The Save Bantry Bay committee has reiterated calls for food and marine Simon Coveney to refuse planning permission for a new salmon farm in the world-famous bay after it emerged huge quantities of the toxic pesticide, Teflubenzuron, were discovered at a salmon farm site in Scotland.
An investigation is underway at the Marine Harvest facility after the discovery that toxic pesticide residues hundreds of times above environmental limits had been detected.
However, Marine Harvest Ireland insists the toxic pesticides are not used at their facility in Bantry Bay.
“In relation to Teflubenzuron detection in Scottish sediments, Marine Harvest Ireland has never used this medicine in our organic fish anywhere in Ireland, including Bantry Bay,” a spokesman said.
“Salmon are extremely sensitive to pollution and only prosper in clean and well-oxygenated waters.
“It is therefore in our interest to ensure that the water quality in Bantry Bay remains pristine.”
The spokesman added: “There has been salmon farming in Bantry Bay for almost 40 years. It has operated without incident and today it is an integrated part of the local Beara peninsula community.
“Marine Harvest Ireland is one of the most comprehensively inspected and certified organisations in the industry by the agencies that regulate our industry, customers and international standards organisations. Every stage of our production process is audited annually by independent bodies.”
The company plans to invest €3.5m in setting up a 14-cage salmon farm at the Shot Head site and a further minimum of €10m over each two-year production cycle.
In addition, there will be eight long-term positions for operatives.
Local action committee secretary Alec O’Donovan said SBB was convinced the environmental impact to Bantry Bay from a new salmon farm would be too high a price to pay for future generations.
“How can we have confidence when the controls in place are not strict enough or, indeed, even enforced.
“The Environmental Impact Statement completed by Marine Harvest as part of the licence application has failed to meet standards set by the EU EIA directive. And now we hear of an investigation underway in Scotland at a Marine Harvest facility there. We can’t allow something like this to happen in Bantry Bay,” Mr O’Donovan said.
State agency Bord Iasciagh Mhara, meanwhile, said: “We have full confidence in the environmental monitoring and controls applied to the marine salmon farming sector here in Ireland.
“Marine Harvest Ireland is required to comply with these and it is our understanding that their compliance record is very good.”