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Minister English clarifies the legal position around seaweed harvesting and applications received under the Foreshore Act

Mr Damien English, Minister for Housing and Urban Development today announced the results of his Department’s ongoing assessment in relation to the legal interaction between applications to his Department for licences to harvest wild seaweed and existing seaweed harvesting rights.

The Minister, in the course of a wide ranging address on marine issues at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit in Galway commented that

“I have taken the necessary time to carefully consider all aspects of this issue and have met with a variety of interests across this sector. The position is that my Department cannot licence seaweed harvesting in an area where there is an existing right to harvest seaweed. I have also clarified that existing seaweed rights holders can continue to exercise their right to harvest seaweed and do not require consent under the Foreshore Act although they must respect relevant national and European environmental legislation.”

The Minister informed that he has written to all of the existing applicants setting out the position and would work with them to consider how it would impact on their applications.

The Minister also commented that

“In the course of the consideration of these issues, I have had the welcome opportunity to meet many people in this sector and listen to their views. One of the things I took from these interactions is the great potential to develop the wild seaweed sector if we take the right decisions to realise it. I will be working with my colleagues to identify the most suitable body to develop and implement a strategy to underpin the development of this sector which will need to include a robust and transparent licencing system.”

The Minister also updated the summit on the considerable progress being made on Marine Spatial Planning and he also informed that work was advancing on legislation to prohibit the sale or manufacture of products containing plastic microbeads. This is one of a range of marine litter and marine environmental measures being pursued by his Department at this time to maintain the good environmental status of our seas.