I propose to take Questions Nos. 322 and 331 together.
My Department’s records indicate that the company referred to by the Deputy has an application for an aquaculture licence under active consideration by my Department. My Department considers all applications for aquaculture licences in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable EU legislation. The licensing process involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisers as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation.
As this application is under active consideration by my Department as part of a statutory process, it would not be appropriate to comment further pending the conclusion of this process.
The Independent Review of Aquaculture Licensing was commissioned in 2016 and the Report of the Group was submitted to my Department in May 2017.
Since receiving the report, 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.