Today´s Irish Examiner writes about Save Bantry Bay´s supporter meeting in Glengarriff:
Fisheries official angry at being told to leave meeting
A Bord Iascaigh Mhara employee was asked to leave a public meeting hosted by a group opposed to a planned €3.5m fish farm.
BIM regional development officer David Millard had questioned the accuracy of assertions made by the Save Bantry Bay (SBB) group in a presentation in Glengarriff at the weekend.
According to Mr Millard, he queried a statement that in Spring 2010, sea lice levels at the existing Marine Harvest farm were at dangerous “trigger levels” whereby the farm would have to be treated with chemicals.
Director of Friends of the Irish Environment Tony Lowes said he based this section of his presentation upon Marine Harvest’s own environmental impact statement (EIS).
However, during the question and answer section of the meeting, Mr Millard said this assertion was “factually incorrect” and was ruled out of order by the SBB secretary, retired harbour master Alec O’Donovan, and its chairman, fisherman Kieran O’Shea.
Mr Millard said he was allowed to speak for about two minutes.
“I am very disappointed that I was asked to leave by the organisers. I was trying to be factually correct. This is not the first Save Bantry Bay meeting that I have attended and I have offered repeatedly to bring people on farm visits to see Roancarrig, the other Marine Harvest site,” he said.
Mr Lowes said Mr Millard “was told that he could take his seat and remain but that the meeting was restricted to supporters and if he did not yield the microphone and cease his interventions he would have to leave. He refused to yield the microphone but subsequently left the building”.
Mr Millard said he was attempting “to represent an accurate picture of fish farming” and said that “too many people at the meeting had closed their minds to hearing the other side of debate”.
He has long argued that Marine Harvest has a good environmental and safety record in West Cork and Kerry.
SBB members say they have twice sought access to information on Marine Harvest’s use of chemicals but have been refused.
Mr Millard said it was “unreasonable” to expect a private company to release such commercially sensitive information.
Nearly 200 people attended Saturday night’s meeting at the Eccles Hotel.
Save Bantry Bay is made up of fishermen, residents, guest house proprietors and members of the environmental and tourism sector.
The group argues that Bantry Bay has reached its capacity for salmon fish farming.
Marine Harvest wants to develop an 100-acre organic salmon fish farm at Shot Head, Adrigole and has lodged an application for a foreshore and aquaculture licence with the Department of the Marine, where it is currently being examined.
A public consultation process was held in advance of the licence application.
By Claire O’Sullivan
Monday, March 26, 2012