Wednesday, 11 July 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a sum not exceeding £31,882,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 1990, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for the Marine, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants and sundry grants-in-aid.
The amount provided for in the Marine Vote this year represents a 17 per cent increase approximately over the provisional outturn given in the Book of Estimates for 1989 when the £90 million regarding the Irish Shipping reimbursement is included.
As I have very little time I want to say that the Government in their National Development Programme 1989-93 recognise the importance of the marine area and with State support and EC new Structural Funds intend to take advantage of this very important part of our economy.
The Department and BIM have a solid programme for advance in sea fisheries. It is our purpose to prepare the fish processing and marketing industry to compete successfully in the internal market when it is completed in 1992. Increased employment and productivity in fish processing and marketing generate economic growth in less developed peripheral coastal regions of the country and stimulate balanced and sustained growth in the Irish fishing industry in general in line with the objectives for the industry outlined in the National Development Plan 1989-1993.
We now have in place a whole range of programmes such as strengthened marketing, plant modernisation, aquaculture development and the provision of adequate infrastructure and facilities at ports and harbours to service the fishing industry. Many of these programmes have been submitted to the Community for aid and are designed to improve efficiency and competitiveness in the  fishing sector. Substantial progress has already been made and we intend to continue that progress.
The emphasis will be on marketing shellfish, salmon and the very lucrative herring roe. We have developed a herring roe market in Japan. Herring roe of a fine quality is much appreciated by the Japanese and it is not purchased by them unless it is of top quality. We are also concentrating on trying to develop markets for new species to shift the industry away from a commodity basis to a valueadded basis.
In relation to our Presidency of the European Council we made significant progress on many of the international agreements necessary in EC activities particularly with regard to Canada and the newly independent Namibia, which has declared that the fishing waters around it are not open, without substantial research, to the European people who traditionally fished there.
A very important aspect of our deliberations during the period of the Presidency related to the integration of the German Democratic Republic in the common fishery area. Here I pay tribute to Dr. Van Gelderen the Minister for Fisheries of the Federal Republic of Germany who came to Dublin and in the Council indicated the Federal Republic of Germany view in relation to unification. There were problems considering that the East German fleet is one and a half to twice the size of the West German fleet. There were fears that they might make inroads into our quotas. We have been assured by Dr. Van Gelderen that this would not happen and this was a source of comfort and joy to us in Ireland. We also made progress with regard to agreements with third countries in the southern hemisphere. Other agreements were renegotiated or extended.
In relation to technical conservation measures, the secretary of my Department headed a top level group to make recommendations to the Council with regard to conservation measuresd in the North Sea. Pollution and overfishing have caused grave problems in this area  and Ireland made a very significant contribution to the study of and recommendations to deal with this problem. Coming from the recent Council meeting we had increased total allowable catches for sole and other species in the Irish Sea. We also made an arrangement which freed our Irish fishermen timewise with regard to the very lucrative horse mackerel fishery which was developed recently, particularly since the Japanese began to purchase horse mackerel for human consumption.
It is our policy to maximise agriculture's contribution, in harmony with environmental excellence, to job creation, exports and consequently, to improved economic growth. In 1989 production from the industry was worth almost £30 million, with 850 full-time jobs and 1,300 part-time jobs in the aquaculture area. The ambition for 1991 is to have £71 million worth of production and about 3,500 jobs. I would emphasise that properly placed and controlled this industry is a clean industry despite the fact that some misinformed criticism seems to indicate that it is not. We have set in motion a systematic information programme to bring order and control into the industry and to make sure that there is no damage to our environment. The Department with BIM and Údarás na Gaeltachta are trying to maximise the contribution from the European Community. A sum of £1.8 million from the Exchequer in grants and loans is being made available and in the April tranche from the Community, £1.6 million was received for nine Irish aquaculture ventures.
Inland fisheries is one of our great resources, the only tourist resource in my region. Funding of the inland fisheries is very important for the development of this natural resource. I have reached a formula to transcend the antagonisms that developed over the last couple of years via development co-operatives. I have provided 31 per cent more money this year for inland fisheries than was provided in 1989. I want people to cooperate in fisheries to develop this great industry. I have the Bill practically ready  for this House. I am glad to say the fishing is continuing very successfully during this summer.
