Since receiving the Report of the independent Aquaculture Licensing 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. The core recommendation of the Independent Review was to deal with the licensing backlog by the end of 2019. In response to the priority given by stakeholders to the elimination of the backlog, my Department has been actively working towards the achievement of 300 licence determinations this year with a further 300 projected for 2019.
I can confirm that the target of 300 licence determinations has been achieved two months ahead of schedule. This is a very substantial achievement and gives a clear indication of my commitment and the commitment of my Department to dealing with this issue in a comprehensive manner. I can further confirm that we are fully committed to achieving 300 further licence determinations in 2019 and this will effectively eliminate the shellfish licensing backlog as an issue affecting the industry.
The elimination of the shellfish licensing backlog will be a game changer for the industry and will provide the solid footing for the industry long demanded by industry representatives.
The related recommendations are also being addressed and will be implemented as part of a larger reform of the regulatory process. My Department will be glad to keep the Deputy updated on further developments.