Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine: Joint Sub-Committee on Fisheries
Aquaculture and Tourism: Discussion (Resumed)
As we have a quorum we can commence the meeting. The first item we are dealing with is the minutes of the meeting of 28 March. Are they agreed? Agreed. There is a presentation from Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney and Dr. Stephen Hynes, so I welcome Dr. Delaney from the innovative fisheries management research centre at Aalborg University in Denmark and Dr. Hynes from the socioeconomic marine research unit at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I thank them for taking the time to travel and giving their time to be here this morning.
The sub-committee wants to get an academic view and we are all aware of the various reports carried out by the witnesses, some of which relate to the issues this sub-committee has identified for discussion. We look forward to hearing their views. As the witnesses may be aware, the joint sub-committee was established to focus on the community's socioeconomic position and promoting sustainable industry; the main industries identified by the sub-committee are aquaculture, island and coastal fisheries, inshore fisheries and specifically angling, as well as tourism.
Before beginning I draw the witnesses' attention to the matter of privilege. By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to this committee. If you are directed by the committee to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, you are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of your evidence. You are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, you should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I call on Dr. Delaney to make her opening remarks.
Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney:
It is my great pleasure to be here. As members may know, I am an anthropologist who has worked in fisheries management and coastal community development in Europe for approximately ten years. I am also a scientific expert for the European Commission's scientific, technical and economic committee for fisheries.
In my research, I approach this from the aspect of an anthropologist who is interested in people and culture and who is also interested in trying to find ways to get social science data into the management process. I must offer my apologies. We have had some IT security issues so my presentation is not available on the screen but we have made some photocopies so, hopefully, the members will be able to follow it.
Basically, in much of my work I am very interested in social sustainability. When I think of society and the social aspects, I think of communities and people. As one finds with biological diversity, it is the richness and diversity of the communities that help make the society strong. The committee might have requested my presence today due to one of the reports I wrote with some people in Arranmore. In that report I talked a good deal about how a number of EU policies and directives now call for integrated management. In the past, much of the management carried out was very much on a sectoral basis, such as fisheries and transport. At European Union level and in many places in the United States there is a movement towards integrating that. It is not just fisheries or economics, for example, but economics, social and the environmental aspects integrated together. The work I am trying to do is concerned with social, economic and environmental sustainability. In the report we talked about Arranmore. It is an island community and we discussed how there are policies and conventions which call for a special consideration of island communities.
With regard to policy and the concept of social sustainability, some of the specific policies I have worked with and researched include the marine strategy framework directive, the integrated maritime policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, CFP, which is currently being revised. Hopefully, there will be a final outcome soon. These directives and the CFP try to integrate the conservation of the fish stocks with sustainable communities. It is a priority of the maritime policy to integrate economic and social well being in a sustainable way. For somebody like me who is conducting research into communities and social sustainability, one issue is how to go about achieving sustainability goals. One way to look at it is through impact assessments. The principles of impact assessment often help policy makers avoid unintentionally creating some inequities among various sub-groups. When one looks at island and coastal communities, for example, people from the outside might think of fishermen or the shore side sector. There are numerous sub-groupings. A decision that might impact the pelagic fisheries is different for the coastal fisheries. When I carry out community profiles and social impact assessments, one of the key things I focus on is understanding who all the relevant sub-groups are and not to miss any of them, so one can at least be informed when one makes a decision and not indirectly impact a group simply out of ignorance because one did not know it was there and how it might be impacted.
A social impact assessment is a systematic appraisal of the quality of life of the persons and the communities whose environment might be affected by the policy changes it is planned to make. When one talks about the quality of life, one looks at the daily way in which the people live, work, relate to each other, organise to meet their needs and basically just cope as members of the society. It is a question of how the policy impacts them in their daily lives. Often, when one hears about social impact assessments one hears about socio-economic impact assessments. A socio-economic impact assessment is pretty much an economic impact assessment although they are not the same. I do not know if Dr. Hynes will talk about this but he can tell how economic impact analyses address how efficiently investments of capital and resources are returned in present and future benefits to society. They focus on resource supply and demand, prices and jobs. When I conduct a social impact assessment I am also interested in employment and jobs, so there is some overlap, but there is a considerable difference in the focus and sometimes the approaches and methods.
When I conduct a social impact assessment, and this is an example of ways to get the social and community aspects into the management process, I look at the demographics, ethnic character, family structure and community organisation and try to figure out how vulnerable or resilient these communities and people are. As I mentioned earlier, it is important to look at the recreational anglers, for example, and how they will be impacted versus the small scale fishers versus the trawlers. It is really important to examine the social structure. That includes various organisations and businesses. There are also various management and political considerations.
Why do we do this? It is to try to avoid inequities among the different groups, and to try to include them in the decision making process. There are five critical issues on which one must focus. One looks at vulnerability, including economic vulnerability. One tries to understand the existence of alternatives at community level, for example, one might be looking at alternatives in fishing such as other species or methods. One also considers outside the fisheries and whether there are other policies that can be put forward to help people innovate and branch out into other industries. That is the issue of alternatives. One also looks at two related concepts, resilience and adaptability. Are there structures in place that enable them to recover from the change? For example, a salmon ban might have hit a community quite hard but at least they can fish for something else. Then one looks at cumulative impacts. There might be a salmon ban and a closed area. Suddenly, after five or six different policies, they are not able to adapt. They cannot bounce back from so many changes. When one is making policies it is important to look at not just one specific policy and issue but at what else is happening that also impacts them. One ban might not have a huge negative impact, but if it is coupled with other things it might. There is also the issue of community support, such as whether there are Structural Funds available for them.
