Marine Institute Bill, 1989 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 10 May 1990

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 398 No. 6

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time”.

Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. Noonan,: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  Limerick West): A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, when I introduced this Bill on Tuesday evening [1330] I outlined to the House that the purpose of the Bill was to address the necessity, in a maritime nation like ours, for co-ordination of Government policy for the development of marine resources. I further stated that the promotion of the Marine Institute Bill marks another decisive step in putting in place the structures envisaged in the policy document entitled Roinn na Mara and published in 1985.

I further outlined the many problems currently affecting the development of our maritime economy and marine resources which can be attributed to the absence of a clearly defined policy, accompanied by a fragmentation of administrative structures. We want to get the structures right so that the latent marine potential of the State can be fully realised in everyone's interest.

I further stated that in the three years since its inception, Roinn na Mara sought to tackle some of the problems indicated in the document Roinn na Mara to which I have referred. As stated, those items include: the wasteful utilisation of Government, financial and human resources; demarcation overlaps in policy between Government Departments and agencies operating both within and outside the marine field; the absence of forward development planning relating to existing established marine resources and those with development potential; the lack of cohesion in approach to international maritime developments which impinge on national interests. I concluded by stating there was inadequate investment in research and development.

I pointed out some of the reasons that we need a marine institute. I said that the oceans are the last frontier, the least known part of our planet, that they cover 70 per cent of its surface area and have been used by man for a long time to reach other continents and to supply him with food and other resources. Yet it is only recently that their very many roles have been fully comprehended.

We cannot, however, exploit the tremendous resource potential of the oceans without knowledge of what is out there, without the capacity to measure [1331] these resources, having identified them, and without the capacity to develop the necessary related tools and instruments. We must at the same time ensure the protection of the environment in all its aspects. It is in providing this information that marine research plays a vital role.

The sea and sea-bed resources, and the technologies related to their exploitation, represent a new and important trend in economic and industrial development on a global scale. In future decades, the resources of the sea will account for an increasing share of the world economy. Control of such resources and the ability to explore and exploit them, will play a significant part in the economic growth and development of many nations. It also means that competition for the use of new resources will be intense.

In the case of Ireland, the marine area constitutes a major but underdeveloped natural resource and offers significant opportunities in terms of wealth and employment creation for a broad range of industries.

As an island nation every aspect of our daily lives is in some way influenced by the sea that surrounds us, whether it be the effect of the sea on our climate or the distance from mainland export markets. Yet as a nation we do not perceive ourselves as a maritime people and worse, the sea continues to be regarded as a barrier to development rather than a natural resource to be utilised and developed for the benefit of the nation.

Ireland's marine area is very large in comparison with that of other European nations. In fact, the Irish continental shelf is usually wide by internatonal standards. It covers an area many times the size of the national land territory. It is likely that this vast area of the continental shelf contains tremendous resources.

In order to capitalise on our marine and fisheries resources, it is essential that we measure these resources, understand how they behave and devise the most effective exploitation methods. Only then can we systematically start to exploit these resources commercially.

[1332] The successful commercial development of all natural resources, whether they be marine or terrestrial, depends on a well co-ordinated, directed and supportive research and development effort. Thus the growing worldwide investment in marine science and technology arises from an awareness that the oceans can be one of mankind's major future sources of new food, energy, mineral and chemical supplies.

Marine science and technology has a vital role to play in the understanding, identification, location and mapping of marine resources, with developing and supporting marine related industries, and providing the fundamental information on which to base development strategies. The lack of some of the most elementary knowledge of our marine environment and resource base is crucial. The Marine Institute will fill this gap, providing the vehicle to promote the development of marine resources across a wide number of sectors — fisheries, aquaculture, non-living resources, marine engineering and electronics etc.

Ireland's investment in marine research and technology is small in European terms. For example, our level of operation of research vessels is only a small fraction of that maintained by comparable small countries, such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. Conversely, many foreign vessels conduct research in Irish waters. This means that other European countries know more about certain aspects of Irish waters than we do ourselves.

Our lack of knowledge of our marine environment means that we are losing potential benefits and opportunities under a range of headings, which include fishing, aquaculture, tourism and amenity, seabed resources together with spin-off industries such as marine equipment, offshore engineering and coastal engineering.

Areas which currently need to be addressed include: the need for a source of economic analysis to assist Irish organisations in the marine area to seek out and optimise economic opportunities, and to [1333] assist them when they experience difficulties; and the lack of coherent marine research and development policy puts us at a disadvantage in the EC fora where we have the opportunity to ensure the inclusion of marine research and developments in EC research support programmes such as the fisheries and aquaculture research programme and the marine science and technology programme. The scale and the variety of these needs and the related benefits add up to a convincing case for meeting the requirement for an early, rapid and wide scale development of structures, mechanisms and programmes for marine and fisheries research and technology leading, in turn, to what could be a spectacular development of related national resources.

A wide range of organisations is involved in marine research in Ireland. Many of these organisations are small and poorly equipped. They are physically and institutionally separated from each other. A fundamental problem is that the work of the various organisations is unco-ordinated. There are both gaps and overlaps between Government Departments and agencies operating both within and outside the field. In some areas, important programmes are not being undertaken at all. Important research programmes in oceanography are not being undertaken.

The question of the delimitation of the Irish continental shelf is unresolved. Only through a co-ordinated administrative structure based on clearly defined policy can we create the momentum necessary to attract technology and human resources to translate potential into reality. Furthermore, many activities are sub-functions of Departments or sections of Departments whose main responsibilities are remote from marine or aquatic affairs. Many of the research personnel involved are either civil servants who are inspectoral and have other duties or university personnel, again with other duties or on short term contracts. There is an inadequate professional corps of expertise devoted solely to research and mandated to liaise actively with the industry.

[1334] It is clear, therefore, that the present institutional structures for the conduct of marine research in Ireland are inadequate or inappropriate. Lack of co-ordination is inhibiting the development of resources. Furthermore there is a strong need to clarify the relationship between the roles and responsibilities of the bodies already involved. Apart from fragmentation, a key consideration is that, to be successful, scientific and technological activities have to become intensely interdisciplinary. The success or failure of programmes will be dependent to a marked degree on the level of interdisciplinary communication and co-operation achieved.

There is general agreement that the information dealing with the economic and social aspects of marine industries needs to be up-graded. In particular, there is a considerable lack of information available on the stock levels of many species of fish in Irish waters, particularly on the non-traditional species which offer potential for development in the future — ling, megrim, turbot, brill, dogfish, monkfish and sprat. Such information is vital if we are to achieve the objectives set out for the fishing industry in current Government policy.

The establishment of a Marine Institute is as necessary now as it was in 1985 when the idea was first mooted. Indeed, the urgency of establishing the institute is, if anything, even greater now than it was then. I believe that investigation of single aspects of marine science in isolation from one another is inefficient and ineffective. Such investigation is also potentially dangerous in the sense that wrong decisions can result from incomplete information. If we look at the experience of other countries we see the development of a marked tendency in many of these to integrate previously separate marine and marine related research operations.

There are obvious adminstrative benefits to be derived from having all marine research and marine related research co-ordinated by a single marine institute. A [1335] centrally controlled approach is justifiable, and indeed desirable, on the grounds of administrative cost-effectiveness. A properly co-ordinated and effective organisational structure will provide authoritative technical input to resource development and, underpinning this, to the formulation of policy and programmes for marine and marine related research.

The establishment of a marine institute is, moreover, justifiable on grounds other than those related to administrative cost effectiveness. It is justifiable on the basis that the sea represents a national resource with development potential as yet only partially realised. The establishment of the Marine Institute will result in real synergy and economy. It will seek to end the current disorganised, splintered approach to marine research and eliminate the fragmentation of the marine research and marine related research activities currently located in different Government Departments, State agencies and other bodies. It will ease the situation in which current research and technology programmes tend to become, of necessity, ad hoc and short-term. It will work towards the provision of an adequate data base for all organisations and firms working in the marine area.

In sum, there will be a major improvement in efficiency and technical input resulting from the conduct of all marine and marine related research under a single direction mechanism, which will, at the same time, take account of sectoral concerns and considerations.

Externally, of course, the establishment of the Marine Institute will enable this country to compete more effectively with other countries by having an effective control of operations. In particular, it will develop to the optimum the functions of co-ordinating Irish participation in European related activities. This will not, of course, happen overnight. The Bill is the vehicle to enable a framework to be put in place within which [1336] we can seek to achieve the objectives which I have outlined.

I would now like to address some of the particular issues in which I feel the Institute, when established, will involve itself. Opportunities for development of our main resources exist in fisheries, aquaculture, non-living seabed resources, amenity recreation, ocean engineering, and marine electronics and instrumentation. The successful and economic development of these activities requires the ability to identify and quantify potential resources and to develop the technology necessary to exploit them. In carrying out these developments it is vital to ensure that the marine environment is not damaged or polluted.

The Institute will further research in the areas of living resources, including fish stocks, aquaculture, and salmonid resources; non-living resources, including the delimitation of the continental shelf; oceanography and marine environmental studies; and ocean engineering and electronics technology, and would provide specialist services for marine research, including computer facilities, research vessels and equipment.

In the Programme for National Recovery a projection was made of 2,000 new full-time and 2,000 new part-time jobs in the seafish industry in the period to 1991. The establishment of a Marine Institute was seen in the programme as an essential element in the development of the seafish industry and in the achievement of the projected targets.

Our valuable fishing and fish farming resources must be exploited to best satisfy the requirements of the international marketplace. International markets for seafood are generally buoyant and are likely to remain so. Ireland, with the right products and marketing strategies, can gain a better foothold in these markets, building on the health image of seafood and the fact that Irish fish is produced in clear unpolluted waters. To ensure development in this area, research is needed. This research will be provided by the Marine Institute.

We must strengthen the industry [1337] supply base through the efficient exploitation of new fishing grounds and stocks and species which are currently under-exploited. An increase in the supply of fish as raw material for processing and greater continuity of supply are essential for further development. Research is the key here. This research will be provided by the Marine Institute.

We must improve the supply of our aquaculture products by promoting the production of priority species, by encouraging research and development into new species and by achieving self-sufficiency in smolt and seed supplies. Research into all these areas is vital. This research will be provided by the Marine Institute.

The identification, quantification and exploitation of non-living marine resources depends on a detailed knowledge of the geological structure and evolution of the seabed.

Under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, Ireland can extend its jurisdiction over an extensive continental shelf area. The limits of the Irish continental shelf will require to be outlined. The definition of the Irish shelf area will require a major investment, both in terms of shiptime and scientific effort. Already there are a number of conflicting claim-ants for vast tracts of the shelf which experts consider should rightly belong to Ireland. The areas under contention could amount to over 40 per cent of our continental shelf. In order to ensure that the Irish claim to this area is vindicated, we will need access to the best scientific and technical data which, in turn, will involve conducting a major survey programme of these remote areas. Following the outline of the limits, and the surveying of the areas within those limits, further exploratory work will be required so as to underpin adequately the economic exploitation of these areas.

Given our maritime status, we must look to the sea as a resource and develop opportunities in the other areas referred to — coastal engineering, electronics, instrumentation, amenity and environmental protection. These activities are not only vital to our national development, but, given that 70 per cent of the [1338] earth's surface is covered by the sea, are very marketable commodities worldwide.

The Government recognised these problems and realised that the solution lay in the establishment of a Marine Institute. As a first step towards the establishment of such an institute, the Government considered the report of a marine science and technology task force on the options for a marine institute.

The task force, which consisted of representatives of Government Departments, other State bodies, universities and private industry, considered the scope, size, structures, location and costing of a marine institute appropriate to national requirements. As a basis for comparison, the task force considered what other maritime nations have achieved and how they have structured their research and technological activities.

Options which were examined ranged from the simple co-ordination of various elements by means of a central liaising mechanism, through a marine institute within a university, to a new single agency. The arguments emerged strongly in favour of the last of these. Various models of a single agency were considered, such as an executive office, a limited company or a State-sponsored agency. The task force recommended the last of these.

The Marine Institute will have the general function to undertake, co-ordinate, promote and assist in marine research and development. The institute will provide services related to marine research and development that will promote economic development and create employment. The institute will, in particular, provide advice on policy relating to marine research and development; carry out Government policy on marine research and development; undertake, develop, promote and market marine research and development services; promote and assist the improvement, development and application of technical and other processes for the exploitation and development of the marine resource; [1339] collect, maintain and disseminate information relating to marine matters; co-ordinate proposals for marine research and development requiring funding for the Exchequer or from any State owned or controlled body; evaluate proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State owned or controlled body; and advise on proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State owned or controlled body.

The institute may, in addition: represent the State in European Community programmes of marine research and development; commission from other persons work to be caried out under the direction of the institute; enter into joint-ventures so as to undertake or further the application of marine research and development; promote and organise seminars, conference, lectures or demonstrations relating to marine research and development; and engage in international activities in relation to marine research and development.

It is important to stress that the intention is not to set up a new institute in the sense of a physical bricks-and-mortar structure. Rather what is in mind is a new institutional arrangement. Thus, the Marine Institute — for the foreseeable future at any rate — will not be a single campus organisation. This is not essential in the short to medium term and in the present economic climate the construction of such a campus would be a waste of scarce financial resources.

The component agencies making up the new institute will, for the most part, continue at their present locations but the overall direction and funding of their research programmes will be under the control of the Marine Institute. Client Departments and other “customers” will retain an input to the institute's activities through representation at board level or on advisory committees of the institute. The institute will be governed by a board, who will consist of a chairman and eight ordinary members. The members of the board will be appointed by virtue of their [1340] experience in fields of expertise relevant to the functions of the institute.

