastachán a cuireadh ar fáil anuraidh agus sílim go dtaispeánann sé dearcadh an Rialtais maidir le tionscal na hiascaireachta. Ní [2491] shílim go bhfuil rudaí comh gruama agus a deirtear de réir na bhfigiúirí a chuir mé ar fáil. Mar an gcéanna maidir le tionscal na foraoiseachta, tá a lán le déanamh. Sílim go ndearnadh dearmad mór san am atá thart agus ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an grúpa speisialta a chuir an tAire ar bun le cúpla mí anuas le scrudú iomlán a dhéanmh ar fhoraoiseacht sa tír seo, conas is fearr forbairt a dhéanamh air sa dóigh go rachaidh sé chun sochair eacnamaíochta na tíre agus do phobal na tíre agus go speisialta pobal iarthar na tíre i gcoitinne.

Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (Mr. O'Toole): Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Ba mhaith liom i dtoscah mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leo siúd a ghlac páirt san díospóireacht seo ar Mheastacháin mo Roinne. Bhí díospóireacht spéisiúil againn agus fiú amháin daoine a d'ionsaigh mé tá mé sásta go nduirt siad rudaí go raibh spéis agam iontu agus rudaí ciallmhaire go deimhin. Ní dóigh liom go mbeidh am agam chuile rud a fhreagairt ach déanfaidh mé iarracht.

There was a certain amount of tongue in cheek in many of the Opposition speeches here. While they made fine contributions in many cases and very sensible statements, there was a thread of demand for extra expenditure in all the areas of both fisheries and forestry without anybody telling us where the money was to come from. I will deal with fisheries first. There were claims that the Estimate was inadequate, that we had no policy for fisheries, that the fishing industry was on its knees. That air of depressing doom and gloom emanating from the other side can only make things worse. Let us at least give the facts as they are and not go overboard about the depressed state of things. The industry is not at an all-time high, but much of what has been said is the normal ritualistic noise which is expected of Opposition speakers. That is why we are all looked upon by the public at large as at times playing games in here.

[2492] One point which amazed me about this debate was that not one member of the Opposition mentioned Roinn na Mara.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I did.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I accept that Deputy Daly made reference to it.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The document stands on its own.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  It certainly did at the time of its introduction. There has been criticism of the aid package.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  It would be out of order to discuss that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Minister has a limited time to reply and I appeal for an orderly hearing.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I do not accept the allegation that the Estimate is inadequate, neither do I accept criticism of the aid package. Certain allegations have been made about the aid package — for example, that the IFO were not aware of its existence. IFO representatives were invited to a press conference which I called an one of their senior representatives attended and listened to what was going on. For some untold reason on a subsequent occasion he denied all knowledge that such a thing as the aid package existed. This scheme will be in operation on 1 July. I gave information today to Deputy P. Gallagher on the numbers involved and we are expecting more fishermen to come into this worthwhile scheme.

Deputy Daly and others raised the matter of the protection service operated by the regional boards. I thank him for his support. We in this House must be seen to support the law of the land as passed by this Legislature and implemented by agencies set up here. Any kind of soft undertones in relation to what is going on do none of us any good. I appeal to people who are in breach of these regulations to reconsider their position. If the Members opposite were on this [2493] side of the House I do not think they would stand for these blatant breaches of the law. People who are breaking the law will not get away with it, regardless of threats and the kind of carry-on we have seen recently. The regulations are not there for some vindictive reason but to ensure the conservation of salmon stock. I will not go into details of the contradictory statements made on this matter, except to say that Deputy Pat Cope Gallagher, using a kind of contradictory logic, mentioned a request for money for angling clubs for restocking fisheries while seeking at the same time the use of monofilament nets off our coast. We have here the most suitable and appropriate natural restocking facility in western Europe with the passage of wild salmon stock through our estuaries. It is a question of allowing adequate escapement of that stock and nature takes over from there. We have the rivers and pools and clean water. That is all that is needed.

Deputy Daly mentioned the giving of licences by regional boards. As a former Minister he knows that the Minister allows a maximum number of licences to be given by any board. It is up to the board to decide to give the licences to qualified applicants. If they do not have the number of qualified applicants to take up the number of licences given by the Minister, then those licences are not given out. The regional boards are the people who set the criteria and assess the qualifications of the applicants. In some cases licences are held back because in the opinion of the relevant board the applicants do not meet the required criteria.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Those areas are being systematically poached and destroyed.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  That is the problem, but it is not a reason for giving extra licences. That would be like saying that if you appoint more weathermen you can improve the weather.

