Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

Second Stage Speech on the Island Fisheries Bill 2017

Bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an díospóireacht ar an teilifís i m’oifig sular tháinig mé isteach sa Teach agus gabhaim mo bhuíochas leis na Teachtaí Dála uilig. Is mian liom a rá arís go bhfuil sé mar phríomhaidhm i gclár an Rialtais seo geilleagar láidir a thógáil agus sochaí cothrom a chur ar fáil ionas gur féidir le daoine maireachtáil faoin tuath agus sna cathracha in Éirinn. Cuirtear muintir na n-oileán san áireamh sa ghealltanas seo agus tá a fhios go maith ag an Rialtas go bhfuil an fharraige thart ar an tír seo ar ceann de na hacmhainní nádúrtha is luachmhaire atá againn. Ní féidir a rá go bhfuil an Bille seo ag baint an leas is fearr as na hacmhainní nádúrtha seo d’iascairí na n-oileán. I ndáiríre, ní féidir leis an mBille seo gealltanas a thabhairt má eiseann an tAire ceadúnas nach gcuireann an Comhbheartas Iascaireachta ar fáil. Chomh maith leis sin, bheadh coimhlint ann idir Éireann agus tíortha eile ag éirí as ár tiomantas don Chomhbheartas Iascaireachta agus, i gcás bradáin, do prionsabal na hEagraíochta um Chaomhnú Bradán san Atlantach Thuaidh, or NASCO. Tugann an Fóram Náisiúnta Iascaigh Cladaigh atá bunaithe ag an Rialtas deis d’iascairí cladaigh cur leis an polasaí bainistíochta agus caomhnaithe.

While welcoming the debate and commenting on the engagement via the forums I have mentioned is particularly appropriate, to address the challenges facing fishing communities, the first industry-led strategy for the inshore sector is being progressed. I acknowledge the Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation, Enda Kenneally and Seamus Bonner, whom I have met on a number of occasions both during the discussion on the committee report chaired by Deputy Andrew Doyle and in preparation for the debate. As Minister of State with responsibility for the inland fisheries sector, I have mentioned my concerns regarding salmon. They pointed out that while they are not impacted by the Bill, they are not mentioned.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: It is in the legislation.

Deputy Seán Kyne: I appreciate that but it does not specifically mention species and it is, therefore, correct to put my concerns on record. I deal with both coastal and inshore fishermen in counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway and so on where salmon stocks are under pressure.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: And the Minister of State has been telling them that the Bill will impact on their stocks, which is not true.

Deputy Seán Kyne: No, I have expressed my concerns and, as Minister of State, I am entitled to do so because no species is mentioned in the legislation, which they should be. I want to register my concern because there are international agreements. Ireland is a member of NASCO. It is important that as many salmon from Irish rivers as well as those of other countries migrate to Greenland or the Faroe Islands to feed before returning to those rivers to feed. The prospect of successfully restricting Greenlandic and Faroese fisheries to protect our indigenous stocks is greatly reduced if we inappropriately manage domestic and international stocks off our own coast.

I would like to point out that the Atlantic salmon is, of course, protected under the EU habitats directive, with which Ireland’s salmon management regime complies. There is always spirited debate on rivers that are opened and closed under the catch and release system. Any deviation from current policy would run contrary to the international independent scientific advice which suggests the home river of offshore salmon cannot be identified and that it is not possible to disaggregate the individuals stock groups at sea. In view of Ireland’s commitment to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, NASCO, principles and our obligations under the EU habitats directive and the Common Fisheries Policy, as outlined by the Minister of State, Deputy Andrew Doyle, I have to register my concerns on these matters with reference to the Bill.

That said, I register my support for the principle of the Bill, that is, support for island communities. I find the current fisheries policy across Europe and in this country as part of it not to be fit for purpose. There is a general principle that larger ships are generally safer and that we must accept that the safety of fishermen is hugely important, but the general policy of concentrating fishing quotas in the hands of a few is one which is unsustainable and very difficult to justify morally, environmentally or economically.

I acknowledge that the Bill goes some of the way in protecting island communities and giving them a livelihood. I acknowledge the work and support of Sinn Féin. With the Ministers of State, Deputies Joe McHugh and Andrew Doyle, I have had long discussions with the Minister, Deputy Michael Creed, on this matter. I support the general principle of the Bill, but as I said, I register my concerns about salmon.