These are the five critical ideas I tend to focus on when I look at communities and try to understand how they will be impacted. Basically, I focus on the business, economy and the various sectors that are impacted, such as the shore sector. Obviously, numerous jobs are tied into certain industries on the islands. As an anthropologist, I focus a good deal on people and society. I carried out an impact assessment in the Netherlands, where many ship owners and people had to leave the fishery. There was a specific age group, from 35 years to 50 years, in which the people did not have higher education and whose wives, due to their cultural and religious beliefs, left school at the age of 16 years. This group was particularly hard hit. People aged 35 years and under tended to have more education and, perhaps, other opportunities. However, the specific age group I mentioned would have the most difficulty in adapting to the change. That is also an example of looking at demographics. It is not just different ethnic groups one might uncover but also different segments of the population who would be impacted differently.
As an anthropologist, I consider heritage and quality of life very important. I have worked in Europe and around the world. I have seen that once one starts to lose certain ways of life, one does not get them back. That is a shame because including the different groups adds to making a society healthy.
A final point is about my work with the European Commission.
With regard to my work with the European Commission, it is difficult because we do not have the data, especially at the social end of things. In much of the work I do, what would really be useful at the scientific end and the community end would be opportunities for collaborative research, because the locals have a lot of ecological knowledge and they know what is going on. By including people in the process, we ensure they buy into it and feel more strongly about it. Not only do we learn from them, but it helps to build rapport. When proposals and derogations come in the European Commission asks for our advice, but we do not have the data. It is difficult for me as the social scientist to comment when I do not have the data. One thing that would really be useful would be finding ways to do collaborative research with local people. That could help or hurt their cause but, either way, it would result in data, which would help scientists and managers to make decisions.
Dr. Stephen Hynes:
I am delighted to be here. I will talk about some of the work we do in the socioeconomic marine research unit in NUI Galway, which is relevant to the work of the sub-committee, particularly with regard to the proposed report on strategies for promoting sustaining coastal and island communities. Six issues were identified and we have done a lot of work on two which are very relevant - namely, socioeconomic profiling of coastal communities, and the provision of key statistics on the different marine sectors. The four industries of interest here are aquaculture, fisheries, sea angling and tourism.
I will speak about the presentation slides, which I hope members have in front of them. I will give an overview of some of the work we do, particularly in regard to the profiling we do and how we define what we call "ocean and coastal economies". I will speak a bit about the marine sectors and the data sources we use to define those sectors. As far as I can, I will give a bit of a regional perspective and I will speak about some other work we do that is relevant to the sub-committee.
Much of our work is funded through a Beaufort marine research award, under the marine research sub-programme of the National Development Plan 2007-2013. That award was granted for work in this area following consultation in regard to foresight exercises as part of the development of the Sea Change strategy. A gap identified at that time was the lack of information in Ireland in regard to the value of marine sectors, the numbers employed, coastal communities and what is going on in the coastal economy. On the back of that, the unit was set up in NUI Galway.
We have been attempting to develop a methodology whereby we can get statistics together on ocean-related activity. We define the ocean economy as including economic activity which indirectly or directly uses the ocean as an input or produces a good that is used in some marine-related field. From that, we distinguish the coastal economy, which includes any economic activity that takes place in some predefined spatial area adjacent to the sea - along some coastal strip.
In terms of the ocean economy, activity can take place anywhere on the island of Ireland. For example, one could have a marine engineering consultancy in the midlands. It does not have to be in the coastal domain. In the coastal profiling we have done, we have tried to define statistical coastal regions from which we could get data together. There is a coastal definition used by EUROSTAT and that is at the NUTS 3 level. On the map, it is shown as the green area extending out to the shoreline. That is what EUROSTAT defines as the coastal economy for Europe and it has put together statistics in regard to that area. However, someone in Ballinasloe or Nenagh will not really consider himself or herself coastal. It is a very broad definition in the Irish case. We have looked to see whether we can refine that definition in terms of the coastal area and what statistics we can get together. We looked at coastal counties - the counties adjacent to the shore - which is the cream-coloured area on the map, and at defining a coastal electoral district, ED - an ED adjacent to the shore - to reduce it to a smaller but a much more relevant scale, although it is much more difficult to get data for. We have produced a report. I will not go into this, but I refer to the different sources and the different spatial scales on which we can get data. We can get a lot of information on unemployment levels, population levels and other population-related statistics from the census data down to the ED level. We can look to see if there is any difference between the coastal EDs and the national average in EDs or we can go up to the county level. It is more difficult when we are trying to get economic data and trying to define the value of activity taking place at the coastal ED level, because it is not generated by the Central Statistics Office. In terms of GDP, one can get that at the NUTS 3 level. One can get income per capita at county level but even at that level, it comes with a health warning from the Central Statistics Office. We have attempted to produce estimates at the coastal county and shoreline electoral district levels. These are just estimates which are based on the share of the population in these areas as a percentage of the county or at the NUTS 3 level. If we talk about the shoreline ED level, that is about 25% of the total GDP produced in the country, as a rough estimate.