On the subject of harbours, Clogherhead is very high on the list of priorities but it is a question of getting adequate financing. The people of Clogherhead are [2494] entitled to attention and deserve it. We have provided this year for the model survey to be carried out. As Deputies Faulkner and Bell said, many surveys have been carried out in Clogherhead. Part of the pier collapsed during the winter. This is being looked after through minor repairs in the interim. However, due to this event it has been decided that the initial intention of extending the pier in a straight line out to sea would not be the most appropriate way to do things. A revision of the model must be undertaken and the proposal now is to extend the pier diagonally from the end of the existing pier. It is hoped this would avoid any future difficulties. The old model used by UCC is still ther and it will not take much to have it rearranged and set things in motion. Model surveys and diving surveys must be done. These things take time and we are talking about substantial expenditure on marine works, which are notorious for eating up big sums of money.

Deputy Pat Cope Gallagher mentioned a range of items and I will go through them quickly. The export refund subsidy was withdrawn without notice by the EC Commissioner, not by me. As soon as I became aware of that I went to see the then President of the Commission, Mr. Thorn, who told me that he would review the position. Having reviewed it, he said that he did not see any reason why it should be put back because the market was quite healthy and we were about to establish further markets in Nigeria and Egypt, which we subsequently did. I am sure that Deputy Gallagher will agree that the mackerel season this year has been very good, markets have been fairly buoyant and I look forward to a continuation of that position. Every effort will be made by me and the Department to ensure the continuation of buoyant markets.

There is a serious problem with regard to the question of quotas. As the Deputy knows, I do not set the quota; it is set in consultation with our colleagues in the EC on the basis of scientific data made available by ISIS. The vibes which I am getting at present from that source are [2495] not too hopeful in relation to quotas for 1986 and I hope that the rumours are not true because, if they are, there will be a serious problem. There is no point in telling me to get a bigger share of the total allowable catch——

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Why not?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I am glad that the Deputy asked that. I attended my first meeting of the Fisheries Council on 21 December 1982 and discovered that the actual apportionment of the TAC on a variety of species had already been settled and all that was outstanding at that stage, before agreeing on a Common Fisheries Policy, was the Danish problem. That was settled on 25 January 1983 and that was that. We have, I think, about 21.3 of the TAC. I fully understand the problems which Deputy Daly had as Minister and the fight he had to put up to get that figure, but the idea of trying to renegotiate it is just not on.

Deputy Gallagher also mentioned the fact that we had no money for larger boats. The marine credit plan has been extended to enable boats of up to 33 meters to be grant-aided and to encourage diversified fishing. There is money available but, surprising as it may seem, no suitable applicant has come forward to avail of it.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Perhaps larger boats should be grant-aided.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  There are always problems and we have to draw the line somewhere. Perhaps the Deputy is correct; I do not know.

The Deputy also raised the question of the issuing of agricultural licences under section 54 of the 1980 Act. That caused serious problems, as Deputy Daly knows, and we did not get over the constitutional hump in that regard until October 1983. The minute I got the green light I set out to hold public inquiries around the country, nine of which I held in rotation in order to get designation orders out, which would be followed by licences for projects by applicants who would apply [2496] for licences. The Deputy might be surprised to learn that of the nine public inquiries held — after which, in my naivete, I expected to issue nine designation orders — only one order has been issued. The reason for this is that there were substantial objections at all the public inquiries by local authorities to any interference with their activities at local level in relation to the level of purification of water and the discharge into marine waters of effluent of all kinds. That is where I am stuck at present. I understand that the new local authorities are meeting for the first time next Thursday and many Members of the House are members of local authorities. I appeal to them to use their good offices and influence with their colleagues to allow us go ahead to get this kind of massive development off the ground. It will give employment where it is badly needed and where there is nothing else available.

In December 1984, at my behest at a Council meeting, the Commission accepted in principle my proposal that an export refund on herring would be allowed. Subsequent to that meeting they wrote to the Irish processors. You asked me tonight, Deputy Gallagher, through the Chair——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  It is better if the Chair is addressed at all times. This has been going on across the floor all night and, while I am extremely reluctant to intervene, the wisdom of not directing remarks direct at the opposite side of the House is obvious.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  The Chair may take it that this time I will not respond in the same way that the Minister responds to me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am not addressing my remarks at any Member in particular. I am speaking to all the seats in the House, vacant and full.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  I am trying to reply to a point raised by Deputy Gallagher.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  If the Minister [2497] does so in the third person it will be all right.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Deputy Gallagher raised a point about herring refunds. The fact is that the Commission allowed this. They made inquiries with the Irish processing industry who, because of difficulties in that there was no market for their herring, could not respond because the level of price and refund established would depend on where they got a market in a third country. They failed to do that and it took them four months to respond to the Commission on this issue. The Commission sought more information and I was told in the last few days that there are possibilities of establishing a market in third countries that will give us a base here from which we can seek some level of refund from the Commission. The machinery and the formula are there.

