Dáil debates

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Sustainable Seaweed Harvesting: Motion [Private Members]


4:15 pm

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent) | Oireachtas source

We had not ratified the Aarhus convention when the ad went up, but we knew we would ratify it which we did in 2012. And the Government sees nothing wrong with that. Do the Ministers of State think that people lost a days work to come up here today just to be cranky or to object? Can the Ministers of State accept their bona fidesthat they believe there is something radically wrong with this process, that they are seriously worried and want the Government to engage with them? Rather than talking about liability, the Government might look at the terms of the licence given to see if it can be revoked and under what provisions this might happen, for instance. Maybe the Government could begin a meaningful discussion on that in relation to their concerns.

I very much welcome what seems to be the unanimous support for the motion on this side of the House. I very much welcome that Sinn Féin has been here today and spoke on this and also Fianna Fáil and the Rural Alliance.

I will return to the Minister of State's amendment now. In it he reaffirms three things. One is of particular concern to me, where he reaffirms that through the marine co-ordination group, it will continue to advance and promote the sustainability of the seaweed sector in Ireland. As my colleague pointed out, I believe that nine Departments sit on that. In theory it meets every six weeks and seaweed has arisen once. Is the Minister of State seriously standing before us and telling us that co-ordinating group is going to promote a sustainable policy in relation to the seaweed sector? That is an insult. I respect Deputy English and I like him on a personal basis, but to give an answer like that to us today is an insult. There is an onus on him, as there is on me, to read all the reports and see the recommendations. He says that we focused in on one view, but we actually focused on the recommendations of the committee in May 2015. The first of eight recommendations was that we have a national strategy. I do not particularly like the word strategy, but I accepted the word from the committee. I would prefer a comprehensive sustainable plan in relation to the seaweed sector, but the committee talks about a national strategy so we accepted that terminology. We are asking the Government before it grants any licences to comply with that recommendation which came from that report on developing the seaweed sector in Ireland. When the Minister of State and his colleague stand up and tell us various things, and the 40,000 tonnes harvested annually, we know these facts because all this work has been done in the various reports and in the briefing document by the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, which is excellent and which everyone should read. They tell us the value of the seaweed industry, what traditional harvesters have done and more importantly they tell us the potential for job creation and the importance of a sustainable industry for maintaining a balanced ecosystem and climate change. What else do we need to say in the context of this new politics for the Government to listen to us?


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