The Irish Examiner reports today:
Fish farm ‘will cut off access to shellfish pots’
By Claire O’Sullivan
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
A third generation West Cork fisherman has said fishermen are objecting to a proposed fish farm in Bantry Bay because if it proceeds, they “won’t be able to access their shellfish pots” in bad weather.
Up to 20 fishermen from Bantry, Adrigole, Castletownbere and Glengarriff fish for shrimp, prawns, crabs, lobster and scallops around Shot Head — a location which has been earmarked for Marine Harvests’ €3.5 million organic salmon farm.
“I have wanted to fish ever since I could walk. If this project goes ahead, we won’t be able to get at our pots as when the weather is bad, we will get tangled up with the ropes and buoys attached to the fish farm mooring,” said Kieran O’Shea, 21, from Adrigole.
“It would be a disaster to have a 106-acre farm there. There’s already fish farms in Bantry Bay. We can’t keep on allowing the fish farms to come in and reduce the area where we can fish native stocks. All the fishermen feel the same,” he said.
His comments came as campaigners fighting the Shot Head proposal protested outside last night’s monthly meeting of Bantry Harbour Commissioners.
The Save Bantry Bay group claims the project has “failed to make good on Bantry Bay Charter’s commitment to comprehensive public participation” in relation to significant developments in the bay.
They handed a letter into the meeting which claimed:
* Fishermen will lose income if the development goes ahead;
* Smolts from the salmon rivers that flow in to Bantry Bay will be exposed to increased mortality through infection by sea lice;
* Slack currents and water movements in the bay the waste will increase the nutrient levels — one of the factors linked to toxic red tides.
Meanwhile, a three-year study, funded by the EU and contributed to by Inland Fisheries Ireland, found fish farms in Co Clare with sea lice 75% above the ‘safe level’, with other farms in the West having sea lice 100% over the ‘safe level’.
Co-author of the study, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Alexandra Morton said “salmon farming breaks a natural law.
“In the natural system, the youngest salmon are not exposed to sea lice because the adult salmon that carry the parasite are offshore. But fish farms cause a deadly collision between the vulnerable young salmon and sea lice. They are not equipped to survive this, and they don’t,” she said.
“It means that the probability of extinction is 100% and the only question is how long it is going to take,” she added.
In the joint project with Scottish and Norwegian partners, Irish salmon were tagged and treated against lice before release and compared against a control group. In six of the eight release groups, the protected fish showed a significant difference in return rate and had better survival records.
Simon Coveney, the marine minister, told the Seanad recently that new legislation is intended to facilitate “moving some of the larger-scale aquaculture projects that may emerge in Ireland further offshore.”