Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Aquaculture Industry: Discussion
Mr. Michael Mulloy:
To complete the answer to Deputy Ring's question about the status of the aquaculture licensing review report, it is not really fair to say nothing has happened. The backlog of shellfish licences has been dealt with. It could be argued that was the low-hanging fruit and that was dealt with at the expense of the finfish industry. Obviously, the licence applications and determinations for finfish are severely more complicated than shellfish licences. We have a situation where a lot of shellfish licences have been issued, which is a good thing. We welcome it, obviously. However, unfortunately no finfish licences have been determined, bar one, but that is under appeal, or rather is beyond appeal. It is being judicially reviewed.
Deputy Flaherty spoke about the tactical motivation for objectors. We have a problem in that if we were to streamline and improve the process, we could improve the image of the whole industry. If the licensing process was more transparent, people would feel that we were dealing on a fairer playing pitch. At the moment the public consultation process is poor. Adverts are put in local newspapers, often at the end of the year when they want to complete the body of work and people's eyes are off the ball, and before they know it, a fish farm is happening and nobody knows about it. Part of the licensing review report encourages the practice of pre-planning, which is an obvious and accepted part of the planning process. We want Bord Iascaigh Mhara, BIM, to take on a role in the pre-planning process so that the local aquaculture officers around the coast can help applicants make an appropriate application in consultation with the other stakeholders in their immediate vicinity.