BY BRIAN MOORE
SALMON farming will not adversely affect the local or migratory sealife in Bantry Bay.
That was the message from marine consultant Dr Neil Bass at this week’s reconvened oral hearing into the appeal against the granting of a licence to Marine Harvest Ireland, for an 18-cage salmon farm near Shot Head in Bantry Bay.
Dr Bass told the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) that due to the prevailing tidal movements within the bay, and the amount of water that is ‘flushed’ into the Atlantic, salmon farming will not adversely affect sea life.
Dr Bass also told the hearing that the effects of sea lice, which are prevalent in farmed salmon, will not be a major concern for wild salmon returning from the Atlantic to spawn.
However, his evidence was disputed by the concerned groups represented at the appeal hearing. ‘On their way to sea, wild salmon must pass through Bantry Bay which is 4.8km wide at Shot Head,’ Alec O’Donovan of Save Bantry Bay said. ‘They must pass within the hazardous areas of sea lice-laden salmon farms.’
Solicitor Alan Doyle, for An Taisce, who are opposed to the salmon farm, said: ‘There has been no proper assessment of the possible effects this farm will have on species such as otters, dolphins and seal. And we are convinced that this development will cause a reduction in the water quality in Bantry Bay.’
Local third-generation fisherman Kieran O’Shea said: ‘The Environmental Impact Assessment has failed to determine the extent of impact upon stocks of crustaceans, and inshore fishermen’s livelihoods. These are local jobs, filled by local people, many of whom are young, like myself. Were these jobs to be lost, many of us would have no choice but to leave and look for work elsewhere.’
Closing the proceedings, chairperson Prof Owen McIntyre said report would be submitted to the board of ALAB.
A final decision is not expected before December.
The hearing into the application for 1m-salmon farm was adjourned last February when a 102-page document emerged, that had not been seen by all the parties.