Green Party Communication, 28 Jan 2014: Future of Galway Salmon Farm Left ‘Dead in the Water’ by Danes

Future of Galway Salmon Farm Left ‘Dead in the Water’ by Danes

High-risk sea farming jeopardises futures of angling, tourism & artisan smokers

Tuesday 28 January 2014, Galway.

Plans by Minister Coveney and the Irish Government to sell Irish farmed salmon at a premium price by assuming the organic and sustainable mantle has been dealt a blow by events in Denmark. The Government and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) intend to locate the world’s largest salmon farm just a few kilometres off the Galway shoreline – the first of five planned for the West coast. This scheme was promoted as way to brand Irish salmon as organic, sustainable and healthy, and had been intended to tap into the existing market for Irish farmed goods. In reality, however, this project has been ‘greenwashed’ by state agencies who are misleading the minister with claims of sustainability.

Commenting on the situation, Green Party Agriculture, Food and the Marine Spokesperson, Seamus Sheridan, said, “The government look at our 14,000 tonne current production and want us to compete with Scotland’s 150,000 tonnes and Norway’s million-plus tonnes. But it’s not that simple. Open net salmon farms placed in the sea are rightly being subjected to increased scrutiny as the risks they pose become increasingly well known.”

“A salmon farm acts as a nursery for sea lice. A farm holding millions of salmon could have a devastating effect on the local wild population, spreading lice to young salmon on their way out to sea. There are also concerns over the waste produced going directly into the marine environment. In addition, there are significant risks from the chemicals and antibiotics used to treat the fish. We also have the nightmare scenario of a mass escape of farmed fish into our rivers, destroying our native stocks through inter-breeding and disease. And as if this wasn’t enough cause for concern, the environmental logic is highly flawed – salmon farming requires 3 to 4 kgs of wild fish to be caught and processed into fish meal to produce just 1 kg of farmed fish.”

“Over the last few years we have pleaded with BIM to drop this senseless initiative and consider alternatives such as land based farms. The waste could be turned into valuable fertiliser, the salmon would not be subject to disease and, most importantly, not spread sea lice. Closed salmon farms also require less feed as material does not fall through nets. We were told by BIM that this would never happen and to politely shut up.”

“This week Denmark announced, as part of its Green Government initiative, the world’s first on-land salmon farm capable of producing over 1,000 tonnes. They are also claiming that it is the world’s first environmentally friendly and sustainable salmon farm. The premium price our government hoped for by pretending to be green has been taken from us, leaving us and our salmon smokers behind.

“Denmark will now seek the organic and sustainable label, and who can blame them? They have embraced science and understood that green and sustainable are not just marketing sound bites, but an ethos that requires thought and planning. My overriding concern is that in five years, when people sit down to dinner, they will shun sea-farmed salmon in favour of the more environmentally sound, land-based alternative.”

“Minister Coveney’s plan is one which plays Russian roulette with our native fish stocks, is wasteful of resources, threatens to pollute the marine environment, and most importantly, acts with total disregard for the West of Ireland’s most valuable asset, tourism. Over the last 20 years, Ireland has seen the emergence of some of the finest artisan fish smokers in the world. BIM’s insistence on the mega farm project, combined with their lack of foresight and inability to embrace science and technology, has not only jeopardised our green image, but is also jeopardising the future of our artisan smokers by denying them access to a sustainably sourced product. Ireland has fantastic potential for fish farming, with our rich coastal waters able to produce a sustainable amount of fish meal suitable for aquaculture, but this project is blowing that future out of the water before it can ever properly begin.”


Seamus Sheridan

Agriculture, Food and Marine


086 804 2418


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