A DELAY by the Department of Marine in responding to an aquaculture licence application has infuriated fishermen on Cape Clear who say it’s impacting the island economy.
Duncan Harper, who is the secretary of Cumann Iascairí Chléire, told The Southern Star that fishermen on Cape applied for the licence on February 15th 2019 and they still haven’t got a decision from the Department.
Mr Harper pointed out that they had provided an extensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which cost in excess of €100,000, when submitting the application 11 months ago.
Complaining of ‘government inaction’, Mr Harper said the delay is hurting the island economy and the potential to create employment on Cape Clear.
Mr Harper said the EIS – which was partially funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta – represented more than three years’ work.
Shortly after the application was submitted, he said, they received a letter of acknowledgement, but nothing more.
Despite having asked some of the general election candidates to follow it up, they were alsoo given a brief and meaningless acknowledgement of the application.
‘This really isn’t good enough,’ said Mr Harper. ‘We have invested a lot of money, time and energy – not to mention hope and genuine belief – that this is something of real value that could save our island.’
He said a similar project – an organic salmon farm at Clare Island off the Mayo coast – has already reaped ‘huge dividends’ and helped sustain that island’s population numbers.
Mr Harper said Cape wants an opportunity to use its ‘wonderful sea resource to grow protein-rich food in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner, and to safeguard our future.’
A spokesperson for the Department said ‘a determination in respect of the application will be made as soon as possible following completion of the necessary assessment process.’