THE campaigners aiming to protect Bantry Bay’s kelp seaweed brought their protest to the gates of Dáil Eireann on Wednesday where they called for the licence allowing its mechanical harvesting to be rescinded.
With a symbolic coffin filled with kelp, representatives from the inshore fishing, tourism, and local community groups said they want the licence, recently granted to Kerry firm BioAtlantis, to be rescinded and for an independent Environmental Impact Study to be carried out into the possible effects the harvesting could have on local fish and shellfish stocks.
The protest took place to coincide with a private members bill, calling for the protection and sustainable harvesting of seaweed. A number of Dáil deputies, including Michael Collins (Ind) and Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (FF) also raised the matter in the Dail.
They were joined by deputies Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, who pointed out that Bantry Bay was just 20 miles from their native Kilgarvan.
A spokesperson for the Bantry Bay Native Kelp Forest said they felt they had no alternative but to go to the Dáil.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for harvesting firm BioAtlantis said that any impact on inshore fishing in the area is highly unlikely. ‘Kelp harvesting overlaps with just 1% of the total inshore fishery area of Bantry Bay,’ they said.