Dáil Éireann - Volume 481 - 21 October, 1997

Written Answers. - Salmon Management Strategy.

115. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the plans, if any, he has to terminate net salmon fishing; the discussions, if any, he has had with the EU in this regard; if so, the outcome of these discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16823/97]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods): The salmon management strategies, which I am currently progressing, do not include plans to terminate net salmon fishing. Consequently, I have had no discussions on the matter with the EU Commission. As I advised in my reply of 14 October overall policy is aimed at maximising on a sustainable basis the value of the wild salmon resource. The basic premise underlying policy is that the balance of advantage, on conservation ecological and economic grounds should lie increasingly with redirecting salmon exploitation towards the rivers and estuaries.

In that context, as I have previously advised this House, my immediate priority is to review the various salmon conservation measures introduced for the 1997 season. My decisions in relation to conservation measures for 1998 and future years will be informed by a comprehensive analysis by our salmon scientists of the state of [1406] Irish salmon stocks as well as of the international data; the impact and effectiveness of the conservation measures taken this year, and an assessment of fishing effort, enforcement and compliance levels.

The international prognosis on the worrying state of salmon stocks in the North Atlantic and the initial reports available to me on Irish catches and stocks this year underline the need to continue at minimum with the existing conservation measures.

On salmon management strategies generally, I have already announced my intention to move to a catchment-based approach for inland fisheries management, involving and empowering all users and beneficiaries at local community level. The catchment approach will address the specific and localised impacts of salmon management and conservation strategies, through ongoing review and consultation with all stakeholders in the salmon resource.

In that context, the Marine Institute has recently submitted practical proposals for the introduction of a total allowable catch, a quota system and a tagging regime for salmon. These proposals will be the subject of further consultation with all the relevant interests, both commercial and angling as well as the fisheries boards in the short-term. The outcome of the consultative process will critically inform considerations of the legislative licensing, funding and technical issues inherent in a quota based management strategy for salmon.