your heritage and your livelihood are at stake

save bantry bayA letter from John Brendan O’Keeffe, Adrigole

Dear People.

As you know Marine Harvest has announced development of Salmon Farm by Shot Head. Your heritage and your livelihood are at stake. God knows a lot has been taken already. So much for good Governance and Guardianship.

The biggest problem is sewage. Average size Salmon Farm [SF] generates sewage equivalent to 10-20,000 people.

  • nitrogen
  • phosphates
  • bacteria
  • antibiotics
  • antifungals
  • red dye
  • lead
  • copper fowling
  • mercury
  • PCBs,

in levels higher than could be possible from land in the area. The tax payer will be left with the cost of the destruction, just another “Bail-out” for big business. This sewage will contaminate the lobster, crab and scallop, which are plentiful at Shot Head. Equal amounts of these contaminants are found in fish within 150 meters and decreasing amounts thereafter.

Local fishing boats have an average of three crew aboard each fishing boat. Who will compensate these fishermen when their catch is contaminated, or wiped out? Such wipe-outs caused by fish farms are familiar to fishermen all around the Irish coast, Scotland, Chile, British Columbia and the eastern Canadian shore. They are also familiar to Irish Ag and Marine Dept and BIM who regulate and monitor these projects. Environmental Study on this farm was done by Watermark and Neil Bass for Marine Harvest, a major Conflict of Interest. Google “Nitrates and Nonsense watermark Bass” a cartoon in the power point displays a cavalier attitude to the environment.

Next would be the distortion of the nutrition value of the Salmon as compared with Wild Salmon. Fat and Omega-3 are distorted in Farmed Salmon. Reversing the ratio of the Omega-3 to Omega-6 negates the food value of fish. Prof Chilton has done years of research with NIH grants in his lab at Wake Forrest on this issue. If you don’t have time to read his book “Inflammation Nation” he says the decrease of Omega-3, the increase of Omega-6 and  Arachidonic Acid [AA] which he found in farmed salmon, indicated that it would be unethical to test farmed salmon in humans. The production of cytokines, reduction of Omega-3, increased Omega-6, he goes on to say, increases the risk of Arthritis, Heart Disease, Strokes and Cancer. He shows that other farmed fish such as rainbow trout have a healthy increase in these medicinal compounds. “Global assessment of organic contaminants in farmed salmon” Science 2004 PubMed, Scientists tested 2 metric tons of farmed and wild salmon and stated “Risk analysis indicates that consumption of farmed Atlantic salmon may pose health risks that detract from the beneficial effects of fish consumption. If you Google “The Salmon Paradox you’ll note I assumed Joan’s dinner was farmed salmon, not wild” you will understand this paradox.

Promoting farmed salmon, as a source of omega-3 to expectant mothers, or as a good source of omega-3 [DHA-EPA] would be criminal. Mothers to be can more reliably obtain this essential nutrient from responsibly purified fish oil found in the Health Food stores. Lack of this essential fatty acid can cause premature births, mental retardation and is now being investigated in the pathophysiology of Autism. The much touted [by Fish Industry] European Nutrition Study used the purified form of omega-3 in their studies.

Further health issues arise in regards to fish feed. As it takes 3-4 lbs of wild fish feed to produce 1 lb of FS. The FS industry is looking for a more economical feed. Corn and soya are being used in some areas and may be produced in countries that allow Genetically Modified [GM] seed. Only the bravest of Scientists have published what they know about GM food [Search on Roundup and GMO] and they have coined the word “Frankenfood”. I will not address the new GM salmon which they want to farm. It grows to 30+ lbs in 12 months. They still have some work to do to prevent it from reproducing in the event of an escape. The US Congress had hearings on this issue. It had a lot of support. “Escapes” of FS are aggressive and attack wild salmon and other large fish. The Bald Eagle and other birds get killed diving into the open pens. Seals get trapped and die or are shot.

Continuing on about the health aspects of other additives to the feed. FS have a grey colored flesh until a Red Dye is added to the feed. This dye causes crystals in the eyes of humans. Crystals are reversible if the Dye is removed before it causes blindness.  Antibiotics, Tetracycline, Ciprofloxin, Antifungals used regularly with FS linger in the fish flesh. This is considered one of the sources MRSA i.e. bacterial resistance caused by antibiotics in the food chain.

Native fish in the area can be diminished or totally wiped out. Sea Lice from SFs can kill up to 90% of Smolt migration out to sea, so no traditional return of the famed egg-laden salmon. Young salmon scale is not developed enough to protect the Smolt from the lice. The lice eat the Smolt’s skin off and it bleeds to death. Interestingly Marine Harvest’s web site says its salmon does not spread sea lice because the original eggs, seed or Smolt did not have lice when introduced to the farms? Norwegian studies have shown 12 miles to be the minimal ideal distance between salmon farms to prevent viral and lice spread. Their own studies are now recommending more than 20 mls. Cuan Baoi salmon farm is 4 miles or less and Roancarraig salmon farm is 6 mls approx from Marine Harvest proposed site.

Mussel farms in this area will be exposed to toxins produced by bacteria from SFs. Toxins not destroyed by cooking can be lethal to humans. Fish that swim near mussel farms are not harmed in any way. Fish that swim by SFs ingest the feed containing chemicals, parasites and dye. A local fisherman told me they have caught mackerel near a SF that had red dye in its meat. Harmful Bloom can develop from the high nitrates and phosphates released from SF’s which in turn cuts off the oxygen supply and results in fish kills. Infective Salmon Anemia (ISA) wiped out Chilean SFs. ISA virus has been compared to Swine Flu H5N1 and Avian Flu. ISA virus could mutate and be transmitted to humans.

