Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Say NO to Organic Salmon Farming

Published on Irish Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I oppose the "organic" salmon farming scheme which is being considered for Galway Bay.
More jobs (and therefore income to the State) will be lost than gained because of the negative impact.
Tourism will gradually decline in the west of Ireland, and especially in Clare and Galway, because of the unsightly pen markers and the gradual awareness in the minds of the public that Galway Bay has become an "industrial" asset of big business rather than the natural asset it is now perceived as. Moreover, the cumulative effect of the effluent and detritus from the caged salmon, along with the inevitable escapes, will adversely affect wild salmon as well as lobsters, crabs and crustaceans in a wide area.

Local commercial fishermen will gradually be forced out of business and sport anglers and fly fishers will disappear. I recently spent considerable time in the Aran Islands and did not find anyone who said they favoured this proposal. Are wild salmon bathed in hydrogen peroxide or other more toxic chemicals to remove sea lice? Or given antibiotics? Or fed chemicals to make their flesh pinker and therefore more marketable? Do wild salmon grow up confined unnaturally in pens where they have too much food and have to swim in their own effluent? Farmed salmon are subjected to all these insults. The 500-acre pens crowded with salmon will create significant pollution which will deter people from swimming in the bay and will negatively impact other natural attractions on the west coast. The debris and pollution created by an operation of this size has been compared to the sewerage output of a city of 10,000 people.

The floor of the bay would be only 50 to 100 metres below the surface and would be extremely contaminated. The debris would not be confined to the area immediately below the pens but would move around the bay. In effect, the operation would amount to pumping raw sewerage into the areas close to the Cliffs of Moher and the mouth of Galway Bay. It is hard to think of a more detrimental environmental impact, other than a nuclear power plant leaking toxic waste. This proposal constitutes one of the most egregious environmental threats Ireland has ever faced. The economic and cultural dangers are very significant and if not defeated, will permanently harm the economy, tourism, sporting and the reputation of Ireland for unspoiled natural beauty.

Thomas F Marshall
New Jersey