Save Bantry Bay, the group launched at a recent public meeting in Adrigole in West Cork to oppose a salmon farm at nearby Shot Head, was demonstrating outside the monthly meeting of the Bantry Harbour Commissioners last night. 40 members and their supporters raised their concerns and asked the commissioners to object against the proposed industrial scale salmon farm planned by Marine Harvest, the global player in the multibillion dollar farmed salmon business. Several local and regional groups sent their good wishes to the demonstrators and stated that they will strongly support the case in the weeks ahead.
The group highlighted the failure to hold public consultations as required under the Bantry Bay Charter. Save Bantry Bay chairman Kieran O`Shea, local fisherman from Adrigole, addressed the demonstrators and presented the Harbour Commissioner´s chairman, Michael Hennebry, with a letter. The letter says that ‘the project had failed to make good on Bantry Bay Charter’s commitment to comprehensive public participation in relation to significant developments in Bantry Bay. This requires that agreement is reached within local communities before any further development takes place.’
Save Bantry Bay claims that Bantry Bay is yet to establish a co-ordinated Local Area Management Scheme (CLAMS) and that the proposed management regime does not comply with Best Practice. It says that the presence of five salmon rivers entering into the bay mean that smoults will be exposed to increased mortality through infection by sea lice. Further, because of the slack the currents and water movements in the Bay the waste will increase the nutrient levels in Bantry Bay – one of the factors linked to toxic red tides. The letter claims that ‘The site is prime ground for local fishermen and will result in a loss of income and curtail constitutional right to the common good.’ Jobs will be lost instead of being created.
Save Bantry Bay does not oppose fish farms in general, but insists on no further salmon farm to be set up in heavily used and impacted Bantry Bay. The Bay and the adjoining peninsulas are an integral part of the natural capital of Southwest Ireland where many people depend on tourism for their livelihood, supporting divers, kayakers, sailors, anglers, walkers and bikers and those who value the unspoiled amenities of the area.
Prior to the demonstration a delegation of Save Bantry Bay exchanged views with the members of the Harbour Commissioner´s Environmental Committee.