I pay tribute to the officers of the South Western Board who lost their lives in pursuit of their duty, go ndéana Dia trócaire orthu. I express my appreciation to the House, particularly the spokespersons in this House for the tributes they paid to the people who lost their lives. I am glad they resisted the temptation to seek publicity on the deaths of four servants of the people, particularly in relation to an issue which was irrelevant to what happened over the week-end.
In relation to the marine environment the incidents involving the Kowloon Bridge and the Tribulus brought home to us how important it is to be in a position to preserve from danger the fishing, the aquaculture and the tourist value of our coastal regions. The protection of life on stricken vessels and the prevention of pollution, in that order are our priorities.
Mr. Wilson: I will conclude by saying that the garbage and waste from ships is a bit of a problem. I am glad that with the help of the House we passed the Second Stage of the sea pollution Bill through the House recently.
With regard to coastal protection I have provided £950,000 for the north Arklow beach to repair storm damage. I was on a subcommittee which decided to make £3 million available for harbours, piers and coastal installations. Commercial harbours took 79 per cent of our trade volume and 65 per cent of value in 1989. We have a large investment programme for the ports and we aim to provide adequate port facilities in the tough competitive period that lies ahead. I want  them located strategically, the big ones, Dublin, Rosslare, Waterford and Cork, near the main transport arteries, that is to say, railways and roads. Substantial expenditure up to £60 million will be spent on that.
Níl morán ama agam, a Chathaoirligh, chun miontuairiscí an Mheastacháin seo a léiriú anseo. Tá mo dhóthain déanta agam chun a thaispeáint go bhfuil an Rialtas lom dáiríre faoi fhorbairt na hiascaireachta agus gnéithe eile a bhaineann le cúrsaí na mara. Tuigeann an Rialtas go rímhaith cé chomh fiúntach is atá an iascaireacht agus cúrsaí iompar mara chun airgead a ghnóthú don tír agus chun cuidiú le tráchtáil na tíre. B'fhiú é an cinneadh Roinn na Mara a bhunú ó thaobh na fostaíochta agus an gheilleagair de araon. Le cuidiú an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Michael Noonan, tá sé mar aidhm agam dúnghaois na roinne a chur ar aghaidh, a fheabhsú agus a dhaingniú chun leas na tíre. Molaim an Meastachán seo don Teach.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I join with the Minister in extending sympathy to the families of the men who died in the Ballycotton tragedy. I compliment the fisheries officials on the work they do with a restricted budget. I do not agree with the other sentiments expressed by the Minister in his speech. If I was a visitor to the House and was listening to the Minister I could not help but come to the conclusion that the Department of the Marine were progressing very favourably. The Minister told us that the Government have great aspirations in regard to sea fishing and mentioned the prospects for marketing, processing, creation of employment and the great economic growth that will come from our sea fishing industry. However, he did not tell us that there are 240 applications for sea fishing licences with his Department and that only three licences have been issued. As a result 237 applicants do not have sea fishing licences. I do not know how the Minister  can see employment generated in that area when our fleet is being reduced. The Minister should explain how he intends performing that miracle and there is no doubt that he will have to perform a miracle if he is to fulfil his aspirations.
I accept the Minister's sincerity in trying to resolve the rod licence dispute but, despite numerous promises in the House that an amending Bill would be before us during this term, the appropriate Bill has not been published. Are there difficulties in relation to the drafting of that Bill in the Attorney General's Office? The Taoiseach, during our EC Presidency, was anxious that peace should reign along the shores of our lakes and I am concerned that next season the rod licence dispute will erupt again. I must come to the conclusion, as the amending Bill has not been published, that something peculiar is happening somewhere. The Minister should explain the position to the House because many people are concerned about the dispute.
The Minister has outlined the development proposals in regard to aquaculture. He has told us that he has established a working group to consider fin fish operations in fresh water but I appeal to him to stop those operations because they have proved to be most unsatisfactory. The Minister should await the report of the working group before permitting the operations to continue. A thorough investigation must be carried out of existing operations. The Minister told us that a working group on mandatory codes of practice was established last year and a report from that body is long overdue. The House should be given an opportunity to examine their report before long. The group investigated a contentious issue. There is no doubt that development can take place but it must be done in harmony with the environment. The Minister should establish a management resource plan for our coast taking into consideration the location of fish farming sites suitable for farming particular species. I should like to stress the need to call a halt to the issuing of more licences and to cease locating in fresh water any further operations. It has been  proved that fin fish operations in fresh water are not good and the Minister should bear that in mind.