The ocean economy is purely marine-related activity. I have some figures, to which I will return. We are talking about 13 sectors, including marine services, shipping, tourism, hi-tech marine commerce, marine resources, fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing, by-products such as seaweed-related products, and renewable energy. There is also a marine manufacturing sector which we distinguish. We can get the statistics on some of these straight from the CSO in terms of the annual services inquiry or the census of industrial production, but in regard to what we refer to as these emerging industries in the marine sector, that data cannot be got in that it is buried in some other sector and it is very difficult to pull out that information from the CSO. We then have confidentiality issues if the industry is very small. Data is a major issue here. We did a company survey for those small emerging sectors when we were developing methodology to get this data together. We went out and found these companies.
The other aspect I should highlight here that is of importance is marine tourism, which we estimate is one of the biggest, or the most highly valued, sectors in the marine economy, and yet it is very difficult to get data in this area. We have estimates of the total tourism value from Fáilte Ireland. It has estimates ranging from 3% to 10%, depending on how broadly one defines marine tourism. In 2002, a survey done on behalf of the Marine Institute asked visitors how much of their activity was marine-related. It was able to estimate the value at that point in time of marine tourism expenditure in Ireland.
It is a particularly difficult one to get an accurate reading on and yet, in terms of rural and coastal communities, it is probably one of the most relevant. When people think of the marine economy they think of fishing and aquaculture, but shipping and marine tourism have a bigger share of the overall marine economy, even though fishing, aquaculture, seafood processing and so forth are obviously vital to rural coastal communities.
In terms of figures, the marine economy in 2007 was valued at €3.4 billion, which was approximately 1.4% of gross value added and equated to approximately 1% of national gross domestic product. In total, the sector employs approximately 17,000 full-time equivalent individuals. I must point out that we are operating with a time lag here. These figures are quite out of date, representing, as they do, the situation in 2007, which was the peak of the business cycle in Ireland, although in one sense, it is a good baseline year to use. We are currently updating these figures but the most recent year for our profiling is still only 2010.
Interestingly, if one looks at the share of activities, marine services are most relevant in terms of value, at 66%. However, in terms of employment, the marine-resource-related sub-sector has the highest share, which includes fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and so forth. Those areas of activity are the most important from an employment perspective. These are what we refer to as "established" marine sectors and are the sectors one readily thinks of when one thinks of marine activity. They account for about 94% of all marine-related activity. There are also what are known as "emerging" sectors, which were highlighted in the EU's Blue Growth strategy as areas with high potential for growth in the future. While we are in the middle of updating these figures, it is interesting to note that these emerging sectors have seen growth between 2007 and 2010, despite the fact that that was a very difficult economic period in general. Growth has been recorded in both turnover and employment numbers, whereas some of the more established sectors have seen a decline in the same period. However, growth was not recorded in all of the emerging sectors. Our best estimates indicate that marine tourism, for example, declined in that period. However, general tourism figures have improved recently and one can assume the same is true for marine tourism.
The regional distribution patterns are quite interesting. If one looks at marine economic activity at county level, counties such as Donegal, which have quite low rates of income per capitavis-à-visthe rest of the country, have some of the highest shares, in terms of value, of marine economic activity nationally. Of course, that relates back to the marine resource element and the very strong fisheries and seafood processing industries in such counties.
Dr. Stephen Hynes:
That is due to the way in which we define marine economic activity, which is any activity that either uses the sea as an input or is producing something for marine-related activities. There could be someone in Tipperary, for example, who is producing navigation instruments or there could be an engineering firm in Roscommon which is involved in the marine area. One does not have to be on the coastline to be involved in marine economic activity. Obviously, though, such activity is mainly concentrated along our coast.
Other areas of activity within our unit that are of relevance to this committee include the work of my colleagues in developing an input/output analysis of the different marine sectors. My colleagues are extracting data for the marine sectors from the national input/output tables produced by the Central Statistics Office to gauge the multiplier effect of marine-related activities. We have also been looking at financial models for the aquaculture and fish farm production sectors. The unit has been examining the marine recreation demand of the Irish public.
A lot of this data has already been used in the development of the integrated marine plan launched by the Government last year. Also, the initial economic assessment had to be carried out as part of the overall assessment needed for the marine strategy framework directive and we have been working with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government on that. As part of that work, we conducted a survey to assess the attitude of the general public to the marine environment and to get some indication of the marine recreational activities they undertake. It is quite obvious that almost everyone surveyed would probably take a trip to the coast to take a walk along a beach but our study showed that participation in on-water activities is very low. It is interesting to note that those who do participate in on-water activities can be broken into distinct groups. Those who undertake passive activities will only undertake one such activity per trip, whereas those engaged in more active activities tend to do a few activities during any trip to the coast. That is interesting in terms of clustering activities in the context of promoting tourism in certain areas. Certain activities can be clustered together successfully.
We were also involved in the report prepared by Inland Fisheries Ireland on angling, which is due to be published shortly. We were involved in the preparation of the questions and in some of the analysis contained in that report. We also do a lot of work on what can be referred to as non-market marine ecosystem services.
