Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
639. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the up-to-date position in relation to his efforts to speed up the decision-making process in relation to aquaculture licensing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62933/21]
Applications for aquaculture licences are considered by my Department in accordance with the provisions of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, the Foreshore Act 1933 and applicable national and EU legislation. The licensing process is complex and involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisors, as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation.
Since 2012, my Department has made determinations in respect of 1,251 aquaculture licensing applications, effectively eliminating the long standing backlog in shellfish aquaculture licensing as an issue affecting the industry. Every effort is being made to ensure that this progress continues.
The timeline for processing an aquaculture licence varies depending on a number of factors including location, species, scale and intensity of production, statutory status of sites and potential visual impact. My Department also takes full account of all scientific and technical advice, in addition to all issues identified during the public and statutory consultation phases. Further factors that can impact the time taken to process an application can include; the need for an Appropriate Assessment if the application is within a Natura 2000 area; whether the application is required to be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Assessment Report; the need for additional underwater or archaeological assessments; consideration of any submissions or observations raised during the public consultation period, etc.
Decisions in respect of aquaculture licence applications are only taken following the fullest consideration of all scientific, legislative, technical and public interest elements of each application.