Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fish Quotas.

Thursday, 9 April 1987

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 371 No. 10

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11.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  asked the Minister for the Marine the proposals, if any, he has to pursue Ireland's case for an increase in fish quotas which is urgently needed for the industry.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  As the Deputy is aware the quotas for 1987 have already been agreed. Discussions on the 1988 quotas will not take place until late in the year. I will, of course, be pressing in these discussions for the maximum level of quotas possible.

While in respect of some species our catches fall short of the quotas allocated, there is pressure on certain species, mainly mackerel, herring and hake.

I have arranged with the EC Commissioner for Fisheries in Brussels next week with the Minister of State at my Department, Deputy Gallagher, to discuss the level of Irish quotas and other problems affecting the industry.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  I should like the Minister to assure the House that in view of the fact that it was his good self who in 1982 agreed our slice of the cake — 4.6 per cent of the TAC — we can expect him to press aggressively for a substantial increase in the quota in the years he will be in office. I wish him well in his office for however long those years may be. On what grounds can we be assured that, since the Minister agreed to the 4.6 per cent, he can go back with an apparent change of mind and make a case that will really stand up for an increase in our percentage of the TAC?

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I would remind the Deputy that it was Deputy O'Toole who finally concluded those negotiations in 1983.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  The Minister knows better than that. It was in January.

[2117]Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I was in the Department for eight months. In the short time I was there we did not finalise the common fisheries policy as the Deputy knows. I wish her well as spokesperson for Fine Gael and hope she will have a long time in Opposition.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  I hope it will not be too long. Can the Minister recall — I am sure he knows quite well — that the details were signed, sealed and nailed down when there was a change of Government in December 1982? It was in January 1983——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The history of this is not relevant.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  It is rather important.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  It is not correct.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  I stand by it. One Government honours a previous Government's commitments. That was our position. Will the fishing industry have to wait until 1992 for any substantial change in relation to the TAC or what plans has the Minister to increase our quota as a percentage of the TAC? Does he agree that the benefit we will get from the ten year structures plan will depend on our TAC? What proposals has he to ensure we will get a reasonable and fairer share of the TAC than is now the case?

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  There are areas of fishing activities which are not the subject of quotas and where there is room for development.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  I accept that.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  There are substantial quotas available at present which have not been taken up. In 1985 the cod quota was 11,520 tonnes. Our catch was 8,057 tonnes. In relation to whiting, our quota in 1985 was 17,800 tonnes and the catch was 10,094 tonnes.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  What about the flagellate species?

[2118]Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  We must take action on this. There are certain species which are not the subject of quotas but if quotas are introduced in the future our quota will depend on the effort we make in fishing those species now. I am talking about blue whiting, horse mackerel, ling and other species. There are adequate areas for us to concern ourselves with immediately where it is possible to increase our catches and increase the revenue for fishermen and the economy by a vigorous attempt to take the quotas at present available for us.

On the second point mackerel and herring are the subject of very tight restrictions and we believe that it is possible to make a case for an increase in those. This is why we are going to Brussels to meet the Commissioner next week. We intend to invite the Commissioner over here to see our industry and its stage of development, and to endeavour to fight to the limit to ensure that we get increase in these areas. It would not be fair at this stage to pre-empt our discussions with the Commissioner and the possibility of having him over here to see in what way we can increase our catches in these areas. At this time we will endeavour to the limit of our ability to ensure adequate quotas for the industry here to enable it to expand and develop.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  A brief supplementary——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am sorry to have to remind the Deputy that in respect of priority questions supplementary questions are the sole preserve of the Deputy who has tabled the question. I cannot change that regulation.

Mr. Begley: Information on Michael Begley  Zoom on Michael Begley  I accept your ruling.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  Is there any indication that we will have a case for an increased percentage of the TAC this year based on egg surveys?

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Based on what?

[2119]Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  Egg surveys, where they find what the BIM chairman calls paper fish.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  It is really a separate issue. There is an ongoing survey to determine the level of stocks. The difficulty is that any increase in the TAC may not be all that beneficial to our industry here because it means that all the other member states would have their quotas increased as well.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  As a percentage.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  We are keeping in touch with the situation there and I am satisfied that there is a need to increase the level of research in that area. I am expecting hopefully that the research institute will direct their attention to this because I am not satisfied that adequate research into the staff situation is taking place at present to enable us to determine the true position fully.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Ceist 14.

Mrs. Doyle: Information on Avril Doyle  Zoom on Avril Doyle  If I could——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  I am calling Question No. 14.


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