Who we are

We are a group of local fishermen, residents,  salmon  anglers, environmentalists, and holiday makers, who are deeply  concerned about the impacts of salmon farming in Bantry Bay. Our aim is  to prevent the expansion of salmon farming in Bantry Bay, and keep the waters pristine for future generations.

What is salmon farming?

Salmon farming (also known as salmon aquaculture) is the industrial production of salmon. Today in Ireland this is done in open nets, mostly in bays and sheltered areas around the coast. These fish farms can hold hundreds of thousands of salmon in an area the size of a football pitch. That’s a lot of fish in a small space.

It unbelievable that you can have what’s essentially a floating battery farm, and the Government will allow all the waste to be dumped straight into our pristine waters. A farmer would never be allowed to do this on land.” Breda, local resident

Salmon farming in Bantry Bay

There are already two salmon farms in Bantry Bay. One at Roancarrig and another at Gearahies.  Now another salmon farm is proposed at Shot Head, which will be almost a kilometre long and half a kilometre wide. Marine Harvest Ireland who are behind the proposed development say it will create two jobs and will not have a negative impact on the environment. We beg to differ.

Pollution Problems

Bantry Bay has poor water circulation. Typically it takes one to two months for water to flush through the Bay and out to sea. To put a salmon farm in the Bay that creates excrement and waste equivalent to sewage from a town ten times the size of Bantry could be detrimental.

Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus in the waste can cause harmful algal blooms (also known as toxic tides). In the past, local shellfish areas have been closed and harvests banned as the Bay has suffered from toxic plankton, which can cause shellfish poisoning. Encouraging more plankton growth by adding yet more nutrients to the Bay could therefore spell disaster for shell fisheries.

Human health could also be put at risk. When there are algal blooms, swimming in the sea or taking part in any water sports, can put people’s health at risk.

“I feel so sad that I may no longer be able to let my children swim in the sea because of the pollution this fish farm will cause.” Marie, local mum.

Wild salmon – a species at risk

Salmon farming is known to have detrimental effects on wild salmon populations. Diseases and sea lice get passed from the farmed to the wild salmon, and escaped farmed salmon breed with wild salmon weakening them genetically. Research now shows wild salmon populations typically plummet to half their previous levels when salmon farms operate nearby.

Today wild Atlantic salmon are becoming so rare they are protected by European law. In Beara many rivers are closed to anglers, or are only just opening for catch and release now stocks are starting to recover. So to put these salmon populations, and associated angling businesses, at risk by opening a salmon farm is both unwise legally and economically.

“I’ve been fly fishing in this area all my life, and now that may have to end.” Alec, Anglers Association

What’s the catch?

As more salmon farms are developed, local fishermen loose yet more ground. It’s a real possibility that soon local family owned fishing businesses will no longer be viable. Loosing such businesses after generations has both implications for local jobs, traditions and culture.

“My family has fished around Shot Head for three generations, it would be tragic to see these businesses loose out to multi-nationals that have no connection to the area” Keiran, local fisherman

A turn-off for tourists?

Beara has become a popular tourist destination for those seeking to ‘get away from it all’. Its remote and beautiful landscapes attract visitors from all over the world. Many enjoy the views when hill walking or during water sports. Others enjoy sea-safaris, shore angling and bird watching. Lots of local businesses rely on these visitors. Yet, will these visitors want to return to an increasingly industrialised Bay?

“We regularly visit Adrigole, but if fish farming goes on like this an alternative holiday spot will become more attractive.” Chloe, holiday maker.

But salmon farms create jobs….

Yes, they do. A grand total of two jobs in this case. Is it worth risking the income of so many local small fishing, shell fish and tourism businesses for these two jobs, we ask you?

If you think not, why not write to your councillor, TD, Senator or even Simon Coveney, Minister of Agriculture Food and the Marine who will decide whether or not this fish farm should proceed.

What’s the answer?

A new type of salmon farm is now on offer. These ‘closed containment’ systems grow fish in land based tanks, and have been used for other fish species for decades. All the inputs (that’s the fish food and treatments) and all the outputs (that’s the fish excrement, food and treatments) can be carefully regulated. No polluting substances end up in the sea. Instead, all waste is collected and treated. And, no wild salmon or sea trout are exposed to diseases or parasites.

The first salmon farm of this kind in Ireland is now being investigated, with a view to building it right here on the shores of Bantry Bay. If this is the future of fish farming, now is the time to look ahead. Ireland could become a world leader in sustainably produced salmon.

