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

10:15 am

Photo of Noel HarringtonNoel Harrington (Cork South West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I apologise for being late. I welcome the CEO and the officials from Inland Fisheries Ireland. I read the opening statement and I am very encouraged by what they have said, particularly in promoting both angling and sea angling. Obviously angling is of tremendous benefit to the State; that is not disputed. Sea angling is probably underperforming. I live in a constituency in west County Cork that has huge resources in terms of infrastructure that could support sea angling. Significant investment has taken place over the past 15 years. I believe we have identified almost 200 piers and quays along the west County Cork coastline that would support sea angling and support communities that desperately need that kind of economic investment.

For sea anglers from the UK, Europe or North America looking for a location, does the IFI have a resource to identify locations that are ideally suited for sea angling and the types of species that are predominant in that area? When the witnesses talk about promoting sea angling, is it underpinned by a document, a plan or some effort pointing out areas where anglers would get very good results? That is what would bring foreign anglers back. They might be less inclined to come back if they go to an area and are disappointed by it. Is there a resource that allows for this?

Angling is a significant tourist industry in west County Cork, as is the potential for sea angling. Commercial sea fishing and aquaculture are also significant industries there. A balance needs to be struck and there are sensitivities around each of those areas.

I would also see sustainable aquaculture as one of the only potential job creating vehicles in the area where I live. It is difficult to get IDA Ireland type enterprises to come as far as where I live. Aquaculture has been identified as an area that is required. If it is done sustainably and well, has Dr. Byrne confidence in the aquaculture licensing process within either the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine or the appeals? Is he conscious of the sensitivities between the demands of the angling community, the aquaculture community, the commercial sea fisheries community and, to a lesser extent, the sea angling community? Has he confidence in the institutions that would act as referee in balancing the sensitivities of those competing interests? Has he a conflict with the science the Marine Institute publishes in terms of sea lice, for example? Is Dr. Byrne conscious that if any one of the stakeholders involved in that mix - where I live, it is a volatile and sensitive environment between the competing sectors - overplays his or her hand, it becomes contentious and difficult to deal with?


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