Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider allowing an increase in the quota allocated to smaller vessels less than 20m in the Sentinel Celtic Sea Herring Fishery in the weeks prior to Christmas; if he is satisfied the 2011-12 review resulted in an equitable distribution of Celtic Sea Herring quota in view of the influx of vessels into the country’s only open-access pelagic fishery in the past two seasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply from Minister Simon Coveney: The Celtic Sea herring fishery is a small boat, under 18m, herring fishery operating in a specific herring spawning area off the South East Coast known as the Dunmore Box. Following two devastating collapses of the Celtic Sea Herring Fishery, the recovery plan identified the special area known as the “Dunmore Box” as an important area for herring reproduction. The Sentinel fishery was established in order to have a small fishery which would act as a sentinel or indicator of the state of the overall herring stock in the area.
In 2011, I asked the fishing industry and other interested parties to make proposals on the future management arrangements for all Irish herring fisheries, the Celtic Sea stock, the stocks off the North West coast and the Atlanto Scandian stock. The objective of the review was to deliver a policy which would ensure an economically and biologically sustainable fishery. I received over 20 sets of proposals and comments in relation to herring stocks management. It was very clear from these documents that there was no agreement within the industry as to how the future herring fishing opportunities should be managed. I asked my Department to examine the proposals received and to prepare for me a number of options, which as far as practically possible, took the views of stakeholders into account while delivering proper and effective management.
On 22 December 2011, I published a draft policy document on the matter which I believe met the objectives to the greatest extent possible. I consulted and met industry regarding the draft policy and again there was no consensus.
Having considered all views and having regard to the sustainability of the fisheries, I came to a decision which I believe provides for the proper and effective management and conservation and rational exploitation of the herring stocks. The review increased the proportion of the overall proportion of fish which could be caught in the sentinel fishery from 8% to 11%. The outcome of the rebuilding plan has meant that the overall Celtic Sea herring quota has increased from a low of 6,000 tonnes in 2009 to a possible quota of over 19,000t for 2014. In real terms this means that between the review and rebuilding plan there will be an increase in quota for the Sentinel fishery from 480t in 2009 to a possible 2090t in 2014.
The decisions I made during the review were based on a clear, detailed and objective assessment of the fisheries in recent years and is intended to ensure the long term sustainability of the herring fisheries, which I believe it is delivering and I do not intend to revisit this policy.
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his policy regarding the culling of seals to protect fish stocks; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Transferred for answer to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan (pictured): There are two species of seals in Irish waters - the Harbour or Common Seal and the more numerous Grey Seal. Both are included in a list of species protected under the EU Habitats Directive. Consequently, Ireland is obliged to monitor and report on their status, including in relation to their population, every six years. The next such report is due this month. The assessments of seals will be available shortly on the website of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department at www.npws.ie.
My Department has carried out a number of surveys, including aerial surveys, on the population of both the common and grey seals in the past number of years. All data arising from these surveys from the previous years are now being analysed in advance of the forthcoming report to the European Commission.
The data from both the Harbour and Grey Seal monitoring programmes will be comparable with previously-collected data and will inform my Department’s view as to the current status of the respective populations.
In terms of ascertaining the likely effects of seals on the fishing industry, I will be informed not only by the population monitoring undertaken by my Department, but also by investigations into seal-fisheries interactions that have been commissioned by Inland Fisheries Ireland and Bord Iascaigh Mhara and I understand that both organisations will report later in 2013.
While seals are protected under the Wildlife Acts, licences may be obtained under section 42 of the Wildlife Act to hunt seals where damage is being caused. Licences are issued in response to specific applications and each application is considered on its merits. This redress is available to individual fishermen to control damage to fisheries by seals at particular locations.
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the total amount of grant aid his Department has historically allocated for works, including construction and land acquisition costs, specifically relating to the Waterford Airport Road, which is designated as a strategic non-national route.
Reply from by Minister Leo Varadkar: The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area, is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993. Works on such roads are a matter, for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.
Waterford County Council was provided with a total of €11,085,091 towards the R708 Airport Road between 2003 and 2009.
Tuesday, 5 March, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide funding for urgent improvements to the harbour slipway at Dunmore East, County Waterford, in view of the importance of this work being carried out before the summer.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney: The harbour at Dunmore East is one of the six designated Fishery Harbour Centres which are owned, managed and maintained by my Department. Funding is made available on an annual basis by my Department to the Fishery Harbour Centres, including Dunmore East, via the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Capital Development Programme. The allocation of funding for projects within the 2013 Programme is currently under consideration for each of the Fishery Harbour Centres.
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.