Eleven State-funded organisations, with a staff of about 250 persons, are currently involved in marine research or marine-related research within the State. A number of these organisations are under the direct control of Government Departments. Following the establishment of the institute, the persons involved may be transferred from their parent Departments to the Department of the Marine and thence to the Marine Institute. In the case of the organisations not under the direct control of Government Departments, these will be involved in the work of the institute through work commissioned from them. The institute will have a chief executive officer and a support staff to carry on and manage and control generally the administration and business of the institute.

I consider it important that all funding which was previously allocated to marine research and marine-related research should continue to be so allocated, following the establishment of the institute. I would envisage that this funding will be allocated to the Marine Institute, and, through the institute, to the other State-funded organisations involved in marine research or marine-related research. This allocation will be made in line with the priorities and work programme decided by the board, and approved by me. Because of the universally agreed priority attaching to marine research I envisage that the funding allocated to the Marine Institute, both from the Exchequer and EC sources, will increase in the future. I am in addition anxious that many of the institute's activities can be carried out on a commercial basis. For example, diagnostic and advisory services provided by the institute could be charged for, if no fee is levied already. The level of the fees charged would be a matter for the board of the institute to determine.

The additional costs of establishing the Marine Institute are minimal. Existing salaries and operational expenses of persons currently involved in marine research or marine-related research, and [1341] transferred to the Marine Institute, will, as I mentioned before, be transferred to the institute.

Extra provision has been made in the Estimates of the Department of the Marine for the expenses of the board, the salaries and expenses of the chief executive of the institute and his support staff, and for other miscellaneous expenses. In relation to expenditure on marine research programmes proper during 1990, an earnest of the Government's commitment to this area is that the direct allocation to marine development contained in my Department's Vote has been increased by 13 per cent from £800,000 to £900,000.

I commend the Bill to the House.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  I welcome the Bill and it is good to see it before the House. The Minister has made a long, wide-ranging speech, very well researched, I suggest, and in it are aspirations and wishes far greater than are provided for in the Bill. I appreciate the goodwill of the Minister and the Department and their hopes and aspirations, but unfortunately much of what the Minister stated in his speech is not reflected in the Bill and I am somewhat concerned about that. On examining the Bill one has to see immediately that it is enabling legislation. In one sense it is very plastic in the way it can be used. It can be twisted or turned in any direction, therefore there is an onus on the Minister to make sure it is pulled in the right direction. The success of the Marine Institute will depend very largely on the ability of the Minister and his Department to take this on board in a positive manner and give the institute the leeway, freedom and power to do things without too much supervision or control by the Minister. The one reservation I have about the Bill is the level of control that still remains with the Minister and the Department and the institute's lack of ability to take the initiative themselves. In the interests of a good working institute this needs to be addressed and I hope the Minister will take the matter into consideration.

The Minister has outlined all the hopes [1342] he has for the institute. He hopes they will have the capacity to measure, develop, research all our marine resources and at the same time ensure protection of our environment. He has outlined how at present a number of bodies, groups and sections of the Department are involved in research at various levels. In some cases considerable research is being done in one area with much overlapping while in other areas there are stark omissions and no research taking place. I hope the institute will address this in a positive way.

The idea of establishing this institute is very good. We in the Fine Gael Party proposed this prior to the last election; it was part of our election programme because we believed it was vital that there be co-ordinated development and research and that one monitoring group or body have control and supervise, see exactly where the omissions are, identify the needs and see where urgent research is required. It is important that the new institute should investigate how similar bodies in Europe, and elsewhere, operate. We should learn from their mistakes and experience. It is important that the new institute works for the benefit of our marine life and for the protection of the environment.

There is no doubt that we are at a disadvantage compared with other member states in that they have long established marine scientific facilities. For instance, the French research facilities are well advanced. It is important that I should compliment those involved in marine research in Ireland who have done an excellent job on a very limited budget. They work under difficult circumstances and it is unfortunate that the Government have not seen fit to make more resources available to them.

In 1987 Fianna Fáil made a big issue of establishing a Department of the Marine and they pointed to the importance of marine research to the country. They highlighted the potential of a proper development of marine resources but they did not back their aspirations by providing the necessary finance. I hope the new institute will not go the way of [1343] other Fianna Fáil promises, that after it is established following the passing of a Bill it will be allowed to die due to a lack of funding. I am thinking of An Foras Forbartha and the Agricultural Institute which were allowed to die by Fianna Fáil due to a lack of funding. I hope there is a brighter future in store for the Marine Institute.

The Bill arises out of the recommendations of the task force established in 1985 to consider the need for a Marine Institute to examine our marine resources, the need for research and new techniques for fishing. The task force who reported in 1987 should be complimented on the research they carried out. It is unfortunate that it took the Government so long to act on the recommendations contained in their report. As a result of the delay we have many problems to overcome. We have very limited knowledge about the marine resources in Irish waters. Irish fishermen are annoyed when they meet in our fishing grounds boats from other nations carrying out research. It is no wonder that our fishermen are working at a disadvantage.

It is important that extensive research is carried out before we get involved in negotiations about fish quotas and so on. After 1992 we will be at a disadvantage to other members states because we do not have basic information about fish life in our waters. At negotiations other nations skilfully direct their research carried out in our waters to their advantage. That is unfortunate. Other countries have laid claim to sections of our continental shelf and that is to our disadvantage. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea we have rights as far as the continental shelf is concerned and it is unfortunate that our knowledge of the resources there is nil in comparison to our European friends. That leaves us in a difficult position at negotiations. We are ignorant of the extent of the resources in the continental shelf. The new institute should address that problem and be given the resources to carry out the necessary research.

I was surprised to hear the Minister say [1344] that the small sum of £100,000 had been set aside this year for the new institute. That is a pittance. The Minister has nodded his head and I wonder if he is trying to indicate that he did not mention that figure.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): I said, £900,000.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  The figure of £110,000 was mentioned or I read it somewhere.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): I am not responsible for what the Deputy reads.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  The information came from the Minister's Department or was contained in his Estimate.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It may be a ten year projection at £110,000 per year.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  The amount is not adequate if the institute are to deal with the problems that urgently need to be addressed. It is important that we carry out research on the continental shelf particularly in view of the diminished sovereignty we will have after 1992. We should have research carried out before that year and our negotiations concluded.

The information we have on our fish stocks is very limited when compared with that available to other countries. As a result our negotiations on fish quotas are always at a disadvantage. I am referring in particular to negotiations on mackerel and herring quotas. The Commission make their decision on the basis of research supplied by other member states and our quotas are based on the scientific evidence produced by other countries. In many respects that is to our disadvantage. We have lost out substantially as a result of not having carried out scientific research on our fish stocks. We should be in a position to put forward a scientific argument to ensure that we are given an increased fish quota.

We have been extremely fortunate that little damage has been done to our environment in recent years. However, the [1345] number of disasters that have occurred in Irish waters is quite high. I am concerned about the number of vessels carrying what could be described as lethal cargo that use our waters. In many instances the vessels used are substandard. We are all aware of the damage caused by the Kowloon Bridge. At that time we had very little information to help us deal with that disaster. We depended on information and assistance from other countries. But for the will of God, and changes in wind direction, we would have had to deal with many disasters off our coast. It is important that we should have the expertise to monitor the movement of ships in our waters and to have experts on hand to deal with any disasters. We should be vigilant and prepared to deal with any problems that may arise. I hope the new institute will address themselves to those problems, the Minister should see to it that they do.

The EC make extensive funds available for various marine programmes. There is a lot of money available for marine scientific research but due to the fact that we have not had an administrative structure in place we were not in a position to avail of the first allocation from the MAST programme last year. That was unfortunate. It is important that we should be in a position to avail of European funding for research. We should establish the institute as quickly as possible to avail of the support grants which are available from Europe for such research.

The other area in which we have not done any great research is in relation to the non-quota species. About 18 months ago the Government announced a major programme in relation to the creation of 4,400 jobs up to 1991. They based many of their calculations on fishing non-quota species. However, my information suggests that very little non-quota species are being fished, and the information in that regard is minimal.

There are applications for a few exploratory licences and although one was granted last year it was not used. It is very important that the Marine Institute should have the funding and support to [1346] become involved in research into the non-quota species because, until it has been proved that there is a viable, commercial non-quota species available, very few people will commit themselves financially in this regard.

It is important to undertake scientific research to establish the facts. Aspirations and pious hopes expressed by the Government are not sufficient when it comes to raising loans and making sure that there is a definite income available from fishing non-quota species. If it could be proved that there are sufficient stocks of non-quota species to make commercial fishing viable, it would be a matter of great importance to our costal communities. Employment could be provided in remote parts of the country where it is extremely difficult to provide it at present and this must be seen as a priority. At present, remote communities — particularly in the West — are being denuded by emigration because of the lack of job opportunities.

There are great difficulties in aquaculture development. This type of development shot into prominence over the past five or six years and many people now see its great potential. However, it is important that development takes place in an orderly, supervised manner instead of in a haphazard fashion which is the case at present. It is also important to have a system in place through which proper research is done into the suitability of setting up fish farms in certain areas. It is important that the institute or the Department of the Marine would identify suitable locations right round our coasts for different types of fish farming. It is also important that those areas are not congested or that there is not an overloading in any particular area.

Fears have been expressed in this regard by communities round our coasts but many of them emanate from lack of knowledge and — in some instances — scaremongering. It is vital to have proper research into the effects of fish farming on the environment. It is also important to research the different type of chemicals used in this area because we know that some of them are unacceptable. I [1347] hope that the Marine Institute will ensure that such research is done.

It is also important that the institute should put in place a planning procedure in regard to fish farms. We are very conscious of the need for proper planning in relation to building and we have a very strict, supervised system of planning permission and appeals. It is equally important to put in place a system which will monitor the development of our waters and to have a proper procedure and appeals system. We have not given sufficient thought to this matter; we have a tremendous resource which must be monitored in a civilised and thoughtful way. If this is not done it will have a detrimental effect on the community, which would be most unfortuante. This has happened in other countries but I hope it will not be the case here. I hope the institute will take this matter on board urgently and put in place a system of planning which will lend itself to proper, orderly development of the aquaculture industry.

In 1992 the second allocation of the MAST research programme is due to come on-stream and the institute must have a programme for research at that time which they can present to Europe to secure the type of funding necessary. It is also important that the institute should be poised to put in contracts for various research that needs to be done and which will be commissioned from Europe.

The other matter which comes up for review is the Common Fisheries Policy. As I said, there are difficulties in so far as our scientific knowledge in relation to fishing is concerned. We need to put forward a very well constructed case for the Common Fisheries Policy review, otherwise, there will be grave difficulties for our fishing industry in 1992. Work in this regard needs to start now and the institute can be very positive in preparing our case for this review in 1992 because an awful lot will depend on the outcome.

Another area which gives cause for concern is the gross registered tonnage and the difficulties in relation to it. I am very concerned about Ireland's position [1348] in relation to Europe in this regard. It is common knowledge that Irish fishermen who buy boats from other countries find, when they bring a boat home, that it is — in some cases — maybe one-third to 50 per cent greater tonnage than that registered in the home country. If a person sells a boat from Ireland to another member state it suddenly loses a lot of weight in another jurisdiction. This is serious and frightening in view of the registration of gross registered tonnage in Europe.

There is an urgent need for the Minister to have the situation in this regard reviewed immediately and to ensure that there is a common measurement procedure right across Europe because at the moment it is so haphazard that Ireland is at a very serious disadvantage in relation to gross registered tonnage. This means that there are 300 applicants waiting to be issued with fishing licences. Nobody knows what exactly is happening and many people who want to get involved in fishing cannot do so. Worse still, many people involved in fishing who want to transfer their licences to other boats cannot do so, even in cases where they are proposing a reduced tonnage. This is totally unacceptable and the Government stand condemned on their attitude to this issue.

If the Department of the Marine do not address this matter urgently, the Marine Institute will have to do so. The fishing industry is in chaos because of the crazy situation which has been allowed to develop. It is unbelievable that we in Ireland are suffering because of a lack of Government initiative on this matter. The Government are allowing boats from other countries to be registered at a much lower gross registered tonnage than similar boats in Ireland. This is unacceptable. Obviously the Department of the Marine are going around blindfolded when it comes to dealing with the gross registered tonnage. I am vexed about this and the Irish fishing community condemn it out of hand.

I have reservations about the Bill because of the manner in which the Minister and the Department will interpret it [1349] and the scope they will actually give to the Marine Institute. As I have said, the Bill can go two ways — it will be either very successful or an absolute failure. This will depend very much on the initiative of the Minister and his Department. It is important for the Minister to get involved in consultations with the people who have a particular interest in fishing in the various areas. It is not enough for him to limit himself to consultation with the people within the Department. All sectors involved, for example, the universities, BIM, research bodies, private enterprises which are carrying out research, etc., must be consulted. It is vitally important that when the Minister appoints the board he does not go down the road Fianna Fáil Ministers have traditionally gone, that is, to appoint a local Fianna Fáil cumann member to a board just because he happens to have the cumann membership card.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  You would never do that.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  That would not be to the advantage of the fishing industry. I hope the Government and the Minister will take a very broad view of this issue, will throw the policital shield aside and put the national interest and the interests of our marine resources before the interests of the Fianna Fáil Party. I appeal to the Minister to do this. I hope he will be able to rise above politics and do the decent thing.


Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  I wish to refer to the proposed structure of the Marine Institute. The Minister said that it was important to stress that the intention was not to set up a new institute in the sense of a physical bricks-and-mortar structure, rather what was in mind was a new institutional arrangement. I find that remark particularly interesting considering that his predecessor announced, about 18 months or two years ago, that the Marine Institute would be located in Galway. That announcement was welcomed and greeted with great applause at that time. I am a little concerned at that statement [1350] by the Minister today and I hope it was included in his speech to fill up a few paragraphs rather than meaning anything in particular. A commitment was given by the previous Fianna Fáil administration to locate the Marine Institute in Galway.

The Minister went on to say that the Marine Institute, for the foreseeable future at any rate, would not be a single campus organisation. I wonder why the Minister felt obliged to put that on the record of the House. I have reservations about this because I believe it is very important for the institute to be located somewhere where there is an active interest in fishing. Galway would be an ideal location for this institute because it is in the west of Ireland, is half way between south-west Cork and the tip of Donegal and there is a large fishing community all along the coast. A marine institute in Galway would be accessible to those people. In addition, there is a good research unit in UCG where scientific research programmes are being carried out. I hope that very shortly substantial developments will take place in UCG in the area of marine science.

It is equally important for similar skills to be located in the one area. I ask the Minister to seriously consider locating the Marine Institute in Galway which is an ideal location both from the point of view of the fishing industry and academic and scientific research. I appeal to the Minister to consider locating the institute in Galway, as a major marine scientific information data base will be available shortly in UCG. It is important for these data bases to be located side by side rather than away from each other. I ask the Minister to take that matter into consideration.

It is equally important for a whole system of information to be set up. For example, fishermen could have computers attached to a main computer in Galway where they could get all the necessary information. In addition, a data base in Galway could get information on the research being carried out in other member states, Canada and the United States. One centre based in [1351] Galway would be very valuable and good use would be made of it, with the assistance of UCG. I ask the Minister to take this matter into consideration. Perhaps when he is replying the Minister will allay my fears about the issue.

Section 1 defines the word “marine”. I do not consider this definition to be very detailed and a broader definition is needed. Who will deal with marine pollution? Will it be the Department of the Environment, the Department of the Marine, or both? There is a grey area there and there needs to be a clearer definition as to who will have responsibility for what is in that area.

Section 4 (2) (f) deals with the functions of the Marine Institute. A very broad range of functions are covered in this section. A question arises in regard to funding. At present funding comes from both national and international sources. Will other organistions be able to apply to Europe for funding or will all applications for funding in relation to marine research have to be processed in Ireland through the Marine Institute? It is very difficult to asssess what exactly is involved here and the section could be interpreted in a number of ways. What will be the role of Eolas under sections 4 (2) (f) and (g) in relation to funding? At present Eolas distribute funding to the different university faculties for research. Will Eolas still be in a position to secure funding for marine research or will all applications have to be made by the Marine Institute? It would be unfortunate if that were to happen. It is very important that the Minister talk to all the bodies already involved in research, particularly those who secure funding from other sources, and have this matter clarified before the passage of this Bill.

I note that An Bord Iascaigh Mhara have not been referred to either in the Bill or in the course of the Minister's introductory remarks. It is important that they be consulted and their co-operation sought. It is equally important that all of the universities and third level institutions be consulted on this matter.

[1352] The role of the chief executive is also extremely important. In this respect I would appeal to the Minister to leave aside party or parochial interests, to strive to appoint a person of immense initiative and vision, somebody with a very keen interest in this whole area. We must realise that the future role and the future of the institute will be dependent on the degree of energy, initiative and vision of its chief executive. Therefore, there should be much consultation before the appointment of the chief executive.

With regard to section 8 dealing with the staff of the institute, there appears to be an enormous degree of vagueness; nothing becomes clear from a reading of this section. For example, there is a vagueness in relation to the transfer of staff. That raises the question: is there a danger that the institute could become, as it were, a resurrected Department of Fisheries? That is something about which I would be concerned because, if such were to happen, it would be unfortunate. There is need for initiative, impetus and drive within the new institute. I hope the Minister will clarify that matter also when replying.

The remaining sections are the usual enabling-type ones. In relation to section 20 and the transfer of property, I have heard fears expressed. There are people worried about the transfer of property. Is there a danger that all property at present being used for research could come within the provisions of this section? There is a need for the Minister to clarify that matter also in order to put people's minds at ease.

Another area I want to deal with relates to discoveries and inventions. It is extremely important to encourage people with the ability to invent and to conduct that type of research, to involve themselves in the dedicated work needed to be undertaken because they are a tremendous asset to any nation. They are people we should value extremely highly. For example section 22 (1) states:

Every discovery and invention resulting from researches or investigations undertaken by or on behalf of [1353] the Institute except those discoveries or inventions referred to in subsection (2) shall be the property of the Minister.

It is important that that subsection be modified to ensure that an inventor, a person with the brains, skills and creative ability, be compensated in some way for his time and work. It is also important that such people be provided with incentives. Otherwise we will not get involved in the institute the type of people who would be of benefit to it. The Minister must consider including in this section a sharing arrangement as an incentive to such creative people. Otherwise we might as well forget it because people of enormous creative ability will not be drawn to or remain with the institute, or indeed with any other State-sponsored body, if they are not given some type of personal perquisite. There is need for a more liberal interpretation of intellectual property rights which is basically what is at issue here.

I hope the Minister will reply to some of my queries. I have one other query relating to the proposed environmental protection agency. What will be the relationship between the proposed Marine Institute and the environmental protection agency we hope will soon be established? Both have a huge role to play in the overall protection of our environment. The Minister in his introductory remarks referred repeatedly to the environment and the need for its protection. There is a need for him to clarify the role of the Marine Institute and that of the environmental protection agency in relation to the marine environment. That is extremely important and has not been clarified in the Bill or by the Minister in the course of his remarks.

Another question that springs to mind is: what will be the relationship between the Marine Institute and the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, a body based in Europe? In putting my case for Galway I should say there is an opportunity provided for an institute based there to liaise with this institute, feeding all of the information [1354] available there into a data base in Galway, disseminating it from Galway to the marine community in general. Those are just some of the questions I should like clarified by the Minister when replying.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am very glad to have this opportunity on behalf of the Labour Party to make a few brief comments on this important Bill. At the outset let me say that it is unfortunate that our spokesman on the Marine, Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan, cannot be here today as he is attending a meeting outside Dublin.

It is important that initially we all underscore the importance of the Bill before us. The Minister, in the course of his remarks, if you like, painted a picture of a disregard for the marine that seems to be endemic in our people — that we have, as an island people, a peculiar ambivalence toward the sea. I must say I do not share the Minister's opinion that that view prevails in every part of the country.

I come from a part of the country with a long maritime tradition, from a street in which every second or third house would be occupied by a sea captain or somebody connected with the sea, going back many generations. There are many such communities across this nation who have traditionally looked to the sea. It is not confined to those of us who were fortunate enough to be descended from the Vikings who probably left their indelible mark in the genetic pool.

Generally speaking, it is fair to say we have not utilised the sea to its maximum potential. If we look at comparable maritime nations like the Japanese, the Phillippinos or indeed some of our European neighbours, such as the Danes, we find that they have looked to the sea in a more real way, they sought always to derive therefrom maximum advantage in terms of food supply, transport and development in a manner we did not do over many generations.

This Bill seeks to establish a marine institute. It is something that has been thought about, researched, an idea that has been floated for many years. We all [1355] looked with a certain positive feeling to this development. Clearly, if we are to take a more realistic, more exploitative view of the sea, to harness the sea and all its potential for the benefit economically, socially and culturally of our people, we need some central co-ordinating body. For that reason many of us sought over many years to have an institute established such as the one proposed in this Bill.

Therefore, it is with a great sense of regret I note that the scope of the provisions of this Bill is so inadequate. The potential to do something historic, to constitute a milestone year in the development of our marine culture, as I perceive it, has been substantially missed in this Bill. Certainly it seeks to establish a marine institute but one which really lacks the teeth and the co-ordinating role most of us sought and would like to have seen put in place.

It was interesting to listen to the Minister of State's remarks in the course of which he referred to the potential of the sea and of this proposed institute. Many people, however, are now beginning to realise that in the series of battles fought at the Cabinet table, where one has the conflicting interests of the mini-empires of Energy and Environment, the Minister did not come out all that well. This has been decribed as an enabling Bill and substantially that is what it is. We had hoped it would concentrate power and responsibility in one dynamic institute which would have teeth, power, resources and funding, but we see no mention of these things in either the Minister of State's script or in the Bill before us.

It has been said that our waters are an important resource and certainly this is true. At the beginning of 1988 there were some 3,800 full-time fishermen, 3,950 part-time fishermen along with another 4,300 people employed either full-time or part-time in aquaculture and fish processing. At almost 13,000, this is a significant level of employment but is small when compared to its potential. When [1356] talking about the dreadful problem of unemployment many of us hope that our natural resources, both on land and in the sea, will be used as a catalyst in securing dynamic development and that agencies such as the National Development Corporation will take on a dynamic role and fund marine and acquaculture-related projects leading to a substantial increase in the number employed in the processing and catching of fish and other sea creatures.

In recent years we have developed a new taste for fish, including fin fish and shellfish. There was a time when the abundance of the sea was regarded as famine food and a substantial meal had to include meat. The notion of eating fish carried a certain second class quality but in recent years the position has been reversed. There is now a snob value attached to seafood as a source of nutrition, not least because it is a very healthy source of nutrition carrying none of the potential dangers for cholesterol levels which many processed meat products carry. Therefore, there is a growing market within this country for quality seafood.

We are teetering on the brink of this huge potential but unclear as to how we can maximise it. We had hoped the Minister of State would have come into the House today with a clear plan and to indicate what the targets and objectives are. There was much hoo-ha and ballyhoo surrounding the establishment of the Department of the Marine some years ago when we were led to believe it was going to be a primary Department of State, and would no longer be a sub-compartment in an amalgam of functions comprising tourism, forestry and fisheries in one Department with fisheries tagged on at the end and tourism taking the primary role. Roinn an Mara were going to be the flagship and the primary agency who would develop the necessary infrastructure for the creation of jobs and maximise the potential of aquaculture and mariculture for the benefit of the people. We have not benefited very much thus far.

[1357] When Roinn na Mara was first established I rang Leeson Lane and inquired if that was the Department of the Marine. The civil servant who answered hesitated for a moment and was not quite sure. She replied “we are not sure yet, some of us are going to remain in this Department, others are going elsewhere, and a few are to arrive but we will let you know in due course”. It is clear that someone had a good idea for the establishment of a dynamic Department of State and sold this idea to the Governnment but forgot to fill in the blanks. I have to say a more plodding Department was established. They did not do what we had all hoped they would and did not become the flagship concentrating all the scattered elements in one force to bring forward a development plan which would impact tremendously on the job potential of the industry. That was a disappointment.

We had hoped the establishment of the Marine Institute, which has been long promised, would have an ameliorating effect and act as a catalyst in pulling together the fragmented sections of the marine sector but even this will not happen. It will not be a dynamic institute with real force and power. It is clear that the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Energy want to hold on to every last vestige of their individual fiefdoms and are reluctant, even if this is in the national interest, to shed anything from their mini-empires. This is a sad reflection — but not unique to this Government — on the way the Cabinet conduct their business with the strength of the Minister — how broad his chest can be — related to the number of personnel employed in his Department, the number of subheads in his Estimate and the number of pounds in his budget.

It is about time we jettisoned this approach and brought ourselves into the latter part of the 20th century and prepared ourselves for the next century when there will be a very competitive single market in Europe. We start from a very low base as the level of research and development in this country is grossly inadequate when compared with that of any of our European partners. We hope that [1358] we will not continue in this plodding way and that some bold initiatives will be taken by the Government, as promised. Sadly, it does not look as if this will be the case. There were positive and good things mentioned by the Minister of State which should be included in legislation by a Minister who wants to bring the development of the marine industry into the forefront of our economic life. Therefore, I am disappointed by the scope of the Bill.

It is impossible for us to look on the oceans as separate compartments. From the seabed to the sky is one entity which cannot be divided as between the Department of the Environment, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Marine and others. We need to adopt a comprehensive programme of research and development on the oceans.

There is the prospect, as has been said already, of a Bill coming before the House in the not too distant future to establish another agency, that is the Environmental Protection Agency. I am anxious to see the form of that agency when the legislation comes before this House and how the agency will interact with this new Marine Institute we are about to establish. Obviously there would be some overlap of responsibilities in relation to the quality of the seas around our coast and in relation to research on accidents and accident prevention. The most serious one we have had to deal with here in recent years was the Kowloon Bridge incident which could have been disastrous. I am not convinced that we have the wherewithal to deal with another Kowloon Bridge or a situation that could be infinitely worse should it, by act of God, arrive on our coastline. We have lived by the skin of our teeth year on year without an adequate plan, without adequate resources and with totally inadequate research.

