Galway Independent, 1 May 2013: Off the fence – Opposition to the proposed Galway Bay salmon farm mounted this week as the country’s two main opposition parties took a stance against the €60 million project.

Off the fence – Opposition to the proposed Galway Bay salmon farm mounted this week as the country’s two main opposition parties took a stance against the €60 million project.

Published 1 May 2013, Galway Independent

Opposition to the proposed Galway Bay salmon farm is mounting this week, as the country’s two main opposition parties have taken a stance against the €60 million project.

In a policy document agreed upon this weekend, Sinn Féin states that the 15,000 tonne per annum fish farm “should not be allowed to proceed” due to staunch opposition from local communities and stakeholders.

The document was adopted by the party’s Ard Comhairle on Saturday following the referral of a motion from the party’s Ard Fheis last month. The motion was proposed by the Athenry Murt Qualter Cumann. The party had been previously criticised by Mayor of County Galway, Cllr Tom Welby, for “sitting on the fence” in relation to the salmon farm.

While recognising “the necessity to develop the maritime industries around Irish coasts” and “the need to create employment in sustainable aquaculture”, Sinn Féin says it “recognises the valid concerns of the communities around the Aran islands and Galway bay” in relation to the proposed fish farm.

“Sinn Féin believes that the minister should put a halt to the project at this stage, as to continue would almost certainly lead to prolonged legal challenges, which could involve two or more State agencies and industry stakeholders which could cost the taxpayer a lot of money,” the document states.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh said that Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), which is applying for a licence from the Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food for the project, now needed to “go back to the drawing board”.

“Precaution should be the key word in the Minister’s mind when he’s assessing this. He should err on the side of caution if there’s a potential danger to the environment and of job losses in other industries,” said Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

The Connemara Senator said his position on the salmon farm was “copper-fastened” following a public debate on the issue held last Thursday in the Westwood Hotel, which BIM did not attend.

BIM pulled out of the meeting at the eleventh hour, stating that “recent irresponsible statements from some angling groups” had rendered it impossible for the body to engage in public debate on the issue.

“Some organisations continue to publicly declare their outright opposition to, not only the Galway Bay project but all sea based salmon farms, which currently support some 1,200 Irish jobs. In that regard, it is difficult to see what value another debate can bring to the process,” said BIM.

In a further blow to the project’s hopes, the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis carried a motion at the weekend opposing the proposed organic fish farm, which would be located off Inis Oírr.

The motion, proposed by Ardnaree Cumann, Mayo, states “that this Ard Fheis rejects Minister Coveney’s Ten Fish Farm Plans as it will decimate stocks of wild salmon and sea trout and will have a detrimental impact on angling tourism”.

To see full article: http://galwayindependent.com/20130501/news/off-the-fence-S17333.html

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