Save Bantry Bay Chairman responds to Marine Harvest

Farmed salmon in cageDear Editor,
Yet again the fish farming industry seem to have misinterpreted data presented by anti-fish farming campaigners. In his letter dated 20 October 2012, Jan Feenstra, MD Marine Harvest, makes the accusation that you cannot compare waste entering waters from fish farms to sewage stating such accusations are ‘ludicrous’. The only thing that is ludicrous is that the pro-fish farming lobby seems totally unable to understand this basic argument. Both fish farms and sewage outlets allow nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen to enter the sea where they enrich waters putting them at risk of devastating algal blooms. To make a comparison between the quantities that each source releases is obvious.

Land based farming is simply not allowed to release nutrient rich waste directly into water courses. Instead, government regulations ensure it is managed properly to prevent eutrophication (nutrient
enrichment) .

The same applies to any treatments used. When Jan Feenstra states that ‘administration of antibiotics is done only under close supervision of certified veterinarians and complies with all government regulations – the same as it does in cattle, pork and poultry production’, he does not mention that this practice results in antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are now being found in our oceans. Nor does he mention medicated feed and other treatments. What isn’t consumed by the fish enters the sea for wild species to consume, as does the fish waste. Fish and other marine species are known to gather around salmon cages to feed. These now contaminated species are then caught by local fishermen for human consumption. Here lies the fundamental difference between land and sea based farming.

Jan Feenstra goes on to state that the proposed fish farm at Shot Head in Bantry Bay would create eight full-time jobs. Not according to his own companies Environmental Impact Statement. In fact it would only create two long-term full time jobs. Maybe he hasn’t read this key document on which any decision to grant a licence would be based.

As for Marine Harvest claiming that ‘inshore fishermen around the coast pot around the moorings of our fish farms’, this is completely contradictory to what local fishermen are telling us. Risking valuable potting equipment becoming entangled in such moorings makes no sense what so ever.

Jan Feenstra calls for ‘responsibility to report accurately and check their facts’. And, so do we.

Yours sincerely,

Kieran O’Shea
Chair, Save Bantry Bay
Trafrask East
Co. Cork

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