Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
Question 431: To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the alarming encroachment of gigas oysters (details supplied) on the native oysters in Lough Swilly, County Donegal; his plan to protect the native oysters and the livelihoods of the fishermen who depend on them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17457/11]
The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) is included in Annex IV of Council Regulation (EC) 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture. Article 2(5) of the Regulation specifically exempts those species listed in Annex IV from the provisions of the Regulation, with the exceptions of articles 3 and 4. Article 4 requires Member States to ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to avoid adverse effects to biodiversity, and especially to species, habitats and ecosystem functions which may be expected to arise, inter alia, from the spreading of these species into the wild.
The exemption in the Regulation for the Pacific Oyster is that it has been in production for many years and has been moved from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. To assist in determining the future potential risk of widespread proliferation of the Pacific Oysterin Ireland the Marine Institute is funding a research study to document the level of reproductive effort of oysters grown on the seabed compared with the more traditional culture methods for this species. This project is expected to be concluded this year and a full report prepared.
In addition, an "Appropriate Assessment" under Article 6 of the Habitats Directive will be required in relation to Lough Swilly to facilitate the renewal of all aquaculture licences as the Lough has been designated as a 'Natura' site. The assessment will consider the likely interaction between activities (i.e. fisheries and aquaculture) and conservation objectives as set down by National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The question of the risk posed by the presence of pacific oysters, if any, will also be considered in the appropriate assessment.