One obvious omission in the Minister's speech was the air-sea rescue service. Last February the Minister received the report of the review group on that service. On 7 and 20 June the Minister told the House that he expected to present a report on the issue to the Government before the end of June but I understand that that has not happened. Why is it that the Government have not received that report? If decisions are not taken we will not have a proper air-sea rescue service when the bad weather comes in October and we may be talking about the loss of more lives or more lives being put in danger. The Government must act immediately on this. I am concerned that there is no provision in the Estimate to improve that service.
The Minister informed us that he has given £100,000 to the RNLI, the same amount that he gave them last year. The allocation is not adequate. The RNLI provide a great service around our coast but in order to do so they must raise money voluntarily. An allocation of £100,000 is only a pittance when one considers the service that group provide. The Minister should consider increasing their allocation substantially in October.
A sum of £150,000 has been included in the Estimate for coastal protection but that is far from adequate. I appreciate that an additional £4 million was provided during the course of the year following the storms but that amount was not adequate to repair the damage done. In some instances the minimum of repairs were carried out. We have a major problem in regard to coastal erosion on the east and there is an onus on the Department to prepare a coastal protection plan and formulate a priority list for remedial action. I am dissatisfied with the submission made to the EC for Structural Funds to deal with coastal erosion because I do not think a serious analysis of the coast was carried out, particularly of the eastern seaboard. Piers and fishing and leisure facilities around our coast  were badly damaged in the storms last year.
At Cabinet level the Minister should fight for a substantial increase in the Estimate for his Department. The amount allocated does not indicate any regard for the work done by the Department. We should remember that when the Department were established the Taoiseach stressed that it would be doing important work. Words must be backed by money and that has not happened as far as the Department of the Marine are concerned.
The Minister did not refer to the Marine Institute. Second Stage of the Bill establishing that body was passed by the House and we were promised that Committee and Final Stages would be put through the House by the end of this session. We were told that the institute would be established in the latter half of this year but I cannot see how that will take place when the Bill is unlikely to be dealt with until late in the next session. It is important that the Government establish such a body to carry out essential research on our fish stocks and prepare our case for fish quotas. At present we depend on other countries to provide us with the information we require to argue our case. The officials of the Department are doing an excellent job within the resources available to them but they are unable to do something positive because of budgetary constraints. I urge the Minister to consider the salmon fishery review which has been with him since 1987. He should introduce amending legislation in the next session to change the position in relation to salmon fisheries. There is no doubt that that is the most contentious issue facing the Department. There is an onus on the Minister to take positive action in regard to salmon fishing. Unless the Minister takes action we will have difficulties at all levels of salmon fishing. The Minister should have the courage to stick his neck out on this contentious issue and tackle the problem.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: There is a number of other issues I would like to address but, like the Minister, I am not in a position to cover them. However, let me say in conclusion that I could not support this Estimate for the Department of the Marine.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: It is with a sense of gloom and deep sorrow that I deal with the Estimate before us this evening. Over the weekend four people lost their lives off the Cork coast. Indeed, another person lost his life off the west coast today. I compliment the Minister for instructing that an inquiry be held immediately as answers must be provided. One of the four countymen of mine who lost their lives was a very close neighbour of mine, Dominic Meehan, a young man of 45. It is with a sense of anger that I deal with this Estimate and while I have no wish to pre-empt the outcome of the inquiry answers must be given. As the Minister quite rightly said, these men were not out searching for monofilament nets but rather for poachers.
I do not wish to get involved in a discussion on this matter now as we do not have the time to do so but the Minister and his Department must grasp the nettle as we do not wish to see a confrontation between fishermen and fishery officers. I am sure the staff of the Minister's Department have examined the problem in relation to monofilament nets and poaching but if the law has to be changed, let us change it. Furthermore, those who enforce the law are entitled to the backup services they require. I will let the matter rest there as I have no doubt we will return to it at some future date.
The Minister's speech was very comprehensive and I do not have the time to  evaluate it properly but he has indicated that the report to which Deputy Taylor-Quinn referred will be presented to the Government next week. As I and many others in this House have heard that one before I urge the Minister to ensure that it is presented to Government next week and decisions are made rapidly. We will not always be able to rely on the RAF to come to the assistance of people in trouble off our coasts, be they fishermen or merchant seamen. We have well trained people in our Air Corps; all they need are the proper facilities. I have no doubt that they would provide a first class service if they were able to avail of those back-up facilities. I have the greatest confidence in them. They are properly trained and are very enthusiastic.
