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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 526-542
 Header Item Offshore Exploration
 Header Item Departmental Staff Numbers
 Header Item Natural Gas Grid
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Issues
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Broadband Services Speeds
 Header Item Broadband Services Provision
 Header Item Broadband Services Provision
 Header Item Offshore Exploration
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item National Postcode System Establishment
 Header Item Inland Fisheries Issues
 Header Item Inland Fisheries Ireland Issues

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 134 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 526-542

  Question No. 526 answered with Question No. 94.

Offshore Exploration

 527. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the position regarding the 2D seismic study being carried out with ENI; if there is a timeframe for project completion and data compilation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27453/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd The 2D regional seismic survey, which is by far the largest regional seismic survey to be acquired in the Irish offshore, commenced earlier this month and it is planned that acquisition of data will continue into late autumn. The survey will provide a regional grid of high-quality seismic data over Ireland’s frontier basins and has been designed to infill data gaps that exist, particularly in the Southern Porcupine, Rockall and Hatton basins.

Departmental Staff Numbers

 528. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the number of technical staff in PAD; the number of technical staff who have left PAD in the past three years; if these staff were replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27454/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte There are currently two technical staff employed by my Department’s Petroleum Affairs Division (PAD). During the past three years two technical staff have left that Division. The process to fill both these vacancies is underway.

Natural Gas Grid

 529. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the position regarding the Shannon LNG project; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27455/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte As I have stated on previous occasions in the House, the proposal by Shannon LNG to construct a LNG terminal near Ballylongford is welcomed by the Government. Such a facility, together with the bringing onshore of Corrib Gas, would provide important security of gas supply for Ireland.

The Deputy will be aware of Shannon LNG’s application to the Courts for Judicial Review of the CER decision of 29 June 2012 and the subsequent hearing of the case in the High Court earlier this year with judgement expected this summer. In view of this legal process and a State Aids case initiated by the company in July 2011, both of which are ongoing, and the fact that Ireland and the Attorney General were named as respondents in the former case, I will not be making further comment in the matter.

Departmental Agencies Issues

 530. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will consider establishing a dedicated Oil Promotional Agency in the event of further discoveries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27456/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd My Department currently delivers an active and targeted promotional campaign directed at attracting an increased share of mobile international exploration investment to the Irish offshore. This promotional campaign forms part of a broader strategy that has contributed to the increase in the number of companies currently involved in exploration in the Irish offshore. It is not proposed to establish a new and additional public body to carry out this function.

In the event of a number of further commercial discoveries being made in the future, there would be less need to actively promote the exploration potential of the Irish offshore.

EU Directives

 531. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the work his Department is currently undertaking on various pieces of upcoming legislation, through a potential Bill to go through the Houses of the Oireachtas or through statutory instrument, to ensure Ireland is in compliance with the upcoming deadlines of directives from the European Union; the deadline in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27470/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte My Department is currently working on transposing a number of EU Directives the details of which are set out in tabular format below.

Title of Directive/Regulation Present Position Required latest date of transposition
EU Regulation 994/2010  concerning measures to safeguard security of gas supply and repealing Council Directive 2004/67/EC The Regulation came into effect on 2/12/2010.  A draft SI is at an advanced stage of preparation and is expected to be brought into force in Q3 2013.  The SI will clarify the roles of BGE and the CER in national gas emergency processes. The regulation takes direct effect and therefore does not require transposition. The SI is for the purpose of clarifying the roles of BGE and CER in national emergency processes.
EU Regulation 1227/2011 on wholesale energy market integrity and transparency The Regulation was published in the OJEU on 8/12/2011 and is directly applicable from 28/12/2011. Provision must be made in national law for the designation of a regulatory authority to monitor and enforce compliance by June 2013. Draft Regulations are currently being prepared to address these provisions. The Regulation entered into force 20 days following publication in the OJEU. Member States have until end June 2013 to notify the offence provisions to the EU Commission.
Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2012  on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union The Regulation was published in the OJEU on 30/06/2012 and is directly applicable to mobile telephone service providers from 1/07/2012.



Provision must be made in national law for offences, prosecution and designation of a regulatory authority to monitor and enforce compliance.



Draft Regulations are with the Office of the Parliamentary Draftsman
No transposition date is specified but Regulation entered into force on the day following publication in the OJEU.



