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Order of Business

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Senator Grace O'Sullivan

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I speak today on behalf of the people of Bantry and the south west. They are in distress over the granting this week by the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Damien English, of a seaweed licence to BioAtlantis to mechanically harvest 1,860 acres of kelp in Bantry Bay.
Will the Leader ask the Minister of State to come to the House to debate the future plans of the Government on the development of the commercial seaweed industry in Ireland? I want the Minister of State to discuss the issuing of seaweed licences with us. I would also like to discuss why the Government and the Minister of State did not consult and engage with the 1,200 people who signed a petition against the issuing of the licence.
Wild seaweed is a valuable resource in Ireland. In other countries, like Japan, Korea and China, they cultivate seaweed. We could have a niche market here - it is certainly an emerging market - if we do this right, but already we are getting it wrong.
I am appealing to the Minister of State and the Government to address this before they issue any more seaweed licences. A request by BioAtlantis for another licence to cut 12,900 tonnes of Ascophyllum, a type of seaweed in Clew Bay, has been submitted. Before any other licences are permitted and issued, those responsible should consult the people and communities in these rural areas. We need to look at how we can do this sustainably, because we can do that. However, the way the Government is going about it is wrong and is destroying vast tracts or areas of seaweed.
We have an opportunity. I am asking the Leader to get the Minister of State before the House as soon as possible in the new year to debate the issue.