I welcome Dr. Hynes and Dr. Delaney to this meeting and thank them for their helpful and constructive presentations. From an overall economic perspective, Dr. Hynes' contribution highlights the importance of coastal areas, while also pointing out the dependence of coastal communities on marine-related activities, whether that is fishing itself or fishing-related services. It is interesting to note that the service sector employs more people and generates more income than the actual fishing. That is not really surprising, given the many challenges facing coastal communities, not least those outlined by Dr. Delaney in terms of the restrictions placed on local fishing activity. Often, a lot of the economic benefit of certain activities is obtained by few people. In other words, the bigger operators are catching most of the fish and the smaller operators living in the area are unable to catch the fish swimming past their door.
I come from Donegal, which has a number of island communities. One of the legislative changes introduced by my party, Fianna Fáil, in government in 2006 - that is, the banning of salmon drift-net fishing - was disastrous in many ways.
It was based on scientific evidence but ignored social, cultural and traditional factors because this was a way of life for many people. Coupled with other restrictions on the fish that could be caught in certain areas, it brought about major economic and social deprivation for those islands and along the coast of Donegal. How can we change that?
Inland Fisheries Ireland would argue differently, that we cannot go back and open up salmon fishing, even on a controlled basis. I would argue against that because the figures show, as does Dr. Delaney's survival plan for the Donegal islands, that there are 250,000 to 300,000 salmon moving into that area. The rivers are stocking again. The major challenge is not the problems at sea, but pollution in rivers and the complete lack of policing of the rivers to prevent poaching while salmon are moving upstream. The seals along the coast are also causing major problems with the salmon stock. They are catching large numbers of salmon when they go into an estuary before heading upstream. The decision to ban drift net salmon, without dealing with some of the other issues, was wrong and has had major social consequences.
The committee met with representatives of the island communities in Donegal. What is Dr. Delaney's view of how the salmon ban could be lifted on a sustainable basis? Could that be considered? Will the current review of the CFP see policy change to protect smaller regional fisheries that are not hard-core economic fisheries but where the communities could benefit economically and socially? Depopulation of coastal communities in the west is a major issue. Some of the CSO figures in Dr. Hynes's report show depopulation is happening more rapidly in coastal areas than in other parts of the country. How can we stem that? Is there a need to ensure any decision taken at European or national level is socially proofed? A single decision in a small rural area has a knock-on effect on the local economy.
Previously it was a way of life in island communities for young people to follow their fathers into the fishing sector. When leaving school early was banned, those people were caught because their way of life was removed. A small compensation package was made available but in the overall scheme of things, it was peanuts.
It strikes me that the CAP and CFP both cover traditional ways of life over the generations. Transfers into Ireland of €1.5 billion under the CAP are available to farmers, through environmental schemes in particular. On the fishing side there has not been any scheme made available at a European level for fishermen on an annual basis. Is that a mistake? Is it too late to turn back the clock or should it be looked at for those who have been disenfranchised as a result of policy decisions at European level under the auspices of scientific research and conservation? In agriculture, there is compensation available for the decisions that are taken on that basis and that is not happening for the fishing sector.
The fleet capacity is linked to compensation. The smaller fishermen would have fleet that is deteriorating and losing value. If some fishing activity was to be reopened and the changes outlined in the document took place, with the easing of the salmon ban and area 6A regulations, is there a need for a centralised fund to upgrade smaller fishing vessels of up to 15 m?
I have seen in the past 15 years young people leaving rural areas because European regulations and Government decisions mean there is no employment. That is wrong and at European level, small coastal communities must be protected. It is fine to say this will happen in reports but things are not working out that way on the ground.
If changes were introduced on regulations within the 12 mile limit on the fish that are caught or on the salmon ban to allow locals to catch mixed stock inside the 12 mile limit, or if the salmon ban was lifted on a phased basis over a period of time, what would the economic benefit be to rural communities? Anecdotally, what would the witnesses' view be? That is a relevant question for NUI Galway as well because this has a major impact on the island communities off Connemara and the western counties as far south as Kerry.
In Donegal this had a major impact. I remember in the 1980s, my father was an inspector with the Department of the Marine and he would visit Burtonport pier and similar piers along the west coast of Donegal. All the boats would be lined up and 60 vessels would be landing salmon. There are no vessels coming in with any fish at the moment in some of those ports. It is sad to see but we must find a balance between conservation and allowing people to continue a way of life, and to remain at home if they want to, continuing the traditional way of life they always had. How can this committee argue with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and Inland Fisheries Ireland in a manner that might persuade them?
How can we present the arguments in a manner that might be attractive to those various State organisations?
I thank both witnesses for their presentations. I was born, reared and grew up in a coastal community and spent part of my life involved in the fishing sector and with a small farm. Therefore, I am acutely aware of the current situation and the disgraceful policies that have been pursued for political interests over decades. Senator Ó Domhnaill mentioned one of these, the salmon fishing industry. I remember that debate and remember the arguments being made here that the policy being pursued was madness, because in closing down one sector we were automatically putting pressure on other sectors, such as crayfish and lobster fishermen and gill netting. This is exactly what happened. People who were involved in the salmon sector moved on to the other sectors and now we have huge pressure in those sectors.
