An anglers’ federation has welcomed a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) decision to withdraw an application for a huge organic salmon farm plan in Galway Bay.
Salmon and sea trout anglers throughout the country had strongly protested against a BIM application for an aquaculture licence for the proposed 15,000 tonne project.
The move came as BIM welcomed a national strategic plan which will cap the size of proposed fish farms.
The plan, which is aimed at sustainable aquaculture development, was drawn up by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.
It forms the basis for the drawdown of €30m in EU funding dedicated to the aquaculture industry over the next five years.
Among 24 tailored actions agreed in the new strategy is the setting of scale limits in relation to individual offshore salmon farms, capping their size to between 5,000 and 7,000 tonnes.
BIM informed its board yesterday the agency will not be proceeding with its current application to the department for an aquaculture licence for the Galway Bay plan.
BIM chief executive Tara McCarthy said: “Taking account of the new policy framework, BIM has reviewed its work programme to match our activities against this new plan.
“The scaling of fish farms was one element that had to be addressed and we have taken swift and decisive action on that.
“We must now re-assess our delivery of this project in the context of the new operating environment and examine the operational and commercial impacts.
“This will take time and a significant amount of engagement and consultation.”
Cork-based Paul Lawton, chairman of the fishing federation, FISSTA, said yesterday: “After five years of intensive campaigning to Minister Simon Coveney, and following notice of legal action to 12 departments which the attorney general has acknowledged, FISSTA is delighted BIM decided to review the ten mega farms’ plan following our national campaign which saw thousands of anglers and supporters of the wild salmon protest on the streets of Galway city and Carrigaline over the past five years.”