DONEGAL North East TD Joe McHugh has confirmed that An Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture and Marine will meet with the management of Marine Harvest “in the next month” about developing Donegal’s aquaculture industry.
Deputy McHugh said An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, phoned him last Wednesday to confirm the meeting.
Deputy McHugh spoke at last weekend’s Fine Gael National Conference in Limerick about the potential of Irish aquaculture.
He said he believes discussions between government and industry leaders are important for driving the aquaculture agenda forward.
“I will facilitate key discussions between An Taoiseach, the Minister for Agriculture and Marine (Minister Coveney) and the management of Marine Harvest, at which high-level attention will be given to the issues that are important for driving the aquaculture industry forward,” Deputy McHugh said.
“Norway produces one million tonnes of farmed salmon every year and Scotland produces 150,000 tonnes – Ireland produces just 12,000 tonnes every year.
“There is massive potential for growth off the Irish coast. At this weekend’s Fine Gael National Conference in Limerick, I made the point that Ireland needs to borrow from the best Norwegian practice, in expanding output whilst protecting the natural environment.”
However, Donegal angling clubs attended a national protest rally in Galway earlier this year against a massive 15,000 ton salmon farm off Gweedore, between Gola and Tory Island.
If it goes ahead, the anglers claim, it would wipe out wild salmon and sea trout and close down every Donegal Sligo and Mayo river flowing into Donegal Bay along with rivers east to Antrim.
But Deputy McHugh says Minister Coveney is to be complimented for his “ambitious plans” to develop deep-sea off-shore production sites off the Donegal coast.
These plans, he said, will be discussed at the meeting with An Taoiseach, Marine Harvest management and Minister Coveney.
“I will also ensure that there will be a focus on what’s currently happening in in-shore aquaculture in Ireland. Many in-shore cages have been in situ for long periods of time and, just in the same way that fallow periods and field rotation are important for growing potatoes, cages need to be moved to alternative sites from time to time.
“Licensing for establishment of cages at new sites is a vitally important issue in Irish aquaculture at present.”
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