Final approval has been given for the start of the largest kelp harvesting operation in the country, a move which has prompted dismay among those opposed to the plan.
Tralee-based BioAtlantis said it hoped to begin harvesting kelp off Bantry Bay shortly, bringing to an end a process that began almost a decade ago.
The company said that it will extract and purify compounds from kelp which will be used as a substitute for antibiotics in the pig and poultry industry. The overall area licensed for harvesting of the seaweed is around 1,800 acres, although BioAtlantis said the area to be harvested annually is 25% of this, around 456 acres per annum, of which less than 40% contains kelp.
The application was given approval in principle in 2011 and the associated legal papers were concluded and approved in 2014.
The only remaining approval was in regard to the monitoring plan and associated baseline study.
Damien English, junior minister for housing, planning, and local government, conveyed his approval on November 30 and the licensee was notified on December 6. One of those involved in opposition to the plan, Deirdre Fitzgerald, said she was “truly shocked and dismayed” at the latest developments.
“Over 12,000 people have signed a petition asking for this licence to be rescinded, from a small coastal community,” she said.
However, John T O’Sullivan, CEO of BioAtlantis Ltd, said there had been “a considerable level of misinformation” about the kelp- harvesting plan and the area to be harvested annually was just 0.3% of the total marine area of the bay.
“No start date has been confirmed,” he said. “However, harvesting is expected to begin shortly.”
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