Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has stated that indigenous seaweed harvesters must be protected under any new licensing regime
Ó Clochartaigh also called on Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan not to issue any more seaweed cutting licenses until a new licensing regime is in place.
He made the call as concerns were raised at the Joint Committee for Environment this week that a monopoly situation could arise if large global players are given blanket licenses for large geographic areas.
Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“Smaller indigenous companies voiced concerns that they could be squeezed out of the market by their competitor Acadian Seaplants from Canada who have bought the formerly state owned Arramara processing company
“I also called on Údaras na Gaeltachta at the meeting to provide us with documentary backup to clarify that the sale of the company was above board and the process was done in an open and transparent manner.
“The rights of seaweed harvesters and local communities must be one of the main concerns addressed under any new licensing arrangements and the Minister should support the model of a 'fair trade' type of arrangement where those doing the work can manage and negotiate with the processors to ensure the most equitable deal for all.
“The licensing regime must also be made simpler with the state providing relevant scientific support to enable smaller players and groups of harvesters to be able to apply and compete with the bigger companies.
“The seaweed industry in Ireland has huge potential and has suffered from a lack of strategic government investment for decades. It is vital for rural Ireland but must be maintained in an equitable and fair manner taking concerns of the local players on board.”