Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications
Depletion of Inland Fish Stocks and Impact of Estuary Poaching: Inland Fisheries Ireland
Dr. Ciaran Byrne:
Exactly. Perhaps the best way to respond is to outline from where we have come. Eight State agencies were amalgamated in 2010 when eight companies were managing the fisheries resource in eight separate regions. Since then, the organisation has focused on rebuilding and rebranding our structures to become more efficient. I will be honest in stating that we have done very well in certain areas and not so well in other areas.
As with many State agencies, we started off at the worst possible time in terms of the economic cycle because the trajectory in terms of resources and finances since the establishment of Inland Fisheries Ireland has been downward only. While this is a challenge on one side of the equation, it also presents an opportunity on the other side because it forces us to act in a more innovative manner and think in a different ways. For example, if we take the protection effort, when one has five men where one once had ten men one can no longer continue to do the work of ten men. What we have done is embrace different methodologies in our approach to our work. We have introduced different technologies to try to increase and drive up efficiency. We are seeking to underpin this legislatively through a review of the legislation to try to move away from the practice of taking large numbers of people to court. It is a matter of targeting resources to achieve the best return. That is one example of an area where we have developed and pushed on but there are various other measures.
I would love to say we are brilliant and, on balance, I believe we are good, although there is definitely room for improvement. We must continue what we are doing. It is interesting that 2015 will be the end of the first strategic cycle for the agency. This will provide us with a chance to review in a critical and economic way what we said we would do, what we did and what has been the outcome in terms of whether we did what we said we would do. We will implement this process in 2015 as part of the development of the next strategic plan.