A call for a national boycott of farmed salmon products was yesterday condemned as an act of sabotage.
The aquaculture executive of the Irish Farmers’ Association, Richie Flynn, warned that the ill-conceived boycott posed a serious threat to a vital farming and processing sector for marine communities.
Environmental groups are seeking a national boycott “as a gift to the environment for Christmas” as opposition mounts to plans to locate huge salmon farms along the west coast.
The boycott is being led by Friends of the Irish Environment, a group which claims huge open-pen salmon farms planned for Galway Bay, in addition to an expansion of a Norwegian-owned farm in Bantry Bay, will devastate the coastal environment and destroy wild salmon stocks as well as tourism.
BIM’s application for a licence for Galway will more than double the State’s current farmed salmon output, the group said.
The IFA’s Mr Flynn said: “People enjoy smoked Irish salmon, especially over Christmas, and they should not be discouraged from buying it because of an ill-thought-out and malicious protest.”
The decision to launch a boycott for Christmas originated at a meeting in Bantry last month and was supported by An Taisce, Coastwatch, the Irish Seal Sanctuary, No Salmon Farms at Sea, Salmon Watch Ireland, and others, Friends of the Irish Environment said.
However, John Browne of the family-owned De Brun Iasc near Dingle, says it will hit the small salmon organic salmon farmers as well as small companies like his.
“We buy all our salmon from an organic producer in West Cork. We wanted to use only wild salmon but the ban on salmon fishing put an end to that,” he said.
Meanwhile, a number of Cork-based groups backed by national organisations are planning to march tomorrow on the Carrigaline constituency office of Simon Coveney, the agriculture, marine, and food minister.
Ian Powell of Blackwater Lodge salmon fishery, a tourist facility in Waterford, said he will be taking part in the march on Mr Coveney’s office on Saturday.
He claimed far more jobs and livelihoods would be lost than created by allowing salmon farms along the coast. Wild salmon, he said, were only beginning to recover from the drift nets which had been banned in 2006.
“Salmon farming has been a total disaster in other countries. This talk about it creating a lot of jobs is a complete load of rubbish. Very few people will be employed in the farms.”
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