Sea Pollution (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2003: Committee Stage.

Wednesday, 12 November 2003

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 174 No. 12

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Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. J. Browne): Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendment No. 1 is a drafting amendment recommended by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to improve the text.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 3, as amended, agreed to.

Section 4 agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  Amendment No. 2 is in the name of Senator O'Meara. As Senator O'Meara is not present, the amendment cannot be moved.

Amendment No. 2 not moved.

Section 5 agreed to.

Sections 6 and 7 agreed to.

Government amendment No. 3:

In page 9, subsection (3), line 35, to delete “internationally,” and substitute “internationally in accordance with the 1996 Protocol,”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  This is a drafting amendment recommended by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to improve the text.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 8, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 9 and 10 agreed to.

Government amendment No. 4:

In page 12, line 7, to delete “shall”.

[912]

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  This is a drafting amendment recommended by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to improve the text.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 11, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 5:

In page 12, subsection (2)(b), line 29, to delete “Article 9” and substitute “the applicable limitation regime in force pursuant to Article 6”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendment No. 5 corrects a printing error and incorporates drafting amendments recommended by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to improve the text.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 12, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 13 to 19, inclusive, agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  Amendment Nos. 6, 9, 13 to 17, inclusive, 27, 28 and 30 form a composite proposal and all will be taken together by agreement.

Government amendment No. 6:

In page 18, line 4, to delete “an Irish ship” and substitute “a relevant Irish ship”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  The term “Irish ship” is defined in the 1999 Act. The Bill, as published, provides in section 35, paragraph (b), for the revised definition, namely, those above a certain threshold. This amendment, together with the deletion of section 35, paragraph (b), proposed by amendment No. 27, leaves the existing definition in place and introduces a separate definition to cover those Irish ships which are required to prepare and submit plans in accordance with this part of the Bill. Separate definitions have been introduced as all Irish ships, regardless of size, are being required in section 26 to report pollution incidents.

The distinction between Irish ships and relevant Irish ships was not required when the 1999 Act was made. The requirement to prepare plans, etc., in respect of oil was already in place through SI 44 of 1994, which was made under the 1991 Act. The extension of this requirement to hazardous and noxious substances in the protocol has meant that the Bill needed to provide for Irish ships above a certain threshold to prepare plans, etc. As regards HNS, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, when drafting the Bill, recommended that the requirement for relevant Irish [913]ships in respect of both oil and HNS should be set out in this legislation.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 7:

In page 18, line 6, to delete “section” and substitute “subsection”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  This amendment makes two corrections to the text in page 18, line 6.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 8:

In page 18, line 6, after “Minister” to insert “a plan for the prevention and minimisation of damage arising out of an oil pollution incident and”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 make two corrections to the text in page 18, line6.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 20, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 9:

In page 18, subsection (2)(c), line 30, to delete “an Irish ship” and substitute “a relevant Irish ship”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 10:

In page 18, subsection (2), between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following new paragraphs:

“(d) The master, or such other person as may have charge, of a ship registered in a country, other than the State, which is a party to the Convention shall ensure that there is on board the ship–

(i) an emergency plan for the prevention and minimisation of damage arising from an oil pollution incident,

(ii) an emergency plan for the prevention and minimisation of damage arising from a pollution incident by hazardous and noxious substances, and

(iii) where any such plan is not in the English language, a duly certified copy of the plan in the English language,

and each such plan shall comply with the legal requirements of the country in which the ship is registered.

(e) Where the Minister has made regulations under paragraph (f), the master, or such other person as may have charge, of a [914]ship to which such regulations apply shall ensure that there is on board the ship–

(i) an emergency plan for the prevention and minimisation of damage arising from an oil pollution incident,

(ii) an emergency plan for the prevention and minimisation of damage arising from a pollution incident by hazardous and noxious substances, and

(iii) where any such plan is not in the English language, a duly certified copy of the plan in the English language,

and each such plan shall comply with those regulations.