The location of this new agency has been referred to and a case has been made for the institute to be sited in Galway. The first issue that must be resolved — and what the Minister had to say about it this morning filled me with dismay — is that it is not envisaged having [1359] a single campus agency. The reason given is not that it does not make sense to have it but that it would cost money and the Minister is not prepared to spend money on that initiative. He said: “this is not essential in the short to medium term and in the present economic climate the construction of such a campus would be a waste of scarce financial resources”. What is proposed? The existing agencies which the Minister described as fragmented, dissipated around the country and unco-ordinated, are to be renamed, repainted and launched with a new logo. There is to be no significant funding made available. In fact the Minister, with a certain degree of audacity, said “I consider it important that all funding which was previously allocated to marine research and to marine related research should continue to be allocated following the establishment of the institute”. Is that supposed to be a big deal? He is going to let them have the money they were to get anyway. What we had hoped was that there would be some dynamic bust of energy funded in real terms. Deputy Taylor-Quinn mentioned £110,000 but was at a loss as to where she had got the figure. The Minister did not help her. That figure was in the explanatory and financial memorandum to the Bill circulated by the Minister. In that memorandum, under financial implications, it is stated “No additional Exchequer costs will arise in the current year”. There will be no great input of brilliance and research and funding. A provision of £110,000 has been made for the Marine Institute in the Estimate for 1990. According to the Minister those are the financial implications and that is where Deputy Taylor-Quinn got her £110,000. What the Minister had done is to come before the House with a long script of 19 pages showing all the potential, spelling out in great detail what could be done, and let it all fall flat on its face because it can not be done in the present economic climate. That will come as a great disappointment to many people who had great faith in this Government to actually do something about an area which has [1360] been absolutely neglected for generations by Governments of every political hue. At least they did not raise expectations. The Government have raised expectations only to shatter them with a totally inadequate resource package and a disappointing Bill which does not do even what he would like to do himself as he spelled out clearly on Second Stage.

I want to talk briefly about another issue, that is, the issue of our territorial rights. The Minister mentioned briefly the potential for expanding the territorial rights of this nation but he did not make any clear statement of interest in our territorial rights. The rights that we have established under UN law, which could extend to one million square kilometres of seabed the influence and sphere of control of Ireland's mariculture, were not explored. What is the Minister's view? What are the views of the Government in relation to this most important issue? Will the Minister spell it out and state the actions he proposes to take to maximise the area that will be brought into Irish sovereignty? What action plan does he have to vindicate the rights that are clearly ours and to fend off what he describes as the conflicting claims of others? It is not good enough to say that we might have rights out there. The Minister should say what our rights are and what the Government intend to claim and win for Ireland. He should indicate the path we will follow to bring those rights to fulfilment and to vindicate them in international law. I hope the Minister will not leave that area up in the air as it is now and will do something to clarify that issue.

The Bill states that with this new institute people and property may be transferred. Will the Minister spell out what his intentions are? Is it to be a fisheries research centre repainted and nothing else? Are all the expectations that were built up to be dashed, or is the Minister serious about the business that he pretends to be about? Is he serious about achieving for Ireland all that he spelled out on Second Stage?

He has acknowledged that the marine is a totally underdeveloped resource. He [1361] has acknowledged that Ireland has a huge marine area much of it yet to be formally acknowledged as Irish influenced. He has acknowledged that the various agencies and units in the research end of his Department in the universities are scattered and fragmented. He has acknowledged that there is an inadequate corps of specialist researchers, that we do not have the information we require to maximise the potential of the marine. More seriously, he has acknowledged that foreigners have a better knowledge and understanding of our marine situation than we do ourselves. How can he stand over and accept that as Minister for the Marine when he must go to Brussels to fight the case of Ireland with information provided by the very people who argue against our case and who clearly have their own vested interests? That is not an acceptable way for any Minister for the Marine to go to the negotiating table.

Having acknowledged that, we would have hoped that the Minister would at least have said that is unacceptable to him as Minister for the Marine and that he intends to do something about it. He should be telling us that he will provide a certain number of extra research vessels, undertake so much additional manning and provide so much cash to really provide him and his Department with information that is crucial to our national interest. If we were to wait for the Minister to say that we would have been waiting in vain, because that did not happen.

It is true that traditionally there has been a lack of interest by successive Governments in the area of the marine, as evidenced by the lack of a proper coastal radio network for VHF transmission which is slowly crawling into place year by year. It is evidenced by the lack of a proper shipbuilding programme that would give us an independent maritime facility. It is evidenced by what the Minister has accepted today as a totally inadequate pool of research or corps of researchers available to this country. It is evidenced in every coastal resort in the country, where we have fabulous bays [1362] but no developed aquatic sports or recreation facilities. A comparable location anywhere in Europe would have fabulous facilities, but we have neglected them. It is not only this Minister's responsibility but has been the responsibility of all of us going back for generations. That is the past but the Minister has responsibility for the future. However, he has shirked that responsibility, as is evidenced by this legislation today and by the performance of his Department in recent years.

I will get in a plug for my area as a possible location for the institute. Apparently, it will not be a single location centre for some time, but when it is to be located in one place let me request that the Minister consider the south east, and particularly Wexford, in that regard. I have already talked about the seafaring tradition of that county. There is a huge pool of expertise available and there are several significant mariculture developments. Already there is shell fish culture, development and processing there while significant sea fishing is carried on from the excellent port of Kilmore. Unfortunately, that port was battered recently by the storms — the Minister is familiar with this because he kindly visited it shortly after the disaster. We are grateful for the help given by his Department and indeed by the Minister since that tragedy overtook Kilmore and other coastal regions in December of last year and January of this year. We have the infrastructure, the tradition and the knowledge and no finer or better location can be found for the location of this institute than County Wexford. Let me politicise the issue slightly by saying that much has been promised to that county but very little has been delivered especially in the area of decentralisation. The Minister for Finance in the not too distant past promised that there would be decentralisation to County Wexford and I suggest that this is an opportunity to do something concrete on that promise and give the county a resource that can be used for the benefit of the country at large. County Wexford has the tradition, and the skill and the background work [1363] has already been undertaken in the culturing of fish and in deep sea fishing. It is all there within striking distance.

There is great public anxiety about the type of chemicals used now in fish farming. Public anxiety will eventually make it unviable to have sea fish farming unless stringent controls are not only put into operation but are seen to be put into operation. Thankfully, we are acutely aware of the dangers to the environment from a great many activities. Indeed a great many processes that would have been nodded through in years past now come under close scrutiny. That is only right and proper because uniquely we have a great head start on the rest of Europe. For all the negative points about our lack of development, the one positive point is that it has allowed us the potential to preserve our environment. The Minister has to ensure that the marine environment is as pure as the land environment should be.

In recent days some people have expressed the fear that the use of sonar devices to protect sea fish farming activities may have been responsible for the killing of a number of dolphins that have been washed up on the west coast in recent years. I do not know very much about it but I know that some people fear this is the case. I ask the Minister to look into this matter and to assure both us and himself that no sonar devices or devices of any kind designed to protect fish farming would have such a traumatic effect on the wonderful sea mammals such as dolphins.

In essence, the Bill is welcome in broad strokes because it is at least the start of something. It is unfortunate that the opportunity to do something dramatic has been lost and that instead of a far-reaching bringing together of the disparate elements involved in aquaculture and the marine, we have flimsy enabling legislation, full of promise but short on teeth. It is clearly going to be under-funded and undermanned to meet the real needs of this country. I hope the Minister will renew his battles in Cabinet to put the issue of marine development [1364] and the role of his Department to the forefront of our economic plans for the creation of jobs. As a nation we have been devastated by unemployment and hurt to the core by emigration. Marine development can play a significant role in redressing that horrendous deficit balance. Quite frankly I had hoped that the Minister would do better.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When this Bill was circulated I welcomed it on behalf of The Workers' Party. We are all in agreement that a marine institute should be established. This is something that my own party have been demanding for some time. However, the more I have studied this Bill and examined the background to it, the more I am coming to the conclusion that perhaps I was a little over-hasty in my initial welcome for it. The Bill falls very far short of what is required. It also falls very far short of the claims made for it by the Minister and it falls far short of the recommendations made by the task force which recommended in 1987 the establishment of a marine institute.

My party will not be opposing the Second Reading of this Bill but we will be tabling a number of amendments on Committee Stage. If the Bill is not substantially amended on Committee Stage then we will have to give serious consideration as to whether to oppose it at a later stage. As it stands, this Bill proposes to establish a body which will do little more than provide a new layer of bureaucracy between those who are already engaged in marine research and development in many different agencies and the Department of the Marine who hold the purse strings.

Deputy Howlin referred to the question of ambivalence to the sea and quite rightly pointed out that ambivalence is not generally held by the people of this country, particularly those who live along our coasts and whose working lives are bound up with the sea; but it is an ambivalence that was to be found very frequently in Government action, or inaction over the past number of years. It is probably fair to say that not only this [1365] Government's but their predecessor's relationaship with the sea can be described more as one of neglect than ambivalence.

We are now addressing this issue, to establish a marine institute at the end of the century, the first century this country got its independence after 800 years of British domination. This is a time when not just in this country but in other countries people are beginning to look at their political performance to examine how well they have governed themselves. As we approach the end of this century it is perhaps worth reflecting on how successful Irish Governments have been during the period of independence. Whatever yardstick you use, whether it is the level of unemployment or the fact that — if I may use the late President de Valera's phrase — we are still exporting our people like cattle, the period of self-Government has not been distinguished by success. That is probably to be found as much in the area of maritime affairs as anywhere else.

Only now, 70 years after achieving independence, are we establishing a marine institute to research and co-ordinate the development of our maritime affairs. Only three years ago the first Department of the Marine was established. While I would be among the first to compliment the Government of the day on establishing the Department of the Marine, we also have to reflect on the fact that it was the very same political party who held office over most of the period of our independence when affairs of the sea and the development of our marine resources were neglected. It is a sad reflection that, during our period of independence, in many respects the performance of Irish Governments in relation to the sea far worse than while this country was under British rule.

In many respects our attitude to the sea has been dominated by a kind of fish on Friday attitude, that the sea is not central to economic development but is peripheral and, at worst, dangerous either physically or because of what it could bring this insular thinking country into contact with. Throughout this period [1366] of our independence there are several examples of the Government's failure to develop marine resources. For example, in the early eighties there was a shameful sell-out by an Irish Government in their negotiations at EC level which limited our fish quotas. Despite the fact that Ireland has 25 per cent of European fishing waters, we got a miserly fish quota and that, in turn, has frustrated the development of a proper fishing industry.

We can blame tradition and ambivalent attitudes and if we go back far enough, we can blame the British for many things, but we cannot blame them for the neglect of the sea. Dr. John de Courcy Ireland in his book Ireland and the Irish in Maritime Affairs documents the remarkable contribution of the Irish to maritime affairs over many centuries and the fact that this country had a great maritime tradition going back to early times and throughout the centuries. I will quote from his book to illustrate the point. He says:

While other nations were building frigates, clippers, iron-clads and submarines, Irishmen at home were keeping alive the traditional Irish skills in ship and boat-building. The Galway and Kinsale hooker, the Wexford cot, the Greencastle yawl, the Dublin Bay herring boat and many other craft, all unique, which are for the most part represented by excellent models in the Irish Maritime Museum in Dún Laoghaire, took on their final form during the last century. During that century the remarkable Tyrrell boat-yard at Arklow was established, which has produced a succession of famous vessels, culminating with the lovely sail-training wooden brigantine Asgard II of 1981.

Throughout the centuries and right up to the time of independence, there was a great maritime tradition in this country. What went wrong when we got independence? The story of Irish Shipping is probably the best example to give of what went wrong. Again I will quote from Dr. de Courcy Ireland's book because the story of Irish Shipping is, perhaps, the [1367] saddest reflection of the disgraceful and shameful way in which Irish Governments have treated the sea and the people who have worked on the sea. He says:

When statehood was at last achieved here the people of Ireland had a right to expect their great maritime tradition to be capitalised upon for their benefit and as a contribution from Ireland to the everlasting struggle of all mankind to harness the sea and its sciences for one universal good. The people's expectations were disappointed. It was only when dire want was upon us that the government of the time, the same one that had been warned before the 1939 war broke out by a few who had foresight, and had not heeded, set up Irish Shipping Ltd. This company's ships saved us in wartime, and, when peace came, brought millions of pounds into the country, saved millions more that would otherwise have gone to foreign shipowners, gave employment to hundreds and showed the Irish flag and raised the prestige of Ireland even in far-off places where the name of Ireland was barely known.

Now, since this book was completed, Irish Shipping Ltd. has been liquidated, and the Irish people have been betrayed again. Who was responsible for the mismanagement that led to liquidation, and for what motive or motives, time may perhaps tell. But the ultimate blame unquestionably lies with successive Governments which, after that of 1941 had been driven by desperate events to found the company, never took any genuine interest in what it was doing and what it stood for, in its personnel whose loyalty and readiness to make sacrifices for their employers must be almost unexampled in the annals of merchant shipping. No effort was made to arouse, through the national education system, that interest in maritime affairs by the general public which could have prevented apathy and complacency in high places.

Today we are reduced to a merchant [1368] fleet of 92,401 tons 30,908 tons of which are owned outside the state — a merchant fleet one-third the size of land-locked Switzerland's leaving our seaborne trade largely at the mercy of outside shipowners. Worse there are now dozens of Irish seafarers with no hope but to offer their services to foreign-flag companies (probably dubious “flag of convenience” ones) which make no provision for pension and social welfare payments, life insurance cover or disability insurance. And, even more disgraceful, seamen who gave the country a lifetime in service, and widows of some who served through the hazards of wars, have had their pensions mercilessly cut — in the typical case of a retired master mariner who was at sea in the wartime fleet from £184 a month, hardly generous to start with, to only £29.

