The Government is being urged to suspend the process of seaweek harvest licence applications until “absolute clarity” is given on whether it will result in a monopoly licence being granted to a single seaweed processor.
Independent MEP Marian Harkin made the comments following a meeting of seaweed interests in Rossaveal last Monday. The meeting comes after the recent acquisition of Aramara Teo by Canadian company Acadian Seaplants Ltd. It is understood that Acadian Seaplants will be using the Galway based company as a proxy to harvast from North Mayo to North Clare and to apply for a large-scale harvesting licence.
However, there have been criticisms that the sale was unnecessarily handled in secrecy. There are also concerns that the Nova Scotia based firm will have a harvesting monopoly on the west coast of Ireland and that traditional local harvesting rights will be adversely affected.
Expressing concern about the licensing process and potential unfair advantage to large processors, MEP Harkin said: “The seaweed resources of our western coastline are increasingly offering added value potential to a range of processors and the demand for this raw material means continued opportunity for traditional harvesters as well as processors.
“There can be no manipulation of the licensing regime for harvesting which bestows particular advantage on any processors and the Government as a matter of urgency needs to provide concrete clarification on this issue.”
Criticising the secret nature of the acquisition, MEP Harkin it had taken a number of queiries by her before an official statement was received from Aramara Teo about the deal. She attended Monday’s meeting to provide assistance, if necessary, to ensure that no monopoly rights would be granted and that further information by Aramara Teo would be forthcoming to allay fears of those earning their livelihoods from harvesting of seaweed.