The sale of Arramara Teoranta to a private Canadian company, Acadian, is the first step in the privatisation of seaweed and other natural resources found along the seashore according to Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh. Cllr Conway-Walsh said: “The sale of this public asset jeopardises the harvesting rights of seaweed cutters and those who have used seaweed along the Mayo coast for generations. In spite of protestations from the Government that there was no intention to sell off the State-owned Arramara it is now clear that I and my colleagues, Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh and EU candidate Matt Carthy, were correct in relaying information to constituents that background discussions were taking place to push the sale through without consultation. Erris Seaweed Action Group will continue to work with the Connemara Action Group and other communities to provide a strong cohesive voice to protect the rights of seaweed cutters and coastal communities.” Cllr Conway-Walsh concluded saying: “There is no doubt that there is great untapped potential along our coast for greater use of seaweed and for job creation by adding value to the potential harvest there. But it will only benefit our own people if that harvesting and processing is controlled by the communities living there by way of co-operatives or some similar community based approach. Sinn Féin is encouraging land owners to check their land folios to establish their harvesting rights and coastal communities to work together to ensure the rights to cut seaweed and benefits arising from processing this natural resource are held by communities using a fair trade co-operative model.”
Independent MEP Marian Harkin has also expressed her concern at the announcement. “This deal has been shrouded in secrecy and there is an urgent need to immediately clarify the position of seaweed harvesters and of those who currently hold licenses to harvest,” she said. The deal should not impair in any way the ability of current seaweed processors to access raw material and an immediate statement from the Government on this issue is necessary, she said. She continued: “It would make sense at this time for all of those who earn their livelihoods from seaweed, and especially the harvesters, to come together in some form of unified entity to protect their interests and to ensure that seaweed will, in the future, continue to be harvested in a sustainable way.
“As an immediate priority the government should clarify if any special arrangements have been made with Acadian for exclusive harvesting rights in any part of the coast of the west of Ireland.”