Today´s Irish Examiner reports:
Harbour authority lodges objection to €3.5m fish farm
By Claire O’Sullivan
Thursday, February 23, 2012
A harbour authority has lodged objections to a controversial €3.5 million fish farming project in West Cork by one of the biggest aquaculture companies in the world.
Bantry Bay Harbour Commissioners objects to the Marine Harvest company’s proposal on the grounds of location.
According to Michael Hennebry, chairman of the harbour commissioners, a report prepared by a deputy harbour master said the proposed fish farm was “too close” to tanker anchorage forWhiddy Island oil storage terminal and to a “boarding point for pilots”.
Earlier this week, a delegation from the Save Bantry Bay group met with the harbour commissioners and conveyed to them a letter setting out reasons for their opposition to the project.
About 40 supporters of the group had also demonstrated against the project, which is to employ six people, outside the harbour commissioners office.
The group stated they were not opposed to aquaculture but to “this specific project at this specific location”.
The harbour commissioners insist their decision, to object to the project, was not influenced by the protest group or their letter but by concerns raised by their own colleagues.
One of the points highlighted in the letter related to the company’s argument that waste from the farm will pass directly “out into the Atlantic Ocean”.
“It has not been proven the currents and water movements in the bay will ensure waste from the salmon farm will pass directly from the salmon farms ‘out into the Atlantic Ocean’. Previous studies have in fact shown that water exchange in Bantry Bay is low, and sediments and waste material will move east into the head of Bantry Bay,” the letter said.
“These wastes will increase the nutrient levels in Bantry Bay which is one of the factors linked to phytoplankton blooms leading toxicity.”
David Millard, Bord Iascaigh Mhara regional development officer in West Cork, said that Marine Harvest, which operates a fish farm in Beara, has “a good environmental and safety record” in West Cork. “I understand why people might be worried but the application for aquaculture and foreshore licences are a strictly controlled process and Marine Harvest are following it to the letter of the law.
“The project will be regulated and will be monitored by the Marine Institute.”