No longer does cheap salmon need to come at the cost of the Ireland’s environment and local jobs.

5 thoughts on “About

  1. This is not just a movement started by a couple of hippy blow-ins interfering to preserve Beara in a totally wild state and trying to prevent any kind of development – and jobs! – for the local people.

    A local initiative, chaired by a local businessman, was launched in September 2011 to promote local businesses and cottage industries and to find creative solutions as to how to develop the whole of Beara and create a future for our children here. In collaboration with the West Cork Development Partnership, this initiative developed a vision for our community. Judging from the results of the “Futures Game” played on 10 October 2011 and of the survey completed on the same day, everyone there arrived at the conclusion that if we did not want to see sheep outnumber an aging population in Beara by 2030, we would have to work together at a local level towards a common goal. The survey showed that participants wanted support for local businesses, a feeling of empowerment, opportunities locally and a future for this and the next generation, economic development that is sustainable (focussing mainly on walking and cycling tourism), a thriving living area for all age profiles in a vibrant community… These are the elements of a common vision for our area.

    This vision would at first view appear to be contrary to having a multinational company take over control over the fishing activities in the bay, jeopardizing the livelihood of local fishermen and destroying the basis for the development of tourist activities. It is estimated that the marine leisure sector in Ireland supports 14’500 jobs, compared to the 250 employed by Marine Harvest nationally. It would therefore be necessary to achieve consensus on the proposed fish farm in the area before the application for the proposed fish farm at Trafrask can be granted.

    This is why it is important to sign the petition to keep the application suspended until the local communities have been consulted and decided, in full knowledge of the facts, what would be best for them. I believe it would have been courteous and strategically wiser for the applicant to organize an information meeting of their own to present the project before filing their application, and this kind of transparency would have been much appreciated!

  2. Hello

    I have been fighting off the invasion of Norwegian salmon feedlots for twenty years and mostly losing! Marine Harvest put farms where local people, including the First Nations asked them not to. Government promised to protect these areas and did not. The fish farmers made arrangements with environmental groups and then got these groups to support making the feedlots even bigger. Now we are finding ISA virus in our wild salmon, the fish farmers say it did not come from them, but they won’t let anyone but the level of government that put them here, test their fish. More and more people in Canada are fighting this industry on both coasts. There is a petition from a group in Nova Scotia fighting off 11 new farms: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-open-pen-fish-farming-on-nova-scotias-eastern-shore?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=friends_wall

    There are over 3,000 of us on the Salmon Are Sacred facebook page, our website is salmonaresacred.org. I am a biologist and have co-published many papers on sea lice from salmon feedlots, also on how the industry displaced the northern resident killer whales. I have taken the industry to court several times and led 5,000 people to the legislature in Victoria, British Columbia. But the industry remains even as the price of the product falls to near cost.

    I write a blog on events here: alexandramorton.typepad.com let me know if I can help you.

    alexandra morton

  3. Kris you letter is brilliant. It is also sad that when the 300,000 of our brightest now gone return in 10 or 20 years we will likewise call them “blow-ins” Brendan O’Blowin.

  4. Unfortunately or even Fortunately Nature has its own mind! Instead of putting these Farms who provide Income for lots of Families and also for the whole Supply Chain down! Rather think of these people! If all these Mussel farms and Salmon farms would go away? What is with those living from them (directly or indirectly)? Further a lot of foreigners started this palaver, though a lot of them only spend a couple of months here in there “HOLIDAY HOMES”! But people live here, have to survive the whole year! Of course some of the facts mentioned have there valid points, but some are just put out of proportion! Some of you should talk more to reliable sources and not just Google stuff!

    • Thank you for your comment.

      As noted in the planning application and environmental impact statement for the Shot Head salmon farm, it is only going to provide two permanent jobs. Two unskilled, minimum wage jobs. When considered against the potential job losses in in-shore fishing, angling, tourism and shellfisheries, it quickly becomes obvious that this development could result in a net loss of jobs.

      It is because of the wide ranging impacts, both economic and environmental that SBB gains support from such a diverse range of people. The vast majority are local residents, business owners, fishermen, potters, shell fisheries, anglers, environmentalists, and tourism operators. It is also true holiday home owners back the campaign.

      All information produced by SBB is evidence based. If you have any queries regarding claims made by SBB, or are interested in any of the scientific research papers, policy documents, law or other data cited, please do not hesitate to contact us. The email address is savebantrybay2012@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s