Letter to the Editor, Inshore Ireland, Dec 2014 – Jan 2015 Issue
Please allow me space in your magazine to reply to the outdated policies on salmon farming by Donal Maguire and Benen Dallaghan of B.I. M in your August/September issue.
Donal Maguire is wrong to blame the anti-salmon farm lobby for the low output of Irish salmon farm production. According to Marine Institute records and other documents which we acquired under freedom of information there is approximately 32,000 tonnes licenced capacity and approximately 10 to 15,000 tonnes unlicensed capacity salmon farms operating all along our west coast. The truth of the matter is that these salmon farms were only able to produce less than 10,000 tonnes last year and 10, to 15,000 tonnes in previous years due to outbreaks of diseases such as Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD), Pancreas Disease and infestations of sea lice.If there is approximately 47,000 tonnes of licenced and unlicensed capacity already in existence and salmon farmers cant even reach a 1/3 of this capacity why in Gods name do BIM insists that we need another 15,000 tonne salmon farm in our beautiful iconic Galway Bay and another 5,000 tonnes each for Inis Bofin and Gola Island?
Contrary to BIM,s assertion that the Irish coast is ideal for salmon farming our sea temperature’s are now rising to approximately 21 degrees and according to weather experts they may rise another 2 degrees over the next 10 years, these high sea temperatures are ideal only for AGD and sea lice to multiply and for high moralities in farmed salmon.
AGD is now prevalent in nearly all salmon farms along the west coast (including BIM,s flagship Clare Island) and is costings salmon farmers millions of euro to treat their fish with fresh water which some of them have to take illegally (no planning permission) from rivers and lakes, yet in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) compiled by BIM for the Galway Bay salmon farm there is no mention of AGD or where the operator is going to get water to treat anything up to 14.4 million farmed salmon (salmon farm capacity is 30,000 tonnes). This EIS is now out of date and should be withdrawn.
BIM keep telling everyone that the Galway Bay salmon farm is a deep sea salmon farm. The dept of water at the Inverin Bank site is only 18 to 26 metres deep and the Inis Oirr site only 30 metres deep,this is hardly deep sea.
Benen Dallaghan says that ”The mass movement of water on these sites also serves to maintain the pristine nature of such offshore environments”. Mr Dallaghan cannot prove that statement to be fact as BIM themselves admit in the EIS (model limitations page 188) that there is no proper model to determine what will happen under a salmon farm until the salmon farm has been in place for a period of time.
The EIS is also out of date in relation to wave heights in Galway Bay as it states (page 165) and I quote ”It would be expected that significant wave heights would be below 1 metre for approximately 80% of time while significant wave heights in excess of 3 metres would occur during storm events only.” We now know that last winters storms produced waves of 9.7 metres and over in Galway Bay (MI data) which caused tens of millions of euro damage to property and infrastructure all around Galway Bay. If there had been a salmon farm in Galway Bay during these storms it would have been destroyed along with the salmon farm in Bantry Bay which had similar type cages to those proposed for Galway Bay. A previous salmon farm at the Inis Oirr site was destroyed by gales in the early 1990s after being in operation for a short time.
Donal Maguire says that ”One cannot have a tank reared organic salmon”. Why not? Surly a salmon reared in a closed containment on land system that didn’t need to be treated with pesticides to kill sea lice,didn’t need antibiotics to treat diseases and wouldn’t cause any harm to wild salmon or sea trout would be more organic than what is now being produced.
I believe the reason BIM do not want closed containment on land salmon farms is because the remit for these farms will go to some other Government Department other than BIM as they (BIM) are a SEA fisheries department and not a LAND fisheries department. BIM needs these sea cage salmon farms to justify their existence.
Minister Simon Coveney needs to bypass the outdated thinking of those in BIM and embrace the new technology that is out there in relation to RAS systems. Salmon farm systems that all stake holders would be happy with.
Chairman Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages,
10 Colemans Rd,