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Independent probe is sought into deaths of Bantry salmon

November 15th, 2021 10:30 PM

By Jackie Keogh

A view over Bantry Bay. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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CALLS have been made for an independent investigation into the deaths of 80,000 farmed salmon in Bantry Bay.

Independent TD Michael Collins said the findings of such an investigation into the €2.4m loss ‘must be publicly disclosed when it is complete.’

The Department of Marine was asked to confirm if it was carrying out the investigation but The Southern Star did not receive a reply.

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

‘We have been making the point that occurrences like this are inevitable,’ said Alec, who believes the large amount of waste coming from sea-based salmon cages could be a contributory factor.

He said algae blooms, which are monitored by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, regularly force the closure of the many mussel farms in the bay, but the department website does not show any algal blooms severe enough to stop mussel harvesting.

The Save Bantry Bay spokesperson also said that any attempt to shift the blame to global warming is not supported by any scientific research.

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

The spokesman said both sites were affected as a result of ‘a naturally occurring toxic plankton bloom, exacerbated by warmer waters, which leads to the proliferation of various types of harmful plankton’ and that the full extent of the losses have not been definitively established.

He said the company is working closely with the department and is following all departmental and industry protocols in relation to the incident.

The Mowi spokesperson said the Marine Institute, as well as other experts and academics, is also involved in ‘collaborating in the various investigations to establish the exact cause of the incident.’

Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns said she, too, believes this ‘worrying incident needs to be investigated fully’ and she has raised the matter with the Minister for the Marine.

‘This incident,’ she added, ‘underlines many of the concerns I have expressed around largescale salmon farms.

‘Warmer waters due to climate change have been mentioned as a reason for the outbreak,’ she added, ‘but these types of events will become more common without proper climate action.’

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