(f) (i) In respect of a ship registered in a country which is not a party to the Convention, the Minister may by regulations require the master, or such other person as may have charge, of the ship, while that ship is in the State to have on board the ship–

(I) an emergency plan for the prevention and minimisation of damage arising from an oil pollution incident,

(II) an emergency plan for the prevention and minimisation of damage arising from a pollution incident by hazardous and noxious substances, and

(III) where any such plan is not in the English language, a duly certified copy of each such plan in the English language.

(ii) Regulations under this paragraph may provide for all or any of the following matters in relation to each such plan:

(I) the matters to be covered by such plan,

(II) such other and incidental matters as appear to the Minister to be necessary.

(g) Paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) apply only to a ship which is–

(i) an oil tanker of not less than 150 tons gross tonnage, or

(ii) a ship other than an oil tanker of not less than 400 tons gross tonnage.”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  This amendment provides for the insertion of new paragraphs (d), (e), (f) and (g) in section 3(2) of the 1999 Act. The new paragraphs extend to non-Irish ships the requirement to have emergency plans on board. Paragraph (d) pertains to ships registered in countries which are party to the convention, while paragraphs (e) and (f) deal with ships registered in countries which are not party to the convention. Paragraph (g) sets out the threshold above which this requirement is to apply, which is the same as for Irish ships.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  What about the “ghost ships” which are currently the subject of controversy? Does [915]this amendment cover these? If there was a pollution incident involving one of these ships outside Irish territorial waters, does this legislation empower the Minister to take any action? How would an incident such as this be handled? The marine environment is threatened by this new development. These ships, which are coming from the USA, do not appear to be covered under this international protocol.

If there was an incident, what action could be taken by the Irish authorities to deal with it? Would it be covered under the convention? Would the incident be dealt with by other member states along with Ireland? The ships are travelling outside the Irish jurisdiction so it seems the legislation we have is not adequate to cover them. Where there are hazardous vessels within the vicinity of Irish territorial seas, there is the likelihood of a major incident because of gales and so on. Do we have legislation to empower Irish authorities to take action to deal with an emergency such as this?

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  The Senator's point is important. These ships will finish up in Hartlepool in England, which is about 250 miles from our coastline. If we wanted proof of the type of gale force winds that have been experienced in recent times, we need only listen to the master of the Jeanie Johnston, who said his journey was troubled by force 10 winds. The ships mentioned by Senator Daly are coming from the USA, 4,000 miles away, and contain noxious substances such as PCBs, asbestos and heavy fuel oil. They are a time-bomb for our coastline. The intention was for 13 of these ships to sail to Hartlepool over a period of time and they have quite rightly been dubbed “ghost ships”. The Minister has had discussions with the British authorities on this issue and is meeting the British ambassador today.

Legislation such as this is important in its own right. Much of the emphasis in recent legislation has been on sea pollution, particularly from the point of view of conforming to European Union protocols. We may conform to EU protocols, but what restrictions apply to the USA? Is the EU making it known to the USA that it is not prepared to accept vessels such as these approaching its coastlines? There should be an embargo on this activity. If the USA has a problem with vessels made in the early 1960s which are no longer viable, it should resolve it within its own country. It is big enough.

It is audacious of the American Government to send these ships here. When it comes to environmental issues President Bush always gives the two fingers to the rest of the world. This has happened in the case of the Kyoto protocol and other European rules to which Ireland must conform. The Kyoto protocol is extremely important. This is another example of the Americans being irresponsible. The European Union should state firmly that it will not tolerate this. To what degree do protocols and provisions such as these apply [916]to American ships? They should not apply at all because the USA should not be allowed to scrap vessels in any European country.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  As it stands, any ship coming into Irish waters must have on board an emergency plan and any authorised officer of the State has a right to seek this plan. If the ships mentioned by Senator Daly and Senator Finucane were in difficulties, we would have our own emergency plans to deal with it. Ireland was notified of the passage plan of these ships and the fact that they would be travelling 35 miles south of Irish waters. We were kept fully informed all the way. It is to be hoped there will not be any problems because these ships are sailing close to the coast.

