Welcome to the Save Bantry Bay Website where you can get information about the reality of salmon fish farms – read the latest fishy news, learn about the impacts, watch some videos and find out the facts.
Who We Are.
Save Bantry Bay is a group of local residents who object to Marine Harvest’s proposed Salmon Farm at Shot Head in Bantry Bay.
What is salmon farming?
Salmon farming (salmon aquaculture) is the industrial production of salmon. In Ireland this is done in net cages, in bays and sheltered areas around the coast. There are already two salmon farms in Bantry Bay – at Roancarrig and Gearahies.
Bantry Bay hosts Ireland’s greatest concentration of rope-mussel culture, other aquaculture operations and a significant fishing fleet. Bantry Bay is also home to heavier industries, including an oil terminal and a major stone quarry. Now another salmon farm is proposed by Marine Harvest. Many local residents think enough is enough and want to preserve this unspoilt stretch of coastline.
Open net cage aquaculture is a floating battery salmon farm. All the waste, including medicines and chemicals, are released untreated straight into Bantry Bay. Chemicals used to treat the fish damage wild species in the marine ecosystem. A farmer would never be allowed to do this on land. The proposed salmon farm will release nutrients equivalent to sewage from a town ten times the size of Bantry. Shellfish areas are often closed for harvest due to toxic plankton blooms which cause shellfish poisoning. Encouraging more plankton growth by adding nutrients to the Bay could make the situation worse. Human health could be endangered.
Wild salmon – a species at risk
The proposed fish farm is much further inland than existing farms and is close to five salmon rivers. Diseases and sea lice get passed from the farmed to the wild salmon, and escaped farmed salmon breed with wild salmon weakening them genetically. The proposed salmon farm will put wild salmon populations at risk.
Bantry Bay already has its fair share of industrial developments. If more salmon farms are developed, local fishermen will lose more ground and may no longer be viable. Losing such businesses after generations has implications for local jobs, traditions and culture.
Beara is a popular tourist destination for those seeking to ‘get away from it all’. Its remote, beautiful landscapes, wild life, and angling attract visitors from all over the world. Seals are a particular attraction – salmon farms require seal control including culling. Research shows that wild salmon populations can fall to half their previous levels when salmon farms operate nearby. Each wild salmon caught brings at least €400 to the local community. The proposed salmon farm is in direct conflict with the well established tourist industry.
But salmon farms create jobs….
Two jobs in this case. Is this worth risking the income of existing local businesses? If you think not, why not write to your councillor, TD, Senator or even Simon Coveney, Minister of Agriculture Food and the Marine who will decide whether or not this fish farm should proceed.
What’s the answer?
‘Closed containment’ systems grow fish in land based tanks, and have been used for decades. All waste is collected and treated. No wild salmon or sea trout are put at risk. This is the future of fish farming, now is the time to look ahead. Ireland could become a world leader in sustainably produced salmon. No longer does farmed salmon need to come at the cost of our environment.