Minister Charlie McConalogue has defended the proposed Sea-Fisheries Bill 2021 says it is necessary for a level playing field
Responding to the scrutiny of the Sea-Fisheries Bill in the Dáil yesterday, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Charlie McConalogue defended the proposed legislation saying it was necessary and would support a level-playing field and sustainable fishing.
The Bill drew widespread condemnation from rural Independent TD’s such as Cork’s Michael Collins, Donegal’s Thomas Pringle, who called the Bill “fatally flawed”.
Responding to these accusations, the Minister said that there was a very strong understanding and commitment in the Óireachtas on the need for a timely introduction of an implementation of an effective and dissuasive Masters Point System that will work well.
Speaking to the attending members of the House he said, “It’s an important measure here to support a level-playing field on control and support sustainable fishing in compliance with the rules of the water around Ireland in which our fishing fleet is very strongly dependent.
“As deputies will be aware of, fishing industry representatives raised circle concerns around SI 318-2020 as the Licence Points System when it was signed into force in August 2020. It’s understandable these concerns would arise again given the similarities between the procedures adopted under that SI and those under the proposed under this Bill.”
In his speech the Minister examined a number of areas brought up by the opposition during Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s scrutiny of the Bill.
He remonstrated deputies for giving misinformation out on the Bill and addressed the question on the standard of proof that is required for a conviction.
He addressed the right of appeal of to the High Court and the application of points to the Master’s licence. He talked about the application of points to foreign boat owners and masters. And he also addressed the ongoing issues in the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, the appointment of the Determination Panel and the appointment of the Appeals Officer.
He concluded by saying, “The point system is necessary as an effective measure against the small number of operators, either foreign or Irish, who would break the rules, and it’s necessary to protect law abiding operators and protect fish stocks.
“I have no doubt that all sides of the House will appreciate the bill is a vital piece of legislation which requires full scrutiny and it passes through the Óireachtas and accordingly, I’m grateful to deputies for the considered contributions at second stage and yesterday and today and look forward to more detailed scrutiny of provisions to Bill at Committee stage.”
The full address can be listened to below.