Friends of the Irish Environment have now lodged a detailed objection to an application by local man John Crowley for a license for oyster cultivation in Adrigole Harbour on the Beara peninsula.
His proposal is for the installation of trestles constructed from reinforcing rod — submerged at high tide but exposed for the lower tides across a nine hectare site.
Aquaculture licences occupy 23 hectares of the harbour — nine hectares for mussels and 14 hectares for oysters — a total of 16% of the harbour area.
The West Cork-based FIE objection points out that if this application is granted, aquaculture will occupy 22% of the harbour when the Government itself limited aquaculture to 15% of Castlemaine Harbour when granting applications there earlier this year.
The group said it has been contacted by local residents who are concerned that their traditional use of the harbour, from picking winkles to swimming, sailing, and kayaking, would be curtailed by the proposal.
A number of residents have also objected and a petition has been submitted.
“What we didn’t realise until we examined the application was that there are existing grants for more oyster trestles directly adjacent to the current application on both sides,” Tony Lowes of the group said.
“Taken together, the trestles would form a necklace across the top of the bay, strangling any other use.”
He also criticised the fact that no public notice is required by people seeking acquaculture licences, and the applications are not available to view online, unlike planning applications.
“If the minister grants these licences, tourists are not going to stop and take pictures; the bay will become too hazardous for water sports — and everyone’s incomes will go down,” the objection says.
“Far more will be lost to the area than will be gained by any employment. It’s the jobs argument turned on its head.”
They also point to the Bantry Bay Charter which requires, at a minimum, a public meeting at which the proposal could be presented and the views of all parties considered. “This has not happened and most residents are not even aware of the previously granted inactive licences,” the group said.
Environmentalists successfully appealed a development of holiday homes along the bay in 2004.