Environmentally, Shot Head is a Special Area of Conservation [SAC].  Shot Head maybe the only place in Bantry Bay that you find the rare Black Pollock, steeped in local folklore it can only be caught in December. I have met line fishermen from the Continent who spend weeks in local guest houses to fish specifically in that area. Jerry Murphy a “Grand Old Man of the Sea” rowed to this area from Glengarriff – 8 miles – to fish for scallop. He put his children through top class educational facilities and on to prestigious professions with that bounty. The family now have thriving business in Glengarriff. Presently there are fishing boats potting in Shot Head Area. Each boat has two to three people on board indicating good employment. We cannot jeopardize the fishermen’s heritage with minimum wage jobs.

Boats heading back in high winds to Adrigole, Castletownbere and Bere Island tack closer to Shot Head to avoid the open sea and when they reach Adrigole harbor they then have shelter from Bere Island to get around the next head. Yachts in high winds will have difficulty avoiding these acres of nets. Fish pens strung across this area could result in human tragedy. Large ships anchor in that specific area to wait for suitable weather to be guided to Whiddy and inner Bantry Bay. These ships slip their anchors and shift location in high winds. Are the Harbor Master, Life Boat and the Whiddy Island Oil Terminal politically independent and secure to afford comment on this danger?

In regards to much needed employment in the area we can look at wages, working conditions and experience from other areas where Marine Harvest set up SFs. Chile, British Columbia, Vancouver, Nova Scotia, other parts of Canada and Norway. Accidents, deaths, safety violations, fines, workers rights and fair pay violations abound. Chilean SF workers got $200-300 a month in wages. The Canadian Parliament is about to legislate laws to Govern SFs.  Five 8hr days a week, holidays, workman’s injury law and medical Insurance coverage, to prevent this “race to the bottom”.

We do not think the Irish Government has the time or the money to police this open pen farming. The area in question can be 30-70 meters deep, making the sea bed difficult to monitor. Closed farms are now in operation in Canada and China and proving economical and totally environmentally friendly farms. The vacated Fleming-Tarmac quarry in Adrigole is a possible site for such, a 4-6 acre lake where a mountain once existed. Take the “discards” from the Trawlers in Castletownbere and filter extract omega-3, natural vitamin D3, and Astaxanthin locally. The quality is determined by the freshness of the fish. The state of the art in this multi billion euro business is not to ship it in tanks but in a UV protected bottle. See standards for purified fish oil.

Jobs ! Jobs ! Jobs! Let’s equate in the jobs lost in Tourism when the environment is harmed or obstructed. Jobs lost in the local fishing industry. Jobs lost when visitors no longer come to line fish. Jobs lost when visitors find out the truth about the ingredients and health risks of the “Organic” salmon we are serving in our gourmet restaurants. There are four houses looking right over this proposed site. The Murphy, Cody, O’Sullivan and Crowley families have renovated these homes. Sometimes they are occupied by family, sometimes by guests. I have met people from Great Britain, the Continent and US who had come to stay in those houses. The EIS referred to this area as deserted. If this salmon farm goes ahead these families will be cheated. Their sense of place corrupted.

Dyed…Dosed…Doused and Domiciled. Dyed with synthetic coloring agent presently made from petroleum, otherwise farmed salmon would be pasty white.  Dosed with antibiotics, antifungal chemicals and vaccinated when necessary against ISA. Doused frequently with anti parasitics, to delouse (fleas). Domiciled in cages, non-free range. Despite all this it is labeled Organic and carries the Irish Green Logo, as a guarantee of Excellence. All somewhat contrary to Irish Standards for the Organic Label?

The greatest economic loss to the peninsula is the Wild Salmon that in our life time teamed through its estuaries and rivers. Wild Salmon has 600 IUs of Vit D3 per 6 ozs, 60 IUs in farmed salmon. Wild salmon has five times the amount of omega-3 compared to farmed salmon and 80% less of harmful omega-6 than farmed. The natural Astaxanthin propels the salmon against currents and over high rapids, this is replaced with synthetic dye, cantrazanthin, synthetic astazanthin etc., put in farmed salmon feed. Google these three compounds with athletic performance, muscle spindles, fracture reduction, cancer prevention, Alzheimers, strokes and heart attacks. The new feeding formulas have not corrected this problem due to the unique metabolism of the salmon. Repeating a mistake and expecting a different result does not make scientific sense.

Submitted to John A Kelly,
Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board

Aqua Culture and Farming
Kilminchy Portlaois

Sea Food Center
Co Laois

Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Marine
Clonakilty, Co Cork

Yours respectfully
John Brendan O’Keeffe

Note. Scientific support, Internet Links, Peer Reviewed articles and web-sites are available on request from this address or email in pdf form.

2 thoughts on “your heritage and your livelihood are at stake

  1. I would just like to add that while tourists can pick and choose where they holiday that those of us who live here all year round and bring our children to swim and play at the strand in Trafrack would lose that amenity. Who would want to swim in poluted waters!! The Irish Water Safety Association use this strand in the summer time to give swimming lessons to the children and teenagers of the area both local and visitors alike. This is a valuable amenity to us here when the weather allows as the nearest indoor swimming pool is a 20 mile drive away.

  2. John F. Cunningham (via email):

    As an Engineer and Scientist, John Brendan O’Keeffe’s article makes sense and seems to be well researched. As a Corkman, I would appeal to people not to destroy a beautiful natural asset for the sake of short sighted commercial gain.

    John F. Cunningham,

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