The financial allocation to the Department of the Marine is completely inadequate. During the past 12 months they have become a Cinderella department the Government are inclined to forget. It is a second class Department and I hope the Minister will use his influence to secure a substantial increase in the autumn or next year.
One of our greatest natural resources is our coastal waters. Attempts are being made to ensure a proper service is provided, but as yet we have not exploited to the full the seas off our east, south and west coasts. I have no doubt that if we do, we would do a tremendous amount of good for our young people living along the south and west coasts whose only option appears to be to get on the bus and head for Britain or the United States. We have failed these people and tend to allow foreign interests exploit these seas. While we come down heavily on our own fishermen it seems we are prepared to tolerate Spanish trawlers, as happened on a number of occasions in recent months, entering our coastal zone and ramming our ships time and again. The Minister has indicated that he has protested to the Spanish authorities but what we need to do, and I have said this before, is call in the Spanish Ambassador to tell him this kind of action is not acceptable to the people. I hope the Minister will make some move in this direction.
 I would now like to refer to the rod licence dispute. On looking through the Minister's speech I fail to see any mention of this dispute. Last year we tabled a Bill in this House to amend the Fisheries Act but were told that it was the Government's intention to introduce amending legislation in the House. People who come to this country to fish are, technically, breaking the law. It is absolutely ridiculous that people, such as Jack Charlton, could be fined but this could happen under the law as it stands. While the Minister made some good progress in discussions over a long period, he should have gone one step further and introduced amending legislation in the House to resolve the problem once and for all. It is absolutely ludicrous that people could be prosecuted if they fish without a licence. The law has not been repealed and, even though he promised to do so, the Minister has not yet come up with an answer. Like Deputy Taylor-Quinn, I am very concerned that this will be an ongoing problem.
I would now like to refer to the Marine Institute. On reading the Bill to establish the Marine Institute I felt the Minister had got it right and we had much to look forward to. I note, however, from the Estimate that a sum of £110,000 is to be made available but this is a trifling sum given the importance of the Marine Institute. I hope the Minister elaborates on this matter when replying because I have always felt that such an institute could advance marine research. Again, when it comes to marine activity we are a second class nation. We tend to allow the Spaniards, French, Dutch and Germans do the work we should do ourselves. If encouraged, many young people would get involved in such research with the result that jobs could be created for many thousands of young people who would then not have to go abroad.
The Minister's speech was very comprehensive and I have not had an opportunity to go through it. I await his comments on the air-sea rescue service which is totally inadequate. The least our fishermen are entitled to is a proper air-sea rescue service which meets their  needs. Such a service is not available even though, as I said, we have many well trained people in the Air Corps who would provide an excellent service if the proper facilities were made available to them.
Mr. Gilmore: I join with the Minister and my colleagues in extending my sympathy and that of my party to the families and friends, including Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan, of the Fisheries officers who were drowned so tragically at the weekend.
In relation to the Estimates, in the short time available to me, I would like to concentrate on one aspect, the cost to the taxpayer of the liquidation of Irish Shipping, the consequences for the economy of the Government's failure to reconstitute a national deep sea merchant fleet and the continuing failure of the Government to make moneys available for ex gratia redundancy payments to the 350 former employees of the company.
When Irish Shipping was put into liquidation six years ago, it was big news. There were protests, not unlike those we have seen in recent times by the staff of RTE. There were feature articles in the newspapers and current affairs magazines. The dismissed employees were given the red carpet treatment by the present Taoiseach and Minister for the Marine when they were in Opposition. The present Minister for the Marine came into this House on 25 June 1985 and proposed at column 1863 of the Official Report that:
(ii) restore the pensions of all former Irish Shipping staff to their pre liquidation level, and further  calls on the Government to recognise the strategic and economic necessity for a national deep-sea merchant shipping fleet and to provide for the reconstitution of such a fleet'.