Generally, ships have their own emergency plans on board which may be requested by authorised officials. We also have our own plans in place for emergencies and we have seen these swing into action in the past. Port authorities have their own plans, as do local authorities, and our own Department deals with tugs, transponders and so on.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Nobody is disputing the provisions that exist in previous legislation or our preparedness for emergencies. Regardless of our plans, however, it has been ceded in the past that we do not have vessels suitable for towing away a vessel that is in distress. We can stall matters with regard to our marine research vessels. I am sure Senator Daly is wondering, as I am, what right these vessels have to come from the USA and put our coastline at risk, regardless of our level of preparedness. At EU level, in conjunction with the other EU countries that are part of this protocol, we should be making a stand on this issue.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  Like Senator Finucane, I compliment the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, the Minister of State and his staff on the way they have handled this issue and the representations they have made about it. However, I would like to be sure there is a mechanism to deal with an incident in which pollution is caused adjacent to our territorial seas. While I appreciate the legislation fully covers ships in harbours under the jurisdiction of the authorities within the State and probably within our territorial waters, what about the area outside this? It is important that this protocol is applied there and it is not clear to me whether it does.

The Minister should raise the issue at EU level, especially in the context of the international convention. If there was an incident involving one of these “ghost ships”, with huge expenditure arising for the State authorities, it should be possible to claim this back from the convention and from countries such as the USA which have some responsibility in this area. Those behind this outrageous act of irresponsibility should be held liable in the event of an occurrence which results [917]in damage to our environment or fishing areas. If this or any other legislation does not hold the USA, which is the owner of these vessels, responsible or liable for damage arising from an incident involving them, some provision should be made to ensure it does hold them responsible, and to extend the terms of the international convention to cover incidents of this nature.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  We are not in a position to make regulations outside our own waters but as Senators Daly and Finucane stated, the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, has expressed serious concern on a number of occasions about the ghost ships. Obviously other EU countries are of like mind, but under international regulations these ships have a right of passage. We have expressed our concerns. The Coast Guard and all the port authorities are aware of these ships and are ready to spring into action if required, although I hope that will not be necessary.

I understand the Minister will be in Brussels next week and I will ask him to take on board the points raised by Senator Daly and hold discussions with people of like mind. As we can see from the newspapers and publicity generally, there is serious concern about the ghost ships moving so close to countries, including our own.

Mr. Moylan: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  I support Senators Daly and Finucane on this issue because from what we read, these ships may well have to turn around and head back to America. They constitute a major risk and they should not be moved at a time of the year when we are likely to experience severe storms. The people who intend to scrap them should not have been allowed to do it until a safer time of the year. There is a risk of some of them not being accepted and having to return to America, which would pose a double risk for this country. I compliment the Minister of State on what he has outlined and the steps he has taken but this country stands to suffer as a result of these passages.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  I agree with the Senator that it is a strange time of the year to move the ships, but because of the concern expressed by the Minister and by members of the public, only four of the six ships set out. I do not know whether the other two will be sent next year. All of us would be concerned about the Americans sending such ships so close to this and other countries but that is a matter for a different forum. I am sure the Minister will deal with it. He has already raised his own concerns, the concerns of the Government and the public at a meeting last week in Farmleigh House with the relevant Commissioner.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I compliment the Minister of State on what he has said. Will he ensure that the Naval Service and Air Corps will monitor these vessels when they are in the vicinity of Irish territorial waters and within the jurisdiction? They should [918]be fully monitored and reports made to the authorities to ensure we are fully aware of what is taking place and that there will not be an incident which might not come to light for two or three days.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  The Navy and the Air Corps have been monitoring the ships and have been aware at all times of their position as they travelled on the sea.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  I respect what has been done by officialdom and there has been an awareness of its actions while watching what was happening on television and reading about it. I also respect what the Minister is doing. He has been vocal in his opposition. When European Union protocols are being introduced with regard to this, the argument should be made in the Commission that it is not right for a country like America to send here vessels carrying noxious and hazardous substances which put people's lives at risk. Will the Minister of State give an assurance that the Minister will take up the matter with the British Ambassador, although it should be raised at European Union level?

