Tens of thousands of oyster trestles along Lough Foyle will remain unlicensed and unregulated - Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn
Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has expressed his "deep concern and frustration" at the response from the Minister for the Marine, Michael Creed to his questions about the proliferation of unlicensed and unregulated oyster farms along the Inishowen shore of Lough Foyle.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said:
"It is estimated that since 2014, the number of oyster trestles belonging to oyster farmers on the Inishowen shore of Lough Foyle has grown from 2,000 to over 30,000 today. A recent BBC Newsline report revealed the dramatic increase of these oyster farms with aerial shots along the Lough.
"These oyster farms and trestles have no licence to operate and no regulation is taking place. The local community were given no opportunity to have their say on these developments.
"This 'wild west' scenario is not sustainable for the oyster farmers either as under EU food safety rules, licencing and regulation of the food product is required.
"I am deeply concerned and frustrated at this latest response from Minister Michael Creed.
"It really is outrageous that 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement, the dispute over the jurisdiction of Lough Foyle continues. The British Government still claim ownership of the entirety of Lough Foyle on behalf of the Crown Estate and the Irish Government still dispute this claim.
"This dispute has meant that the issue of aquaculture and fore-shore licensing is at a standstill and the Loughs Agency can only stand by and watch these oyster trestles grow to tens of thousands, making a mockery of the sustainable management of the immense resources of Lough Foyle for all.
"I will continue to raise this issue along with my Sinn Féin colleagues at local, national and European level until a solution in the best interests of all is found".