The issues come down to policy and social sustainability. The template in regard to regulating the situation is the Common Fisheries Policy, CFP, which is concerned with the integrated conservation of fish stocks, with sustainable exploitation of resources. However, there is no mention of equity and distribution. We are all aware that two areas of the fishing sector currently are in the hands of fewer than 50 people. Where is the equity in that regard? Where is the equity if we make multimillionaires out of 23 people and close down other sectors and pauperise people involved in white fishing? We have a situation in our coastal communities currently where if we had a proper managed policy directed by fairness and equity, we would have a fantastic sector that would include onshore investment and an onshore workforce that would complement those communities and keep them vibrant.
The reality is totally different. For example, when the Tit Bonhomme sank early last year, four out of the six crew members on board were non-nationals. Fishing boats have huge running costs and fishermen do not receive the prices to which they are entitled for prime fish. There are also huge costs for insurance and to ensure observance of the code of practice. These costs make it unviable for young Irish people to work offshore. There is no incentive for them to do so as they cannot get a reasonable or decent income. That is the state of our fishing sector. If the sector was managed properly and we had structured onshore processing on a national basis, not just in places like Killybegs, we could provide incomes for people onshore, complementing the work done offshore.
I cannot understand the situation. Approximately 16% of the fishing grounds are off our coast, yet we are only entitled to 4% of the quota from those waters. This does not make sense. I wonder whether the political will ever existed to try to obtain fairness and equity in this regard. I applaud the witnesses on trying to create equity within the system. That is the way to go. However, if the political will is not there to do it, we can have all the policies we want, but it will not happen. I hope that those with power now will use that power for the common good. However, in my lifetime the common good has never existed within the fishing sector. The methodology around the fishing sector has created individualisation. Policy has all been about trying to get something for oneself, not about what is best for communities and our people. That is why 23 people own the mackerel quota of this country, a State asset. That is not right. Others could say more about this than I can. However, it is not right that successive Governments stand over this situation.
Mention was made of the principle of impact assessments. I agree these are required, but what happens afterwards? Is there flexibility to correct the inequalities and wrongs? Are there teeth enough to drive this forward? I do not see that happening currently. Dr. Hynes spoke about marine tourism and said there was a huge opening for it. I concur with that. I have been in Clare where a group there is doing fantastic work. It is one of the most professional operations in the country. I visited the project during the year, but its name escapes me now. There is huge potential nationally, but it needs to be marketed here and abroad. If that happened, it would help coastal communities, providing them with spending power which would have a knock-on effect in other areas.
Our coastal communities lack spending power currently and are hit by huge emigration. There are areas in south Kerry and west Cork, which were traditionally strong GAA areas, but now due to emigration, they are amalgamating clubs to field teams. A whole generation of people are leaving these communities, leaving them with an imbalance. There is a disparity now in these communities between the number of males and females and a disparity in ages, with most people being either under 18 or older than 35. The generation in between has left, bringing huge consequences in these areas in terms of social sustainability.
I thank the witnesses for their enlightening presentations, which I hope everybody will take on board. Perhaps if the proposals became part of policy and were driven politically as policy, we would be in a better place.
I thank Dr. Delaney and Dr. Hynes for their presentations. The work this committee is attempting to do is to try to see if it can formulate or propose a policy response that will protect rural coastal communities and communities dependent on inshore fishing or which have traditionally been dependent on inshore fishing for their livelihoods and help sustain those communities. The socioeconomic aspect of the impact of the current situation on communities is very important. We must look at how these traditional communities can be assisted and enabled to maintain their way of life and adapt to the changes being forced upon them. We hope to have a report at the end of this process that will recommend a policy response. We want to look at the existing CFP and see how it can be adapted to an Irish perspective to help sustain these communities.
Dr. Delaney identified five key critical issues in her presentation and my question centres on her work with Arranmore fishermen and her knowledge of the Donegal communities, but I accept there may be data gaps and that she may not have the full information required to make a proper adjudication.
How would the deputation evaluate the coastal and island communities based on their knowledge to date of these five critical issues and the threats that exist for them? How should the policy response be balanced between the potential for alternatives and the attempt to maintain the traditional economic activity of these communities? How should we attempt to try to match that?
From a European perspective does the deputation believe the Common Fisheries Policy is an attempt to manage the sustainable exploitation of our fishing stock? The reform is at the early stages. Given the work of the deputation in evaluating the impact on coastal communities, how do they believe the Common Fisheries Policy stacks up? Is it developed enough to take account of the impacts on small and coastal communities as well as the decisions that are being made at a wider European Level?
Representatives from Inland Fisheries Ireland were here some weeks ago. During their presentation on salmon stock and the ban on drift-net salmon fishing they referred to the Atlantic intergovernmental body that considers salmon fishing and stocks and how it is now beginning to consider the social impacts of the decisions that are being made. Does the deputation have any information on how developed this is or how it is moving along? Is it something we should consider and examine in terms of the social impacts of the decisions that are being made?
My next question is for Dr. Hynes. Dr. Delaney remarked that there is a lack of data to evaluate decisions. The presentation strengthens that view in that reference was made to the difficulty in compiling data and gathering information. I may not have looked into the position of coastal counties and economies in sufficient detail but the approach seems to be somewhat skewed by Dublin, Cork and major urban centres. Is that having an impact? Is this something that should be considered? Should we examine rural communities more? The coastal electoral divisions still take in parts of large urban centres and other economic activity might mask the impact or threats to rural, coastal communities.
