Letter to the Editor, Southern Star, 12 Dec 2013: Salmon Farming and Pollution

Letter to the Editor, Southern Star, 12 Dec 2013

SIR – We were interested to read Dr Jaffa’s suggestion that wild salmon stocks can boom alongside salmon farming, as the two exist in harmony (November 28th). This an unsurprising claim from a person who works for the aquaculture industry.

Unfortunately, the vast bulk of research suggests otherwise. The three most comprehensive studies to date suggest drops in wild salmon of anything between 39% and 50%, when salmon farms operate nearby.

Following the collapse of the sea trout fishing industry in Connemara, as a result of the introduction of salmon farming in the 1980s, the Irish government commissioned a study to identify the causes. One of the principal recommendations, issued in 1995, was that a salmon farm should not be sited within 20 kilometres of a seatrout or salmon river.

This suggestion is further backed by recent research in Canada. Following the collapse of salmon in the Frazer River, the Canadian government commissioned the Cohen report. As in Ireland, it recommended that a salmon farm should not be sited within 20 kilometres of salmon rivers.

Only a couple of months ago, chair of the World Register of Marine Species. Dr Mark Costello, wrote to Minister Coveney: ‘I have been surprised at some of the recent incorrect information in the media about whether sea lice from salmon farms can cause problems on wild fish. It appears that sea lice are the most significant impact of salmon farms generally by virtue of their impact on wild salmonids.’

In Norway, the home of salmon farming, 52 rivers and 29 fjords are designated as salmon protection areas where the expansion of salmon farming is banned.

The situation in Scotland is no different. Perhaps Dr Jaffa should have a discussion with Prof Christopher Todd, of St Andrews University, Scotland’s leading expert on the topic. He may also be interested in watching last week’s edition of Country File (BBC), which examined salmon farming in Scotland. One area filmed, Glen Coe, has seen wild salmon numbers plummet from 500 to a mere five since the introduction of salmon farming.

Open cage salmon farms have been controversial for many years, and more environmentally sound technologies are now available.

The latest studies show land-based recirculation systems are increasingly competitive economically, with such farms now opening in China and the Middle East.

Salmon farming is a polluting industry. To continue to deny the issues, will simply leave Scotland and Ireland as followers, not leaders, in the future of this industry.

Yours sincerely,

Alec O’Donovan,

Save Bantry Bay,

Newton House,



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