In 2016, I commissioned the Independent Review of Aquaculture Licensing and the Report of the Group was submitted to my Department in May 2017.
The Review Group carried out a detailed examination of the existing aquaculture licensing process, undertook comprehensive stakeholder consultation and looked at comparative national and international consent systems to determine best practice for managing a complex licensing process in a transparent, environmentally appropriate and legally robust manner.
All submissions made to the group were given the fullest consideration and would have informed the Report. The group’s report is published and available to view on my Department’s website.
Since receiving the report of the review group, my Department has engaged in detailed consideration of the recommendations set out in the report with a view to their implementation, having regard to the legislative, environmental, technical and public interest issues that arise. My Department has also engaged closely with industry representatives and relevant State agencies.
As all industry stakeholders and the EU Commission have, for different reasons, identified the elimination of the licensing backlog as the overriding priority in the reform of the licensing system, my Department’s response to date has focused on this issue while continuing to have regard to the other recommendations in the report.
I can confirm that the aquaculture licensing backlog in respect of shellfish aquaculture has now been eliminated as an issue affecting the industry. In the case of finfish, measures have already commenced to reduce this backlog and these measures will intensify significantly in 2020.