Fishing Licences

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 28th May 2012.

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Photo of Pat Doherty Pat Doherty Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 28th May 2012

5. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure for her assessment of the potential benefits of an all-Ireland fishing licence. (AQO 2050/11-15)

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

Three bodies across the island of Ireland provide fishing licences for their jurisdictions. Those bodies are DCAL, the Loughs Agency and Inland Fisheries Ireland. The licensing regimes are all different, reflecting the different legislation and priorities in each jurisdiction. However, I can see the merit of rationalising licensing regimes across the island of Ireland. In particular, it would simplify the purchase of licences for tourist anglers.

The current licensing regime recognises that there are distinct types of angling, and it allows anglers to pay only for that which they practise. It will be important that any rationalisation protects that principle. I have therefore asked my officials to contact colleagues in the other licensing bodies and their sponsor Departments to initiate discussions on considering the case of making angling licences available across the island.

Photo of Pat Doherty Pat Doherty Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat. I thank the Minister for her answer. Does she agree that the system for issuing licences is too complex? Will she consider, along with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the potential for an all-Ireland fishing licence?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

As I said, I have asked officials to initiate discussions. I have listened to anglers from different clubs, and they said that the system of licences being issued from different Departments is too complex and cumbersome. Our own anglers said that, so we need to accept that it will be really confusing for tourists who come here to fish and angle. So, I will initiate discussions with DCAL and DARD.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow Minister (International Development)

Most tourists who come for fishing breaks come for a short-stay break. Does the Minister agree that it would be a much more sensible arrangement to look at short-stay applications for two, three or four days for tourists from whatever country they come, whether it is the Irish Republic, France, Germany or anywhere else?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

All the conditions of licensing, and even the different types of licences that are purchased, will be examined. There are only two types of licence in the Loughs Agency, from where you can get a junior permit, whereas DCAL issues up to 17 different types. It is about simplifying that system and making it easier for people who want to angle. We are looking at this in a very practical and pragmatic way. I think that all Members would agree that we need to simplify the system rather than further complicate it.

Photo of Seán Rogers Seán Rogers Social Democratic and Labour Party

Have there been any discussions with DETI about the promotion of angling as a tourist opportunity across Ireland?

Photo of Carál Ní Chuilín Carál Ní Chuilín Sinn Féin

I have not had any discussions about this with the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, but we will be looking at talking to DETI officials. It makes sense to make sure that all our Departments are involved in this process, that we get agreement and that we get a system and regime that simplifies the process and makes it easier for people, particularly for our towns and villages that rely on angling as part of their tourism product.