As indicated in my previous reply to the Deputy the application referred to is in respect of a site located within Kenmare Bay which is designated as a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive (Natura 2000 site).
The European Court of Justice declared in case C418/04 that, by failing to take all the measures necessary to comply with Article 6(3) of Directive 92/43 (Habitats Directive) in respect of authorisation of aquaculture programmes, Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations under that Directive.
In the negotiations to address the judgment a process was agreed with the European Commission which would lead to full compliance by Ireland with the relevant EU Directives. This process includes the following steps: a detailed data collection in 91 Bays/Estuaries; detailed analysis of raw data collected; setting of Conservation Objectives by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in respect of each site; carrying out Appropriate Assessments of each licence application/fishery plan against the detailed Conservation Objectives set, and determination of Licences/Fisheries on the basis of the Appropriate Assessment and other relevant factors.
My Department has been working closely with the Marine Institute, BIM, and NPWS to achieve full compliance through a multi-annual work programme. A key factor of this Work Programme is the identification of prioritised bays based on the number of aquaculture sites, the ready availability of scientific data and other factors.
The prioritised list of bays is kept under continuous review by my Department so as to facilitate the use of scientific and other resources on a flexible basis across the full range of bays, if deemed necessary. This approach is consistent with the maintenance of a prioritised list which includes Kenmare Bay.