Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Mechanical Seaweed Harvesting

A mechanical seaweed harvesting trial licence was granted in 2014 to a company called Bio Atlantis for an area of roughly 1800 acres in the Bantry Bay area. Mechanical harvesting is done from a specially adapted ship that cuts the kelp forest with cutters and vacuums the seaweed aboard.

Seaweed has been hand harvested in Ireland in the tidal zone and has provided employment on a seasonal basis for many people along the coasts. Mechanical harvesting on such an industrial scale is worrying for several reasons:

  • The kelp forest sustains larval and juvenile stages of many marine animals
  • It acts as a buffer against the force of Atlantic storms
  • It absorbs nutrients from other activities

There is a campaign calling for the minister to withdraw the licence for reasons outlined on the website www.bantrybaykelpforest.comAcadian Seaplants has bought the seaweed factory in Cill Chiarain from Udaras na Gaeltachta in a deal, the details of which cannot be divulged for ten years.

It seems that they intend to seek a harvesting licence for certain species for the Mayo and Galway coasts but no specific licence has been approved yet as far as we know. There seems to be an intent on the part of Government to continue with the policy of facilitating large companies in taking possession of the resource.

It is important to keep an eye on this valuable resource and to ensure that it does not get into the hands of corporate entities for industrial scale exploitation. Currently there is a Foreshore Amendment Act working its way through the Dáil to update the 1933 Act.

Good, clean and fair the current situation is not!

Slow food has a negative position on Salmon Farming and its associated activities. This should be the position on Mechanical Harvesting on an industrial scale as well.

Statement drafted by Slow Food Galway member Enda Conneely.