Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
637. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the average waiting time for decisions on aquaculture licensing appeals to the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board; if he plans to provide additional staff to the board; his plans to amend legislation or take other steps to assist the board reducing the time delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44351/20]
The request for statistical details in relation to the average waiting time for decisions on aquaculture licensing appeals has been referred to the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) secretariat who will provide this information directly.
ALAB was established on 17 June 1998 under Section 22 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997 (as amended) (the "1997 Act"). All Board members are engaged on a part-time basis. The function of the Board is to provide an independent authority for the determination of appeals against decisions of the relevant Minister on aquaculture licence applications.
While operating under the aegis of my Department, ALAB is an independent body with its own funding provided for by the Oireachtas under Section 36 of the 1997 Act. The 1997 Act details the main responsibilities and powers of the Board. Under Section 56 of the 1997 Act, the Board is required to ensure that appeals are dealt with and determined expeditiously and that all steps are taken to avoid unnecessary delay.
The staffing resource provided by my Department to ALAB has increased significantly over the past two years.Following a request from the Chairperson, a permanent technical advisor was appointed to ALAB with effect from 18th October 2020. In addition to this, the numbers of administrative staff currently assigned to the ALAB secretariat has also increased from two to four over the same period
ALAB Secretariat Staff 2020
1 x HEO Secretary to the Board- (Full time) *
1 x Executive Officer (Full Time)
1 x Clerical Officer (Full Time)
1 x Clerical Officer (Part Time)
*Under Section 32 of the Act, an officer of the Minister who is an established civil servant and who is seconded to the Board for that purpose, either on a whole-time or part-time basis, shall act as Secretary to the Board.
Under Section 35 of the Act, the Board may engage such consultants or advisors as it considers necessary for the performance of its functions. Fees due to consultants and advisors are paid by the Board out of monies made available by the Oireachtas. The Board also engages other advisors as required to support its work.
As Minister, I am happy to examine any request within my remit that may come from the Board in relation to amending relevant legislation or assisting the Board with its work.