Seaweed harvesters present alternative to privatisation

The Chairman of the Clew Bay Seaweed Association (CBSA) has called on Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to confirm that ‘extensive and exclusive licences will not be granted to any party for the harvesting of seaweed in Ireland’.

Speaking to The Mayo News last week, John Lambe said that the livelihood of entire communities from Co Donegal to Co Clare was now under threat because of the fact that ‘there could be a plan afoot to sell off this entire resource to private companies at the expense of local communities’.

“There is an alternative approach possible,” said Mr Lamb. “We are asking the Government to assist local communities to develop local-area plans for the sustainable exploitation of the Ascophyllum Nodosum resource. The expertise in this area lies within Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Currently BIM tell us that they have no responsibility in this area. This situation could be simply changed by direction from the Minister of Agriculture Food and the Marine, Mr Coveney.”

Mr Lamb suggested that the BIM and the NPWS could be asked to help local communities prepare the local-area plans.

He also confirmed that the CBSA is ‘actively encouraging representatives of the maritime communities on the west coast to come together to manage the seaweed resource for the continued benefit of the local communities’.

Moreover, the association also continued to support the purchasing practices of seaweed buyers.

“There are currently at least five different companies or businesses purchasing seaweed from traditional cutters in Clew Bay.

These five companies provide a market place thus ensuring market price for the cutters. If an exclusive and extensive licence is granted to any party it will effectively have a monopoly on the supply, and the other companies may no longer be viable, and all competition will have been removed,” John Lambe added.

Meanwhile, local harvester, Jack Higgins, who has cut seaweed for over 50 years along the shores of Clew Bay, said: “As a traditional harvester, what we (the CBSA) want is for the Government to grant us our licences and we can harvest the seaweed ourselves and choose to supply any processors that want to buy from us.”

 

Photo: Ascophyllum Nodosum

View original article at: Seaweed harvesters present alternative to privatisation

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