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LETTER: Objecting to mussel cultivation licence

April 21st, 2019 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Have your say: Write to [email protected]

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SIR – On Thursday, I attended a meeting in Gortalassa community hall to discuss the proposed cultivation of mussels on the south shore of Bantry Bay.

An application has been made to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for a licence to cultivate 140 tonnes of Blue Mussels per year on 24 hectares, with the promise of six full-time jobs.

Sounds good?

Well, no Environmental Impact Assessment has been carried out.(I couldn’t be more fed up of writing that sentence).

And those attending the meeting in Gortalassa expressed concerns that the proposed development will have a negative impact on local fishermen whose livelihoods already depend on this area.

The consensus among the local fishing community is that, should planning be granted, the changes caused to the ecosystem will see a significant increase in starfish – which are damaging to fish stocks.

As many local fishermen pointed out, Bantry Bay is already over-saturated; if this licence is granted, it will come within 5 metres of the very unwelcome proposed kelp harvesting – which was given permission by the Department of Housing.

Do these departments link up with each other at all? Is there any kind of joined-up thinking going on? Take one look at Bantry Bay and I think it’s safe to say there is not.

The implications of salmon farms (disease, sea lice, fish escaping), the potential damage of run-off from Skibbereen’s proposed plastics factory, all of this suggests that not only is our government doing nothing to protect the fishing industry, it’s actively engaged in jeopardising it – and dismissing local objections and expertise in the process.

We cannot continue to rely on individuals and community groups to correct poor decision-making, when the odds are so stacked up against us, and it all-too-often involves raising massive amounts of money to do so – money that could be better invested our communities.

Once again, objections to this are being submitted. I’ll be submitting one too. Will these ones be heard?

I encourage everyone who cares about Bantry Bay and our fisheries to submit an objection before Tuesday, April 23rd – the more, the better. We’ve all assumed in the past that ‘somebody should do something’

Well, we’re all somebody – and, if we don’t make our objections known, we’ll be out shaking buckets to raise what feels like an unattainable sum of money to fight back in the courts after the decision is passed.

The fisheries and tourism are two of West Cork’s most sustainable industries. This is another, on an ever-increasing list of plans that will negatively impact on them. We all need to do what we can to demand future-proof investment in our environment to ensure sustainable local employment.

To object, make a written submission to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (quoting ref. T05/430 A & B) and send to Dept Of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Aquaculture and Foreshore Management Division, National Seafood Centre, Clonakilty.

Holly McKeever Cairns,

Ardagh,

Church Cross,

Skibbereen.

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