Member States have until end June 2013 to notify the offence provisions to the EU Commission.
Transposition of  New Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU) which will amend and repeal the Cogeneration Directive (2004/8/EC) and Energy Services Directive (2006/32/EC) The Directive was formally adopted by the Council of Ministers and European Parliament in October 2012 and was published in the OJEU on 14/11/2012.



Transposition will translate elements of the European Efficiency Plan into binding measures for individual Member States, including an annual rate of renovation for central Government buildings of 3%; an inventory of central Government buildings with a total useful floor area over certain thresholds; an obligation on public bodies to procure products, services and buildings with high energy efficient performance; metering and billing information for consumers; the promotion of efficiency in heating and cooling; obligations on industry relating to energy audits and energy management systems and a common framework for national energy savings obligation schemes equivalent to annual energy savings of 1.5% of energy sales.



Transposition will be progressed over the coming months. The Department plans to hold a consultation process to set out in detail the key provisions and challenges with implementation including costs and benefits.
Transposition is required by June 2014.

Broadband Services Speeds

 532. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte further to Parliamentary Question No. 117 of 23 May 2013 regarding the 30Mbps speed to be available to the last 30% of population, if he will clarify, in line with the objective of clarity on these matters noted in the programme for Government, that the broadband speed referred to is not a peak, theoretical, contracted or up to speed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27679/13]

 536. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte regarding the mapping process for the national broadband plan, now underway, the technologies currently available here that he considers capable of delivering broadband to a minimum of 30Mb/s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27683/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Question Nos. 532 and 536 together.

The National Broadband Plan commits to speeds of 30Mbps – 70Mbps with target upload speeds in the region of 25% - 30% of these speeds. This will require investment by the State in areas where there is no commercial market.

In order to progress the State-led investment, a full procurement process must be designed. In devising any State intervention my Department will be adopting a technology neutral approach, as required under EU law. My Department has recently appointed Prisa Consulting to assist in all aspects of the design, mapping, State Aids and procurement process, including ensuring an enduring and technically robust solution. This process will include a detailed specification of our requirements to deliver on the commitments in the National Broadband Plan. It is of key importance that the solution is future proofed, scalable and capable of taking advantage of technological advances so as to meet the ever-increasing bandwidth requirements of citizens and businesses.

My Department will shortly embark on a formal mapping exercise to identify those areas where State intervention will be required to enable the delivery of high speed broadband services over the coming years in line with the commitments set out in the Government’s National Broadband Plan. This exercise will inform an EU State Aids application in respect of the State-led intervention and is a necessary prerequisite for State Aids approval. Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations including stakeholder engagement will be ongoing throughout 2013 with a view to the launch of a procurement process in 2014.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, we are committed to increasing the availability of next generation speeds significantly throughout the country. This will ensure that citizens or businesses, wherever they are located, have a broadband connection which meets their needs to interact effectively with society and business in the digital environment.

Broadband Services Provision

 533. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte in relation to stakeholder involvement in the mapping process of the national broadband plan, if he considers the public to be stakeholders, and if so, the way he intends to involve them; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27680/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte My Department is making preparations to commence a formal national mapping exercise to identify those areas where State intervention will be required to enable the delivery of high speed broadband services over the coming years in line with the commitments set out in the National Broadband Plan. It will also form a critical input to an EU State Aid application in respect of any State-led intervention.

There will be many stakeholders in this process and in the implementation of the National Broadband Plan as a whole. While my Department will be relying on the voluntary participation of the service and infrastructure operators to provide information to form the basis of the coverage maps, it is for the public benefit and at the expense of the public purse that the State intends to intervene in the market. Accordingly, the public at large are stakeholders in the process designed to ensure the provision of high speed broadband services nationwide.

Information about the mapping exercise and updates as the process advances will be published on my Department’s website once the process is launched very shortly. The initial stages of the mapping exercise will focus on gathering and validating data on current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector. This will culminate in the development of coverage maps which will aggregate the information provided by operators and indicate the areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment. I expect these maps to be completed by the end of this year and the maps will be made available to the public on my Department’s website at that stage.

Broadband Services Provision

 534. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will clarify the position of those within the national broadband scheme after July 2014, particularly in relation to mobile download limits and satellite fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27681/13]

 535. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he has received any assurances from the national broadband scheme contractor in relation to the number of existing live base stations, both those within and serving NBS areas, that will be retained after July 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27682/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Question Nos. 534 and 535 together.

