Letter to the Irish Times, Impact of Fish Farm Plans, 4 Feb 2013: Save Bantry Bay’s view

The Irish Times – Monday, February 4, 2013

Impact of fish farm plans

Sir, – It was with interest I read Jason Whooley’s letter (January 31st). BIM repeatedly takes advantage of Ireland’s desperation for jobs when promoting industrial scale salmon farming, while dismissing any potential environmental impacts as “damaging scaremongering”.

In fact it is well established in scientific research that open cage salmon farms have a devastating effect on wild salmon (see the work of Gargan, Krkosek and Ford). It is such findings that led to a moratorium on the expansion of open net salmon farming in the National Seafood Programme 2007 – 2013. Far from these issues now being resolved, research continues to show sea lice emanating from salmon farms are destroying wild salmon populations.

Sadly, BIM continues to refuse to acknowledge this science, instead preferring to use its authority to try to blind the layman as to the very real concerns. A total disregard for the precautionary principle has been shown, and a pantomime performance of “oh yes it does, oh no it doesn’t” has begun. It is time for this to stop. EU law requires Ireland to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of any policy that may impact on the environment, yet this has not been done in regard to BIM’s proposals for mega-offshore salmon farms that would increase Ireland’s farmed salmon output by 300 per cent. Enda Kenny, Taoiseach, himself noted in the Dáil just last December that there is a need for debate.

For BIM to continue down this path, with Simon Coveney’s approval, regardless of the scientific facts and Ireland’s obligations as an EU member state could cost the nation dearly. Not just by wreaking havoc environmentally, but also in lost jobs in angling, tourism, shell fisheries and fisheries.

Have we learnt nothing from the boom and bust approach to economic development? Would we not be ashamed to find ourselves in the European Courts of Justice again for non-compliant behaviour when awarding salmon farm licences? It appears not. – Yours, etc,


Secretary, Save Bantry Bay,

Bantry, Co Cork.


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