A natural ‘toxic bloom’ killed Bantry salmon, says Dept vet

February 3rd, 2022 5:45 PM

By Jackie Keogh

A view over Bantry Bay. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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A DEPARTMENT veterinary inspector has said that the massive fish kill in Bantry last October was consistent with a phytoplankton bloom.

Following the death of an estimated 80,000 farmed salmon, worth €2.4m, Michael Collins (Ind) TD called on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to investigate the matter.

Alec O’Donovan speaking on behalf of Save Bantry Bay – an organisation set up to campaign against salmon farming – also called for an independent investigation.

A spokesman for the salmon farming company, Mowi Ireland, confirmed it had notified the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of the mass mortalities at its sites at Ahabeg and Roancarrig in Bantry Bay.

It claimed that both of the sites were affected by the ‘naturally occurring toxic plankton bloom.’

A spokesperson for the Department confirmed that on October 29th it received notification of elevated/exceptional mortalities at two sites on a salmon farm at Roancarrig and Ahabeg.

‘The department can confirm that a veterinary inspector visited the site and samples were taken from live/moribund fish for examination,’ the spokesperson said.

‘The department’s scientific advisors, the Marine Institute, carried out fish health testing on the samples collected and results of this testing has found that no indication of diseases listed as notifiable in EU regulation 2016/429 was detected.

‘Overall,’ she said, ‘the extensive gill pathology noted was consistent with physical insult such as caused by a phytoplankton bloom.’

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