The State can only intervene to ensure access to broadband services in areas where the competitive market has failed to deliver such services, as in the case of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS). Following an extensive mapping exercise and a competitive tendering process, my Department entered into a contract in late 2008 with Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd (“3”) for the delivery of the NBS. The Scheme offers a basic and affordable broadband service to fixed residences and businesses located within certain designated rural areas.

In accordance with the EU State Aid clearance for the Scheme, the NBS is for a limited duration. The contract is due to terminate in August 2014. Following the expiry of the Scheme, operational decisions such as those relating to pricing, data allowance and infrastructure will be a matter for “3”. Any regulatory issues surrounding these matters that may arise will be a matter for ComReg which is independent in the exercise of its functions. My officials are currently in talks with “3” regarding the services that will be available after August 2014.

More generally, considerable progress has been made in recent years in both the coverage and speeds of national broadband infrastructure, with a multiplicity of commercial operators providing services over a diverse range of technology platforms and offering increased choice to consumers throughout the country. The Government, through the National Broadband Plan, which I published on 30th August last year, has recognised that the key imperative now is to ensure high speed broadband availability to all. The Plan commits to high speed broadband availability across the country by ensuring that high speed services of 30Mbps are available to all of our citizens and businesses, well in advance of the EU’s target date of 2020, and that significantly higher speeds are available to as many homes and businesses as possible.

Ireland is now therefore moving to a new phase of public and private sector investment in broadband in Ireland which will see significantly improved speeds delivered across the country.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas. There is evidence that industry is investing beyond the targets to which they committed in the Plan.

The Government is committed in the Plan to investing in areas where high speed services are not commercially viable and will not be provided by the market. In tandem with commercial developments, intensive work is underway in my Department to progress a State-led investment to secure the countrywide introduction of next generation broadband access.

In order to progress the State-led investment, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained. My Department will shortly embark on a formal mapping exercise to identify the areas of the country to be targeted in the State-led investment under the Government’s National Broadband Plan to ensure the provision of high speed broadband services where the commercial market will not deliver. This exercise will inform an EU State Aids application in respect of the State-led intervention and is a necessary prerequisite for State Aids approval.

Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations including stakeholder engagement will be ongoing throughout 2013 with a view to the launch of a procurement process in 2014.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, we are committed to increasing the availability of next generation speeds significantly, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in a digitally enabled society.

  Question No. 536 answered with Question No. 532.

Offshore Exploration

 537. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will outline the recently approved seismic survey to reveal oil and gas exploration potential of the Atlantic margin; if he took into account the report made in May 2012, by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture entitled Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration; if he will break down the cost of the project and to state the percentage that is being met by his Department; the percentage of the funding leveraged from the industry; and to further breakdown the names and funding from the companies involved; if the said companies will be given preferential treatment for future offshore oil and gas exploration for future projects in view of their contribution to this survey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27751/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd The 2D regional seismic survey, which is by far the largest regional seismic survey to be acquired in the Irish offshore will provide a regional grid of modern seismic data over Ireland’s frontier basins and has been designed to complement existing datasets and to infill data gaps that exist, particularly in the Southern Porcupine, Rockall and Hatton basins. The benefit of addressing such recognised data gaps was identified by my Department officials when providing evidence to the former Joint Committee in the context of the preparation of the Committee’s report.

The survey, which commenced earlier this month, will be undertaken by ENI Ireland BV in conjunction with my Department, with data acquisition carried out by seismic contractor BGP, using the vessel the BGP Explorer. The estimated cost of the survey is in the region of €20 million which includes the cost of data acquisition, data processing, along with planning and management costs. My Department will pay 25% of the data acquisition costs, with ENI paying the balance. My Department’s contribution will be paid from a research fund into which exploration licence holders are obliged to make prescribed annual contributions. ENI will carry out the data processing.

Applications for petroleum exploration authorisations over areas of Ireland’s Atlantic margin are invited from time to time through open competitive licensing rounds. Award of licences is on the basis of published evaluation criteria and this practice will continue. Accordingly, there can be no question of preferential treatment for any individual company.

