A CAMPAIGN opposed to the expansion of the Marine Harvest salmon farm at Shot Head in Bantry Bay is seeking support from local people in Bantry and Beara.
More than 7,000 homes will be receiving leaflets, distributed by An Post, from the Save Bantry Bay Committee (SBB) calling on all those living and working on the shores of Bantry Bay to oppose any new salmon farm.
“We need to make the people who live and work in Bantry Bay aware of what Marine Harvest plans to do and what effect this will have on the environment, both above and below the water in the bay,” said Alec O’Donovan of SBB.
Marine Harvest Ireland already farms 14 salmon cages at Roancarrig.
The cages, housing up to 40,000 salmon each, are overseen by 40 employees.
These comprise of office workers in Castletownbere and operatives who work in the bay maintaining the cages and harvesting the salmon.
Marine Harvest plans to invest €3.5 million in the project, which includes the creation of six full-time jobs during the farm set-up. When the farm is fully operational, it will provide a total of two full-time jobs.
The company has applied to fisheries Minister Simon Coveney and the Department of the Marine for a licence to add a further 14 cages at Shot Head.
The new site will cover almost 43 hectares of seabed and 1.5 hectares of water surface area.
This new development will enable Marine Harvest to move fish from one site to another, allowing a ‘fallow’ period in one location while the other continues to produce fish.
The SBB leaflet, which will be arriving in the post to households this week, claims that the waste from the fish farm is equivalent to the sewage of a town ten times the size of Bantry.
The development of the fish farm has proved to be a devise issue around the bay with many local people also supporting the development.
Local fisherman and chairman of the SBB Kieran McCarthy is concerned for his own future fishing in Bantry Bay.
“My family has fished around Shot Head, the location of the proposed new farm, for three generations.
“This new salmon farm threatens local fishermen’s livelihoods through the loss of trawling grounds to a non-Irish corporation.
“We are not against salmon farming but we feel that the way forward is to develop contained fish farms on land where all outputs can be controlled and disposed of in a method that is environmentally sound.
“We are urging residents to lobby their TDs, Senators, and Minister Simon Coveney, to read more, talk to others, and to get involved. The future of Bantry Bay is at stake,” he concluded.