The Issue

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.



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Official Responses


at the Oireachtas

Michael Collins, Independent T.D. Speaking at the Oireachtas today. This clip is about 13 mins long. Damien English TD | Fine Gael | Meath West | Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Responds.

Email Reponse

From: "foreshore" <>
Date: 9 May 2017 02:48
Subject: Kelp harvesting in beautiful Bantry Bay

I have been asked by Mr Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government to refer further to your recent e-mail concerning a foreshore licence granted to harvest seaweed in Bantry Bay.


The Minister is aware that the Foreshore Licence granted to Bio Atlantis in March 2014 to mechanically harvest kelp seaweed in Bantry Bay was the subject of a recent episode of Eco-Eye, RTE’s environmental issues programme.  Neither this Department nor Bio Atlantis were asked to provide any input into the programme prior to its broadcast and we are concerned that the production did not accurately reflect all of the facts in this case, particularly the extent of the area to be harvested annually or the provisions regarding sustainability which were inserted into the licence granted.  


The licence allows Bio Atlantis to harvest specific quantities of specific species of kelp seaweed on a rotational basis in Bantry Bay. The licenced area is split into five distinct harvesting zones and not all of the seaweed in the bay will be harvested. The total area licenced is 750 hectares (roughly 1,850 acres). The licence provides for a four year rotation of zones with a stand by zone only to be harvested if weather is adverse (99 hectares/240 acres). On average, some 175 hectares/432 acres will be subject to harvest annually.


The rotational harvesting plan ensures that only a portion of the bay is harvested each year.  To strengthen the sustainability of the harvesting plan for the licenced area within the bay, the harvesting is also subject to a strict monitoring programme and requires approval of a baseline study prior to commencement of operations. All costs associated with the baseline study which was carried out in September 2016 and costs associated with the monitoring programme were or will be fully borne by the licensee. 


The monitoring programme includes comparisons between harvested and non-harvested areas in each zone for density and height of kelp together with quantitative measurements of flora and fauna prior to commencement of harvesting (2016) and in years 3 (2019) and 5 (2021) for 15 areas within each zone.


The application and supporting documentation together with the submissions received from prescribed bodies and the applicant’s response can be found at


Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The EIA Directive applies to a wide range of public and private projects. It is a mandatory requirement for project types listed in Annex I of the Directive, e.g., the construction of motorways and airports or the construction of installations for the disposal of hazardous waste.  For project types listed in Annex II, it is up to the consenting authority to determine if an EIS is required by carrying out EIA screening based on criteria set out in the Directive.  Examples of Annex II projects include intensive fish farming, reclamation of land from the sea, extractive mining, fossil fuel storage or metal processing.  An EIA may also be required where the thresholds set out in the Directive are not met (sub-threshold EIA) or where the project or activity is proposed to be carried out in a Natura 2000 site. 


If the consenting authority determines that the EIA Directive applies to a project it requires that an applicant must prepare and submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), following which, the consent authority would carry out EIA. In this case, the proposed project is not within a Natura 2000 site, it is not of a class set out in Annex I of the Directive nor does it fall into Annex II therefore an EIS is not required.


Public and prescribed body consultation

The Minister has asked me to explain that normal public consultation procedures were followed in this case. The application was advertised in the Southern Star and was available for inspection at a local Garda Station for a period of 21 days. No submissions were received from members of the public.


In line with usual procedures, the application was also circulated to various bodies for their views and input.  Submissions were received from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the then Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Marine Survey Office, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, the Central Fisheries Board and the Marine Institute. The Marine Licence Vetting Committee considered all material pertaining to the application and concluded that subject to compliance with specific conditions the proposed harvesting was not likely to have a significant negative impact on the marine environment.


Determination of the application

The approval in principle on the application was made by the Minister in 2011 with final determination of the application in 2014 when the necessary legal documents were finalised. The Minister at the time, took into consideration the potentially valuable scientific information that would be provided through the monitoring programme; that this data could feed into policy development in the areas of sustainable harvesting of seaweed and the sustainable development of the seaweed industry.


The Minister also considered the fact that there were no objections from members of the public; that the Marine Licence Vetting Committee had recommended that harvesting trials be carried out and that as an essential part of those trials a monitoring programme be put in place. The Minister determined that to grant a licence would not be contrary to the public interest. The licence which commenced on 1 January 2014 will last for 10 years.



Yours sincerely,

Danny O’Brien

Marine Planning – Foreshore Unit

Dept of Housing, Planning, Community &

Local Government

Newtown Road


053 9117366

We need to think before we act

And we need to act before it's too late

"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

Public consultation and advertising required

NO mention of 'MECHANICAL HARVEST'  ¦  NO mention of 'NATIVE KELP FOREST'  ¦  NO mention of '1860 ACRES OF BANTRY BAY'

Dept of Housing stated that a notice was placed in a national newspaper - no record can be found by the Dept. of the advertisement published


  1. No public meetings  
  2. No consultation with Bantry Bay Coastal Zone Charter Groups (formal framework for public consultation for developments in Bantry Bay).


  1. No information on development given to Cork County Council
  2. Notice placed in Bantry Bay Garda Station for 21 days - no access to copy of record on Dept. of Housing website


  1.  Advertisement placed by BioAtlantis in Southern Star Newspaper on 12th December 2009 states 'Occupy an area of foreshore for the purpose of harvesting specific seaweed at Bantry Bay'