The groups which included Friends of the Irish Environment, Save Bantry Bay and Save Galway Bay were protesting against the building of two large organic salmon farms in Cork and Galway.
The Department of Agriculture, Marine, and Food has yet to decide whether to give the green light to the two farms. One is a private commercial concern in Bantry Bay, and the other, off Inis Oirr, is being developed by state agency Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).
In an open letter to the Good Food Ireland Annual Conference, the Irish Friends of the Environment called on those in attendance to boycott farmed salmon and arrange for substitutions by products “less harmful to the environment, to wild fish — and, indeed, to the consumer’s health”.
“Many arguments — such as the impact of farmed salmon lice on wild salmon mortalities — have been well known and documented by eminent scientists here in Ireland, across Europe, and in Canada. They have been the subject of ignored scientific recommendations to separate farmed salmon from wild salmon since 1994,” read the letter.
It stated the group was not against salmon farming or aquaculture but was against “open net pen salmon farms in our bays that are on the migratory path of the wild salmon”.
Chairman of the Federation of Irish Salmon and Sea Trout Anglers (FISSTA) Paul Lawton said the protest was peaceful and that protesters had spoken to a number of people attending the awards.
“We asked them to boycott farmed salmon and pointed out that this mega fish farm in Galway Bay needs to be stopped. If it gets the go-ahead, it will ruin the West of Ireland — and all for a quick buck.”