Dáil Éireann - Volume 451 - 04 April, 1995

Written Answers. - County Wexford Nature Reserve.

171. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for the Marine, in view of the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 64 of 28 March 1995, from Deputy H. Byrne, if his Department was consulted prior to Ballytergue Burrow at Duncormick in [1047] County Wexford being established as a national nature reserve in 1987; if his attention has been drawn to Bord Iascaigh Mhara's favourable attitude to oyster cultivation in the area; if Bord Iascaigh Mhara's opinions on the matter were formed and available in 1987; the representations if any, his Department made to the Office of Public Works or the National Parks and Wildlife Service to accommodate aquaculture in the area; if a licence for aquaculture was issued in the area; if his Department will assist the developer in finding an alternative location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6896/95]

Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): I confirm that there was consultation prior to the establishment of Ballyteigue Burrow as a National Nature Reserve in 1987 with the various Departments having relevant responsibilities at that time.

The then Department of Tourism, Fisheries and Forestry was responsible for aquaculture licensing and for nature reserves. It consulted the then Department of Communications which had responsibility for the State foreshore, which had no objection to the proposed national nature reserve designation for an area which comprised State owned lands.

The Department of the Marine which was established in March 1987 was consulted in April 1987 by the Department of Energy which had acquired responsibility for conservation and wildlife, on the inclusion of an additional area comprising State foreshore in the proposed nature reserve. In response, the Department of the Marine confirmed that it had no objections to the proposal.

I am aware that from the 1970s BIM has been engaged in assessing areas of possible potential for aquacultural development around the coast including the south east.

The first application for licensing of oyster growing development in the area was lodged with the Department of the Marine in October 1992.

[1048] As I advised on 7 February last in a previous reply, the Department requested the National Parks and Wildlife Service on 9 November 1994 to reconsider urgently the extent, if any, to which aquaculture could be accommodated within the conservation area. The National Parks and Wildlife Service formally advised the Department on 9 December 1994 that any aquaculture development would have an adverse impact on the nature reserve from a wildlife conservation viewpoint and that, consequently, development could not be facilitated within this area.

No licences for aquaculture have been granted for the area in question. Department officials recently met oyster growers in the area, at their request, to review the situation. I am advised that the developers will be discussing the matter directly with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in an effort to secure its agreement to their continued operation at existing locations within the nature reserve. The Department will keep in touch with both sides on developments and is ready to assist as required.

I can confirm that the technical services of both the Department and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara will be available to the developers in identifying alternative locations.