Six years later, two changes of Government later, the Irish Shipping story has slipped out of the news and in this evening's address does not even merit a mention. When the former Irish Shipping workers come to Leinster House now, it is not for a pre-arranged photo-call with the Taoiseach and the Minister for the Marine, but to protest at their failure to honour the specific promises which they made to them prior to the 1987 general election. When over the past 12 months I and my colleagues in The Workers' Party have attempted to question the Minister on the issue, he has dived for cover by claiming that it is sub judice. He has relied on the same legal niceties as his predecessors, of whom on 25 June 1985, he himself said, “get under my skin”.
There are fundamental questions about Irish Shipping, which have never been answered. Why has the unnecessary liquidation of Irish Shipping cost the Irish taxpayer over £120 million? Why has it cost more to liquidate Irish Shipping than it would have cost to keep it going? Why, therefore, was Irish Shipping liquidated in the first place, when it could have been rescued and restored to profitability by 1987? Who, or what was responsible for turning a consistently profitable company into a massive loss maker over an 18 month period between 1982 and 1984? Why did the company enter into long term chartering arrangements in a business which is a cyclical one and at a time when freight prices were dropping?
When will the citizens of this country be given an explanation for the scandal of the Irish Spruce, which cost twice as much to build at Verolme, £28 million, as it would to build elsewhere; which cost the taxpayer £60 million to get out of the leasing arrangements and pay for maintenance at Marseilles and which was eventually sold for a mere £3.75 million?
Why, considering the subsequent fate of the company's employees was a deal done with the Executive Chairman of the company to retire him off with a generous golden handshake, £66,000 plus pension, only a few weeks before the company was liquidated, despite the fact that the Cabinet had decided to liquidate the company nearly 12 months previously, as revealed in the recently published diaries of the former Cabinet Minister, Gemma Hussey?
This country lost £120 million and its stratgegic shipping fleet with the liquidation of Irish Shipping. In no other democratic state, would these serious questions be still unanswered, six years later.
There may be an unspoken mutual interest among past and present Government Ministers, some senior civil servants and some former senior executives of the company to cover up the scandalous story of Irish Shipping. The Irish public is entitled to have the answers and I am repeating the call, which was first  made six years ago, for a public sworn inquiry into what happened in Irish Shipping and why the taxpayer has lost so much on it.
The most immediate aspect of the case concerns the fate of the 350 former employees. Since the company's foundation in 1941 until its liquidation in 1984, not a single day was lost through industrial action. Irish Shipping workers risked their lives to keep our people supplied with necessities during the war years. They were skilled, diligent, loyal servants of this State. They were the biggest losers of all — they were dismissed with only statutory redundancy payments.
No other public servants, no other redundant employees of a semi-State company have been treated as shabbily as the Irish Shipping workers. The Taoiseach, the Minister for the Marine and the Minister for Labour, told these workers in September 1985, that Fianna Fáil, if returned to power, would compensate the workers of Irish Shipping.
Back in power, the present Minister for the Marine told the Dáil in March 1987 that the Government would produce a report concerning the question of compensation for the former employees. On 31 March 1987, he said it would be produced within “a reasonable time”. On 20 October 1987, Minister Daly said it was still “early days”.
By 24 November 1987 the Minister of State at the Department of the Marine, Deputy Gallagher said that the question of providing financial assistance for the former employees of Irish Shipping raised complex and sensitive issues. On 5 May 1988, the same Minister said “I expect to have the examination of the issues completed and conclusions brought to the Government for consideration shortly.” By 4 May 1989, we were back to the same argument as was used by the previous Government — that there were “complex and sensitive legal issues” and that there was a risk of claims from unsecured creditors. Like the grand Old Duke of York, the Minister had led the former Irish Shipping workers back to where they had started.
In the Estimates before us a sum of  £60,000 is provided for ex-gratia payments to certain pensioners of Irish Shipping Limited. If it is possible to make exgratia payments to some 23 pensioners, why is it not possible to pay all former employees proper redundancy settlements by way of ex-gratia payment? What are the so-called legal difficulties? The Minister has received legal opinion from lawyers representing the former employees, that there are no legal difficulties? Surely the Minister is not going to see the former employees of Irish Shipping, whose cause he once championed, have to take their case before the courts in order to secure their settlements.
I ask him now, to please drop the sub judice excuse, to negotiate a settlement with these workers, to honour his pledge to them, to be a man of his word, to bring in an Estimate, making provision for ex-gratia payments to the former employees of Irish Shipping who surely deserve them six years after their company was liquidated.