The case of Irish Shipping has raised in this Chamber——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Gilmore, will appreciate that that is some distance from marine research. You can argue that you cannot have marine research without ships, but it was never the intention of the company in question to exploit them in this fashion. I would ask that he would not dwell too long on the particular aspects of Irish Shipping which would be more appropriate to other legislation.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It was not my intention to dwell too long on it. On every occasion on which I have sought to raise the issue in this Chamber I have been frustrated by one ruse or another. The last occasion on which I sought to raise it I was told it was sub judice and that the Minister was not in a position to reply to me. As you know, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the present Government or at least their immediate predecessor — when they were a single party — gave an under-taking to the former employees of Irish Shipping that their pensions and their redundancy entitlements would be attended to. It is a disgrace that people [1369] who served this country well, who found their company liquidated, who provided this company with a shipping service——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  The Deputy will appreciate that irrespective of the merits of the particular case we are governed here by the rules which I must operate on your behalf. In respect of Second Stage contributions, while Deputies have certain freedom, that freedom is confined to referring to what is proposed in the legislation or what might more correctly be proposed in it. In so far as the Deputy—on his own admission — is not anxious to pursue either of those then he would be precluded from pursuing what is not allowable for discussion under this Bill. The other areas to which you refer are not relevant to what we are discussing here.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is my intention to show that in fact Irish Shipping is relevant to this Bill, that the functions of the Marine Institute, whenever it is established, will have a bearing, and the research it will carry out will not be confined to matters which will preclude it from research into the whole area of shipping. I am surprised that previous speakers had the latitude to raise everything from the fishing industry to the provision of leisure facilities in bays. I find it strange that again on this occasion my efforts to speak about what has been the greatest tragedy in Irish maritime affairs this last quarter of the century is leading to frustration on the part of the Chair. However, what I will do——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Pardon me, Deputy Gilmore, is it not the purpose of the Chair to frustrate anybody. There is an obligation on the Chair to indicate to the House what is appropriate. I know that Deputy Gilmore, notwithstanding his newness here, is intelligent enough and well versed enough to know that what he has been doing for the last few minutes, rather successfully and with a [1370] patient Chair, is skirting something he knows is not pertinent to——

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Territorial waters.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  If it is in order I do intend to return to this issue at a later stage in my contribution when, perhaps its relevance will be clearer to you.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  If the Deputy has faith enough in himself to demonstrate that what he is pursuing is pertinent to the Bill I would be delighted to learn from him.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  All will be revealed. I will return to the point when I am a addressing the issue of the functions of the Marine Institute and at that stage you will not find any reason to quibble with it. It is important to have put it in perspective because it shows the extent to which maritime affairs in Ireland have been neglected by successive Governments. We now have a Bill dealing with a marine institute. We have to examine what contribution that will make to maritime affairs. As I mentioned earlier, my party welcome the establishment of a marine institute. It is being established 15 years after it was first recommended by the OECD. It is now three years since the task force reported. I doubt whether its establishment will be on time either to address the serious research that needs to be carried out and the co-ordination of it in advance of the review of our fish quotas in 1992 or to enable us benefit from funds which may be available from the European Community for marine research.

Deputy Taylor-Quinn mentioned the case of EC funds and referred in particular to the MAST programme. We have already missed out on the first phase of that programme because we did not have a marine institute established. We may yet miss out on the next phase of it. In addition there is the question of whether we will benefit from funds from the STRIDE programme which deals with Regional Funds.

Of course we did not have to wait for [1371] the establishment of a Marine Institute for research and development of marine resources to be carried out. There are many bodies already working in this area. Those are documented in the task force report. In preparation for the debate on this Bill I asked the Minister to send me a copy of the task force report. I regret to say I did not receive one from him though I did manage to lay my hands on a copy elsewhere. The task force report spells out the number of Government Departments which are already engaged in marine research. It lists the universities which are carrying out marine research, the various State bodies, semi-State companies etc. who are carrying out extensive research into the sea and the various areas connected with it. The problem is not that there has not been research, it is more a case that there has not been a policy or a strategy. There has been no political direction and there has been a great shortage of resources available to those bodies to carry out the kind of research and development they are capable of.

If we were to judge the institute that is to be established from the speech made by the Minister, we would be reasonably happy with it. His speech was very broad and showed a great understanding of the issues of the sea and of what was required; obviously, the Minister borrowed very heavily from the task force report in the preparation of his speech. The problem is that the Bill presented to us bears little or no relationship to the task force report and the claims which are made for it by the Minister. This Bill could be establishing anything. It could be establishing any State agency related to any Department of Government. It is a Bill which is straight out of the word processor. It is a standard Bill. The sections are standard sections to be found in any Bill establishing a State agency. The Bill makes very little concession to the topics it is dealing with and in particular to the sea. A study of some of the individual sections of the Bill will make that clear. Look, for example, at the definition of “marine” which, as I read it, is [1372] about the narrowest definition of “marine” you can get. It is continuing the fallacy that you treat the sea as a body of water, that you do not treat it in its totality. The Nordic Council dealing with the definition of the sea and its relationship with air and land, state: “The volume of water in the ocean is admittedly enormous but this water is one component of a continuous cycle and is involved in a continuous exchange of different substances between land, air and sea”. I can see no reference in the definition to the seabed, which is a very important element of what is to be researched. Any definition of “marine” has to take account of the single system to which the sea belongs.

Section 4 deals with what the functions of the institute are to be. Previous speakers have referred to this, and it really reads as if the Minister is behaving like a parent who is faced with a grown up child and does not want to let go. Virtually every function in the Bill can be performed only by the express permission of the Minister. The institute will “advise the Minister”. They will carry out policy XX “as may be specified by the Minister”. They can co-ordinate proposals for research “as the Minister may from time to time direct”. They can evaluate for the Minister proposals for marine research etc. “as the Minister may from time to time direct”. They may advise the Minister on proposals for marine research “as the Minister may from time to time direct”. They may “at the request of the Minister” represent the State in various respects. They may engage in international activities “(where appropriate after consultation with the Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs)”. They can engage in activities relating to marine research “as may be approved by the Minister”. The institute may, subject to compliance with conditions “as the Minister may from time to time direct” do all other such things etc. Virtually every function that is identified for the institute in the Bill can be performed only with the expressed permission of the Minister. I wonder if, when this institute are established, the Minister will find [1373] time to do anything other than reply to requests from them for permission to do work which they need to do.

I agree that any institute of State established need to be accountable to this House through the Minister, but really what is being proposed here is little more than an extension of the Department of the Marine themselves. They are certainly not any kind of independent or quasi-independent body who could function properly. We know from previous experience that State bodies who are established with that kind of umbilical cord still attached to the Minister simply do not work. There is always a tension between the parent Department and a body in the first place, and in those circumstances the Department invariably win.

When we look at the functions proposed for the institute, it is quite clear that what is provided for in this Bill is far short of what was recommended by the task force. They stated that the institute should have a clear focus and clearly defined responsibilities. That task force were established in 1986 by the then Government and were called the Marine Science and Technology Task Force. They were established to make recommendations, and they did so in 1987. They recommended the establishment of a marine institute and made recommendations as to what the marine institute should do, how it should be composed and so on. It is quite clear from the Bill that the task force recommendations, even though the Minister used them as script material for his speech, have been ignored. They go much further in terms of the functions that would be appropriate to the institute than is contained in the Bill. They talk about the provision of advice to the Minister for Fisheries and the Minister for Industry and Commerce as being responsible for science and technology at national level, and other Ministers as appropriate, on any matter relating to research and technological development on which their advice is requested. They say the institute have responsibility to prepare long term projections and a [1374] national programme for their area of responsibility, to organise the delineation, mapping and quantification of Ireland's marine and fisheries resources.

Previous speakers in this debate have referred to the fact that this country to date has failed to delineate its claim on the Continental Shelf. It is a disgrace. Iceland and even the Faroe Islands have delineated already and lodged their claim at the United Nations for a share of the Continental Shelf which in some cases is overlapping the share of the Continental Shelf which should properly be claimed by this country, and the Irish Government are behaving absurdly. It is almost like giving a farmer a piece of land and he does not go out to stake and claim it and allows anyone to come and use it. We have the possibility now — it will not remain there forever — of claiming and delineating a share of the Continental Shelf with all that involves in terms of potential for future development and preventing others from abusing it for either military or other purposes, yet it has not been done. Although the Minister referred to it obliquely in his speech, he has not stated when it is going to be done. The task force recommended that the Marine Institute they were recommending be established would be the body who would do it, yet quite significantly that function has been left out of the functions which are to be given to the Marine Institute. I would like the Minister to answer why there is no reference in the Bill establishing the Marine Institute to the function recommended for them by the task force, that they should be responsible for the delineation, mapping and quantification of Ireland's marine and fishery resources and the delineation of the Continental Shelf.

The task force go on to talk about how the co-ordination of research is to be carried out. As I mentioned, many bodies are involved in marine research and development and this Bill talks in a very general way about co-ordination. The Minister said that in terms of location it will not be a single campus. I understand the logic of it not being a single campus location because of the nature of the work [1375] to be carried out and co-ordinated by the Marine Institute.

We are talking about a coastal activity for a start; we are talking about different functions some of which are already being undertaken by other bodies. By its very nature the institute would not be a single campus organisation but it is a total cop-out to avoid addressing the question of whether the bodies already engaged in marine research will be brought into the new institute. That is not clear from the Bill.

The Bill refers to the new institute as having some kind of umbrella co-ordinating role. For example, the task force recommended that different bodies should be brought into the institute. They recommended that the institute should as a minimum incorporate the research and technology functions currently undertaken by the following institutions, or parts of institutions — the Fisheries Research Centre, the Salmon Research Trust, the Central Fisheries Board, BIM, the Shellfish Laboratory at Carna, the NBST marine activities, the marine research vessel, Lough Beltra, the IIRS Ocean Services Department, the marine geology section of the Geological Survey Office, and the hydrodraulics research laboratory at UCC. They went on to propose a relationship between the institute and the universities engaged in research but the Bill ducks the question, it avoids saying whether those bodies will be incorporated into the new institute. The Bill does not say if the functions of those bodies will be transferred to the Marine Institute. If the functions of those bodies who are already carrying out the research are not to be transferred to the new institute, what will be the function of that body other than establishing a new layer of bureaucracy between the staff who are working in those bodies and the Department of the Marine who will control the purse strings? The Minister should address that question in the course of his reply.

This amounts to the Government fulfilling, at least on paper, an election [1376] promise to establish a marine institute They are not doing so in a way that was recommended either by the task force or by those who are engaged in this work. What should the Marine Institute be doing? To answer that question I should like to return to the issue of shipping. After the Channel Tunnel opens we will be the only island member state of the Community. I accept that raising the issue of shipping in the Chamber is not the most welcome act but it is something that has some relevance when we are talking about establishing an institute that will research our maritime affairs. The new body will have to consider how people and goods will be transported between Ireland and the remainder of the European Community.

I would like to see the institute addressing the whole question of shipping because of the many developments that have taken place elsewhere. For example, Sealink have put a new 35,000 tonne ship on the English Channel and P & O have put two modern vessels on the Enlish Channel which can cover the journey between Dover and Boulogne in 40 minutes. What are we doing about providing modern ships that will give us an efficient means of transport between this country and the rest of the Community post-1992? The new institute should address that matter.

I suggest that the institute should address what is happening generally in regard to shipping. That is relevant when one considers what happened to Irish Shipping. That perfectly good shipping company was sunk and we are likely to get in its place a dependence on the kind of cheap labour on Panamanian and Third World ships which are increasingly common in European waters. They fly flags of convenience and we have already seen the results of them getting involved in shipping. There have been many serious accidents, such as the recent tragedy in Norway, and a number of oil-spills. Underpaid and under-trained crews operate those ships flying flags of convenience. In some cases the crews do not understand the basic safety precautions to be taken on ships. The [1377] issue of shipping, and the provision of labour on ships, should be addressed by the new institute.

In my view, the new institute will have to address the question of fish quotas. That will have to be undertaken before the review of the quotas in 1992. They will have to consider the type of trawlers we need to maximise our fishing potential. The French equivalent of the new institute are planning a new model of trawler for the next century. The new body will have to address the issue of fish farming and ensure that we develop a form of fish farming which is economically efficient and environmentally sensitive. They will have to consider the question of employment. We have never considered seriously the potential of the sea for employment. Many Members have referred to fishing and the leisure industry, the obvious sources from which employment could be obtained from the sea, but employment could be obtained in marine research. As the land based resources of many countries become exhausted people are turning more and more to the sea. In my view people will be turning to the sea but not in an exploitative fashion. They will be anxious to see how the resource can be developed and conserved in order to provide food and energy resources for people.

How will the new institute inter-relate with the proposed environmental protection agency? At what point will responsibility for environmental protection cease to be the responsibility of the new agency? Will the Marine Institute have any responsibility in that area? Much of the legislation dealing with the sea is seriously out of date and it will be a matter for the new institute to up-date it.

Other speakers referred to the location of the headquarters of the new body. I hold an opinion on this subject. Deputy Taylor-Quinn tried to bend my ear and appeal to my filial attachment to Galway but, on reflection, the most appropriate location for the headquarters of the institute would be a place where they could inter-relate with other institutions engaged in marine work. I am speaking [1378] in particular of the Maritime Museum and the headquarters of BIM both of which are located in Dún Laoghaire.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Is the Deputy serious?

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is not a laughing matter. I am very serious.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): The Deputy was doing very well up to now.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  What about locating the headquarters in Bray?

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  We will share it. The Minister said it will not be a single campus institution and obviously its different aspects will be located where the research is already being carried out. Essentially we are talking about a headquarters. There are three reasons for locating it in Dún Laoghaire; the first is because the Maritime Museum and BIM are located there with which it could integrate.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  And Irish Lights.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Yes, indeed. Secondly, the Minister for the Marine is currently considering proposals for the development of Dún Laoghaire Harbour and included in that are proposals for development to the rear of the West Pier. Some time ago I suggested that this would make an ideal location for the development of a marine science technology park, not just something which would perhaps be the headquarters of the Marine Institute but which could also be the location from which employment based on marine research and the development of marine technologies could be advanced. There is a need — and it will become greater after 1992 — to identify areas where employment will be created and to carve a niche for itself in certain industries. At this stage we may well be late in trying to imitate what other countries have done in relation to the development of the sea but there is a whole area of marine research and the development of new marine technologies in which no country has yet specialised.

