Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív has accused Minister Simon Coveney of having completely failing to deal with the issue of Aquaculture Licences during his time in office. According to the latest information supplied to Deputy Ó Cuív by the Department, the number of shellfish licences awaiting decision has risen by over 10% over the past five years.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented, “After almost five years in office only 302 out of 408 applications for shellfish licences have been processed. There are now 61 fin fish licences awaiting decision, almost double the number that was outstanding when Minister Coveney arrived into the Department. Thirty four finfish aquaculture applications have been lodged since then, but only 5 decisions have been made.
“It is time for the Minister to start making decisions and to stop putting this matter on the long finger. He recently announced that he has undertaken to commission a review of the existing aquaculture licensing system. He has promised that this will include all of the stakeholders involved, and will identify the current shortcomings and bottlenecks (legislative, resource and logistical) so that the necessary changes can be made as a matter of priority.
“I have been pressing the Minister for three years to do this. The fact that he is only initiating this review months before a General Election speaks volumes about the importance he attaches to this issue. I want to see a transparent, open and efficient applications and assessment process put in place so that licences can be granted or refused in a timely manner and to ensure that the huge delays that have developed under this Minister are significantly reduced. Anything else is an injustice to both applicants and those who might oppose the granting of licences”.