Salmon farm escape – Alarm bells ringing again
Irish Examiner: Monday, March 31, 2014
The confirmation by Agriculture and Marine Minister Simon Coveney that 230,000 farmed salmon escaped from a fish farm in Bantry Bay during last month’s storms once again rings alarm bells around the controversial industry.
The escape, which has the potential to be catastrophic for local wild salmon, renews focus on proposals to build Europe’s biggest salmon farm in far more exposed waters just off the Aran Islands.
Salmon farming, a largely self-regulated industry in Ireland, is becoming increasingly divisive. Its advocates argue, despite huge levels of parasite infestation and consequent chemical use, that it is entirely safe, while its opponents describe it as an environmental disaster.
Recognising that this conflict is all but intractable, Scottish salmon farming interests are moving production to sealed, onshore units. This seems a reasonable compromise and one that our minister might advocate instead of promoting at-sea projects of a scale that will almost inevitably lead to more ecological disasters like the one he has acknowledged in Bantry Bay.