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Fishing Industry Development (Continued)

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 775 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney] We will, where possible, put measures in place to ensure stocks can recover and the fishing industry can grow. We are unusual in Europe in that only some 20% of the fish caught in the waters we control are caught by Irish boats, with the remaining 80% being caught by foreign fleets. We are obliged to collect the data from all of these boats. As such, we have strongly supported the Commission's proposal for electronic logbooks, for example, which would allow us to gather the data as quickly as possible from the many fleets that come in and out of Irish waters at different times. It is a complex job. Only this morning we made the case to the Commission that the European Fisheries Fund should support countries such as Ireland to put improved data collection systems in place to manage our fish stocks.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly The Minister has touched on precisely the point I am making. Despite the presence of foreign trawlers in our waters, some 250 of them run by syndicates engaged in this type of activity, we do not have an effective, independent observation regime in place. A mere 1% of the €750 million European Fisheries Fund would support 250 jobs in such a capacity, collecting the data and informing future policy. In addition, we must enhance the area of eco-tourism. A difficulty in this regard, however, is that our ocean wealth is not properly researched. Activities such as recreational fishing which have been well exploited and developed in Britain have not been given the same prominence here.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I reject the contention that our ocean wealth has not been properly researched. If one includes the Attorney General's office, ten Departments were involved in putting this report together. For the first time, we have an integrated maritime strategy which involves all of the relevant Departments working collectively. I chair the implementation group which meets on a bimonthly basis to discuss a range of issues relating to our ocean resource and how we can best obtain value from it. We are taking a proactive approach with a view to realising the ambition expressed in the report. In fact, I hope to upgrade some of the targets set out in that document for the various sectors.

On the issue of data collection and enforcement of the rules in terms of quotas, catches and so on, this is primarily a matter for the Naval Service, in co-operation with the Marine Institute and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority. These bodies are rigorous in policing the implementation of the rules, but the reality is that we are talking about a vast amount of space to be patrolled. When boats are coming into Irish waters for eight or ten hours but without ever coming closer than 150 miles from shore, they are difficult to monitor and police. That is why the introduction of electronic logbooks is so important.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív What is the current valuation of the total allowable catch and discards allocated to non-Irish fishing operations within our waters?

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The valuation of Ireland's total allowable catch went beyond €250 million for the first time last year.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív That is not what I asked.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am getting to the Deputy's question. The value of fish caught in Irish waters by non-Irish vessels represents some 20% of that total. In fact, it probably represents slightly more in value terms if one takes mackerel into account. The value of the catch for other fleets in our waters would be up to some €800 million.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív Does that include discards?

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney No, because discards are not included in the total allowable catch - that is the point.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That is a separate debate.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív It involves fishing in our waters.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney If one does not have a quota, one cannot catch fish. That is the essence of the problem.


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