The Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board (ALAB) has granted an Oral Hearing to those appealing the decision by the Department of Agriculture to give a licence for a salmon farm in Bantry Bay. This decision validates the concerns raised by locals, environmental groups and fishermen.
“It is now five years since Marine Harvest first applied for a salmon farm licence at Shot Head in Bantry Bay. During this time, hundreds of objections have been submitted from inshore fishermen, anglers, tourism operators, local businesses, residents and environmentalists” noted Kieran O’Shea of Save Bantry Bay.
In October 2016 the DAFM (Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine) approved the licence. The immediate response saw the ALAB receive more appeals submitted than for any other aquaculture licence has in recent times. Normally it would take four months for such appeals to be reviewed and a final decision to be made. Yet in this case it has taken over a year, and a final decision is not expected until May 2017 following the Oral Hearing.
The appeals cover an array of omissions, inadequacies and inaccuracies of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted by Marine Harvest, the developers behind the salmon farm, as well as wider social and economic concerns.
ALAB now seeks clarification on a number of the points:
First, why the EIA failed to acknowledge the existence of nearest river to the proposed salmon farm – the Dromagowlane. This river is home to various protected wildlife species, upon which the salmon farm could have a significant impact.
“To award a salmon farm licence without due consideration to the local environment is unlawful. Marine Harvest failed to consult any locals when compiling their EIA. Had they done so, such blatant omissions as failure to recognise the nearest river would not have occurred. Their assumptions that local residents and businesses have no contribution to make has now come back haunt them” state Alec O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay.
Second, to determine the impacts of the pest management plan. Sea lice are a serious concern for salmon farms and toxic pesticides are used to control them. These chemicals (referred to as veterinary medicines by the industry) are highly damaging to the marine environment and species such as prawn, lobster and shrimp upon which inshore fishermen depend for their livelihood. Yet, the EIA completed by Marine Harvest failed to complete any assessment of Bantry Bay’s ability to disperse toxins. As a result it isn’t fully understood what the long-term consequences of their use may be.
“We are delighted ALAB have called an Oral Hearing” said Alec O’Donovan of Save Bantry Bay. “Our group was formed as hundreds of locals raised serious concerns regarding this development. We have spent the last five years researching the issue and have been shocked at what we have learnt. Marine Harvest have presented studies to back their application that are weak at best. The fact that ALAB now wish to examine data presented in more detail confirms that local residents, businesses, inshore fishermen, anglers, environmentalists and tourism interests were right: Shot Head is not an appropriate location for a salmon farm.”
Secretary, Save Bantry Bay, Alec O’Donovan, 087 7949227 (mobile) or 027 50508
Chair, Save Bantry Bay, Kieran O’Shea, 086 1280303 (mobile) or 027 60121