Investigation ongoing into possible fish farm escape
West Cork Times, 21 Feb 2014
A fish farm in Bantry Bay is battered by the elements. Pic: Finbarr O’Sullivan
THE Department of Marine and the Southern Regional Fisheries Board are currently investigating the possibility of an escape of farmed salmon into Bantry Bay earlier this month.
Local anti-salmon farming lobby group Save Bantry Bay have claimed that up to 80,000 farmed salmon may have escaped into the bay from the facility at Gerahies during the recent bad weather.
Speaking to West Cork Times, a spokesperson for the Department said, “It has not been established yet if any fish have escaped into the bay, or if they did in what numbers.
“An investigation is currently underway to establish if there was any escape during the recent storms which we expect to be completed next week.”
A Dáíl question has also been submitted to Marine Minister Simon Coveney to outline the extent of any fish farm escapes during the storms, a reply to which was not available at the time of going to press.
If there are any suspected escapes from fish farms it is incumbent on the farm operator to take all steps necessary to secure the facility, record details of the escape and inform the Department.
According to Save Bantry Bay, “The escape of farmed salmon is a potential disaster for our native wild stock. These escaped fish interbreed and compete with wild salmon, transmitting disease and parasites to them.
“Farmed salmon compete with native stock for scarce food and irreversibly weaken the genetic makeup and survival of wild salmon if they reproduce with them.”
The group advocates contained land-based systems as the only way to protect the environment and farm salmon.