18th December

Sustainably managing and harvesting Ireland’s ocean wealth

IFA’s Aquaculture section has welcomed the publication by EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki of a new strategy to cut red tape and boost fish and shellfish farming ‘which will create thousands of jobs and reduce Europe’s huge dependence on seafood imports’.

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mussel farming in Killary fjord. Photo G Mills

By identifying the key strategic link between providing home-grown quality seafood and direct employment benefits, “the Commissioner has shown that common-sense and direct action is the way to break the long-standing log jam in farmed seafood production,” remarked IFA aquaculture executive, Richie Flynn.

He added that by forcing each member state government to follow-up the EU policy “with a progressive and realistic national plan”, the Commission proposals showed a “clear path to the Irish government to reduce red tape, simplify procedures and produce high-end quality exports”.

Licensing league table

The Commission document includes a ‘league table’ of the length of time it takes to get a licence to farm in the EU.

“The Irish Government should be ashamed of the fact that the space available on an A4 page was insufficient to illustrate the 7-8 years it currently takes to get a decision here. Ireland’s licensing system has become a black hole down which 600 applications have disappeared, creating enormous frustration and anger around the coast,” he added.

This communication from “is a wake-up call to our administration who are asleep at the wheel when it comes to one of our most obvious sectoral opportunities for jobs and exports,” Flynn declared.

“By proposing an EU-wide monitoring system to keep member states on their toes when it comes to licencing, the Commission has provided a hugely useful alternative to the ‘do-nothing’ default position of successive Irish governments. Clear targets and oversight of our licencing system will at the very least embarrass the national authorities into action to produce licences and increase production around the coast in the face of more efficient and productive systems at work in competitor countries.”

Monitoring actions
Also proposed are particular monitored actions in the areas of marine spatial planning; enhancing competitiveness of the industry through R&D and an emphasis on turning strict environmental and health regulations to the competitive advantage of EU producers.

“It is obvious that at Brussels level, aquaculture is rightly regarded as central to European food and marine policy.Irish regulators and politicians need now to apply the same determined approach to make the most of our ocean wealth, by tearing down the barriers to development.”

Flynn stressed that an export-driven economy “in dire need of jobs, especially in peripheral areas” that support aquaculture development “is a priority for any government with a serious commitment to sustainable economic development.”

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