00:00 Saturday 12 May 2012  Written by BRIAN MOORE

Onshore salmon farm plan

Norwegian company to set up closed containment facility beside Bantry Bay

WHILE Marine Harvest Ireland await planning permission for a new salmon farm development off Shot Head in Bantry Bay, another company have set their sights on Reen Point as an ideal location for their own salmon farming project.

However, the Norwegian firm behind this latest fish farm proposal for Bantry Bay have an altogether different plan to produce 3,300 tonnes of salmon per annum from the site just outside Bantry town. Unlike the Marine Harvest application, Niri Seafood Ireland Ltd plan to produce their salmon in an on-shore closed containment facility at what was previously a mussel producing plant at Reen Point.

A statement from Niri Seafood Ireland Ltd claims that the facility at Reen Point is an ideal location for their business because all of the required infrastructure is already in place. 'On-shore closed containment fish farming can produce salmon and other species at lower cost than conventional sea cage farming. Fresh salmon from such production facilities will be cheaper to deliver in the EU and other markets than salmon from Norwegian sea cages. Full-scale trials of the technology have been carried out in Norway,' a spokesperson for Niri Seafood Ireland said.

In addition to the facilities already in place at Reen Point, Niri will construct ten outdoor insulated tanks, which will be fully enclosed. These tanks will house the growing salmon.

A spokesperson for the Save Bantry Bay (SBB) committee said that they welcome this new salmon farm proposal.

'Environmentalists worldwide are supporting land-based closed containments systems. Closed containment systems are the way forward for the industry. The open-net pen fish farms currently used in Ireland's bays cause a host of environmental problems. On top of that, parasites and diseases are becoming increasingly resistant to chemical treatment. Well-designed and well-run closed containment systems can be cheaper and cleaner, while also protecting the environment and wild fish populations. Additionally, they may allow diversification into many other high-value species besides salmon. It is early days yet for this proposed project but in principle we would favour this closed containment system for salmon farming,' chairman of the SBB committee Kieran O'Shea told the Southern Star.

Another member of the SBB committee and director of the Friends of the Irish Environment, Tony Lowes, also welcomes the proposed closed fish farm.

'Properly designed and operated closed system fish farms solve the pollution problems, reduce disease and eliminate parasites. Nutrients can be removed from discharges and used as fertilisers on land making this a much more sustainable option. Health and safety of the workers is also improved as they no longer have to go to sea in all weather conditions or dive to inspect cages and carry out essential maintenance,' Mr Lowes said.

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