[1379] Even though this country is late in establishing its Marine Institute it could become involved in it.

I look forward to the Minister's response and I hope he will take on board at least some of the criticism in regard to the Bill. I hope it can be substantially amended on Committee Stage because, as it stands, it is inadequate and totally ignores the recommendations made by the task force.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I have a particular and very personal reason for welcoming the Bill. In 1984 I was invited by the Taoiseach to become involved in the preparation of a draft paper on marine policy, focusing in particular on the need for the establishment of the Department of the Marine and for an accompanying institute for marine research.

The Taoiseach at that time was making what I believe will prove to be one of the most important and significant policy steps taken by any Government since the foundation of the State. I know that phrase is very frequently used but in this case it is used objectively and without any sense of hype. As a background to the Taoiseach's initiative — it is worth stressing that it was very much the Taoiseach's personal idea and initiative — was his realisation that our marine environment is one of our most unappreciated and underdeveloped natural resources and in that he showed extraordinary foresight. There is an old saying that a good idea has many fathers and that a bad idea has none. It is intriguing, since the Taoiseach took this initiative, to see how many people have claimed credit for it. Anyway we are generous on this side of the House.

In the Fianna Fáil policy document —Roinn na Mara— produced in 1984 and published in 1985, it was recognised that since the foundation of the State there has never been a co-ordinated Government policy directed towards the development of marine resources. The policy document suggested that the reasons for this are partly historical and, to a large extent, reflect the low priority [1380] attached to the establishment of a marine economy by successive Governments.

The document recognised that many of the problems currently affecting marine related industries could be attributed to an absence of policy planning, accompanied by a fragmentation of administrative structures. The absence of policy planning and the lack of administrative structures were identified as resulting in five major problems: (1) a wasteful utilisation of Government financial and human resources; (2) a wasteful demarcation and overlap in policy between Government Departments and agencies operating in and outside the marine area; (3) confusion that led to an absence of forward development planning relating to existing established marine resources and those with development potential; (4) it was felt that the existing situation resulted in a lack of cohesion in approach to international maritime developments which impinge on national interests; and (5) it was felt that the existing situation brought about inadequate investment in research and development. I have summarised the document at some length because it was very much the father of the task force rather than the document to which Deputy Gilmore referred as being the father of the Minister's speech. Without crowing about it I suggest that since the early eighties there has been a very specific and concentrated focus of thinking within Fianna Fáil on this important policy area which emanated from the Taoiseach's personal interest in the matter. Do not let anybody else claim credit in this regard.

We are an island nation and we have an area of coastal waters under our control which vastly exceeds the total land area of the island. More important, not only does the sea area exceed the land-mass, we have no idea of the wealth tied up within this vast sea area under our control, nor have we begun to think how we can exploit that area for the benefit of our people. The sea, of course, is not just an area for exploitation, it is a living eco system that must be nurtured and respected. The effect of man's impact on [1381] the sea is becoming all too obvious, not just in our immediate area, but right across the globe.

In the Irish Sea we have, in effect, an inland sea into which has been dumped over the generations countless billion tons of raw and semi-treated sewage and each and every year we add to that. Billions of tons of nitrates and other chemicals are being washed through our streams and rivers to the same relatively confined sea. We do not even begin to have an idea as to the impact of the accumulation. To add insult to the centuries of injury of this sea, in the last 30 to 40 years a new and much more long lived menace has been dumped into those far from pristine waters. I am referring to the siting on the west coast of Britain of a string of major nuclear research stations, nuclear generator stations and of course the recycling plant at Windscale, now Sellafield. These stations pump their irradiated waters and waste into the Irish Sea and cause untold problems. In effect we live on the edge of an ecological time-bomb and we do not understand what is going on in that sea.

Of course, the Irish Sea is not unique in this respect and we do not want to give the impression that it is. Across the planet there are many other horrifying examples of damaged and destroyed waters. For example, the Aral Sea in the USSR provides the most extraordinary example of human folly. This truly immense sea has had its water renewal resource effectively cut off for irrigation purposes to the point where the sea's mass has now declined dramatically, whole communities have been devastated and the lives of tens of thousands of people changed for the worse. Areas of shoreline which were once fertile have been converted to deserts.

We must learn from these mistakes. The Government have shown - not just in this Bill — but in other initiatives that we are learning and capable of taking on board messages coming to us from all directions. In the document An Environment Action Programme— produced some time ago by the Minister for the Environment — the Government deal [1382] at some length with the issue of marine environment. For example, the Government have decided to eliminate untreated discharges of sewage from major coastal towns by the year 2000. This new programme will involve an investment of up to £400 million between now and the end of the century and provision for this will be built into future economic and social planning. I was very pleased to learn last week from the Minister for the Environment that phase two of the Greystones sewerage scheme is to be upgraded and will include a secondary treatment plant as well as a long sea outfall. Obviously, we are learning from our recent mistakes in this area.

The problem of dumping at sea is also being addressed by the Government. They have decided, for example, that Dublin Corporation must end the dumping of sewage slug at sea by 1998 at the very latest. Detailed studies are being undertaken to develop alternative sludge disposal arrangements. The bed of the Irish Sea is absolutely awash with sludge, not just from Dublin but from other cities. We cannot begin to understand the long-term impact of this. The question of waste disposal in harbours is being dealt with by the Government as part of the environmental action programme, which deals also with such diverse issues as the upgrading of beaches and the removal of sand from foreshores. It has been suggested that the steps the Government are taking in this direction are timid but they are not.

How man treats the sea as a dumping ground is only one aspect of the problem. Unintentional dumping through accidents at sea is another aspect. We have seen at first hand the problems caused by the Kowloon Bridge and the Betelgeuse disasters. As the memories of these disasters were beginning to fade from public consciousness the problem was brought back forcibly to mind by the recent disaster in Alaska involving the Exxon Valdez. In that instance bad company practice and poor seamanship led to a super tanker devastating an area rich in marine life and fish.

[1383] Our coastal waters are among the busiest in the world and we must be mindful of the lessons learnt from the Kowloon Bridge and Exxon Valdez disasters. The question arises: do we have the research capacity to inform policy in this area? The answer is no. This is why the Government are taking these steps in this Bill. Our status as an island nation has been perceived for generations as a burden rather than an opportunity. One of the remarkable aspects of Irish life has been our failure to develop an indigenous shipping industry.

I am conscious of the strictures you laid on the last speaker, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, but I should like to point out that if we had a well-informed marine research institute, knew anything of international trade developments in shipping and did anything other than look occasionally at the Lloyds list in our Department of State, the disaster of Irish Shipping would not have happened. That disaster was the result of many years of carelessness.

I have personal interest in this issue. During the war years my late father was on the Kerlogue and in later years moved to Irish Shipping. I lived on a road which, as Deputy Howlin said, produced a great many sea captains. Like many people on that road my father went to sea when he was young, came ashore and eventually moved back to shipping to end his days a pensioner at Deputy Mitchell's mercy.

It is worth putting on the record that the tragedy of Irish Shipping is still with us. It is extraordinary that we as an island nation do not have a blue water merchant shipping fleet. We can see the results of this tragedy outside this House every budget day and each anniversary of the disastrous decisions taken by Deputy Mitchell in the protest held by Irish Shipping workers and their families. We have a moral obligation to look after those people, and I will continue to bother Ministers about this issue until such time as it is resolved.

The Irish Shipping debacle has left us as an island nation without any national deep water fleet.

[1384]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on James C. Tunney  Zoom on James C. Tunney  Deputy Roche will appreciate that he cannot develop this point now.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I promise you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that I will not develop the point further; I want to simply point out that the lack of a deep water fleet is something about which we should be concerned. The only deep water fleet operating out of this country at present is Arklow Shipping, a progressive and adventurous medium-sized shipping company by European standards. Even Arklow Shipping would admit that they do not constitute the blue water fleet we require.

One of the challenges facing the new institution is the monitoring of shipping development in a way that has never been done by State agencies. I worked for some years in the shipping section of the Department of Transport and power and I know no on-going monitoring of shipping developments is carried out; the civil servants in that section have too much else to do. If we want to know how shipping will develop right into the next century we must have an institution which can focus its attention on these developments. Without straining on your indulgence, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I say there is a particular need for research in this area.

Like our shipping fleet — I am moving onto inland waters — our fishing fleet has for far too long been a disaster. For years uninspired policies linked to a national “it will do” mentality and severe funding shortages conspired to keep down the size of Irish boats, and fleet numbers were restricted and stunted. What could have been a great industry never reached its potential simply because we did not realise that potential.

There have been vast improvements and developments in the size of boats in recent years. The Veronica, the biggest privately-owned fish factory ship in Europe, the Genesus, the Atlantic Challenger and the Western Endeavour all joined our fleet during the past decade. These are very welcome developments. [1385] However, while there has been a welcome influx of some large and medium-sized vessels on to the fishing register in recent times, the size and quality of much of the fleet still give cause for concern. I represent a maritime county and I am very concerned about the quality and safety of some smaller vessels. Many small vessels are poorly equipped and long past their prime, and some are clearly a danger to those who use them. This is something which must be of concern to all of us.

One of the most striking reasons for establishing a marine research unit institute is to generate intelligence and research in fish movement and developments. If we want to make any impact on non-quota species we must be able to establish the exact viability of fishing in this area. It is extraordinary that some of those fishermen who compete with our fleet in our waters have better data available to them than our fleet have. This again highlights the need for a co-ordinated research effort in this area.

We have just begun to recognise the potential of our seas in the mariculture and aquaculture areas. There have been some modest developments in these areas over the past decade. I want to stress that these developments have only been modest. From listening to some people one would think we have moved to the forefront in terms of mariculture development, but we are barely scratching the surface. For example, Wexford harbour has become a major source of mussels for French and European markets; shellfish production is being undertaken at a number of key points along the western seaboard, and fish farm pens and cages are appearing at a number of locations. As I have said, these developments barely scratch the surface of the truly vast potential in this industry.

Ireland and the Japanese island of Hokkaido are roughly comparable in terms of their sea area and coastlines. Indeed, their environmental conditions are not all that dissimilar either. The fishermen on the island of Hokkaido catch in the region of 300 million tonnes [1386] of fish every year. They produce an additional 1.7 million tonnes of fish processed in some five hundred processing plants on the island. Total direct employment in the fishing industry amounts to 34,000 employees. In addition there are 47,000 people employed in the fleet and in other offshore activities.

Of course, Japan has by far the world's biggest marine aquaculture industry. The Japanese currently produce 1.2 million tonnes from their aquaculture valued at £2.9 billion; 10 per cent of total fish and food production in Japan is accounted for by that industry. The Japanese are currently growing species such as red seabream, black seabream, flat fish, kuruma prawns, blue crab, scallops, abalone, arkshell, sea urchin as well as horse mackerel, octopus, trout and salmon in the seas around their coasts. The total number of people employed in Japanese fisheries is a staggering 400,000.

I am not suggesting we will ever be in the same league as the Japanese. Indeed, we do not have to go to Japan to make comparisons which show how far behind we are in these areas. For example, compare our efforts with Norwegian production of fish farm salmon or with Scottish production, much more modest than the Japanese. Yet those two nations make us blush when the comparison is made.

The area of shell fish production alone highlights something of the confusion we are going through. For example, in recent times Lett and Company in Wexford decided they would expand into the production of scallops. There are few companies here who can have a greater interest in our marine environment than that one. While others toy around with the idea of mussel production this adventurous and far-seeing company has become, in European terms, a major player. However, the company went further: not content with producing the raw product, as do so many of our native companies, Letts decided to invest heavily in value-added, producing a range of high quality, high value-added products which merit a premium price. From humble beginnings the Lett [1387] brothers built up not just a family firm but an entire industry. On fields around Batt Lane in Wexford where I, the Lett brothers and occasionally Deputy Howlin played as lads, they have built up a multi-million pound plant, giving good employment in the area. They put money into the local economy, adding value to a native product. They have established Irish shellfish as a premium product on the United Kingdom and continental markets, in particular on the French market. They have penetrated the United States market and have opened major trade links with Japan. By any yardstick that amounts to a successful company. In brief, Lett and Company, Tuskar Rock Seafood Products Limited, know their business well.

When that firm established the potential for scallop production, having invested heavily in terms of onshore plant and offshore facilities, they began not to get praise for their efforts as one might have expected. Indeed one would have expected they would have received not just praise but would be the object of some sense of national pride. Rather they began to encounter problems more readily identifiable not with pride but with the great Irish tradition of begrudgery. The problem in this case, as in so many others, was that opposition was based not on knowledge but on a lack thereof. If anybody was to risk damaging the Irish shellfish industry or the marine environment most decidedly they would not be the major player in that industry. Mindless opposition to positive developments derive from a lack of knowledge.

At present aquaculture and mariculture are in their infancy here. All too often lack of knowledge to make informed decisions can lead people to taking entrenched positions — people with vested interests or with an axe to grind can too easily don a “green mantle”. Lack of knowledge can also contribute to developments which we may have cause to regret in the future. Knowledge serves the environmentalist, the policy-maker and the developer in equal proportion.

[1388] In the area of mariculture it is vital that we have greater knowledge of what we are about, where we are going and what effect decisions now being taken will have in the long term. Again this underscores the vital need for a Marine Institute. In our case, lack of knowledge and of appreciation of potential have led us to fail to develop our marine resources.

