In lieu of completion of the full minutes of the meeting of the Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday 18 May, the Chairman requested that the following information be released to all industry members, so as to allow for orderly planning of operations.
The first seed surveys have been conducted in NI and ROI waters, with no evidence of seed settlements found so far (BIM report will be available in the publications section). It was agreed by the Forum members that an early opening of the season would be counterproductive and would not be recommended to the ministers concerned.
Following discussion it was agreed by the members of the Forum that the arrangements set out below would be most suitable for the 2014 season and that this course of action would be recommended to the ministers concerned.
Unless a force majeure situation arises the seed fishery will not open before the 17 August and the fishery will only open at that time if evidence of a reasonably quantity of seed resources has been identified by prior survey. It is extremely important that all industry members engage in as much surveying of the Irish Sea as possible in 2014 and that they report their findings to the Department quickly if seed is found. If seed resources are not found and reported, then the fishery may not open at all in 2014. The BIM inshore survey vessel will operate as usual but its capability is limited as a consequence of its modest size and additional survey effort from the sector would be important.
Industry members will be notified of whether or not the opening will go ahead on the 17 August not later than Thursday 07 August.
As in previous years in cases where a non-Natura 2000 designated seed bed, which has been found is subject to heavy predation during the closed period, and it is clear that the seed will be lost to the industry unless fished, then the opening of such an area outside the dates agreed above could be an option as a force majeure type situation. Such an eventuality, if and when it arises, will be considered on a case-by-case basis as it arises on its individual merits.