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  The Minister has already raised the issue with the Commissioner at EU level. I am aware there is also a view that EU Heads of State should discuss the situation at the next summit and express the concern of the different countries about America sending such ghost ships through our waters. We will also bring it to the Taoiseach's attention.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 11:

In page 18, to delete lines 44 to 47 and substitute the following:

“(4) A person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence.'.”.

Amendment No. 11 revises the text of subsection (4), recommended by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, incorporating amendments which are consequential to section 35 and this section.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 21, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 12:

In page 19, to delete lines 3 to 48 and substitute the following:

“‘(3) For the purposes of the Sea Pollution Acts 1991 to 2003, an authorised officer may–

(a) enter at any time a relevant facility or ship, or any part thereof, for the pur[919]pose of exercising any powers conferred on him or her by this section,

(b) make inspections and carry out such tests as he or she thinks fit in relation to the carrying on of any activities in a relevant facility or ship, including the monitoring and assessment of the effects on the marine environment of such activities,

(c) make such inspections and carry out such tests in a relevant facility or ship as he or she thinks fit for the purposes of monitoring and assessing the effects on the marine environment of any oil pollution incident or a pollution incident by hazardous and noxious substances,

(d) require any person in a relevant facility or ship to produce to him or her such documents, records or materials as are in that person's possession or control relating to any plan which is required to be kept on board the relevant facility or ship and to give to him or her such information as he or she may reasonably require in respect of such documents, records or materials, or

(e) require any person holding any position of authority or responsibility in relation to the implementation of any plan referred to in paragraph (d) to give to him or her such information as he or she may reasonably require in relation to the procedures employed or steps taken to ensure the carrying out of and compliance with such plan.

(3A) In this section “relevant facility or ship” means one or more of the following:

(a) a harbour;

(b) an offshore unit;

(c) an oil handling facility;

(d) a hazardous and noxious substances handling facility;

(e) a relevant Irish ship;

(f) a ship to which one or more of paragraphs (d), (e), and (f) of section 3(2) applies.'.”.

Section 22 amends section 4(3) of the 1999 Act to extend the powers of authorised officers to include hazardous and noxious facilities and Irish ships. The amendment revises the text of the section incorporating amendments which are consequential to an amendment to sections 21 and 35.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 22, as amended, agreed to.

Section 23 agreed to.

Government amendment No. 13:

In page 20, line 17, to delete “an Irish ship” and substitute “a relevant Irish ship”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 14:

In page 20, line 23, to delete “or Irish ship” and substitute “or relevant Irish ship”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 15:

In page 20, line 29, to delete “or Irish ship” and substitute “or relevant Irish ship”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 16:

In page 20, line 33, to delete “an Irish ship” and substitute “a relevant Irish ship”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 17:

In page 20, lines 40 and 41, to delete “or Irish ship” and substitute “or relevant Irish ship”.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  I might have missed it earlier but what is the definition—

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  The amendment has already been discussed with amendment No. 6.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  I presume I can ask what is the difference between “Irish ship” and “relevant Irish ship”.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  It has already been discussed. Is the amendment agreed?

Amendment agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  The Senator can ask that question on the section.

Question proposed: “That section 24 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  What is the difference between “Irish ship” and “relevant Irish ship”?

