Wednesday, 5 May 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
275. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if a list will be provided of the inshore fishers and the organisations (details supplied) he or his Department have consulted with in relation to the National Marine Planning Framework; the dates of the meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23273/21]
276. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he will provide a list of the seven inland fishers who were consulted in relation to the National Marine Planning Framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23274/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 275 and 276 together.
The draft National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) was launched by Government on 12 November 2019. The draft NMPF is Ireland’s first comprehensive marine spatial plan document and outlines the clear structure and direction proposed for the development, conservation and enjoyment of our maritime area. This important new text will, when established, stand as the marine equivalent of the terrestrial National Planning Framework and will become the key decision-making tool for regulatory authorities and policy makers into the future.
The National Marine Planning Framework is the culmination of very extensive public and stakeholder engagement during its development over the past 4 years. It is our belief that the Plan needed to be strategic as well as instructional, and informed by effective public and stakeholder participation. Therefore, a core principle in developing the Plan has been to ensure that, as well as the wider public, all relevant marine stakeholders were consulted with, and encouraged to contribute at each available opportunity.
My Department convened a significant number of regional workshops as part of the consultation, with each regional workshop focusing on marine themes appropriate or significant to their respective locations. Following the launch of the NMPF baseline report in 2018, 5 regional public events were held as part of the statutory public consultation. When we launched the draft NMPF, a further 8 public consultation events, 7 of those held in coastal locations throughout the country, occurred during 2019 and 2020. Officials from my Department consulted with members of a variety of fishing organisations at these events.
In addition to these public events, my Department engaged and participated in over 150 conferences, seminars and marine stakeholder events during this time, promoting awareness and understanding of both the NMPF and the public’s role in the wider marine planning process.
The Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Advisory Group, which I chair, was established in 2018 to guide the development of the NMPF. This Group was invaluable in imparting collective knowledge and expertise, while also offering guidance on strategic thinking and decision-making in the preparation of marine spatial plans. The Group featured representatives of the environmental, economic, and social pillars, including the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF). The MSP group met 11 times on the following dates:
|20 March 2018|
|13 June 2018|
|19 September 2018|
|14 February 2019|
|09 April 2019|
|11 June 2019|
|16 July 2019|
|12 November 2019|
|26 May 2020|
|22 September 2020|
|23 February 2021|
As part of the wider public engagement process on the NMPF, and in keeping with my Department’s role in the promotion of awareness and understanding of both the NMPF and the public’s role in the wider marine planning process, officials from my Department also held stakeholder meetings with the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums on the following dates:
|26/04/2018||Stakeholder meeting with Southeast RIFF|
|01/05/2018||Stakeholder meeting with North RIFF|
|02/05/2018||Stakeholder meeting with West RIFF|
|09/05/2018||Stakeholder meeting with Southwest RIFF|
|01/06/2018||Stakeholder meeting with Northeast RIFF|
Throughout the NMPF development period, and up to and including last week, my Department has regularly engaged in correspondences with a variety of fishing organisations and their representatives, endeavouring to respond to those queries with the necessary urgency and clarity required. My Department’s continued engagement with the fisheries community and representative bodies will not cease with the publication of the NMPF, and I believe this is an important message to deliver to those communities.
I am acutely aware of several ongoing issues affecting the Fisheries community, among the most urgent being the issue of diverse levels and standards of communications between the fisheries and ORE industries. To directly address these concerns, and also with the wider aim of promoting constructive engagement and consultation between the fisheries community and the ORE industry, I have instructed my Department officials to commence the formation of a Seafood/ORE working group, with the initial aim of agreeing a communications protocol between these two strategically important Marine sectors.
While the initial focus of the working group will be on the aforementioned communications protocol, it is the intention of my Department that the proposed Seafood/ORE group will, in time, address other issues affecting the Fisheries community, such as dislocation, co-existence, the impact of developments (including exploration of development sites) and Safety at Sea.
My Department will, in the coming weeks, formally invite nominated representatives of NIFA and NIFO to participate in the proposed working group, and I look forward to their constructive input.