THE go-ahead for a €6m salmon farm in Bantry Bay has been met with disappointment by some locals who say they are now considering their options.
MOWI Ireland, formerly Marine Harvest Ireland, had its application for a salmon farm at Shot Head in Bantry Bay approved by the Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board (ALAB) last week.
It had initially applied for the licence for the farm at Shot Head in June 2011. The company, the largest salmon producer in the world, currently operates fish farms at Ahabeg and Roancarrig on the western side of Bantry Bay.
A company spokesperson described it as ‘a very positive step forward for the Irish aquaculture industry, as a whole’ which will create eight jobs.
‘This development at Shot Head is likely to be complete in just 14 weeks in accordance with Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine installation requirements.’
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine originally granted the licence in 2015 but this was appealed to the ALAB by 14 different parties, including Save Bantry Bay and the applicant, Mowi.
A spokesman for the conservation charity Friends of the Irish Environment, which is based on the Beara peninsula, said they were ‘gutted’ by the decision.
‘To allow yet more salmon farms without fixing the legislation is sickening – both for us and for Bantry Bay.’
Alec O’Donovan, secretary of Save Bantry Bay said: ‘Fishermen, tourism businesses, anglers, water sports enthusiasts, environmentalists, and almost every member of the local community objected for wide ranging reasons, yet their concerns have been ignored.’ Kieran O’Shea, Save Bantry Bay chairperson and third generation fisherman in Bantry Bay described it as a ‘terrible blow to fishermen.’
‘It’ll have an awful impact on the inshore fishing industry where we’ll lose grounds ... inshore fishing by small scale families such as my own is part of our cultural heritage.’
He added: ‘The government simply don’t care. It’s time for this to stop, and for our TDs to step up and support sustainable fishing practices. We have suffered enough.’
Breda O’Sullivan, a resident of Trafrask where the site is to be located, said that Ireland could have been a leader in sustainable aquaculture, but described the decision as ‘disgraceful’.
Social Democrats TD and organic farmer Holly Cairns said the decision was ‘yet another example of the push to industrialise the waters around Bantry Bay against the wishes of locals, campaign groups and NGOs.’
‘We need to examine the research that led to this decision as it is very hard to understand.’
Alec O’Donovan concluded: ‘We will be examining the documents and are considering further action.’