A licence to Industrially Extract 1860 acres of Native Kelp in Bantry Bay has been issued to BioAtlantis, Tralee.
NO Public Consultation took place. This licence was NOT Advertised Adequately. This licence has been issued with NO requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment [E.I.A.]
This is the largest industrial scale native Kelp Extraction Licence ever issued in Irish or British waters.
Bantry Bay is an area of outstanding beauty that is home to many Harbour Seal colonies, White Tailed Eagles, Otters, Choughs, Dolphins to name but a few species. Humpback Whales, Basking Sharks etc all come to feed in the rich marine waters of the bay annually.
Tourism is the main industry of this area as Bantry is located on the Wild Atlantic Way.
To allow this harvest of native kelp to go ahead, would be catastrophic for the ecology of the bay and may result in the whole balance of Bantry Bay being disturbed and irreparably damaged.
The licenced area is so large, it is like giving approval for the clear felling of the entire Phoenix Park, without local knowledge, consultation and agreement.
We say ‘NO’ to industrially harvesting our native kelp forest.
We want Minister Damien English, Department of Housing, Planning, Local Government and Community to immediately rescind the licence to mechanically harvest 1860 acres of native kelp in Bantry Bay and also to fully investigate how this license was issued with No requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment (E.I.A.), No public consultation, and wholly inadequate advertising.
We've had representatives of the Campaign at the following gatherings:
Seas At Risk Ocean Action Conference, Brussels, Belgium –Feb 05, 2020
SWAN Marine Workshop, Dublin –Sept 10, 2019
'Bigger and Better Marine Protected Area' Conference, Dublin –Sept 02-03, 2019
Bantry Agricultural Show, Bantry –Sept 01, 2019 (and Sept 02, 2018)
'Our Ocean Wealth' Summit, Cork –June 17, 2019
Western Seaweed Gathering, Carna –April 27, 2019
Law and the Environment Conference, Cork –April 11, 2019
Why are we here?
We’re here because eight years ago an Irish company applied for a licence to mechanically harvest kelp in Bantry Bay.
And, already, that’s where it gets complicated. Because what is kelp? Kelp is a generic name for a whole group of different seaweeds that grow in the Bay. And what is seaweed? Seaweed is a generic name for just about any large plant that’s growing in the sea.
What we’re really talking about is Laminaria Digitata and Laminaria Hyperborea: two particular kinds of seaweed, growing in our Bay, that just so happen to contain two chemical compounds – just two – that can be extracted from these plants and utilised to … massively improve digestion in pigs (and in other animals, too).
That, in a nutshell, is what it’s all about.
So this Irish company, BioAtlantis, proposes to run a mechanical harvester through our Bay that will – so it is claimed – suck up the seaweed off the rocks and then cut it, so they can then cart off the cut seaweed to be processed, so as to extract these two chemical compounds and create a new product that will … massively improve the digestion of pigs.
To be fair: give them credit for their innovation. The seaweed off our coasts is a massive resource, that we should be exploiting: seaweed is full of beneficial nutrients that can be made use of in so many ways. BioAtlantis is dead right to be exploring all the varied ways we may make use of it.
What concerns us is the way they propose to cut it.
This is an experimental procedure. To the best of our knowledge, this proposed machine has never actually been tested, in any way, before this point. The impact, and potential consequences, of such cutting are … unknown. We will find out, under the current proposals, after three years, and after five years, what those consequences will be … but, right now, no-one can say with certainty what those consequences will be.
We can give you educated guesses. The Irish company guesses everything will turn out fine. We guess it could turn out to be a disaster. Nobody knows for sure.
And nobody’s been required to find out.
That’s the real problem. That’s the essential problem here.
We have a government who’ve signed off on this without knowing what the consequences will be.
We have a government who’ve refused to listen to all our cries of concerns, and just responded with ‘ah, yerra, twill all be alright, y’know, y’know, y’know’
And every time we’ve gone to them:
‘But what about this?’ ‘’Twill all be alright’
‘But what about this?’ ‘’Twill all be alright’
‘But what about this?’ ‘’Twill all be alight’
And I mean this quite literally. Four weeks ago, we were sitting in Leinster House. Every time we’ve gone to them. Did they listen? No. They did not.
So that’s our fundamental problem here. A government that does not care about going about things the right way.
It’s clearly obvious that we have a government that is not doing many things well.
This is just one more example of something they’re doing … poorly.
They have refused to consult with … us, the People. The people who actually live here. They have refused to even consider the potential consequences of this mechanical harvesting.
You take out the kelp – and what happens?
No-one knows. Because no-ones been required to investigate it.
There are mountains of evidence that the mechanical removal of kelp is, potentially, extremely dangerous. It’s an intrinsic part of the ecosystem that nourishes so many species, from seahorses to seals, and guarantees the health of our Bay.
No one knows what the consequences of running this experimental harvesting system right into the middle of it will be.
And that’s where we stand. We deserve better than this. We deserve to have been fully informed in the first place. We deserve to be fully informed, now, as to what the consequences of this operation are likely to be. We deserve to know what’s likely to happen to our Bay if this mechanical harvesting goes ahead.
The government doesn’t know. The government couldn’t be bothered to find out.
The government is wrong.
We have serious concerns about what stripping the seaweed off the rocks of our Bay will do. To every animal that lives in our Bay: from the seahorse, to the shrimp, to the scallop.
And to every fisherman that depends on the shrimp – and the scallop – and the kelp – in our Bay.
And – whether you fish in the Bay – whether you swim in the Bay – we let those kelp forests be cut down: and what’s to stop every single wave pounding all the harder on every single shore of this Bay?
And here’s the thing that really aggravates me. Shouldn’t we at least try to attempt to establish what the consequences of these actions might be?
No, says our government.
We don’t need to do that.
Here’s your licence. Cut the kelp in Bantry Bay.
Sure, ‘twill be alright. And, if it isn’t, then we’ll know what the consequences will be.
And, in the end, that’s why we’re here. To say: no. There is a better way of doing things.
And we. want it. done. right
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"I can only compare these great aquatic forests of the southern hemisphere with the terrestrial ones in the inter-tropical regions. Yet if in any country a forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so many species of animals would perish as would here, from the destruction of the kelp
Amidst the leaves of this plant numerous species of fish live, which nowhere else could find food or shelter; with their destruction the many cormorants and other fishing birds, the otters, seals, and porpoises, would soon perish"
~ Charles Darwin