18th December

Ireland's seaweed harvesters seek clarification on Novia Scotia deal

Údarás na Gaeltachta has sold its share-holding in the seaweed processor Arramara Teoranta to Acadia Seaplants of Nova Scotia in a government-approved deal brokered by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Confirming the sale, a spokeswoman for Údarás na Gaeltachta said that Acadia Seaplants’ involvement in the Irish seaweed sector would provide new opportunities to develop value-added seaweed-based products for a range of growing sectors worldwide.

“This in turn will lead to an increase in employment opportunities in the Gaeltacht and business will continue as usual at Arramara Teo, ” she added.

Seaweed

Meanwhile,at a public meeting this week in Ros a Mhíl to discuss the implications locally, MEP Marian Harkin questioned the part played by Údarás na Gaeltachta in the deal with Acadia. She said that concern was mounting among west coast seaweed harvesters that they had not been consulted or informed of the details of the sale.

Since the announcement that the sale of Arramara has gone through, I've received emails and telephone calls from people all along the west coast who are really concerned because of the secrecy surrounding this development. They want to know what’s happening,” Ms Harkin said. She added that long-time seaweed harvesters on the west coast were concerned that Acadia might have “first say” on future licensing.

“Acadia, might be able to have the licences by proxy and thereby have control of the seaweed. Long-time traditional harvesters and people who already use this natural resource in their business might have to deal with Acadia for seaweed harvesting. I am calling on the Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney to clarify the situation.

“It’s very, very difficult to get information about this. I haven’t been able to get the details and those who have contacted me are not able to get them either. It would be a very simple thing for the Minister to clarify what’s happening by issuing a statement. It may well be there will be no change to licensing, and that things will remain as they are but the minister must say so.

"I’ve had calls from people who are having difficulty getting licences renewed. Now, that may be just by chance, but putting all of this together the fact is it’s difficult to get information, and people are beginning to get very, very concerned."

And she wondered why seaweed harvesters had not been fully informed of the new developments during a recent meeting with Aramara: “It’s now up to Minister Coveney to immediately clarify what’s going on. People are really very concerned about the secrecy and they are worried about the fact that this deal with Acadia might affect their livelihoods.

"In the last two to three years, many have invested heavily in seaweed-based businesss because they saw it as a growing sector. Our seaweed is a really important resource, and we need to know what’s happening with it,” she said.

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