Letter to Irish Times – Impact of salmon farms, 24 January 2013. The Anglers viewpoint.

Impact of salmon farm plans

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sir, – As one of Ireland’s most senior anglers and angling writers, I have just heard, with great dismay, of plans to promote the world’s largest salmon farm in Galway Bay – a decision which has astounded the whole of the angling community worldwide!

For years, salmon farms have been the cause of deep resentment not only for the damage caused to our native fish, but also to the damage caused to the environment. The sea-trout population in all areas of salmon farming has been almost totally wiped out by the onslaught of sea-lice from the caged salmon. Constant spraying of chemicals into the cages does not solve this problem, instead it may well lead to a build-up in the fish.

I personally recall the sight of young sea-trout, smolts, on their seasonal way from fresh water to the sea, and then making a hurried return to fresh water covered with sea-lice! One such fish, at my feet, in the River Eske, Co Donegal, kept turning over and over in the current, being eaten alive by dozens of the vermin! I lifted the poor creature from the river and it died in my grasp – a victim of man’s stupidity and greed! A large area of the Donegal coastline has been destroyed by the Red Sea Algae Bloom, fed by the nutrients falling below the fish cages – a toxic mixture of waste food and faeces. Large deposits of this waste from each single cage pollutes the sea and the shore. The sea was red for almost a half mile out, and a stone lifted from the beach found all life dead – even including the crabs!

Look down on the rows of cages in Killary Harbour, Connemara and then ask Peter Mantle, the former owner of the Delphi Lodge Fishery, how these cages affected the passage of sea-trout and salmon on their journey from the sea. The legendary sea-trout fishing was totally wiped out by sea-lice and the effect on the native salmon caused a multitude of deaths. It took very hard work on his part, by building a salmon hatchery, that he managed to maintain any fishing at all. Without the hatchery, the fishery would have been doomed.

The once-famous salmon fisheries in Connemara are now shadows of their former selves and just about holding the clients who expect a special fishing holiday.

The proposed Galway Bay Farm will destroy not only the Galway River with its run of salmon, it will destroy all tourist fishing in the west, with the resultant closure of hotels and bed and breakfasts with the loss of hundreds of jobs for local people.

Please, before it is too late: an urgent rethink and turn- around is needed. – Yours, etc,


Malone Heights, Belfast.


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