A Tralee business says it has always harvested seaweed in a sustainable and proper manner.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage says it’s examining a report of alleged unlicensed seaweed harvesting in the Kenmare River.
It adds that it will undertake a site investigation.
Friends of the Irish Environment made a complaint to the department over commercial seaweed harvesting being carried out by Tralee biotech firm, BioAtlantis.
The environmental charity said it received requests from residents to try and stop harvesting that had been going on near Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula and about the extent of the harvesting.
Friends of the Irish Environment says seaweed is necessary for marine life as it reduces light and heat stress and is critical for protecting biodiversity.
Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment says this is a special area of conservation as well as a marine protected.
A spokesperson for BioAtlantis says the company has always harvested seaweed in a sustainable and proper manner; and says the marine plant has been harvested in the area sustainably for hundreds of years.
BioAtlantis says it harvests the seaweed to help create a compound which reduces stress in crops’ response to climate change.
The company says it’s creating products to meet the climate crisis challenge.
It says last June it applied to the department for a licence to hand-harvest seaweed in Kenmare Bay.
The department says seaweed harvesting applications are complex and must take into account existing rights of some individuals to carry out this activity in certain areas, as well as the lack of significant scientific and environmental impact data on the natural resource.
The department says it will undertake a site investigation in Ballycrovane Harbour and pier within the Kenmare River special area of conservation.
It says should illegal activity be found, the matter may be pursued under the 1933 Foreshore Act and a notice prohibiting the removal of beach material including seaweed from the foreshore may be served.