Almost 200 people attended the public meeting for supporters of the opposition to a new salmon farm in Bantry Bay at the Glengariff Eccles Hotel last Saturday. The committee of the group Save Bantry Bay called the meeting for supporters of their protest. The evening was chaired by Kieran O´Shea. Representatives of the Federation of Irish Salmon and Sea Trout Anglers (FISSTA) of Salmon Watch Ireland and of partner group Save Dunmanus Bay expressed their solidarity and support.
Save Bantry Bay was set up to defend the fishermen, residents, guest houses, anglers, the environment and tourism in the area and to protect the brand name “Bantry Bay”. It says Bantry Bay has reached its capacity for salmon farming.
Fierce opposition to the farm has brought together diverse interests from across the peninsula. Fishermen claim that the site of more than 100 acres will limit their ability to make a living, closing off part of an important ground for shrimp and prawn. Tourist interest have quoted studies in Scotland that show that certain tourists do not return to an area with fish farms as they spoil the natural beauty.
SBB is particularly concerned with the impact of sea lice on the wild salmon as there are 6 rivers entering the bay. Young smoult leaving these rivers, almost all of which are still closed to fishermen because of poor stocks, have been shown to be infected by the sea lice in the caged salmon
The group points to a publication in the Canadian Journal of Aquatic Studies by researchers in three countries including Ireland in early February 2012, funded by the EU, which showed that loses reached almost half of the salmon passing through bays with salmon farms in them.
They also draw attention to an article from the British Veterinary Journal from a study undertaken last year on 4 fish farms that shows loses from diseases in the gills have led to up to 40% mortality in fish farms. The gill diseases have similarities to respiratory disease, specifically pneumonia, in intensively reared land animals, all of which require antibiotics, increasing resistance.
They also say that the farm will cause further problems with algae blooms in the bay. They quote a 2000 Study by Malcolm MacGarvin, independent consultant retained by WWF, who used new criteria on fish farm waste from Ospar, (fifteen Governments of the western coasts of Europe) to calculate the contribution of Scottish fish farms to nutrient enrichment.
That year, 350 salmon farms produced 7,500 tons of nitrogen, equivalent to the annual sewage from 3.2 million people, and 1,240 tons of phosphorus, comparable to sewage from 9.4 million people. The ecological result was effectively greater than the sewage produced by Scotland’s 5.1 million humans.
While management and feeds have improved, based on Marine Harvest’s own figures for the proposed Shot Head farm, the waste produced would be the equivalent of a town 4 times the size of Bantry for sewage phosphorus waste and 10 times the size of Bantry for sewage nitrogen waste – the equivalent to adding the sewage from the entire population of Bray to Bantry Bay.
A powerpoint presentation naming the facts against a salmon farm at Shot Head was given by spokesman Tony Lowes. It is available for download on this website: Click to download here.
The questioning by a local BIM representative, David Millard, who had also been at the earlier public meeting to lobby for Marine Harvest, was ruled out of order by the Secretary and Chairman, retired harbourmaster Alex O’Donovan and 3rd generation fisherman Kieran O’Shea.
The representative 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.
BIM had challenged one of the statements in the Power Point presentation about the use of chemicals to treat sea lice on the existing Marine Harvest operation in Bantry Bay.
In a heated exchange, a committee member pointed out to the representative that Marine Harvest has now twice refused to release to the group records of their use of chemicals of any kind and the statement in the presentation was based on a table published in Marine Harvest’s own Environmental Impact Statement.