An international activist dubbed salmon farming’s “public enemy number one” is set to boost the campaign against two major fish farming projects off the south and west coasts.
Anti-fish farming campaigner Don Staniford is expected to draw a large crowd to a protest meeting in Bantry on Friday, the Save Bantry Bay group said.
The local action group was set up to oppose Marine Harvest expansion plans in Bantry Bay.
The fish farm company wants to develop a 100-acre site at Shot Head and has lodged an application for a foreshore and aquaculture licence with the Department of the Marine.
Save Bantry Bay is fighting the project, citing concerns about the farm’s impact on water quality, wildlife, angling, fishing, tourism, shipping navigation and water sports.
But the campaign group is now also harnessing growing opposition to a Bord Iascaigh Mhara proposal for a super salmon farm in Galway Bay which it says would double the national production of farmed salmon.
The group has invited Mr Staniford to address Friday’s meeting as it steps up its campaign. Mr Staniford has been described by the aquaculture trade media as salmon farming’s “public enemy number one”. He was recently cleared by British Columbia’s Supreme Court of defamation charges after he ran a series of shock ads linking cancer from cigarette smoking to cancer from farmed salmon.
He will be joined at the meeting by Elena Edwards of the Canadian Wild Salmon First campaign and by Dr Roderick O’Sullivan, the author of the first study on salmon farming in Ireland in 1989.
A spokesperson for Marine Harvest said it had no comment to make ahead of the meeting.
Save Bantry Bay say they expect people to travel from Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway and the Aran Islands to the meeting.
More than 200 residents attended their last protest meeting in Glengarriff this summer.
Save Bantry Bay chairman Kieran O’Shea said they also had a “very encouraging response” from a leaflet drop to 7,000 residents on the Beara Peninsula and to 179 letters it sent to TDs, local councillors and senators.
The group’s letter to TDs cited not only European legislation intended to protect wild salmon, but the loss of fishing grounds, increased pollution, the negative effect on the local shellfish industry on the six local salmon rivers, and on tourism.
Committee secretary Alex O’Donovan said BIM and the minister “appear to have forgotten” the Bantry Bay Charter, agreed by representatives of all stakeholders in the area which recognised “the valid opinions and perspectives of all the interests in the area” and which required “at least a broad-based consensus for any future developments”.
The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the Maritime Hotel, Bantry at 7.30pm on Friday.
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