Three years ago when Fianna Fáil were returned to power a start was made to redress the balance with the establishment of a Department of the Marine. That Department drew together bits and pieces from many other Departments previously responsible for marine policy. For the first time a Government Ministry focused on marine policy and elevated it to the Cabinet table. From the foundation of the State the contribution of the Departments concerned was fragmented and unco-ordinated, but with the advent of a Department of the Marine there was for the first time the possibility of a focused approach.

One of the most innovative moves by Government since the foundation of the State was the establishment of a Department of the Marine. Great credit is due to its first Minister, Deputy Brendan Daly, who became Minister in difficult times. When he came into that Ministry it was difficult to assemble an administrative structure because of the strictures obtaining throughout the public service and its personnel. One of the great tragedies in recent times in Irish politics has been the over-clouding of the achievements of that Minister by the rod licence affair. Vested interests and, I have to say, craven politicians to their shame, conspired to delay progress in this area.

The Bill before us today constitutes the second structural element proposed in the policy document drawn up by Fianna Fáil in 1985. Frankly I am somewhat surprised it has taken so long for it to be introduced. In the 1985 policy document and in the Programme for National Recovery the establishment of a Marine Institute was seen as an essential ingredient in the long-term development of our marine resources. In our 1985 policy document it was suggested that a marine [1389] institute would have the following objectives: to develop and promote a national policy for marine research and development; to co-ordinate all existing marine research activities and to direct marine research in universities and other institutes; to organise oceanographic, hydrographic, fisheries and aquaculture research, marine geological and environmental studies; to research and develop ocean engineering and to provide a data bank on all marine research developments; and to liaise with international marine research institutes. In that policy document the Marine Institute was envisaged as integrating the work being done by bodies such as the Fishery Research Centre and Salmon Research Trust then under the aegis of the Department of Fisheries and Forestry, the Marine Geological Unit of the Geological Survey Office under the aegis of the Department of Industry and Energy, the marine division of the National Board for Science and Technology and other services then provided by the IIRS.

Notwithstanding what has been said here today, I might point out that this Bill provides the potential to fulfil all of those objectives. It is obvious that its provisions follow very closely the proposals outlined by our party in 1985. A very important point in those proposals is that there will not be a single campus organisation. I welcome that decision. In the past all too often the birth of a new institute has meant nothing more than the cobbling together of existing functions accompanied by an explosion of top level appointments.

I might refer Deputies who may have some doubts about this to the birth of the extinct but not much lamented Department of the Public Service in 1973 which resulted in a massive explosion of top level appointments and, at the end of the day, did not bring a great deal of improvement. I am puzzled at the response to this point by Fine Gael, in particular by their spokesperson. She does not seem to understand that the whole aim and intention here is to provide an organisation which can best be [1390] described as catalytic rather than administrative. All too frequently in the past we have focused on the birth of organisations great at administration which do not catalyse anything. We must pose the question: if we take the route she suggested, dragging the fisheries research people from Abbotstown, somebody else from Wexford, and pulling all of these people together in one location in Galway, will we achieve anything? I think not.

To be fair to Deputy Gilmore he saw the dangers in taking this route and pointed out there was not much logic in the proposition that we opt for an organisation situated in a single campus. This is not to say the organisation being established by the Bill will not have a head office. It will but I dearly hope it will be a modest one and we will not be surrounded by battalions of people seeking to promote their interests rather than the interests the institute should promote.

I am equally puzzled by the response of the Labour Party. This is an enabling Bill. I see nothing wrong with that. It sets us on a new course but not one which is entirely unexplored. It is worth pointing out that the idea behind the establishment of the Agricultural Institute many years ago was that there would be a small central corps who would buy or initiate research in other institutions. In this way the brainpower of those institutions would be focused on agricultural research. It was not the intention that there would be one major agency carrying out all this research. I suggest to the Minister that he should stick to his guns on this issue as there is no way that he will ever be able to bring all the available brainpower together in one cental location. It would be far better to create an institute who would act as a liaison body and catalyst and who would co-ordinate the activity of all the other diverse agencies involved in research.

The arrangements the Minister is putting in place will allow for the co-ordination of marine research and provide for the first time an agency or institute who will focus and co-ordinate marine research and ensure that the priorities of [1391] the researchers in the marine research area are those of the nation. The institute being established under the Bill will provide a direct linkage with State Departments. Therefore far from criticising the approach being adopted in the Bill anyone who has seriously considered the issue or has a serious interest in the way public administration operates should take the view that this is an innovation we should welcome.

This institute will prevent the wasteful overlapping of research which occurs at present and ensure that gaps in research will be avoided. There is no doubt that there are gaps in research and I have referred to one or two. It should also prevent unhelpful competition between different publicly funded operations and between public and private research. It is worth bearing in mind that at present a number of State agencies are involved in marine activity. To suggest that we remove responsibility for those activities from those agencies and hand it to an institute under one roof is to avoid the reality that if we do this the vacuums will be filled and those agencies for whatever reasons will seek to continue at least some of this activity. Therefore if we were to take the route suggested by Deputy Taylor-Quinn we would produce precisely the opposite effect.

I hope the new arrangements will encourage us to see how cost-effective marine research is. We have to bear in mind that there are limits to the amount of money we can spend, we all have to live with that fact. What we have to ensure is that research is well focused and that we do not end up reinventing the wheel. The whole purpose of the institute should be to focus and direct activity not necessarily to carry out activity themselves.

There is a number of other points I would like to make. A case can be made for looking at a variety of locations for the head office. In the cross-Chamber banter between Deputy Gilmore and me, I suggested Bray but if the Minister does not opt for Bray I would be quite happy that he settle for Arklow. However that [1392] is one of the minor issues to be resolved at this time. Instead of being parochial what we should be doing is combining our efforts and talents. People on all sides of the House have a contribution to make and instead of arguing over where the institute should be located we should focus our minds on the way in which the new institute should operate.

Deputy Taylor-Quinn in her contribution, and I am sorry she is not present in the House, referred to her concerns about section 22 of the Bill which deals with discoveries and innovations. I apologise if I mispresent her but she seemed to suggest that it would be a good thing if intellectual property rights, that is, the right to patent and develop a patent, rather than being vested in the institute were vested in those researchers involved in the institute's activities. The Deputy seemed to suggest that this would be a very good perk for some of those researchers. As a taxpayer I would have to take a different view. If the institute or any other Government agency initiate and pay for research the people are entitled to reap the benefits which should not be regarded as a perk for any public servant. That may be an unpopular thought but the taxpayers, if paying for the research, should reap the profits which may accrue.

While the Bill before us obviously has my enthusiastic and wholehearted support, in closing I would like to put the thought in the Minister's mind that he should see this as the beginning rather than the end of the process. It should be the Minister's intention to trawl for new activities for the institute and the Department of the Marine. I was struck when researching the Fianna Fáil policy document on the marine in 1984 by the number of State Departments and agencies with marine related functions. Equally, marine research is secreted away in some odd nooks and crannies in various Government and non-governmental institutions.

A good deal of research is now being undertaken by the private sector and, despite the arrival on the scene of the Department of the Marine, research [1393] which clearly has a marine connotation is initiated by other Ministries. For example, to take an area I did not cover in my contribution, marine leisure activities still find a home in either the Department of the Environment or the Department of Tourism and Transport, mainly because the functions of one Department overlap the functions of another quite frequently. Inevitably this will also prove to be the case when it comes to research. While some overlapping is inevitable too much can prove to be wasteful and will lead to the emergence of a grey area which may be ignored by everybody. I hope the Minister touches on this aspect when replying.

I believe very strongly that the flexible institutional approach adopted in the Bill will facilitate the expansion of the activities of the Marine Institute in the future. It will also set up an institute which will be devoid of the territoriality of existing institutions. If we can set up a marine institute which can establish for itself the right to dip in and out of what is being done in the various parts of the Government machine we will be doing a very good day's work indeed because we will be creating an institution which is sufficiently flexible to respond to any new need that arises. Take, for example, the problem of coastal erosion we had in County Wicklow. Thankfully in recent times the matter of coastal erosion has been transferred from the Office of Public Works, where it was largely ignored, to the Department of the Marine where there exists only a very small budget for dealing with this problem. There are ongoing experiments right around the world as to how to address the issue of coastal erosion. I would see the Marine Institute as being able to produce researched documentation as to what is being done elsewhere so that we could address our own problems in the most cost effective way. By dipping into that research we may come up with other things in terms of marine development, of what would be useful and provide a catalyst for the private sector too.

I do not wish to question the bona fides of the contributions made by others here [1394] today but I believe that if they reflect on what they said they will see that the institutional arrangements being adopted here, while they are new, should be welcomed. The only thing I have to say to the Minister is that he see this as a beginning, not as an end. The overall aims of this Bill are admirable. The approach on the institutional side I see as very welcome. All in all any fairminded observer would come to the same conclusion as I have done, that this Bill is a job well done.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Representing a maritime constituency and coming from a family whose members have given a lifetime in the service of Irish Lights, it is appropriate that I should offer for the benefit of the nation a few thoughts on this fundamentally important Bill.

I have no great difficulty in accepting the proposals of the Minister in regard to the Marine Institute. In theory the Bill is correct. But it is over-ruled by the Minister for Finance of the day. Much will depend on the clout of the Minister for the Marine and his ability to persuade the Department of Finance to provide the resources for the Marine Institute so that it can sometimes do its work.

What the Minister said in introducing the Bill is very broad in content and does not differ radically from what he said in the Seanad. Probably some paragraphs have been rearranged on the word processor. The Minister said “the oceans are the last frontier, the least known part of our planet” but went on to say “it is only recently that their multifarious role has been fully comprehended”. It seems contradictory to say that their role is fully comprehended but that they are still the least known part of our planet. If the Minister had made these two statements together in the Seanad they would not have emerged again for the benefit of the Members of this House here. It is one of the least known areas of the planet.

The Minister went on to say that Ireland's marine area is very large in comparison with that of other European nations. That is a wise statement indeed. Vice President Quayle, when he was put [1395] in charge of space research said that we generally think space is very big, that in fact we think it is infinite. That was a wise statement, too.

What the Minister said covered a wide area and was very general in content. He set out the aspirations for the Marine Institute over the next decades in an attempt to envisage what the institute could become. He outlined the main areas of work the institute will involve itself in. One wonders what the role of Roinn na Mara will be when these areas of work are passed to the institute for marine research. The Minister says that the institute will provide advice on policy relating to marine research and development. That is fundamental. It is to carry out policy on marine research and development but what is Government policy on marine research and development? That is a largely unknown area at present. I suppose it was to find out what Government policy should be that the Department of the Marine were set up in the first place. The institute, we understand, is to undertake, develop, promote and market marine research and development services — that is fair — and it is to promote and assist the improvement, development and application of technical and other processes for the exploitation and development of marine resources. That is critical and I will refer to it later in the context of the developments taking place around our coasts.

The Minister went on to tell us that the institute will collect, maintain and disseminate information in relation to marine matters. That is very important for people who might be interested in providing finance for people to go into the marine business under joint ventures, private enterprise and so on. The production of data bases and that kind of information is very worthy. The institute, too, is to co-ordinate proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State owned or controlled body. Does that mean that the chief executive officer of the Marine Institute, a very important person to be appointed in [1396] charge of this body, will merely become a lobbyist continuously scrounging for moneys both from the Minister for the Marine and ultimately from the Minister for Finance?

We have had a great tendency here over the years to set up committees, task forces and other organisations, appoint chief executive officers and various staff, administrative and otherwise, who invariably end up producing very fine documents but have not a scintilla of money to implement their recommendations. One finds a continuous stream of chief executive officers passing through the corridors of this House, lobbying representatives of the parties in power for funding to implement their programmes. The reference to the amount of money for this institute is a clear indication that it is not to be given the priority that is warranted. We are now three quarters of the way through the Green Presidency of the EC. Every speech covering every country in the world refers to the green Presidency and the necessity to develop our resources. What the Minister said goes beyond that and is very broad, but the reference to money for the Marine Institute is minimal.

I note that the institute may, in addition, represent the State in European Community programmes of marine research and development, that it may commission from other persons work to be carried out under the direction of the institute, enter into joint ventures so as to undertake or further the application of marine research and development, promote and organise seminars, conferences, lectures or demonstrations relating to marine research and development — I assume these would not be the kind that take place in the street. That is very important for the provision of information for people so that the confusion that abounds at present with regard to fish farming and so on would be cleared up and people's minds put at ease.

The institute is to engage in international activities in marine research and development. I understand that under [1397] section 4 the institute may represent the Government abroad on the instructions of the Minister and with the co-operation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Over the years I have listened to speakers complaining about the emissions from Sellafield into the Irish Sea. Obviously, if the Marine Institute are engaged in international marine research and development, with the permission of the Minister and with the co-operation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, they could consider this subject too. On 12 March 1986, when the Taoiseach was speaking on nuclear energy and Sellafield he said:

The dispersal of plutonim into the atmosphere or into the sea could have widespread catastrophic consequences would for all intents and purposes last forever.

I think this is fundamentally critical to the work the institute may carry out in conjunction with the other agencies. The Taoiseach said it was very necessary that the Government would directly confront the British Government on Sellafield and demand its closure. If we are true to the “Green” Presidency as we say, we should be using the power and the prestige of this office to ensure that we make some advances in preventing the discharge of plutonium into the Irish Sea. My constituency colleague, the Minister for the Environment, said in the Hague on 7 March 1990: “Radioactive waste disposal in the maritime environment had been a cause of considerable public concern in recent years and the 1987 North Sea Quality Status Report indicated that the Sellafield plant was a major source of radioactive pollution in the North Sea.”