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  That was explained when considering section 20.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  I accept that but I missed it when the Minister of State went through the section fairly rapidly. I am sure he remembers it.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Section 35, which provides for the revised definition, covers the area to which we referred earlier. The term “Irish ship” is defined in the 1999 Act. The Bill, as published, [921]provides in section 35, paragraph (b), for the revised definition, namely, those above a certain threshold. This amendment, together with the deletion of the paragraph, leaves the existing definition in place and introduces a separate definition to cover those Irish ships which are required to prepare and submit plans in accordance with this Part of the Bill. Separate definitions have been introduced as all Irish ships, regardless of size, are being required in section 26 to report pollution incidents.

The distinction between Irish ships and relevant Irish ships was not required when the 1999 Act was made. The requirement to prepare plans, etc. in respect of oil was already in place through S.I. No. 44 of 1994, which was made under the 1991 Act.

The extension of this requirement to hazardous and noxious substances since the protocol meant that the Bill needed to provide for Irish ships over a certain threshold to prepare plans etc. in respect of HNS. The Parliamentary Counsel's office, when drafting the Bill, recommended that the requirement for relevant Irish ships in respect of oil and HNS should now be set out in this legislation.

Question put and agreed to.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  Amendments Nos. 18, 19 and 20 are related and may be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 18:

In page 20, lines 47 to 49, to delete “or a pollutant or quantity of a pollutant in excess of that permitted under section 10” and substitute “or a pollutant or, in the event that a regulation has been made under section 10, a quantity of a pollutant in excess of that permitted under such a regulation”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendments Nos. 18 to 20, inclusive, are drafting amendments recommended by the Parliamentary Counsel's office to improve the text.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 19:

In page 21, lines 23 to 25, to delete “or a pollutant or quantity of a pollutant in excess of that permitted under section 10” and substitute “or a pollutant or, in the event that a regulation has been made under section 10, a quantity of a pollutant in excess of that permitted under such a regulation”.

Amendment agreed to.

[922]Government amendment No. 20:

In page 21, lines 31 to 33, to delete “or a pollutant or quantity of a pollutant in excess of that permitted under section 10” and substitute “or a pollutant or, in the event that a regulation has been made under section 10, a quantity of a pollutant in excess of that permitted under such a regulation”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 25, as amended, agreed to.

Section 26 agreed to.

Government amendment No. 21:

In page 23, line 7, to delete “shall on receipt of a report under subsection (1)” and substitute “shall, on receipt of a report under subsection (1),”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendment No. 21 is a drafting amendment recommended by the Parliamentary Counsel's office to improve the text.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 27, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 22:

In page 23, line 47 to delete “which” and substitute “whom”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendment No. 22 corrects a grammatical error.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 28, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 29 to 32, inclusive, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 23:

In page 24, before section 33, to insert the following new section:

33.–Section 26 of the Act of 1991 is amended–

(a) in subsection (4) by substituting ‘ship;' for ‘ship.' in paragraph (h) and by inserting the following after paragraph (h):

‘(i) the establishment and maintenance of a temporary exclusion zone around a maritime casualty or an offshore unit, oil handling facility or hazardous and noxious substances handling facility.',

and

(b) in subsection (10), in the definition of ‘substance other than oil', by inserting [923]‘, and includes hazardous and noxious substances' after ‘legitimate uses of the sea'.”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendment No. 23 introduces revised text to section 33 as amended by the Parliamentary Counsel's office.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Does this concern the establishment and maintenance of a temporary exclusion zone around a maritime casualty or an offshore unit?

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  This section amends the punctuation of section 26(4)(h) of the 1991 Act and inserts a new paragraph that provides for the establishment and maintenance of a temporary exclusion zone around the maritime casualty or pollution incident. This has been included at the request of the Irish Coastguard Service.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  What would be classified as a temporary exclusion zone area-wise?

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  It would depend on the size of the incident. It could be half a mile or 500 ms. It is to stop other vessels coming in during an emergency or an incident.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 33 deleted.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  Amendment No. 24 is consequential on amendment No. 25. Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 may be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 24:

In page 25, to delete lines 10 to 13.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Section 34, as published, includes a provision to insert a definition of convention in the 1991 Act. It is considered more appropriate to insert this definition in the 1999 Act. The provision is accordingly being deleted from section 34 and included instead as part of section 35.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 34, as amended, agreed to.

