Activist Don Staniford, a known ‘public enemy’ of salmon farming drew a 100-strong crowd to Bantry Bay on Friday. A guest speaker on behalf of campaign group Save Bantry Bay, Mr Staniford outlined the damaging effects that common fish- farming practices wreak on wild stocks claiming the industry was “fundamentally flawed”.
Marine Harvest seeks to develop a 100-acre site fish farm 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 wild fish stocks, water quality, fishermen’s livelihoods, angling, tourism, and water sports.
Mr Staniford said Marine Harvest is fighting farmed fish parasites such as sea lice and gill amoeba, but information on chemical treatments used in Ireland is “particularly difficult to access”. “The public has a right to know what diseases and treatments affect farm salmon in Ireland,” he said.
Dr Roderick O’Sullivan, the author of the first study on salmon farming in Ireland in 1989, said the use of hydrogen peroxide to combat sea lice in fish farming disperses sea lice, heightening dangers for wild stocks. He quoted a recent report by Ireland’s Inland Fisheries that showed 39% of the wild salmon that would normally return to their rivers are being killed by sea lice. “The location of two fish farms, on either side of Bantry Bay will provide a gauntlet to run for wild salmon stocks,” he said.
Save Bantry Bay secretary Alec O’Donovan said information on chemical treatments used by Marine Harvest is required to determine the environmental impact the proposed 100-acre fish farm will have on Bantry Bay.
“We were directed by Minister Simon Coveney’s office to the company, who said the information was commercially sensitive and could not be divulged,” he said.
A Marine Harvest spokeswoman said the industry is heavily regulated in Ireland. She said Marine Institute studies contained information of diseases and treatments including sea lice.
Director of Friends of the Irish Environment Tony Lowes said a campaign to boycott farmed salmon this Christmas was under consideration following Friday’s meeting.
Don Staniford continues his tour which includes the Aran Islands, Connemara, Clew Bay, Clare Island, Donegal Bay, Mulroy Bay, and Lough Swilly.