Dáil debates

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2021 [Seanad]: Second Stage

 

5:45 pm

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)

Ó fuair an tír seo neamhspleáchas, rinneadh neamhaird ar an bhfarraige timpeall orainn agus ar an saibhreas aiceanta atá san fharraige. Is trua é mar tá i bhfad níos mó farraige timpeall na tíre seo ná mar atá talamh sa tír. Tá saibhreas ollmhór ann ach is gá é a úsáid ar mhaithe leis an bpobal. Is cuimhin liom a bheith ag feachtasaíocht in aghaidh ballraíocht na tíre seo san Aontas Eorpach. Bhí mé i mo mhac léinn ag an am agus níor thuig mé tuige an raibh muid ag díol amach ár saibhreas amach ón gcósta go deo na ndeor nuair nach raibh an saibhreas a bhí ag tíortha eile san Aontas á roinnt go cothrom. Níor ghlac mé riamh leis an argóint nár cheart go bhfágfaí againne é de bharr nach raibh na hacmhainní againn go traidisiúnta le leas iomlán a bhaint as. Ní fios cé mhéad airgid a chosain sé an tír seo mar nach raibh muidne in ann ár n-éisc féin a bhaint amach as ár bhfarraigí féin. Níl aon bhreith ar m’aiféala mar creidim gurb iad na socruithe iascaigh a rinne an tír seo cuid de na socruithe ba mheasa a rinneadh riamh. In ionad tionscal foirfe ag fostú na mílte duine timpeall ar an gcósta tá na héisc ag dul i bhfad i gcéin agus gan cúiteamh ar bith againn dá bharr. Caithfimid a bheith cinnte nach ndéanfar a leithéid leis an gcuid eile den saibhreas atá san fharraige. Go hidirnáisiúnta, síneann an fharraige sin i bhfad níos faide amach ná mar a shín sí fadó. Caithfimid a bheith aireach faoin chaoi a dtabharfaimid faoi seo. Caithfimid déanamh cinnte go bhfuil díospóireacht bhríomhar agus iomlán againn faoi cén bealach is fearr tabhairt faoi fhorbairt ár n-acmhainní nádúrtha atá amuigh san fharraige.

Deirtear, mar shampla, go bhfuil an ghaoth is láidre agus is fearr ó thaobh giniúint leictreachais againne ach caithfimid ceist a chur orainn féin cé a gheobhaidh an tairbhe as sin. An ndéanfaimid cinnte an t-am seo gur muidne, pobal na hÉireann, a gheobhaidh an tairbhe? Glacaim leis go bhfuil saineolas agus infheistíocht le déanamh sna rudaí seo agus go mbeidh infheisteoirí mar chuid den scéal ach ní fheicim cén fáth nach mbeadh baint ag comhlachtaí Stáit leis amach anseo, ar nós an Bord Soláthar Leictreachais nó cibé leagan de sin a dhéanann an ghiniúint sa lá atá inniu ann. Tá go leor leor maoin eile istigh san fharraige, cuid de gar don chósta agus cuid níos faide amuigh. Caithfimid cinntiú go mbeidh muid cúramach agus airdeallach ach ag an am céanna nach bhfágfaimid go díomhaoin é agus go mbainfimid leas as. Tá bóthar anróiteach le siúl againn ach caithfimid é a dhéanamh.

I welcome this Bill. We have been totally remiss in the way we have treated our marine resources. I understand that we recently had to suffer the indignity of asking foreign fishery protection to come in and protect the seas around our coast. I find that absolutely extraordinary. We knew from the beginning of our membership of the European Union that we had been dealt, and accepted, a bad hand as regards fisheries, starting with accession and all the way through to last Christmas when, as I foretold in November, we wound up giving a disproportionate amount of our resources away. I do not know if we gave them away or if they were taken from us but we certainly came off very badly in that negotiation. It is only when one lives in a coastal community and looks out to sea as far as the eye can see, and maybe beyond that the odd time from an airplane, that one realises just how big those resources are, how valuable they could be, the employment they could create and the wealth they could create in the development of technology. Do we have a comprehensive plan as to how we are going to develop those resources and maximise the advantages for this country? Do we have any concept of the vastness of the resources we have? The Marine Institute has done much work in surveying our resources. That has been hugely important but have we even been willing to put enough resources into that type of work in order to know what is there, what is exploitable, what needs to be conserved and how to do both? It is a pity that this debate is taking place late on a Thursday evening. It is as if it is an afterthought. The problem since Independence is that our marine resources have always been an afterthought.

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