I have a brief question for Dr. Delaney. I am sorry I missed her initial presentation. Who should carry out these social impact assessments? Where does one go to get them carried out? Is it a function of central government policy, is it from the European Union or is it from local government?
In a way that is the essence of it. The aim is to carry out a report and a study based on trying to build a model that allows consideration of smaller rural coastal communities as opposed to larger ports and fishing areas. Deputy Pringle summarised it by proposing a policy that would allow for activities to take place to build resilient rural coastal and island communities. That is what we are trying to achieve here notwithstanding the comments of Deputy Ferris about so much of the major fishing stocks being controlled by a small number of fishermen. We are trying to do something beyond that and look at resilience and adaptability and, as Dr. Delaney noted, community support. Much of what we are trying to do centres around those five key points. We will go back to the deputation. There are several questions for Dr. Delaney.
Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney:
I hope I managed to write down all the questions and I apologise if I have missed some of them. I will begin with the questions from Senator Ó Domhnaill - I do not have Irish so I apologise for not pronouncing the names correctly. His first question, which I managed to write down, was about the salmon ban and whether it could be lifted. This ties in to what I stated at the end of my presentation. There is the idea of collaborative research whereby we go in and do a pilot project to determine the position, as Senator Ó Domhnaill suggested. Through my work I have read and visited many places in the world. In many areas there may be a protected species or area but in other places in the world there is not usually a complete ban or closure. Often, there are graduated rules and rights of access for different individuals in different parts of the sector. If we look around the world we see that there are many situations and sometimes there may be an arrangement that certain groups cannot come in but anglers and small-scale operators are allowed in. We adapt it to the situation. The most important thing in trying to evaluate the ban, and possibly lift it, is to get the data, which, as we have said, we do not have. The key thing is to try to set up some type of collaborative research project. Oftentimes when scientists have to make decisions they need a given time series and something to base them upon.
Senator Ó Domhnaill asked whether there should be policy changes to support communities. Was he referring to EU level?
Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney:
In general, as an anthropologist and as someone interested in society, I would say "Yes". We should think about why we are making policies and what the point is. We hope that one main reason for making certain policies is to support our constituents and society. I have worked with biological scientists in this area. There is a derogation on a fishing ban in the Baltic Sea. They said this would help the small-scale fishers, but what about the three trawlers? Is it really fair and equitable to them? This also touches on the issue of equity. One needs to consider historical equity as well. Some people might argue that one is emphasising one group over another and that might be the case but perhaps one could argue that a given group has been legislated against historically. In some cases one might be trying to rectify a situation by brining everyone up to an equal level. If I had to say "Yes" or "No", I would say "Yes".
There was a question about the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy. There are rather interesting and different rights issues between agriculture and the fisheries and the policies have developed differently because of that. I am not best qualified to comment on the two but there is a reason they have gone differently. Given the limited knowledge I have I believe it would be difficult to treat them in the same way but perhaps there are others with a more enlightened view or a better background. There was another question about compensation for agriculture and whether there should be compensation for fisheries as well. In many parts of the world they do compensate. If it is a part of a broader policy, depending on what one is trying to do, then why not consider it? It has been done. What would compensation entail? It may be a way to help people to innovate or to move into other areas. Oftentimes there is an argument to the effect that in compensating a given group they will simply take it back and re-invest it. For example, if the compensation is invested in technologies which are more selective then it is not necessarily a bad thing to re-invest. We should consider what the goals are but compensation has been helpful in many arenas.
Senator Ó Domhnaill also asked about a centralised fund for upgrading small-scale fisheries. I touched upon that in some ways.
There are also many safety issues involved, especially with the older fleets.
Deputy Ferris is not here so I will reply to Deputy Pringle. Dr. Hynes might have a better view of the island communities, although I focus more on the social aspect. I have not done a formal study of this and I have not been back to the communities for a couple of years. I could not give a formal scientific response to that.
Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney:
I could give my opinion. The question was how I would evaluate how they are doing at the moment. From my last visit, speaking with people and comparing the situation with other places I have lived and worked, it seems they are at a critical juncture. Where I live in Denmark, the policy has been to close schools and centralise schools and government and I have seen the gutting of many of these small rural communities. One of the main issues was the closure of schools. For example, if one looks at the island communities with declining populations, the closure of schools is a key indicator. Once a school is closed one can pretty much write off the community. It might take a decade or two but, from a social science perspective, whether there is a school is a key indicator. From what I have seen of the closure of businesses and the direction they are going, I would say they are at a critical point now.
Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney:
He asked about equity, but the Chairman asked me not to go too far in that direction. Deputy Ferris also made a comment about non-Irish crew and said that it is perhaps because there is not a reasonable income. From what I have seen in Scotland and other places, the main problem, apart from the difficult income, is the insecure future. The crew would often have the goal of eventually getting their own boats and becoming independent operators. One of the main issues is that they do not see a future because there is so much capital investment needed to become independent operators. It is really a question of the insecure future. If people feel more secure or if there are policies that would help them toward a more secure future then more local people will be willing to sign on as crew because they can see that they can perhaps also move forward.
