Ireland’s position as a high quality, low-volume supplier of organically certified salmon from Europe’s westernmost Atlantic coast has received a boost with the announcement by Minister Coveney to grant a licence for a new site in Bantry Bay.
The site will complement existing farms and allow for the implementation of an environmentally sustainable regional production system for the south west as well as meeting strong consumer and smokehouse demand while growing vital employment. The site is part of a plan to grow Ireland’s largest seafood company, Marine Harvest Ireland to a point where it will employ 500 people.
Welcoming the Minister’s decision to grant the licence, IFA Aquaculture noted that the application took over four years to process. “This decision is very welcome and it highlights the complexity and time delays experienced by all applicants of the Irish licencing system”, said IFA Aquaculture Executive, Richie Flynn.
Mr Flynn said, “This is the first decision in many years to grant a new marine salmon farm licence and must be the start of a process to relieve the logjam which has plagued industry and cost Ireland dearly in lost jobs and export markets. IFA has been consistent in calling for a major overhaul of the licencing system.
“After 40 years of data-gathering and experience, the generic issues associated with every licence application are straightforward and easily assessed. There is simply no need to re-run the entire process of justifying the why and how of farming from scratch each time. Site specific issues are dealt with in the detailed Environmental Impact Study that accompanies every application and the relevant state agencies must be held accountable to specific timeframes within which to query or comment on this. Instead the current system gives endless scope for circular and bureaucratic analysis which only serves to delay decision making.
“What applicants want is a decision – one way or another but on time – because delays cost jobs and lose customers. Looking at the application process for licences in Norway and Scotland, our colleagues in those countries complain when only a year has passed between application and decision making. Ireland’s competitive edge and credibility is at stake and this demands an immediate review of our licensing system”, said Mr Flynn.
The Minister’s decision is now open for anyone to appeal to the Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board. Mr Flynn said, “Given the low workload on ALAB over the past seven years because of delays at Departmental level, it is imperative that this independent body has the resources to deal with appeals within the statutory timeframe.”