Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (334)

Brendan Howlin


334. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the location of mussel seed beds; the specific restrictions that apply in each area, such as the closed fishery in a location (details supplied) or other impediments to the fishing or transportation of mussel seed such as the detection of parasites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40613/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord Iascaigh Mhara generally publishes reports of surveys of seed beds that it undertakes, including of the area in question, on its website: www.bim.ie

EU environmental legislation, namely the Birds and Habitats Directives, provides protection for certain species, birds and habitats. Member States are required to designate areas of their territory for protection as part of an overall European network; the sites of these areas are the so-called Natura 2000 network. In Ireland, Natura 2000 sites are identified for designation by the National Parks & Wildlife Service under the responsibility of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Ireland has designated approximately 80 marine Natura 2000 sites primarily located in coastal bays and estuaries where sea-fishing activities may occur. Castlemaine Harbour, near Cromane in Co. Kerry, includes two Natura 2000 sites.

Mussel seed fishing is subject to a prior consent process; accordingly mussel seed fishing which may impact on Natura 2000 sites must undergo screening for and, if necessary, appropriate assessment to determine if the activity will have a significant adverse impact on the features of the Natura 2000 site. In order to assess the potential impact, the local fishing industry is invited to submit a Fisheries Natura Plan for assessment and consideration. The most recent Plan underwent assessment in 2016.

Under the rules of the Fisheries Natura Plan for Castlemaine, up to two-thirds of the seed biomass identified by survey may be fished. The balance is reserved as prey for protected seabirds. Fisheries Natura Declaration No. 1 of 2017 (Castlemaine Harbour) sets out the rules which specifically apply to fishing for mussel seed there. Further details on the assessment and plan process can be found online at: http://www.fishingnet.ie/sea-fisheriesinnaturaareas/