Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions

Fishing Industry

9:50 am

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

It is great to see a fishing question among Priority Questions. The Irish fishing fleet is divided into five segments in accordance with Ministerial Policy Directive 2 of 2003, as amended. The segments are the refrigerated seawater, RSW, pelagic segment which people from Donegal know very well, the polyvalent segment; the beam trawler segment, the specific segment and the aquaculture segment.

In addition, the policy sets out a number of sub-segments of the fleet, including a sub-segment for vessels exclusively using pots, vessels targeting scallops and polyvalent vessels under 18 m in length. The transfer of capacity between the segments and sub-segments is not permitted, and equivalent replacement capacity must be taken out of the segment or sub-segment into which a vessel is being introduced.

For vessels to qualify for either a mackerel and-or herring authorisation, vessels must be licensed with 100% capacity having the required track record as stipulated under the individual mackerel and herring fleet policies.

Fishing capacity is privately owned and is traded commercially, bought and sold independently of the Department and the licensing authority.

A change in licensing policy involving the removal or amalgamation of segments or sub-segments would have a substantial impact on the Irish fishing fleet. The current fleet policy allows operators to introduce new or replacement vessels and to modify existing vessels subject to the operator providing replacement capacity from the relevant segment and sub-segment. The current policy has been put in place over many years and a change, as requested, would impact many elements of the fishing fleet and would require much consultation. It could potentially have significant impacts on access to fishing resources and the management of quotas.

Where the industry, through the recognised representative structure of producer organisations, makes a business case for changes to the licensing policy on the basis of changed circumstance, I would examine any such case. Any amendments to licensing policy that I propose to bring forward will be subject to a public consultation with stakeholders. The Deputy is perhaps speaking about safety tonnage which is not provided for under the new Common Fisheries Policy. If he has specific questions I will try to answer them.


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