Applications for licences to engage in salmon farming are subject to comprehensive evaluation by the Department's Aquaculture Licence Vetting Committee which brings together all relevant expertise within the Department and the Central Fisheries Board. Applications are assessed from all technical, scientific and other relevant perspectives to determine the suitability of proposals. In addition, any new project with a proposed yearly output of more than 100 tonnes must comply with the requirements of the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment.
In all cases, this evaluation process is further informed by public consultative procedures including consultation with interested statutory bodies such as the Regional Fisheries Boards, local authorities the Wildlife Service and the Department of the Environment. Representations and comments received under this procedure are taken into account as part of the overall evaluation of applications.
My decisions for or against individual applications will continue to be taken on the basis of the wide-ranging advice and analysis derived from this evaluation and consultation system.
The policy objective is to ensure the sustainable and well regulated development of the salmon farming sector with full regard for the rights and interests of other users of the marine and freshwater resource. I will continue to combine the need for a strategic view of the acknowledged economic contribution of aquaculture with the responsibility to take all relevant factors and interests into account. With this objective in mind, a medium term review of the existing planning framework for aquaculture is under way. This review will determine the scope and need for improvements to the present licensing system.