Impact of fish farm plans
The Irish Times – Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Sir, – Most recent Fáilte Ireland figures show that nearly €100 million was spent in Ireland by overseas visitors engaged in angling. Fáilte Ireland research shows that up to 80 per cent of the angling visitors are repeat visitors and that the most popular region for these visitors were Galway and Mayo. These figures relate to 2011, one of the worst years for tourism in the past 20 years.
The proposed salmon farm for Galway Bay directly threatens this most valuable of industries. The attempts by Donal Maguire and Jason Whooley of BIM to show that salmon farming does not affect wild fish stocks would be, if not so serious, laughable. They most certainly must cause raised eyebrows among the international marine science community who, almost to a man, cite aquaculture as a serious threat to wild salmon stocks.
That the Minister for Agriculture is prepared to sponsor the establishment of this commercial site, for an industry to date proven to be both environmentally hazardous and financially insecure, beggars belief.
That the Minister is effectively both applicant and adjudicator is highly improper. The history of salmon farming in Ireland reads as a litany of failed investments and environmental disasters. Having decimated the sea trout fisheries of Connemara, most of the farms have since gone out of business and those that remain enjoy periodic spells of success but always under threat of catastrophic disease and escape.
The international community is watching in disbelief. The Great Fishing Houses of Ireland’s representative has just returned from the New Jersey Fly-Fishing show, the largest of its kind in North America. There, the concerned tourist anglers were asking could this be true.Was the Government going to allow salmon farming destroy the country’s wild fisheries as has been done in British Columbia? It is our opportunity to raise our heads above the crowd on the world stage and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable fisheries management. Let’s build on the success of the tourism sector and ensure we protect this rare and most coveted of resources. – Yours, etc,
Great Fishing Houses of Ireland,