Norwegian firm plans fish farm at ex-mussel processing site

A Norwegian fish farming company is seeking to develop a closed container fish farm at buildings which were previously used for the processing of mussels in Bantry, West Cork.

Niri AS, trading as Niri Seafood, want to develop the farm 800m southwest of Reen Point at a site developed for mussel farming.

They hope to develop 3,300 tonnes of salmon from the site, including salmon smolt production.

There has been sharp opposition in Bantry recently to plans to develop a 12-14 cage €3.5m organic salmon fish farm at waters near Traflask in Adrigole.

Save Bantry Bay (SBB) had urged Marine Harvest and the Department of Agriculture to consider moving the operation into a closed container system such as planned by Niri AS.

According to the developers of the Niri fish farm, all the infrastructure required to develop the farm is already onsite. However, 10 outdoor insulated tanks will also be developed.

A spokesman said: “Onshore closed containment fish farming can produce salmon and other species at lower cost than conventional sea cage farming. Fresh salmon from such production facilities will be cheaper delivered in the EU and other markets than salmon from Norwegian sea cages. Full-scale trials of the technology have been carried out in Norway.”

A scoping document has been published by the developers and they have asked locals and other organisations to consult it and forward any comments on the project to them. Such comments may inform their planned environmental impact statement.

Meanwhile, last week, Save Bantry Bay republished a report commissioned by the Department of the Marine in 1994 which stated that until the precise nature of the relationship between sea lice and sea trout is understood “a precautionary approach dictates that it would be prudent to avoid siting new fish farms or increased salmon farm production — within 20km of a sea trout river mouth”.

The group has argued that the Marine Harvest plans will damage salmon and sea trout angling in Bantry Bay — a claim contested by Marine Harvest and Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Tony Lowes, Friends of the Irish Environment director and SBB member, said: “Such advice from scientists on the siting of salmon farms is not unique to Ireland. Yet this science is consistently being ignored.”

SBB met with Simon Coveney, the agriculture minister, yesterday and said it went “reasonably well” but the minister was, under legal advice, “unable to say very much as the Bantry Bay licence application has still not been decided upon”.

They also met with MEP Sean Kelly last week to express their opposition to the planned organic salmon farm at Shot Head.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara plan to develop a 15,000-tonne organic salmon farm off Inis Oirr. They will own the farm but will lease it out.

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