Government amendment No. 25:

In page 25, between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following:

“(a) by substituting the following for the definition of ‘the Convention':

‘Convention' means the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation 1990, [924]done at London on 30 November 1990 together with the Protocol done at London on 15 March 2000;”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 26:

In page 25, lines 40 to 41, to delete “‘harbour authority:” and substitute “‘harbour authority':”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  This is a drafting amendment recommended by the Parliamentary Counsel's office to improve the text.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  How does it improve the text if one is deleting “harbour authority” and substituting “harbour authority”? Surely, it is the same thing.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The Minister of State is talking about some of those funny harbour authorities in Foynes.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  It is the punctuation.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  There is a slight change in the punctuation.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  I thought the Senator had read it.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  How does the punctuation improve it?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  Is the amendment agreed to?

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Observation is the key to success.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 27:

In page 26, lines 13 to 20, to delete paragraph (b).

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 28:

In page 26, line 22, to delete “, Irish ship” and substitute “, relevant Irish ship”.

Amendment agreed to.

Government amendment No. 29:

In page 26, line 38, to delete “Convention;'.” and substitute “‘Convention';”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendment No. 29 is a drafting amendment recommended by the Parliamentary Counsel's office to improve the text.

Amendment agreed to.

[925]Government amendment No. 30:

In page 26, between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following:

“‘relevant Irish ship' means an Irish ship which is –

(a) an oil tanker of not less than 150 tons gross tonnage, or

(b) a ship other than an oil tanker of not less than 400 tons gross tonnage;'.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 35, as amended, agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 36 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  There is a reference to garbage in this section and legislation has been introduced in that regard. I presume this Bill will strengthen that legislation because there is a still a major problem for communities in coastal areas with refuse washing up on the coastline. When the legislation was introduced in the House a few years ago, there was an indication that the wine bottles and bits of broken net would be covered by the legislation because it was to tidy up the situation where a huge amount of refuse was being washed up on the shore as a result of commercial ships and fishing vessels operating off the coastline.

The situation has not improved to any great extent over the last couple of years. Many disposable nappies were washed up on the west Clare coastline last summer which came from a ship which lost its cargo off the west coast. There were sufficient disposal nappies in west Clare for a few weeks to take care of a lot of children.

It is a serious matter. A lot of refuse and garbage is being dumped from vessels all the time. It is a problem for local authorities, because they have responsibility for clean ups, and for local communities involved in the Tidy Towns competition and so on. I understood there was legislation to control all of this and that ship owners and companies could be prosecuted under it for causing pollution. It appears the legislation is not working and it needs to be looked at again. If this Bill tightens it up, I support it.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  I understand Senator Daly's concerns. Earlier this year the Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Bill was passed and it will deal with this issue. Port authorities, under an SI annex approved by Europe, have been asked to prepare plans on how to deal with garbage and waste. Those plans will be notifiable to Brussels. Action is being taken to deal with these issues through the Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Bill and through port authorities having to prepare [926]plans on how to deal with this which are notifiable to the Department and to Brussels.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  That is fine. I do not want to prolong the debate but I presume this is in the jurisdiction of the harbour authorities. The main problem is arising on beaches along the west coast. It is resulting in a large number of bottles and a huge amount of refuse generally from ships being washed on to the beautiful beaches and it is causing problems.

It is necessary to revisit that legislation and if there is an issue that needs to be tightened up then we should have additional legislation.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Living in the nicest coastal county, County Wexford, I am well aware of the difficulties—

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  It is not as good as west Clare.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  —that Senator Daly is raising. We hope the Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Bill 2000, and other legislation and annexes that have been passed in recent times, will deal with this matter. Obviously it will be a matter for enforcement eventually, but hopefully the legislation that has been passed through this House and Dáil Éireann will deal quite effectively with the issues raised by Senator Daly.

