Environmental groups unite to fight against plans for fish farm expansion

Smoked Salmon

Boycott Smoked Salmon for Christmas

Environmental groups, angling organisations and touristy industry representatives are planning to launch a national campaign to oppose the expansion of fish farms.
The groups have claimed that the planned construction and expansion of such farms along the west coast would be damaging to the environment and to local tourism.
The campaign was proposed at a meeting last Friday organised by Save Bantry Bay.
This group was set up to oppose the expansion of Norwegian fish farming company Marine Harvest’s operation at Shot Head.
The meeting was also attended by opponents of Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) application to establish the largest fish farm in Europe in Galway Bay.
Tony Lowes, from Friends of the Irish Environment, said that BIM was in the almost unique position of being a Government-run agency applying to the Government for a license.
The groups have claimed that large fish farms damage indigenous populations through the expansion of sea lice – which kill 39% of the wild salmon.
They also claimed that expansive fish farms generate a large amount of waste, which encourages dangerous algae blooms.
The groups plan to protest at Agriculture and Marine Minister Simon Coveney’s office next month.
They will call on consumers to boycott Irish smoked salmon in the run-up to Christmas in protest.
Mr. Lowes told the Irish Independent that the planned fish farm expansion would deplete natural salmon stocks, which would damage tourism in the area.
“There are a lot of wealthy people who like to fish on the best salmon fishing rivers in the world”, he said.
Each salmon that is caught by a tourist is worth more than €400 to the local economy, he added.
A statement from the Department of Agriculture confirmed that BIM had submitted an application for an aquaculture license for cultivation of fish near Inis Oirr.
“It would not be appropriate for the department to comment further on an application which is under active consideration as part of a statutory process’, it said.
Luke Byrne
Irish Independent
26 November, 2012

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