Deputy McNamara asked who should conduct social impact assessments. It depends on what one is trying to study. Social impact assessments first came about in the early 1970s with the National Environmental Policy Act in the United States. Impact assessments were designed to take place ahead of policy changes. Someone said it is too late afterwards. The idea is to do it ahead of time to try to get an understanding of the impact. Ideally, it would be conducted by a social scientist who has some training. Who asks the scientist to conduct it depends on what the policy is. If it is a policy through the Department responsible for fisheries then that Department should ask for it. The European Commission has had impact assessments done on some of its policy changes but that is at a very high level. At ground level, it should be whoever is instituting the policy change. That is the ideal. I have done some ad hoc contracts. Ultimately, the people making the policy change should be the ones saying this needs to be done. If it is a national policy it should be organised at national level. Local people might say it is not being done and they want it done but then the question of funds arises.
Dr. Stephen Hynes:
In response to Senator Ó Domhnaill's question as to whether we have any idea of the value of lifting a salmon ban or of changes to the management regime of the inshore fleet, I do not have figures and cannot say what the impact would be. One would expect a positive economic impact on the local community. Some of my colleagues have studied the multiplier effect of that kind of activity. Fishing or any marine-related activity tends on average to have a higher multiplier effect on economic activity than other sectors broken out by the CSO. For every €1 generated through fishing there is a knock-on effect of 57 cent, which is above average for a multiplier. There is further work going on there. There would be a positive impact but Inland Fisheries Ireland would argue for the value of salmon stock on the recreational side, which is a multiple of the value of commercial salmon fishing. We do not know, if we were to lift the ban in certain island communities, whether it would have a major impact on stock going up the rivers. I cannot answer that question.
The Senator and others asked how we analyse the impact of policies. It is a data issue. Economists build models through looking at the data on individuals in whatever sector. It is difficult to get information on inland fisheries or on small boats. In a previous life I worked for Teagasc and we were able to do fantastic stuff on policy analysis, as it still does, using the national farm survey with individual-level data for the farmers. The farm representative bodies are well able to use that type of analysis. It would be of major benefit to the fishery representative bodies if we had that data and could use it for policy analysis. That is a recommendation. I have had constructive talks with the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority and BIM on that data but there seems to be a mismatch. BIM is collecting data on the cost side of the fleet and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority has the log book data on what is being landed and the sales note data but there is a mismatch between the inland fleets and the boats above 10 metres. That data issue could be examined.
Some of those points are relevant to Deputy Ferris's comments about equity and distribution. He is right about some of the coastal economy statistics.
According to the census results, the age dependency ratio is higher in coastal rural communities.
I agree with the Deputy on the importance of the marketing of potential marine-related tourism activities. Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas, CEDRA. Some of the talks were interesting. Many of the issues discussed had relevance for Ireland. In rural tourism, for example, there is a tendency not to consider the marine. Deputy Ferris referred to a lack of marketing. In her work on rural tourism, Dr. Mary Cawley of NUI Galway states that initiatives must be relevant to an area's culture and geographical scale. This is also true in terms of marine-related tourism activity. There are a number of nice examples, including Coláiste UISCE in Belmullet, which incorporates marine activities with the Irish language. It is a thriving business. Geographically, it has a sheltered bay for windsurfing and dinghy sailing as well as a surf beach.
An audit of what we possess is necessary. Given the geographical information system, GIS, data on landscape and marine features, there is a great deal of information on what areas are suitable for which activities. We must also determine what consumers want in terms of product. Fáilte Ireland is considering some of these issues, but much needs to be done. If one gets off the boat on the Aran Islands, one can cycle about and look around. I have not visited them in the past year, but there are no opportunities to get out onto the water. People point to the weather, but modern wetsuits are good and there are activities such as paddle boarding and kayaking. People do not need to have significant skills in these activities to be able to partake. It is a way of generating extra economic activity in areas, yet it seems to be a blind spot. These new types of activity do not require a considerable amount of investment.
Other areas possess marine tourism infrastructure. For example, if simple slipways were added to existing quays in remote areas along the west coast, small quays that are not used for much anymore, providing that access to the water could add significant value. We must know the product and conduct an audit of what is possible.
Deputy Pringle asked about a means of examining the impact of changes in the Common Fisheries Policy, CFP, on coastal communities. This would be difficult. We would need to get our hands on the data to run the models to which I referred. I am involved in a project that is examining the reform of the CFP. A colleague was with parts of the herring fleet in the Celtic Sea and asked about their preferences in terms of the CFP's objectives. Their first priority was a strong, vibrant fishing community. Catch levels, profitability and so on followed this.
The incorporation of socioeconomic considerations in fisheries management seems to be lacking regardless of the stock in question. Under the move to the ecosystem approach, the impact on one species of fishing another species is examined. This is great, but consideration of the impact on local communities does not seem to be built into management assessments. Teagasc and the Marine Institute are key collaborators in much of our work. Dr. Áine Macken Walsh, a sociologist in Teagasc's Rural Economy Research Centre, RERC, examined rural development and barriers to change. She found that fishing culture can be a barrier to rural development. As Senator Ó Domhnaill stated, generations of families are involved and it is almost seen as a failure if they move into a non-fishing sector. How to get around this barrier is an important question.
Deputy Pringle was correct about the importance of distinguishing between urban and rural coastal communities. We can do this based on population density. It depends on one's definition of "rural". We are working on this matter to update some of our statistics.
