Wednesday, 7 March 2018
Sustainable Seaweed Harvesting: Motion [Private Members]
Hopefully that meeting will happen and the discussion will be meaningful. I hope the people will be listened to and that their demands will be respected. Ultimately, these people elect us to this Parliament and they are the ones who need to be acknowledged and recognised. At the end of the day, whatever these companies may do and whatever promises they may make in terms of job or wealth creation, they are not the ones that are important in this. The people who are important here are those who in live in our coastal communities.
The main concern, apart from the corporate element, is with the way in which mechanical harvesting of seaweed happens. It is very much like inviting the super trawlers to come in and destroy our fishing industry by sucking up everything. The mechanical harvesting companies do the very same thing - they chop the seaweed at the root and take everything off the seabed. If we grant licences to these companies and allow them to do that, we are not only destroying the seaweed but we are also damaging the potential of our fishing industry because these are the beds in which many fish species spawn. We must recognise that we cannot simply allow big companies to come in with industrial machinery, extract the seaweed and then shout about the great wealth they have created. That wealth is there for the ordinary people and ultimately, those people need to be listened to. They are calling for a national strategy to promote the development of the seaweed sector but we also need a national strategy to promote the development of the people who live in our coastal communities. That is paramount. We cannot allow the seaweed sector to be another indicator of the neglect of rural Ireland and of those who live in coastal communities. I appeal to the Minister of State to recognise that the motion has been tabled because of pressure exerted by the people affected. They need to be listened to and the Government needs to step up to the mark. The Minister of State must sit down with these people and deliver for them. The Government must deliver for the communities, not for the companies.