Save Bantry Bay Press Release: BIM’S 5 Year Plan Environmentally and Economically Unsustainable
18 July 2013
Yesterday BIM announced that aquaculture will be central to its new five-year plan for Ireland’s seafood sector that it hopes will deliver €1billion of seafood sales. To achieve this, BIM’s Chief Executive, Jason Whooley, is proposing a necklace of vast off-shore salmon farms around Irelands coast.
The announcement comes against a background of controversy. Government agency Inland Fisheries Ireland, environmental groups, fishermen, tourism and angling organisations have all raised serious concerns about the impact of such mega-farms – the scale of which have yet to be seen in Europe. The first alone will double Ireland’s output of farmed salmon. Yet, shockingly, no Strategic Environmental Assessment has been completed to determine what the impact of such a policy may be, despite this being required by EU legislation.
“The last National Seafood Plan 2007-2013 underwent such a Strategic Environmental Assessment, which resulted in a moratorium on the expansion of salmon farming due to the detrimental impact of sea lice on wild salmon populations. It was clearly stated the moratorium was to remain in place until the issue was resolved. Today the issue is far from resolved. Anyone who reads the papers knows that. And yet the Government denies the bulk of research available, instead blindly pushing forward a policy that is ill considered and potentially devastating to local environment and economy.” Said Alec O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay.
Today, angling alone is worth an estimated €500 million to the Irish economy, supporting numerous small family owned businesses in remote areas. Due to the devastating impact of salmon farming on wild salmon and sea trout populations, these jobs, and associated communities, could all be put at risk should this five year seafood strategy proceed.
Inshore fishermen will also lose grounds and stocks, as pesticides used to treat sea lice kill valuable crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters.
All sacrificed for a few vast salmon farms that are to be auctioned to the highest overseas bidder.
Any Irish firm is highly unlikely to win contracts to operate any of these mega-farm as there are no operators of an appropriate scale. Indeed today approximately 80% of Ireland’s salmon farming is run by Norwegian firm Marine Harvest whose profits go overseas.
“To suggest that BIM’s Seafood Strategy 2013-2017 is either sustainable environmentally or economically is a nonsense” Said Keiran O’Shea, Chairman of Save Bantry Bay. “The detriment to the environment caused by salmon farming is well known, and putting small locally owned businesses at risk to benefit a single multi-national is ludicrous. Remote communities that rely on inshore fishing and tourism could be destroyed. I am a third generation fishermen, currently awaiting a decision on a proposed salmon farm that would certainly affect my business. It is not just my living at risk, but my heritage. For government to push ahead without completing a strategic environmental assessment just adds insult to injury. Do they not care about rural communities?“ Asks Keiran O’Shea, Chairman of Save Bantry Bay.
For further information contact:
1. Alec O’Donovan, Secretary, Save Bantry Bay, 087 7949227 (mobile) or 0207 50508
2. Kieran O’Shea, Chair, Save Bantry Bay, 086 1280303 (mobile) or 027 60121 (office)