Marine Harvest salmon farm to go ahead in Bantry Bay

Farmed salmon producer Marine Harvest says it has a ready market for fish from its newly approved second site in Bantry Bay, to be completed within four months.

MHI has received Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine approval for aquaculture and foreshore licences for a site at Shot Head in Bantry Bay.

After a four-year application and appeals process which faced strong local resistance, MHI will invest €3.5m in the new farm, creating eight sustainable jobs post-construction.

MHI managing director, Jan Feenstra, said: “This is a very positive step forward for our company and for aquaculture as a whole. Our seas have rightly been identified as a key component of our economic recovery and sustainable growth.

"We are extremely keen to begin work on this site as soon as possible with development at Shot Head likely to be complete in just 14 weeks.”

MHI currently employs 270 staff at its salmon farms and hatcheries in Donegal, Mayo and Cork.

It is part of a larger organisation with operates across 23 countries with 11,715 employees. It has salmon farms in Scotland, Norway, Canada, Chile, Ireland and the Faroe Islands.

MHI also engages around 800 Irish suppliers, with an annual spend worth €15m to local economies. It also spends €10m on wages and salaries in Ireland each year.

MHI says it will invest €22m at a number of its sites, doubling its Irish workforce to 500 people. Irish organic farmed salmon is a premium product in Europe.

Oyvind Oaland, MHI global research director, says that when the global population reaches eight billion in 2030, people will eat another 42m tonnes of seafood a year.

MHI says the development of stocking, harvesting, fallowing and rotation programmes in Bantry Bay will comply with international best practice, thereby securing the long-term future of aquaculture in the area.

However, local interest group Save Bantry Bay has led the challenges to MHI’s licence applications.

They cite an Inlands Fisheries Ireland report suggesting sea lice from farmed salmon has led to 12%-29% fewer wild salmon spawning in fish farming areas.

The effects of sea lice on sea trout are increased marine mortality and reduced marine growth, the report found.


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