I would like also, a Cheann Comhairle, to refer briefly to one or two aspects of the Estimates. I would like to comment particularly on subhead E.3 which deals with State harbours in which I note there is a 9 per cent reduction in the allocation of approximately £1.5 million in 1990, over the provisional outturn of £1.7 in 1989. As this is the item which covers Dún Laoghaire harbour, I would like to ask the Minister specifically if this means that there is a reduction in expenditure on Dún Laoghaire harbour. If so, that is something I would be greatly concerned about in the first full year in which the Department of the Marine have responsibility for that harbour.
I am also concerned about the comments the Minister has just made in relation to investment on harbours. While I welcome the statement he has made about the possibility of investment to the tune of £60 million in four major harbours, I am greatly disquieted——
Mr. Gilmore: Perhaps the Minister  would clarify it because he did emphasise four harbours in particular and he excluded Dún Laoghaire harbour which is the major passenger port in this State. That is something I am very concerned about and I would like the Minister to clarify it. As he is aware, the interim harbour board which he established earlier this year has been working away, examining the various proposals for development at Dún Laoghaire harbour, and, no doubt, will report to him in due course. It is quite clear to me that the project requiring to be advanced most urgently is that relating to the upgrading of passenger facilities for the car ferry service. Obviously that will require investment. I should like the Minister to confirm that some of the £60 million to which he referred will be invested in Dún Laoghaire harbour.
Mr. Ferris: I want to make a few brief comments on this Estimate. Like yourself a Cheann Comhairle, I am a landlubber, and living in a county far removed from the sea. Nonetheless the Minister's responsibilities extend to inland fisheries, as they relate to some rivers in my constituency. I am thinking of the River Ara, the Aherlow, the Suir, some of the best known trout and salmon fishing rivers in the country with the possible exception of the Blackwater and a few others. We have a problem in the area vis-á-vis the implications of fish farming for inland rivers. In the Glen of Aherlow there is a well known fish farm, one of the first fish farming enterprises in the country, operated by a Mr. Leonard, which has been extremely successful. Were it not for that inland fish farm it would have been almost impossible for people living in counties far removed from the coastline to have access to fresh fish on a regular basis, particularly in the western part of Tipperary, where people have to travel some 20 to 25 miles to Clonmel or Limerick in order to gain access to fresh fish markets.
I suggest that the Minister co-operate with his Cabinet colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture  and Food, Deputy Kirk, under the aegis of Bord Glas with regard to the marketing of aquaculture, horticulture and mariculture, benefiting consumers within land-locked counties and giving them access particularly to fresh sea fish.
The Minister and his Department should seek greater co-operation with local authorities who at times have to come to grips with levels of pollution in some of our inland rivers leading to major fish kills, even as a result of accident, as was the case recently within my local authority area. They have admitted to this accident and, in consultation with the Department of the Marine and the Office of Public Works, have entered into negotiations on restocking the relevant fish waters. In spite of recent legislation in the area of pollution control there are still many accidental fish kills to which the Minister and his Department should devote particular attention. There is a useful task to be undertaken, working in co-operation with the various State agencies and local authorities — who are the local development agencies — by way of input to job creation and the development of tourism associated in a very real way with the inland fishing industry in County Tipperary. While the Minister's Department has specific responsibility for the marine, their responsibilities do have a bearing on all the tributaries flowing through the various counties to the sea.
Within the overall development of the Minister's programme — referred to by my colleague, Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan — in co-operation with the Marine Research Institute dealing with Marine biology, I hope the Minister will not forget that inland counties have a direct relationship with the coastline. In addition, in those inland areas there is potential for employment creation and the development of tourism following on the useful application of the Minister's energies in these areas.
I want to tell Deputy Taylor-Quinn and the House that the question of licensing is a very serious one, that we have an obligation to reduce our tonnage by 3 per cent annually until we reach the figure decided by the EC as the appropriate one for our fishery tonnage here. I regret to say that this is based on the figure which originally was given by this country and which was too low. That constitutes the big problem. As far as licences are concerned, there is no problem in granting a licence when it is a question of replacing the exact same tonnage in the fishing fleet.
I promised to have the rod licence legislation introduced here. I worked very hard to have it introduced. I indicated to the House what the position was with regard to that legislation. I heard Deputy Taylor-Quinn call 44 quorums since approximately 7 June in this House. I do not think that was in any way helpful to getting legislation before this House.