He then asked how much more was the impact on the Irish sea. The Minister then said: “We acknowledge that there has been a reduction in discharges in recent years. Notwithstanding this decrease, the Irish Government believe that the only real solution to the threat presented by Sellafield is the closure of the plant.”

Indeed the Minister for the Environment said at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis [1398] that “Our seas are going to be clean. As never before...” I wonder whether he had a vision of what the Marine Institute would be able to do in this regard? He also said: “We want Sellafield closed, and we won't stop until we see it closed. For good...” '

The Minister for Energy, Deputy Molloy, said that “Nuclear countries must recognise the legitimate concerns of their non-nuclear neighbour”. Carrying as he does the very important portfolio in this temporary little arrangement that runs the country at present, I think that is critical to this aspect of the Marine Institute's development. In a Sunday Press interview of September 1978, Deputy O'Malley, the leader of the Progressive Democrats and Minister for Industry and Commerce, said: “A nuclear station will in fact be safer than a coal fired station and will be better in terms of cleanliness...for health and for the environment”. He also said that in Britain experts had established that radiation from nuclear power plants was smaller than that created by medical appliances. He finished by saying in relation to the proposal at that time to provide a nuclear plant in this country, “I cannot defer decisions, the effect of which would leave this country short of electricity in ten years time”. That speaks for itself. If the Marine Institute is to have the capacity to represent the country in international activities, we need a co-ordinated policy.

In the course of his address the Minister referred to the staffing of the institute. He said: “Following the establishment of the institute, the persons involved may be transferred from their parent Departments to the Department of the Marine and thence to the Marine Institute”. The word “may” means there have to be negotiation and consultation with the personnel involved. This differs from what the Minister said in the Seanad, Official Report at column 1555 of 5 April 1990:

Following the establishment of the institute the persons involved will be [1399] transferred from their parent Departments to the Department of the Marine and then to the Marine Institute.

It appears that a decision had been taken on 5 April that people would be transferred from their parent Departments to the Marine Institute.

I accept the theory behind the formation of the Marine Institute. The theory, as stated in the Minister's address, is correct. However, we are a long way from achieving the practicalities of the objective outlined in his address. The ability of the institute to carry out research and development in both technology and construction is important.

The Irish fishing fleet is very much out of line with the fishing fleets in other countries and in the context of the size of our coastal area, it is completely under-funded and unable to compete with our economically stronger neighbours. The number of currachs, hookers and yawls has diminished over the past 50 years, except for specialised courses or people with a specific interest in these types of boats. There has been a small revival of interest in them in recent years.

I welcome the fact that some of the regional colleges conduct courses in marine activities. BIM, for instance, regularly advertise courses for deck hands and other marine jobs. One has to have a respect for the smaller fishermen how have to compete for their livelihood off our coasts. The inshore fishermen on half deckers on the west coast have to deal with swells and Atlantic storms. It would be impossible for anyone except those who have worked with them to understand the dangers they meet in making a living.

The task force set up under the Inland Fisheries Board recommended that a certain length of monofilament net would be legalised for inshore fishermen. This issue should be addressed by the Department of the Marine. It has been put on the famous backburner, which is a bit crowded. If it is legal to buy monfilament net and mount it on the deck and use it to fish around the rocks for white fish, [1400] then a decision should be taken by the Department to legalise the length recommended in the report or a length acceptable to the Department. Something should be done about it rather than have the inshore fishermen fighing among themselves year in year out and having to deal with the fishery protection vessels and larger trawlers cutting across their nets. It is grossly unfair that fishermen in one part of the country can legally use several thousand metres of monofilament nets during a longer season whereas in other locations it is illegal and they can be dealt with by the fisheries protection vessels.

It is up to the Department of the Marine to make a decision in this regard. They should legalise the net at a particular length and should not allow the law to be flouted as regularly as are the litter laws. Offshore fishing has been neglected for decades. Apart from involvement by private enterprise — some of the larger trawlers have been mentioned by other Deputies — nothing much has been brought about by Government action over the years. I hope the institute will be given the resources to help develop the potential that is there.

Obviously fish quotas are fundamental to the livelihood of every fisherman. This matter depends upon the ability of the Minister for the Marine of the day to deal with his counterparts in Brussels. We have always spoken about acting to our strengths and working on our best resoruces. The Minister points out that we have a huge area of water around our coasts in comparison with out European neighbours, and therefore there is no reason why this area of development should not be given a much higher priority by successive Governments. As the Minister said, other countries have much more information avaialble to them about our waters than we have ourselves.

Blacksod at eveningtime can look like New York harbour, with the lights of foreign trawlers from ouside the territorial limit. The Minister for the Marine should be in a position, on account of our natural geographical advantage in terms of location and in terms of water available [1401] to us, to get a better deal for our fishermen. If resources are not provided to develop our fishing fleet, those with a better catching capacity will move in, and have moved in on our waters to our detriment. As a community, we must fight for our rights. I would like to think that the Government would give far greater priority to this matter in the context of the potential that is there and of the livelihoods of the people who fish off our coasts on a daily basis.

Will the Marine Institute carry out research in the area of wave power? We are in the Green Presidency and there is much talk about controlling pollution. There are several locations on the west coast in particular, some of which have four tides per day, with extremely strong currents.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Two going in and two going out.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I would like to think that the institute would have the capacity to carry out research into wave power. Other countries are much more advanced in this regard. It would be a very difficult job but it would be of advantage to us economically and would provide clean, efficient and everlasting power.

Other Deputies have referred to the effects of coastal erosion. A report from Mayo County Council issued recently to the Departments of the Marine and the Environment states that it would cost over £6 million to carry out the necessary work to prevent sections of the county from being washed away. In theory, we are talking about the creation and the development of the Marine Institute. What studies have been made on the effects of tides on and the silting up of harbours, which 70 years ago could carry quite extensive fleets of ships? Many of the harbours have now silted up completely. One may blame the British for many of the things that have happened in this country over the centuries but many of the stone harbours which they built, after carrying out research on tidal effects, still stand and are in better condition than many of the newer piers and [1402] slipways built from funding by various Governments.

It is estimated that it will cost over £1 million to carry out work on a road and a retaining wall in the Blacksod area of County Mayo. I am sure there is not a snowball's chance in hell of anything like that sum being made available either to the county at large or to the specific location. If something is not done within a few years, there will be a new island off the coast of Ireland. If the Marine Institute are to deal with these matters, they should be given the resources to carry out studies into tidal effects, silting up of harbours, coastal erosion and so on rather than a mere floppy disc of words, which is often the case.

I would like to think that the question of the Continental Shelf will be dealt with urgently by the Government. We are in control of the EC at present, or at least some of our Ministers seem to think that is the case while they hold the chairmanships of the various ministries. No application has yet been lodged in relation to the Continental Shelf and other countries are moving in on our areas. The land is certainly an emotional issue in this country. Try to split two patches of ground between two people and see what happens: it ends up in the High Court. Yet, without standing up for what is legitimately ours, we seem to be handing over vast stretches of the Continental Shelf. I would like to think that the Department of the Marine, the Cabinet and the Government will decide to do something about this and make their case for Ireland, as have other countries who have not the same resources in terms of sea quality or sea expanse.

I hope the institute, in terms of research and development, will consider the question that has arisen over the last number of years on the west coast, that of seals. Rogue seals in particular can devastate salmon catches caught legitimately by fishermen and create a great deal of nuisance and inconvenience. I put down a question recently to the Minister for the Marine in regard to a supervised seal cull but he refused the cull on the basis that it was not feasible. I do not [1403] want the situation to arise whereby the remains of seals that have either been shot or dealt with by people involved in the fishing industry are washed up on various parts of the shore. That happened before and it may well happen again. It is possible for fishermen to apply to the Department of the Marine for a licence to deal with rogue seals. We cannot have every half-decker off the west coast loaded with shotguns and rifles to deal with rogue seals in the Atlantic.

People interested in this matter carried out a vigil on the Inishkea Islands a number of years ago during the seal mating season. If the Marine Institute are to deal with this matter they should communicate with their counterparts in Scotland because apparently many thousands of seals migrate from the Scottish coastline to the west coast on a yearly basis. They cause disruption to nets and can devastate salmon catches which are the basis of the livelihoods of many of the smaller half-deck fishermen off the coast.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  You should invite Brigitte Bardot.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I wrote to Brigitte Bardot years ago but she did not reply. She went to see the Canadian seals. This time I might write in French. I understand she is coming out of retirement. I do not want to see fishermen dealing with the Department of the Marine for the remains of seals washed up on our shores, as happened a number of years ago. Perhaps the Minister would take that into account. I hope the institute would deal with their counterparts in Scotland and if Miss Bardot wants to give us any advice in that regard I would certainly be willing to listen to her.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Tell her to leave the cats behind.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Deputy must have been away.

Deputies have referred to the billions of tonnes of sludge that have been [1404] pumped indiscriminately into our seas over the years — industrial waste, chemical waste and so on. The farmers should be commended for their increased awareness of the effects of pollution in our rivers and seas. Co-ordination is necessary between the Department of Agriculture and Food, the Department of the Marine and the Marine Institute.

In relation to the headquarters, if the Minister is to deal — as in the case of the loaves and fishes — with every Deputy who has raised this issue then he should not be here. Deputies want the headquarters to be situated in Bray, Dún Laoghaire, Arklow, Galway and Killybegs. When the next group of Deputies come in Cork, Kerr, Waterford, Dungarvan, and Dunmore East will no doubt be suggested. I do not mind where the headquarters are situated provided it is not a gigantic structure of glass and steel where one gets lost around its corridors in search of the chief executive officers or any of his staff when making complaints about salmon licences, seal culls, pollution, Sellafield or whatever. I would prefer if it was sited on the west coast but that is a decision which we on this side of the House cannot take at least not until this temporary arrangement ceases.

I hope the institute would have the capacity to deal with the report, which is not before the Government, dealing with the claim of the West Coast Action Group for marine rescue services. I am not sure that the institute would have a direct role in this but if it is dealing with amenity and tourist developments, then accidents are bound to happen. The first priority should be to bring that report before the Cabinet and the Minister for the Marine should forcefully present these recommendations to the Taoiseach and see that they are carried out.

Obviously, the decision to site a Dauphin helicopter at Shannon is welcome. If other long range craft are bought one should be sited at the Horan International Airport which has the necessary navigational facilities and being located midway between Donegal and Kerry can deal with off-shore long distance rescue activities. If the money is made available, [1405] a second Dauphin helicopter should be stationed at Finner Camp to cater for the fishermen on the north coast. As I said, that report should be brought before the Cabinet and decisions should be taken so that the institute would be in a position to do something about it.

Various Deputies have referred to pollution and development of sea resources. The west coast is wide open to the power of the Atlantic Ocean. Recently the Minister for Energy announced the Connemara oil field — I have referred to this previously in the House. Whatever happened to the captain of the Exxon Valdez who destroyed more pristine coastline than any other maritime accident?

If the Connemara oil field is developed and if a major accident involving a super tanker happens off the west coast, at present there is not one single local authority which has the ability to deal with any kind of spillage. The institute, the Department of the Environment and the Department of the Marine together with the organisations in other countries that have dealt with oil spillages and clearances should have the basic technology and resources to cope with an accident which, thankfully has not yet happened, but which could happen at some future date. Obviously that would take into account the destruction of thousands of beaches on the west coast, which would seriously impair the tourism and leisure areas referred to in the institute's brief for development. It would seriously disrupt our challenge for doubling the number of tourists within the next five years and decrease the number of beaches where we have blue flags under the European Directives.

These things are all very important but we are only tinkering around with the system and piling layers of words upon volumes of words without actually doing anything about it. It is all very well to give a £2,000 grant to put a roof on a thatched cottage, and it looks very well but if the local authorities from Malin Head to Mizen Head are unable to deal with the thousands of gallons of oil that may spill on to our shores this institute [1406] will not deal with these problems. That is not why this institute is being set up. These are not the objectives outlined in the Minister's speech.

Many Deputies have referred to fish farming development. As this is the responsibility of the Department of the Marine a clear statement of where we stand in this regard should be made for the benefit of everybody. There are too many people travelling to too many meetings who are misinformed, uninformed or make statements that cannot be substantiated. If it is the policy of the Government on the one hand to develop resources in fish farming then so be it but if it is the policy of the Government on the other hand to develop tourism so be it. However, there must be a common denominator where the development of a resource, such as fish farming, will not impair unduly the environment and the quality of life our people enjoy.

In an article in The Irish Skipper, May 1990, it is stated that next year the Norwegians intend to moor ten kilometres off their coast a salmon farm which will have a yearly output larger than the total Irish catch of wild salmon. The Norwegians have been involved in salmon research and fish research for years longer than Ireland. Their facility will have a capacity of 282,000 cubic metres, and will be up to 35 times larger than any existing Norwegian fish farm.

In Ireland we are in our infancy in terms of fish farming development. Unfortunately, it got off to a very bad start because there are series of meetings around the country where aspects of fish farming have been raised that are unclear. It is very necessary that a clear statement of where the Government stand in this regard be issued for the benefit of everyone. Do the Government intend to consider fish farming? If so, let them say so. If it is going to impinge unduly on tourism potential or the lives of ordinary people this has to be dealt with. In the New Scientist of 26 August 1989 the issue of the chemical pesticide Nuvan 500 was dealt with. I have to say to the Minister for the Marine that fish farming will be seriously impaired in [1407] terms of Government objectives if matters are not cleared up in relation to this pesticide. The article states that biologists have found that an increasing number of wild salmon and other fish are developing cataracts, and they link the epidemic of eye disease with the use of the pesticide.

Debate adjourned.

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