7,000 homes in the Beara Peninsula have been targeted by Save Bantry Bay, a voluntary group campaigning to prevent the expansion of Marine Harvest’s fish farms in the Bay.
In a leaflet distributed by An Post, the group details problems of pollution through the poor circulation of water in the bay. It claims that the waste equivalent from the fish is equivalent to the waste from the sewage of a town ten times the size of Bantry.
Local resident ‘Breda’ is quoted as saying that it is ‘unbelievable that you can have what is essentially a floating battery farm and the government will allow the waste to be dumped straight into the water. A farmer would never be allowed to do this on land.’
The campaign also links the increased nutrients to algae blooms that have caused severe loses in the shellfish industry in recent years. Bantry, Dunmanus, and other bays along the west coast are currently closed.
Local fisherman ‘Kieran’ is quoted in the leaflet as pointing out that his family has fished around Shot Head, the location of the proposed new farm, for three generations and that the project threatens local fishermen’s viability through the loss of trawling grounds to a non-Irish corporation.
The group says that research shows that wild salmon populations typically plummet to half their previous levels when salmon farms operate nearby. It also quotes ‘Chloe’, who regularly visits Adrigole, as saying that if ‘fish farming goes on like this an alternative holiday spot will be more attractive’.
The publication points out that the answer lies in contained fish farms, the first of which has now been proposed for Bantry. All the outputs can be controlledand filtered.
The group is urging residents to lobby their TD, Senators, or Minister Simon Coveney,to ‘read more, talk to others, and to get involved’.