Letter to the Editor, Galway Independent, 27 Nov 2013: To promote fish farm as job creation scheme is galling

To promote fish farm as job creation scheme is galling

Letter to the Editor, Galway Independent, 27 Nov 2013

Dear Editor,

I refer to CEO of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Mr Whooly’s arrogant piece, extolling the virtues of the giant, formerly “Deep Sea”, now “near-off-shore” salmon farms for Galway Bay.

He is bemoaning the fact that anglers find his new scheme for further devastation of our resources in order that BIM survives at all costs objectionable.

In my view, it is disgraceful on the part of a person charged with the development of our fishing industry to engage in this behaviour in the public media.

Using taxpayers’ money to promote an insane and poorly thought out scheme to risk the pristine seas off the west coast for the benefit of a multinational operator is not wise.

This proposal leaves the state, as licence holder, liable for any costs arising out of any environmental catastrophe that is inevitable. Furthermore, the profits leave the country.

To cynically promote this as a job creation scheme for us in these hard times is particularly galling, since it will cause a net loss of real existing jobs.

We see very few wealthy fish farm workers about, even though the industry has absorbed millions and millions in grant aid over the years of its unfortunate existence.

To suggest that “Organic” certification will be credible for 150,000 tons is ludicrous.

Organic is a niche market; this is to serve a mass market at commodity prices.

Irish waters are not at all suited for salmon farming, as has been proved here in the last 30 years.

It is suitable for other forms of aquaculture but BIM and the Marine Institute have chosen the lazy option here and are wasting a massive budget trying to force this upon us.

The track record of BIM is appalling.

It has mismanaged what was the richest resource in the country, leaving fish stocks decimated from repetitive assaults since its formation in the 1950s.

To engage publicly in attacking another state agency, Inland Fisheries Ireland, charged with the management of our wild salmon, as he has allowed BIM to do is unheard of in the history of the State and should not be tolerated by government!

To dismiss the well founded concerns of citizens as the ramblings of a few cranks is not acceptable behaviour for a CEO of a semi-State body.

BIM and Mr Whooly came to our Island to explain their proposal to us. They told us that if we did not want it it would not go ahead. They presented the public with an Environmental Impact Statement, which we read and analysed and found wanting. We outlined our objections, based on that document and submitted same to the department concerned last December. We did this through our Co-op, Comhar Caomhan, through our Tourism Network, our commercial fishing group and through many individual submissions. The Minister will make his decision within that process and on the basis of that EIS.

That document is so flawed and riddled with inconsistencies, reliant on discredited science, and out of date data that any Minister basing a decision on it, as this Minister must, is placed in an impossible position.

I think at this stage that the only sensible option is the one suggested by Mr Michael Macnamara TD and that is to withdraw this flawed, disastrous and frightfully expensive application to avoid further embarrassment to the Minister, BIM, the Marine Institute, the Slow Food movement, Good Food Ireland and the Irish Farmers’ Association, who need another food scandal like a hole in the head.

Enda Conneely
Fisherman’s Cottage,
Inis Oirr,
Aran Islands


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