An Irish expert group, the Independent Aquaculture Licensing Review Group (IALRG), has handed over the report Review of the Aquaculture Licensing Process to Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The report concludes that substantial and speedy reform of the application processes in the licensing regime is required, as it can currently take up to ten years to put a new licence in place.
“Reform must be comprehensive and focus on both the immediate actions that can yield results in the short term, as well as initiatives that will bear fruit in the longer term,” the IALRG maintains.
The IALRG also argues that to improve efficiency it is imperative that applications are assigned to individual officials, with technical and scientific expertise, who can oversee the whole process.
The group recommends that existing licences are renewed for new terms, and new licences are approved for operation for 20 years, double the existing concession period.
Richie Flynn, who is head of the farmers' association in Ireland, has said he believes a concession should last forever. Read more about it here.
The IALRG also recommends establishing a separate procedure for research and development licences and regulations, with distinct requirements separate from commercial permissions.
“The deadline for the processing of research licences, as for other new licences, should be six months,” writes the group.
They believe it is important that licence conditions are monitored, and violations enforced.
The IALRG recommends a six-month deadline for applications for new licences and that this applies to all applications submitted after January 1, 2018. As of today, there is no deadline for this.
The IALRG – which looked at licensing regimes in Scotland, Norway and the Faroes as part of its review - also recommends the establishment of a pre-application process to ensure that application the is complete and contains all the material required to ensure effective treatment.
“This should be introduced as soon as possible on an administrative basis,” says the report.
It also recommends the establishment of an open, web-based aquaculture program and monitoring system, like those in other countries, to collect information in one place.
The group also recommends that the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine establishes a working group for the implementation of a strategy for new policies and laws to address feedback to the aquaculture industry, before the end of 2019.
Irish government policy proposes that the volume of aquaculture production be increased from 45,000 tonnes to 81,700 tonnes per annum by the year 2023.