Mr. Wilson: As I indicated in my speech the development of aquaculture is one of the prime objectives of my Department. I should say in answer to Deputy Taylor-Quinn, that an inspectorate has been put in place, a methodical inspection of aquaculture projects is at present under way.
Mr. Wilson: With regard to erosion I took over responsibility for this matter from 1 January last. It is a very difficult question, one requiring great technical study. I have a very small budget — which I inherited from the Office of Public Works — but my Department intend to address that problem this year.
Mr. Wilson: Deputy Howlin knows full well that his constituency got money. Deputy Taylor-Quinn made an impassioned plea for positive action with regard to salmon fisheries but she was very careful not to say what that action should be.
Mr. Wilson: Perhaps the action she had in mind was the kind of action that no other country in the European Community would tolerate. Perhaps she thinks everybody else is out of step but her. As far as I am concerned I have made my policy with regard to salmon fisheries clear in this House and I have maintained that policy as of now.
I appreciate what Deputy O'Sullivan said with regard to setting up the inquiry into the accident I mentioned earlier. I met all the relatives and I sympathise with Deputy O'Sullivan on losing a friend among the four who lost their lives. Deputy O'Sullivan mentioned the search and rescue operation. The Doherty proposals have formed the basis of my proposals to Government.
 Killybegs, Ros a' bhíl, Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Howth are having £2.90 million invested in them this year. I did protest formally to the Spanish Government in Madrid about their trawlers. The Minister there does not condone the behaviour of any of the Spanish trawler owners with regard to interference especially in the hake grounds of our fishermen. If Mr. Jack Charlton comes to fish here, as Deputy O'Sullivan suggested, I will not even give him a yellow card, and the Deputy will be very glad to know that.
Mr. Wilson: The Minister of State, Deputy Michael Noonan, steered the Marine Institute Bill through the Seanad and through this House. This is something Deputy O'Sullivan appreciates and we pin great hopes on it for the future. One of the greatest inadequacies in the Council of Ministers at present is the lack of research. We hope to make a strong contribution, through the Marine Institute, in co-operation with all the other institutions that are conducting fishery research.
The burden of Deputy Gilmore's speech was about Irish Shipping. I want to put it on the record of this House that neither I nor the Government accept any responsibility whatsoever for the liquidation of Irish Shipping.
Mr. Wilson: No amount of propaganda or playing to the gallery will pin any  responsibility for the liquidation of Irish Shipping on Fianna Fáil. I would love to have the £90 million which is mentioned in my Estimate for the development of the shipping industry and the fishing industry here.
Mr. Wilson: Let the House listen to the statistics. In June of 1987 we had 66 vessels, 136,600 dead weight tonnes. In March of 1990 we had 77 vessels, 183,000 dead weight tonnes plus the Arklow Moor which was launched on the Elbe a couple of weeks ago. This year a £3.4 million grant will mean more tonnes in our Irish shipping fleet.
Mr. Wilson: There are complex issues involved with regard to Irish Shipping. I believe that every word Deputy Gilmore said about what this country owes to the Irish Shipping people is true. I am not now, nor was I ever, out of sympathy  with them, but there are problems, and the Deputy knows that quite well.
Mr. Wilson: There is some little sensitivity here. I appreciate Deputy Ferris's suggestions with regard to the development of fish farming in such a way that there will be an even spread of availability of fish throughout the country. It has been an unnecessarily exaggerated problem for the most part. The half of Spain, hundreds of miles from the sea, can have fresh fish every day in small towns and villages.
An Ceann Comhairle: It is now 11.45 p.m. I am obliged, in accordance with an order of the Dáil, to put the following  question in respect of Estimates for the Public Services for 1990: “That the  revised Estimates for Health, Vote 42; Labour, Vote 33 and the Marine, Vote 30, be agreed to.”
Burke, Raphael P.
Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
de Valera, Síle.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Kitt, Michael P.
Morley, P. J.
Nolan, M. J.
Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
O'Toole, Martin Joe.
Wilson, John P.
Belton, Louis J.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Brown, John (Wexford).
Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
Currie, Austin. Kenny, Enda.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
Farrelly, John V.
Higgins, Michael D.
Kemmy, Jim. O'Sullivan, Toddy.
Sheehan, Patrick J.
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