Irish Times, 2 April 2013, Letter to the Editor: Controversy over fish farms
Sir, – In response to Richie Flynn (March 25th), it is indeed true that land-based salmon farming is in its infancy, and is a developing technology. It is also not too long since we pumped raw sewage into our lakes and rivers. We consider it unthinkable now to pump untreated raw sewage into our waters, but Mr Flynn would have us continue with a polluting, environmentally damaging industry (open-cage industrial salmon farming) rather than embrace new technology.
At a time when all land-based members of the IFA (our farming brethren) must comply with stringent waste disposal regulations, traceability and organic requirements, I am sure many of them would be annoyed to learn their organisation is agitating on behalf of an industry that disposes of its waste directly into the sea. This industry also causes huge damage to wild salmon through the spread of parasites and disease, and it also uses large quantities of pesticides. The same stringent organic requirements that apply to land-based farmers are not applied to salmon farmers; and pesticides, chemical treatments and antibiotics are routinely used.
Finally Mr Flynn’s claim that salmon farming makes sense economically and environmentally is laughably untrue. Salmon farming in Ireland is a history of failed businesses despite huge grant aid. The devastating impacts on wild salmon and sea trout stocks by sea-lice parasites from salmon farming is well documented. A thriving world-renowned sea trout angling industry in Connemara was wiped out in a few short years after the arrival of salmon farms to local bays.
Rather than debate the economics of marine versus land-based salmon farming, the IFA might be better advised to poll its members on whether they want to be linked to an environmentally irresponsible industry that brings the organic food brand, and the wider Irish food industry, into disrepute. – Yours, etc,