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 Header Item Common Fisheries Policy Negotiations (Continued)
 Header Item Land Reclassification

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney] At the moment in many of our fisheries up to 40% or 50% of the fish caught are being dumped over the side, dead. They are either juvenile fish or in some cases adult fish. We need and we will find solutions to that and I hope the industry will work with me in the change process.

We are moving towards what is termed maximum sustainable yield in how we determine quotas each year. The idea is that there is a set formula now based on data collection and linked to total allowable catch which can measure what a fish species can take in terms of the amount of fish caught each year to ensure that the stocks can survive and grow. We are trying to apply maximum sustainable yield, MSY, calculations to as many of the stocks as we can and to have enough data to do that by 2015. We are trying to apply it to all the stocks with sufficient data by 2020. That is part of the programme.

The other issue relates to regionalisation of decision making. This is something we are supportive of because we are keen to see countries fishing in Irish waters making decisions on the management of stocks in Irish waters rather than others, but we also want the protection of the Commission to ensure that Ireland does not get outvoted or outnumbered in a regionalisation structure on decision making. For example, we want to avoid a scenario whereby the French and Spanish could gang up on Ireland and make decisions on fish stocks in Irish waters. That would be unacceptable. Only when there is a unanimous decision on a regionalised decision-making process will we support it. Otherwise we want to be able to go back to the Commission, which is essentially there to support small nations.

The challenge is to find common ground with the European Parliament. I will spend a good deal of time in Brussels talking to people in the European Parliament about how to ensure that the Council, which is represented by Ministers, and the European Parliament can come together in a co-decision process to find a compromise position on the future of the fishing industry and to try to get that job done by the end of June next year. I believe it will be possible to do it but it will be demanding.

Deputy John Browne: Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne I thank the Minister for his detailed reply and I wish him well at the negotiations in Brussels next week. I imagine he will have the fishermen and the fishery organisations in tow. It is important to the 11,000 people employed in the fishing industry around the country that the Common Fisheries Policy review leans towards Irish fishermen. They believe that in the past they have not got the best possible deals. Does the Minister believe he will be in a position to conclude the review during the term of the Irish EU Council Presidency?

The Minister has been pursuing the issue of discards, among other issues, since he came to the Ministry. Does he have any other countries on board supporting him on the issue of discards?

In the area of regionalisation one size does not fit all for Irish fishermen but it is an important issue on the agenda.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney We worked hard during the Danish EU Council Presidency, which was before the current Cypriot Presidency, to get a Common Position on discards by the end of the Presidency, which was the end of June this year. There is a basic agreement in principle on how to address discards. However, dealing with the pelagic sector is different from dealing with the whitefish sector and there is a recognition of this, in particular in the whitefish sector, in which there are mixed fisheries. For example, off the south coast of Ireland at Dunmore East if one is catching cod, one is also likely to catch haddock and whiting in the same net. When adult fish species are the same size and a fisherman has a quota to catch two types but not the third, what does he do when he catches all three in the one net? These are complex problems that we must try to solve through more technical measures and more targeted fishing gear. It is one thing to deal with the juvenile fish issue. One can deal with it through measures such as mesh size to allow smaller fish to escape, but in mixed fisheries where one is likely to catch multiple species in the one net because the fish are roughly the same size there are complex problems relating to the management of discards. We are trying to find flexible ways of doing that, minimising discards and ultimately eliminating them altogether. I believe we will be able to do that.

It will be possible to do this before June but it will be challenging because there are deep divisions on some of these issues between member states, some of which are driven by the sustainability arguments while others are driven by the fishing industry. I maintain that they have a common interest and it will be our job during the Irish Presidency to try to bring the two sides together and to agree compromise positions.

Land Reclassification

 5. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans for Castlerea Town Trust, Cow Park Trust, County Roscommon; his position regarding appointing new trustees to such a trust; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56184/12]

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am pleased that the Deputy has asked this question because we discussed it some weeks ago. I am pleased that I have managed to bring the issue forward since that discussion. I wish to make clear at the outset that my reply relates to the public trust set up in 1919 under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts. To avoid confusion, my Department refers to it as the Castlerea Public Trust because there is another private trust bordering the trust in Castlerea. The Castlerea Public Trust land is registered on folio No. 13684 County Roscommon in the names of the trustees.

Public trusts vest the trust land in the trustees and provide that day-to-day operational matters relating to the public trust are dealt with by the trustees, appointed from time to time. As Minister, I retain certain residual powers, mainly set out in section 30 of the Land Act 1950. These powers are to appoint the trustees; to alter or amend the terms of the trust; to agree to proposals from the trustees regarding disposal in whole or in part of the trust; and revocation of the trust if it is not being used for its intended purposes.

Castlerea Public Trust was originally created as a cow park trust, where local landless people could graze a cow. With the passage of time as Castlerea town has developed, part of the trust lands close to Market Square have been used by local people for recreational purposes and there are several paths and walkways traversing the trust lands.

As Minister, I am solely empowered to appoint trustees to these Land Act trusts. The existing trustees notify my Department when any appointments are necessary and they also nominate names of persons suitable and willing to act as trustees.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Minister, the remainder of the reply can be read into the record because there is quite a bit to go.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney If the Deputy prefers I will get to the meat of it.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Yes, please. If the Minister could do so I would be keen to hear what he has to say.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have only half a page left.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Okay, but it lessens your time for supplementary questions.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan I will chat to the Minister afterwards.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The minimum number of trustees in this trust is five and the maximum number is 12. It is important that the replacement trustees are nominated by and acceptable to existing trustees to ensure the harmonious work of the trust. This is especially important in Castlerea because at present the people who are the trustees of the Castlerea Public Trust lands are also trustees of the contiguous private trust lands.

In the case of Castlerea Public Trust, new trustee nominations were recently submitted to me. I have not as yet appointed these nominated parties because I believe it is necessary for the existing trustees to carry out a comprehensive review of the operation of the trust and address in particular the need to modernise the use of the trust from mainly pasturage to accommodate general recreational use. When this review has been completed, I will consider the nomination and replacement of trustees, who may bring additional community value and reflect any new direction established for the use of the trust lands. This will entail the trustees liaising with community leaders for the ongoing development, preservation and increased community use of the important local amenity.

It is my policy generally with Land Act trusts that where agreement can be reached locally, ownership of the trust lands should be transferred to a community company or a co-operative representative of local communities. I endeavour to seek consensus not confrontation in carrying through such a transfer. I am mindful of the fact that the trustees in Castlerea and their predecessors in title have preserved and developed this trust since 1919 as a significant amenity for the area and I hope to be able to move this process forward in a positive way.

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