An application by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) for an aquaculture licence for the cultivation of finfish near Inis Oirr in Galway Bay was received by my Department last year. The application and its accompanying Environmental Impact Statement are being considered under the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and the 1933 Foreshore Act. All applications for aquaculture licences are referred to a wide range of consultees for comment. These include, inter alia, the Marine Institute, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Department of Environment Community and Local Government, Fáilte Ireland, An Taisce and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. In addition the legislation provides for a period of general public consultation. My Department's Engineering Division also provides technical advice on each application.
In relation to sea lice, Ireland's sea lice control protocols are operated by the Marine Institute. These protocols are considered to be more advanced than those operated in other jurisdictions for the following reasons:
- The inspection regime is totally independent of the industry.
- Data obtained as a result of inspections is published and made widely available.
- Treatment trigger levels are set at a low level.
In 2008, the State introduced a new Pest Management Strategy, supplementing the control regime already in place. This has resulted in a steady decline in average sea lice numbers on farmed salmon since its inception.