Oyster beds in Ireland received statutory recognition and protection in the Fisheries (Ireland) Act 1842. Many have been held under charter by individuals or by  prescription since the 18th century.  The Fisheries Amendment Act 1980 provided for licences and made provision in relation to oyster farming.  There are  oyster bed licences, oyster fishery orders and fish culture licences.

Oyster beds have been held under charter or by grant or prescription since the 18th century.  They have received statutory recognitions in Fisheries (Ireland) Act 1842.

The 1959 Act allows for an oyster bed and oyster fisheries’ license.  These are now largely supervened by aquaculture licenses under the 1997 Act.

A mollusc over the Fisheries Act is a soft-bodied invertebrate usually with a hard shell.  Minister may grant oyster bed licenses.  These had been supervened by aquaculture licences under 1997 Legislation.

The Minister may make byelaws fixing a period throughout which it should be lawful to take molluscs of the type specified from a locality specified in the byelaw.  The Minister may make byelaws fixing a period up to three years during which it is not lawful to take or attempt to take molluscs of a type specified from the locality.

The Minister may grant to the owner of any several fisheries or the owner of the bed and soil of any estuary, a licence to farm and plant the oyster bed within the limits of such fishery or oysters’ bed above and below the lowest water mark of spring tide.

He may grant the owner or occupier of any land bordering on the sea or any estuary with a content of such occupier to any person with a licence to farm and plant an oyster bed on the shore adjacent to such land above or below the lowest water mark of spring tide.  He may grant a license to form or plant on oyster bed below the lowest water mark or spring tide.

No oyster bed licenses would be prevented to lay or plant an oyster bed in a place where the Minister is of the opinion of the public exercise a bona fide and substantial profitable fishing for oysters or within the limits of any oyster bed or fishery, the property of any private person or within the limits of any several fishery without consent in writing if the owner of such fishery.

There are provisions regarding revocation and determination of the licence.  It is an offence to injure or damage licensed oyster beds.

The 1997 aquaculture legislation revised the 1980 legislation, which had restricted the granting of oyster bed licences or new oyster fishery orders.  Existing orders and licences were preserved by the 1997 Act.  They were deemed to be applications for aquaculture licences.  Such licences already issued were deemed aquaculture licences.

Some of the older provisions in relation to oyster bed licences and legislation remain in force.  Some of the older legislation applies to new aquaculture licences as well as other licences deemed to be aquaculture licences.

The older legislation allowed for grant of oyster bed licences. The Minister was entitled to grant an oyster bed licence to the owner of a several fishery or owner of the bed and soil of an estuary.  He may grant  to the owner an occupy of land bordering on the sea or any estuary,  with the consent of such occupier a licence to form and plant an oyster bed on the shore adjacent to the land within the limits of such several fishery

An Oyster bed licences could not be granted in a place where the Minister is of the opinion that the public exercise and enjoyed bona fide a substantial profit to fish for oysters or within the limits of any oyster bed, the property of a private person or in the limits of several fishery, without the consent of the owner.

The oyster bed licence must be with reference to a map to define the position and extent of the oyster bed.  There was provision for publicity in the context of issue of a licence.  Licences applications of  unappealed or if confirmed on appealed are binding on the State and person who act at the behest of the licensee and the successors to the privilege  thereby granted.

There were older oyster bed licences under earlier Victorian legislation which may continue. The Minister may alter oyster bed licences under the older legislation so as to give effect to any agreement or undertaking  which may have been entered on behalf of the licensee subsequent to the date of the licence.

The Minister may terminate the licence if he is not satisfied that the oyster bed has been properly cultivated or if  proper steps have not been taken in relation to its cultivation.  Notice of the proposed revocation must be given and a period must pass before revocation may be confirmed.

It is an offence to injure licensed oyster beds.  A range of actions which may interfere with the bed are the subject of offences under the Fisheries Act. There are separate offences in relation to interference with older oyster bed licences.

There is provision for local byelaws  in relation to older oyster beds.  These include in particular prohibitions on oysters below

There is provision for oyster fishing licences and oyster fishing engines.  They are annual.  It is issues for each separate oyster fishing engine.  There is provision for a licence duty for  oyster fishing licences. It is an offence to take any oysters in a fishery district other than by means of an oyster fishing engine which has been duly licensed.

Licences in respect of oyster fishing engines are issued annually.  A separate licence is to be issued for each separate oyster fishing engine.

The format of the licences are specified.  It authorises the use of the oyster fishing engine in the relevant district. Licence duty is applicable to the oyster fishing licence. It is an offence to take oysters in a fishery district from an oyster fisheries other than by means of a licenced oyster fishing engine.

Close Season Oysters

There is a provision for authorisation to take oysters during a closed season  oysters.  The Minister may, for the purpose of replenishing and supplying any oyster bed, the exclusive property of any person, authorise the dredging for and taking of oysters from any natural public bed lying below the level of the lowest water of spring tides, during such part of the close season for oysters as is specified.

The Minister may, on application of a person interested in an oyster fishery, make an order permitting the taking or having possession of foreign oysters during part of the close season as the Minister thinks fit. Where an application is made, the Minister shall cause an inquiry to be held into the application and give notice of the application. A report has to be prepared by an officer and the Ministers is to take this into account in making this decision.


There is provision for an eel fishery authorisation section 100 of the Fisheries Act. The Fisheries authority may if it thinks fir, grant the occupier of   a fishing engine, fishing weir  fishing mill dam,  fixed engine,  or any person in respect of a long line, whether a fixed or otherwise an authorisation known as an eels fishery authorisation to use the same for the capture of eels.  Condition may be attached.

The authorisation maybe amended within 10 years. The authorisation maybe revoked if the person has convicted an offence or has been breached a condition. It is an offence to fail to comply with terms of the condition and any fixed engine maybe forfeited on such occasion.

There is provision for amendment and revocation of the licence.  Representations are to be considered before the final decision is made.

The Minister is entitled to authorise a person to erect a fishing engine weir, dam or fixed engine for the capture of eels in accordance with plan submitted and approved. The requirements for fishing weir gap, may  if a person is authorised, may be varied subject to conditions in the context of an eel authorisation.

There is a provision whereby the Minister make byelaws, authorising subject conditions, the  placing erection fishing, fish engines for the capture of eels in tidal waters notwithstanding other provisions in relation to the same.  Minister may grant exemptions in relation to specified fishing weirs, fishing mill dams solely in relation to the capture of eel.

Following the implementation of an EU regulation in relation to the conservation of eels all exploitation of eels ceased in 2009. Thus it is illegal to harvest eels either commercially or on a recreational basis. Given the previous value of the eel fishery many of the weirs and traps used to harvest eels attracted significant valuations.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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