HC Deb 25 July 1912 vol 41 cc1336-7

asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland) how many inquiries the fishery inspectors have held in Ireland in respect of drift-net fishing within the last fifteen years; whether five more are notified to be held in the North-West of Ireland; what are the new grounds, if any, now put forward; whether he is aware of the House of Lords' decision; whether the inquiries are to be confined to drift-net fishing; and whether he has received protests on the subject?


It is assumed that the question relates to drift nets for salmon. Nine inquiries around the Irish coast were held by the Department at twenty-one centres during the past fifteen years. Inquiries by the Department into the question of drift netting at sea for salmon extending over five fishery districts in the North and North-West of Ireland have been arranged for, and will be held shortly at eight different centres. The Department decided to hold these Inquiries mainly because of representations made by local boards of Conservators of Fisheries and the Foyle and Bann Fishery Company that investigation was necessary in regard to the length of nets used, the amount of Licence Duty payable, the use of drift nets from steam and motor boats, and in regard to such other matters connected with the use of drift nets as would tend to the preservation of salmon in the districts. The Department are aware of the House of Lords' decision referred to. The coming inquiries will be confined to drift-net fishing for salmon. The Department have received protests on the subject, and will consider the same, but I would point out that the views advanced in these protests should be put forward in open Court before the officials who will conduct the inquiries.


asked the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture (Ireland), whether it is contemplated to enforce the shortening of salmon nets used in sea fishing, and is he aware of the loss and hardship which would thereby be caused to the fishermen by the consequent destruction of the fishing industry; and whether, seeing that such a regulation would, to a great extent, render valueless the recent decision of the House of Lords in the case of the lessees of the Foyle and Bann Fisheries U. Harold and others, he will take steps to ensure that such a regulation will not be made or, if already made, it will not be enforced but cancelled?


The Department are entering on the examination of this question with an open mind, and, until the evidence to be given at the inquiries shall have, been considered, cannot say whether any by-law dealing with the matter will be made or not. If a by-law be made, it will have no force unless and until approved of by the Lord Lieutenant in Council, to whom a right of appeal exists on the part of any member of the public. To take the action indicated in the last part of the question would be to prejudge the case—a stop which the Department are not prepared to take.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the number of people dependent on this sea fishing, and is he also aware that these inland fisheries are in the hands of monopolists who, for a selfish purpose, are trying to deprive the fishermen of obtaining a living in the open sea?


All these considerations are very proper to be placed before the officials conducting the inquiry, and will not be lost sight of, because they are obvious.