Deputy Ferris mentioned the significant decline in the populations of coastal communities. From what we have seen of the census at electoral district, ED, level along the shoreline, the decline in rural coastal populations has been no more dramatic than the average nationally. However, they have a higher rate of male unemployment than the national average or even urban coastal areas. They also have a higher age dependency ratio.
I will ask a couple of quick supplementary questions generated by Dr. Hynes's response. They might be useful for the committee's work. Dr. Hynes mentioned the difference between urban and rural EDs. To aid the committee in its work, would it be possible for him to break the figures down further? For example, neither Donegal nor Mayo have a major urban centre and have typical rural EDs that would show the impact of policies, the higher level of support that is necessary, etc.
Dr. Stephen Hynes:
It is possible. Indeed, we are doing it. We can generate data for counties and distinguish between rural and urban. However, it becomes more difficult at lower levels. We can look into profiling the data at the small area level in terms of employment, educational attainment and so on using the census, but it would be more difficult to determine the level of economic activity generated in EDs in County Mayo or County Donegal. We could produce estimates, but they would be based on population densities as a percentage of the larger spatial scale for which we have statistics. We could break the figures down further.
If Dr. Hynes could, please. I know the answer to my next question, but I will ask it anyway. It relates to assessing possible policy decisions.
Will there be a recommendation to the effect that social impact assessments should be carried out in advance of future policy decisions? Will Dr. Delaney comment on the balance between alternative and traditional methods, changes in communities, etc.? In this regard, I refer to the need for traditional methods to continue to be used while alternatives are being developed.
Some of the potential alternatives relate to aquaculture, marine tourism, etc. However, there have not yet been any real developments in this regard in any of the rural communities to which we are referring. There is the loss of the traditional methods and then there is a massive gap in the context of the development of alternatives.
Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney:
Communities are living communities and culture always relates to the times. When we consider traditional activities such as fishing, we discover that 200 years ago the equipment and methods used and the species caught were different. People do not understand that what they consider to be traditional activities have changed, perhaps even in the past 50 years. The key aspect is to retain a broader view and to try not to pigeonhole people into using one specific method or way. It is more a case of people trying to secure access to resources and to live through that access.
In the context of the Deputy's point regarding the transition from traditional to alternative methods, there are some opportunities in this regard through the new fisheries local access groups, FLAGs, of which there are six in Ireland.
Dr. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney:
No, it would not. That is one possibility. If one is trying to help people through a transition, the key matters on which to focus are education and opportunities. In the context of the marine tourism, one of the major aspects is not just the opportunities which exist but the fact that on many occasions tourists want to see traditional fishing vessels or what they view as being picturesque communities. One must often have a high-level view of what is the goal and how to achieve it. As already stated, education is often a factor as is the provision of some sort of funding to allow people to transition and build on the knowledge they already possess or to work with something that is related. Some people think aquaculture is completely different from fishing. I know fishermen who have become involved in aquaculture. The key with the latter is to consider what is a suitable species and the nature of the local environment. In the 1980s, aquaculture was called the blue revolution. There have been some fantastic cases giving rise to major benefits. However, there were also a number of some really horrible cases where the species chosen used up more protein than was produced. Aquaculture could represent a good future but the key is to focus on which species to use and the nature of the local environment.
That is a good point on which to conclude. I thank Dr. Delaney and Dr. Hynes for coming before us and providing their perspective. Dr. Delaney referred to tradition. We have designated Gaeltacht areas and mná tí and people can spend two to three weeks during the summer months in order to learn Irish. That was not the case 50 years ago. This is a small cottage industry which was created to replace subsistence farming. Most of our coastal areas are designated as Natura 2000 sites of some description. This gives rise to problems when people are trying to engage in offshore activities such as aquaculture, wind farming, etc. There are areas, mainly in the west, which are supported by a semi-State body, Údarás na Gaeltachta, which drew down funding for rural social and support schemes. If we are going to continue to value rural communities, perhaps the committee should recommend considering a model similar to that which relates to Údarás na Gaeltacht. I refer to the creation of a mechanism to draw down supports from Europe.
On policy, the discussion with which the meeting commenced in respect of drift net fishing provides a typical example. We must consider how we might achieve the balance and it is all about balance. Dr. Delaney's final comments on aquaculture brought the discussion full circle. We must consider how we might achieve harmony between drift net fishermen and those involved in aquaculture. The aim of the exercise is to ensure that rural, coastal and island communities will survive, that their schools can remain open and that such communities will thrive as a result. That is what we are trying to do and we thought it would be easy. I live on the east coast so I am probably the most objective member of the committee. However, I am also probably the most uninformed. The latter allows me to sit back, watch and listen. I am fascinated by everything we have heard.
I again thank our guests for travelling to be here. Dr. Hynes did not have to travel quite as far as Dr. Delaney but we appreciate both of them making the effort to be here. What they stated will inform what we want to see happen from the perspective of policy direction. In addition to environmental impact assessments, the social impact and other considerations should also be drawn into the mix in advance rather than retrospectively. I do not wish to presume anything but I am of the view that the committee's report will contain recommendations on real-time data, advanced studies and proofing.
As we have no further business, I will bring the meeting to a close. I remind members that we will meet again on Tuesday next, when we will have quite a sizeable agenda with which to deal.