Thursday, 9 April 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. 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.
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: 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: 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: 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——
Mrs. 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: 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.
Mr. 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.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: 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. 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.
Mr. 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.
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