IFA’s aquaculture section executive Richie Flynn said the naturally occurring algal bloom affecting fish stocks along the west coast highlighted the need for a properly functioning and flexible licencing system for shellfish and fish farmers.
“This is not a new or unmanageable situation, but it brings into focus the need to clear the massive backlog of licence applications in order to give our members the flexibility to move stock away from such blooms and to have alternative options available to them in such situations. The sea throws many challenges at you; storms, blooms, pollution from outdated urban treatment systems, etc. We can all deal with these and ensure high quality seafood reaches the market, but we are hampered by the lack of progress in processing licences.”
Mr Flynn continued, “The only priority today for rural and coastal communities must be to focus on jobs and exports. In order to do that we must have a functioning, efficient and flexible licencing system to give farmers options to grow, develop new techniques and supply the important processing sector. We have members who have been waiting up to 7 years for a response to their licence applications.”
Minister Coveney and all the various state agencies which are associated with the industry, including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, must focus their attention on this area. Today there are shellfish dying in the west and north-west due to a naturally occurring algae event; tomorrow there will be Irish companies dying because of an unnatural delay caused by bureaucracy and a lack of focus on the economic aspects of the seafood industry by the state. There must be an immediate and determined focus on ways to encourage the existing Irish aquaculture industry to develop.”