European Council Meetings

 538. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the discussions that he had with fellow Ministers at the EU Telecoms Council held in Luxembourg on Thursday, 6 June 2013; if he will detail the decisions made at the Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27781/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Given the Irish Presidency’s emphasis on promoting stability, jobs and growth, our focus within the Telecoms’ Council has been to progress initiatives under the Digital Agenda for Europe and to push for the completion of the various dossiers linked to the Digital Single Market.

At its meeting on June, I reported to Council on progress in relation to the various files for which we had responsibility during our Presidency term. I was happy to be able to report two early successes: we secured early agreement on the re-use of Public Sector Information which will improve the availability of publicly-held information by removing barriers to its access which will facilitate the development of new services and innovative products.

I also reported on the agreement of a new mandate for the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA). As a result of our leadership on this issue we now have the basis for a more robust, reinforced agency, better able to meet the technological challenges and demands facing the EU now and in the future.

I presented my Council colleagues with progress reports on the files relating to proposals on Trans-European Networks for telecommunications (as part of the Connecting Europe Facility), on reducing the costs associated with broadband roll-out and on the issue of web-accessibility, particularly in relation to public sector websites. I also reported on substantial progress on the complex but very important area of the draft Regulation on electronic identification and trust services, one of the most important building blocks in any properly-functioning digital single market.

The Council also held two debates. One was an orientation debate on the recently-published Directive on National Information Security. The purpose of this debate was for the Council to give to both the Commission and to the incoming Lithuanian Presidency some clear guidance in terms of how the important issue of cyber security should be dealt with within the EU and what policy priorities should be pursued.

The main debate at Council was a policy debate on the proposed Single Telecoms Market (STM). This debate afforded the Council an opportunity to reflect on progress to-date in relation to achieving a Digital Single Market and give direction to the Commission in advance of its anticipated draft Regulation on STM due to be published in July. In addition, it also allowed the Council to set out its priorities ahead of next October’s European Council, which will specifically focus on digital and innovation. In my role as President of the Telecoms’ Council, I will be writing to President Van Rompuy setting out the main policy priorities as expressed by my Council colleagues.

European Council Meetings

 539. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the discussions that he had with fellow Ministers at the EU energy Council held in Luxembourg on Friday, 7 June 2013; if he will detail the decisions made at the Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27782/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte At the Energy part of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE) Council, which was held in Luxembourg on Friday, I presided over discussions by EU Energy Ministers on the areas of the internal energy market, the indirect land-use change issue in relation to biofuels production, energy technologies and innovation, and external energy relations.

Ministers were presented with a progress report on the Commission Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, known as the ILUC proposal. The proposal is intended, among other measures, to limit the production of conventional biofuels due to the impact of indirect land-use change (ILUC) on greenhouse gas emissions resulting from biofuels, and incentivising the production of advanced biofuels that have no ILUC effects. The report sets out the progress made under the Irish Presidency in trying to establish a Council position in advance of negotiations with the European Parliament to reach an agreement under the co-decision process.

Council Conclusions on the Commission’s Communication, “Making the Internal Energy Market Work”, were adopted by Ministers. During discussions on this point, Ministers took stock of the conclusions adopted by Heads of State and Government at the European Council on 22 May, which highlighted completion of the internal energy market (including development of interconnections to end isolation of Member States from energy networks), investments in energy infrastructure, the diversification of energy sources, and enhanced energy efficiency as the main issues to be addressed in order to foster competitiveness and respond to the challenges of high energy prices. The detailed Council Conclusions adopted by Energy Ministers build on the European Council Conclusions of 22 May and provide guidance on the tasks ahead, e.g. completion of the internal market, elimination of energy isolation, improved rights and roles of consumers, and the transition to the energy market of the future.

Concerning the Commission’s Communication on Energy Technologies and Innovation, the Energy Council held an extensive debate on the need for increased focus on innovation policy to address research and development, the deployment of new technologies, and the putting in place of support mechanisms for accelerated roll-out and implementation of sustainable energy technologies. There was also discussion on how to improve and reinforce the existing institutional frameworks in order to support a more integrated approach to innovation and technology development, including strengthening the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan.

Ministers were also briefed on international relations in the field of energy. I briefed Ministers on developments in the International Energy Agency, and on the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting, which took place in India in April. The Commission briefed Ministers on issues such as developments in relation to the Southern Gas Corridor, on relations with Ukraine and on relations with Russia.

