THE mechanical harvesting of kelp in Bantry Bay is set to begin on Monday August 20th next.
Kerry firm, BioAtlantis Ltd, has lodged a local marine notice indicating that their harvesting vessel, the first of its class operating in Irish waters, named the ‘Atlantis Explorer’, will take to the licensed areas to begin harvesting at the end of August.
BioAtlantis applied for and was awarded a ten-year licence to mechanically harvest kelp back in 2014 and when operations begin in Bantry Bay this will be the first time kelp has been harvested using this method within the British Isles. At the moment the company is importing kelp from Iceland.
However, the plan to mechanically harvest kelp in Bantry bay has not been without opposition with a number of community groups and local inshore fishermen protesting against the issuing of the licence granting permission to commence harvesting the local seaweed. The Minister for State for housing, planning and local government, Damien English gave the final go ahead for BioAtlantis to commence harvesting back in November 2017 however, a High Court judicial review into the awarding of the licence is also currently underway.
The harvesting licence grants permission to BioAtlantis to continue harvesting operations from August 2018 until 2024 and allows for seaweed harvesting to take place sub-tidally in the areas allocated. A map outlining these harvesting areas is available on the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s website www.dttas.ie.