Question put and agreed to.

Ms Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I move amendment No. 31:

In page 27, line 19, to delete “to other vessels” and substitute “to such other vessel or vessels as may be specified by the Minister”.

We have proposed an amendment to the section because the section as drafted seems to require the Minister to revoke all licences held by a person if he is exercising the power conferred by the section. We feel it is wrong that the Minister should have the power to determine that a particular class of licence should be revoked, in other words that the power of the Minister in terms of revocation is pitched too far. It should allow the kind of differentiation we are suggesting. I await the Minister's reply with interest.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  This amendment, which I have studied, is interesting. It seems rather draconian to revoke all licences, whereas the amendment proposed by Senator Tuffy would at least give the Minister a certain amount of discretion on whether he revokes all the licences or certain licences.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  I thank the Senator for her amendment but the advice available to the Department is that the proposed amendment is unnecessary and we are not proposing to accept [927]it. The amendment is considered unnecessary as the plural “vessels”, covers both the singular and plural form. The purpose is to ensure that where an individual holds a licence for more than one vessel and has been found guilty of an offence in respect of any one vessel, the Minister will have the power to revoke the licences for any remaining vessels that the individual may possess. It is not our intention to accept Senator Tuffy's amendment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  Is the amendment being pressed?

Ms Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  We still contend that the section is worded incorrectly. Is Report Stage following Committee Stage?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  We will decide that on the completion of Committee Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Ms Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I hope the Cathaoirleach will not mind me asking if I can table this amendment again on Report Stage, if that is appropriate.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  The Senator cannot reopen this.

Ms Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I am not going to reopen it. I just want to mention that I am re-submitting it.

Section 37 agreed to.

Government amendment No. 32:

In page 27, to delete lines 27 to 40, and in page 28, to delete lines 1 to 12, and substitute the following:

“(b) in section 14A (3) (inserted by section 4(c) of the Merchant Shipping (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1998)–

(i) paragraph (a), by substituting ‘€3,000' for ‘£1,500', and

(ii) paragraph (b), by substituting ‘€15,000' for ‘£10,000',

(c) in section 15(7)–

(i) paragraph (a), by submitting ‘€3,000' for ‘£1,000',

(ii) paragraph (b), by substituting ‘€10,000' for ‘£5,000', and

(iii) paragraph (c) by substituting ‘€100,000' for £50,000',

(d) in section 17(3)–

(i) paragraph (a), by substituting ‘€500' for ‘£200', and

[928](ii) paragraph (b), by substituting ‘€1,000', for ‘£500', and

(e) in section 18(5)–

(i) paragraph (a), by substituting ‘€3,000' for ‘£1,500' (inserted by section 44(5) of the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000),

(ii) paragraph (b)(i), by substituting ‘€3,000' for ‘£1,500' (inserted by section 44(5) of the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000), and

(iii) paragraph (b)(ii), by substituting ‘€100,000' for ‘£50,000'.”.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Amendment No. 32 corrects printing errors.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The fines appear to be very small. These are serious offences but it looks as if the Minister is increasing very small fines to medium-sized fines. Is it not time to have a look at all fines in the Bill?

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  They are the maximum allowed by the jurisdiction of the courts.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  We will look at that.

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  In response to Senator Daly, there are prison terms in existing legislation which we are not amending.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  The Minister should increase the prison sentences.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 38, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Rory Kiely  Zoom on Rory Kiely  When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Mr. J. Browne: Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  I thank the Cathaoirleach and the Senators for their contributions on the last day we were here and today. Their input into the Bill has been welcome. I also thank the officials who dealt with 38 sections. It is a very important Bill and I know the officials spent quite a lot of time on it. I thank all involved.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  It is proposed to take Report Stage next Tuesday, 18 November 2003.

Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 18 November 2003.

[929]Sitting suspended at 2.50 p.m. and resumed at 4p.m.


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