Finally, the Council was informed of the energy policy priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency under the heading of ‘Growing Europe’.

In noting a successful conclusion to Ireland’s Presidency in the field of energy at the Energy Council last week, I took the opportunity to wish every success to the incoming Lithuanian Presidency and stated that responsible development of our energy resources, and innovation in the ways in which we consume them, are vital to maintaining European competitiveness and keeping prices down for both households and business.

National Postcode System Establishment

 540. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if measures relating to the introduction of a postal code system are currently under consideration; the expected implications of the introduction of this system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28016/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Government is committed to introducing a national postcode system. The implementation of a national postcode system is a complex and detailed process. The procurement process to select a postcode management licence holder to implement a National Postcode System is ongoing. It is expected that the matter will be put to final tender in the near future.

A national postcode system is in my view a vital part of the national infrastructure. The implication - apart from providing efficiencies for postal delivery - is that it will significantly impact on the planning and delivery of public and private services.

The final decision to proceed with implementation of a national postcode will be one for Government and will be based on appropriate financial, technical and operational considerations.

Inland Fisheries Issues

 541. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the reason for the continued ban on the killing of any sea trout in the Galway, Connemara or Ballinakill area in the Salmon and Sea Trout Regulations 2013 in view of the official IFI reports from fisheries such as Lough Inagh Lodge showing sea trout numbers in 2012 were comparable to 1985 levels; the length of time this ban on killing sea trout in the western river basin district has been in place; and the mechanism and policies in place to independently review this ban and return to the promotion of sea trout angling in the Connemara region.  [28028/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd In the late 1980s and early 1990s the sea trout stocks in the rivers of Connemara collapsed. As the Deputy will be aware this has been attributed, among anglers and other stakeholders, to sea lice from marine salmon farms. The collapse of the sea trout stocks was seen in terms of adult breeding fish as well as the annual summer small ‘finnock’.

I am advised by IFI that in certain recent years there has been a slight recovery in sea trout numbers but this has primarily been in summer finnock returning to the fisheries. Unfortunately these do not contribute in any significant way to the egg deposition in the fishery and larger more mature fish are required to contribute in any meaningful way to the spawning stock of the fishery.

IFI further advise that there is an indication of improved sea trout runs in western fisheries in 2012. The overall reported sea trout rod catch in the Connemara and Ballinakill Districts rose to 3,573 sea trout, the highest reported catch since 2008. Higher catches were made over the 1998-2001 period and catch levels have shown a fluctuating pattern since the collapse in the late 1980’s.

While there is some indication of improved catches in 2012, catch levels, and most likely overall population structure, have not returned to anything close to pre-collapse levels. The latest scientific advice is that the recovery in the crucial adult breeding population and the key fish driving the stocks has not occurred. These key fish would have gone to the sea over several different years or remained in the sea over winter and have grown to a size capable of producing a significant number of eggs to contribute towards the future of the stocks.

The adult stocks of sea trout have not recovered and consequently the conservation imperative overrides any desire to recommence angling involving the killing of fish. In this regard the longer term trends in stock health and numbers is taken to determine conservation strategies. The ban on the killing of sea trout remains in place as a strategic reality based on the need to recover the stock.

I would advise the Deputy that the Lough Inagh Fishery to which he refers produced 2,000 sea trout retained by rod and line prior to the collapse. Similar catches were taken downstream at Ballynahinch Castle. This was indicative of in the region of 20,000 sea trout returning to the system each year. The stocks have not recovered to anywhere near this level and the adult breeding fish stocks remain very low.

It will only be after a sustained recovery in the larger year classes of fish that any changes in the regulations could be responsibly contemplated. The continued ban on killing sea trout in these districts will contribute significantly to the recovery of stocks.

Inland Fisheries Ireland Issues

 542. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if any employee of the IFI has made a request to the CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland seeking approval to report or make statements to the media in accordance with the IFI Code of Business Conduct for Employees (2011), page 6 and if he will provide copies of any reports or statements subsequently approved by this process. [28029/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I can advise the Deputy that the information requested is a day to day operational matter for Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). However, I have contacted IFI in this regard and I am advised that if the Deputy has a specific issue in mind he should contact the CEO of IFI directly.


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