Deputy Denis Gallagher referred to the Spanish fleet. The fact is that we got a ten year total derogation. After that there will be very restricted intrusion. There will also be a facility at that stage to discuss the matter again. I am long enough around to know that vigilance is of the utmost importance in this case, and vigilant we will be. I hope that whoever is dealing with this matter in ten year's time will be vigilant. I do not think we need have any undue worries about what will happen in ten year's time provided we do the right thing in the meantime.

The marketing of fish is a problem. There is oversupply of certain species. I have been suggesting that we should try — it is easier said than done, of course — to diversify into species which we did not deal in traditionally but for which there is an outlet. The response one gets from the fishing community is “Get a bigger quota in mackerel and herring”. That is all very fine, but we are treading on very dangerous ground. We are talking about our dependance on mackerel to the tune of 60 per cent of our total catch at a time when the scientific data rumoured to us is that we are going to have to take a 50 per cent, or more, drop [2498] in our quota. That is an area over which our control is limited.

Unless we are prepared to look at this in a rational, reasonable and sensible way, we are going to be in trouble. While everything is going well nobody cares, but when the bubble bursts everybody begins screaming “Why is it that somebody else does not do something about this”? I am saying that the signs of trouble are now on the horizon for some of our most popular species. I would like that point understood. I am not saying that so that I will be able to say in a year's time or five year's time “I told you so”; but, unfortunately, that is the position as I see it from the vibes I am getting.

In regard to the Sheralga, I should like to state that I sympathise with the people involved. My Department are not directly involved but I will again contact the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who has in the past been using every means at his disposal to bring home to the English authorities the efficacy of giving fair play to the people who were nearly drowned and whose boat was lost as a result of the incident. I can assure Deputies Faulkner and Bell that I will bring this matter to the attention of my colleague in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

There is a fair degree of tongue in cheek about forestry. Forestry has a very bright future here provided the investment in it is handled in a way that is sensible and viable. We are unique in regard to forestry. In my opinion the State has done more than its share — I am talking about the taxpayer — in that we have 85 per cent of the cake. It is a profitable enterprise in the long term and I have been trying to encourage private investment in forestry, as can be judged from the applications we are receiving. We want more of that. I should like to ask Members to try to encourage people and institutions to seriously consider investment in forestry as a long term viable profitable business.

With regard to the question of growing trees on bog, I should like to point out that we stopped that some years ago for the very good reason that it does not make sense at a time of very expensive [2499] energy to grow trees on top of deep bog. The most suitable land for growing trees is shallow or cutaway bog. Generally speaking, we no longer grow trees on large tracts of deep bog where there is energy to be extracted.

The Trees for Ireland campaign is really not a matter for Forestry, it is an international cultural project which I am pursuing. The project was initiated by the Fianna Fáil Leader some years ago. The idea is that we should have in every county a forest, or part of one, designated to people of Irish extraction now living in America who would pay towards the plantation. I hope to be in a position to announce fairly rapid progress in that regard in the next six weeks or two months.

With regard to forest fires, I should like to warn people of the danger of forest fires to life and limb and a major taxpayers' asset. I should like to thank the fire services in the different counties and the many volunteers and officials in my Department who in many cases go beyond the call of duty in trying to contain the terrible forest fires.

I have been accused by Deputy Hilliard of changing forestry policy. There has not been a change in forestry policy. We adopted the Fianna Fáil policy that was in operation when we took office in December 1982. We have the same target for planting. If anything the only perceptible change is the emphasis I am trying to place upon private investment in the afforestation area. I am sure that when Fianna Fáil were in office they tried to do something similar. Out there there is a potential area of investment which we all have a duty to promote. There is money in the private sector and we should try to induce people to invest that money. There are jobs available, but it is incorrect to say that thousands of jobs could be created in the forestry section. We should not cod ourselves about that. I would say that hundreds, rather than thousands, of jobs could be created in forestry provided we got a degree of investment to bring about the developments necessary.

[2500] I must deny categorically any tinkering with the price of sawlog by the Department to raise prices to artificial levels. We are not doing that. The price of sawlog here is set by market forces within the country without any interference from us or by us. I must nail that allegation. There are jobs in jeopardy on the processing side simply because there is an urgent need for rationalisation within the sawmilling industry. The people involved know that, but when something causes problems in a particular area they blame the Department of Forestry. That is normal practice and I accept that — my skin is, thank God, thick enough to be able to resist any temptation of kicking back.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Will the Minister refer to the new market for mackerel and herring in Canada and the statement in that regard by the Minister of State?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  At the moment a representative is in Canada investigating the herring market.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Is the representative from BIM?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Patrick O'Toole  Zoom on Patrick O'Toole  Yes.

Mr. P. Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Is the representative just investigating the market? The Minister of State said it is definite and that fish will be going out next week.

Vote put, and a division being demanded, it was postponed in accordance with the Standing Orders until 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 3 July 1985.


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