Agriculture minister urged to provide state support to aquaculture sector

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to pledge meaningful support for Irish aquaculture.

It’s in light of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, the ongoing threat of ‘no deal’ Brexit and what the association said is the urgent need for regulatory reform of the sector’s licensing system.

Aquaculture includes the culture or farming of fish, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants or any aquatic form of food suitable for the nutrition of fish.

Land-based aquaculture may also require planning permission and a discharge permit from the local authority.

Ahead of IFA aquaculture’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) Michael Mulloy said: “This has been a tough year for aquaculture producers.

“It is now almost six months since the EU Commission amended regulations to allow member states to redirect available EMFF [European Maritime and Fisheries Fund] funds in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Irish aquaculture, the shellfish sector, in particular, continues to be impacted by the ongoing market disruption with many shellfish enterprises at serious risk.

“Minister McConalogue must immediately redirect available EMFF funds as financial aid for the Irish aquaculture industry to support them in this challenging time,” said Mulloy.

Aquaculture licensing

Aquaculture licensing is administered through the Aquaculture and Foreshore Management Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The division also processes companion foreshore licences required for coastal aquaculture operations.

The minister decides on applications made to the division on the approved application form.

The IFA is urging the agriculture minister to follow through on Programme for Government commitments to implement reform of the aquaculture licensing system.

“Aquaculture must align with the ongoing process of creating a marine planning framework. The sector needs the support of policymakers to achieve real, sustainable development to unlock the future potential of the industry,” added Mulloy.

IFA aquaculture’s AGM will take place online for the first time tomorrow Thursday, October 22 with Minister Charlie McConalogue and IFA President Tim Cullinan in attendance to address IFA members.