I found myself feeling pissed off at work today. When I thought about exactly why I was feeling that way the answer didn’t make me feel much better. A very good friend of mine in Ireland, Colin Folan, sent me a link to a “Prime Time” episode on RTE covering both sides of the Aran Islands fish farm debate. I’m totally anti fish farming using the methods adopted by the Irish salmon farming industry. I witnessed the decimation of sea-trout populations, mainly through my father’s eyes when I was a child. This collapse coincided with the first farms and within a few years they were all but gone (1271 sea-trout down to 21 in one year on the Lough Inagh Fishery and down to 14 the next). Salmon farms have continued to plague wild salmon and seatrout populations ever since through pollution, disease and huge infestations of sea-lice feeding on farmed salmon but easily latching onto wild salmonids as they pass by. The program on RTE highlighted the fact that now B.I.M ( Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Sea Fisheries Board in English) are behind a proposal to build Europe’s largest salmon farm just off the west coast of Ireland beside the beautiful Aran Islands. If this goes ahead when will it stop? Will the entire west coast be dotted with ugly, polluting cages? Why can’t we learn from our own mistakes or B.C’s or Scotland’s or Norway’s? IFI (Inland Fisheries Ireland) are opposed to the farms due to the threat that farms pose to wild fish and angling tourism. BIM picked a great time to sneak in with their proposal. Ireland needs jobs and the farm could employ lots but at what cost? If the wild fish populations are further reduced on Ireland’s west coast huge numbers of jobs will be lost in angling tourism. If money was put into promotion of angling tourism, preservation of habitat and re-population of wild fish stocks, jobs would be created both in the short and long term And we would have wild fish running our rivers for ever more. One thing that really bothers me in all of this is the fact the entire debate seems to revolve around money and jobs. The welfare of wild salmon and sea-trout for the salmon and sea-trout’s sake has taken a back seat. If you have ever stood beside a river watching wild salmon and trout run up and over a fall you will know what an amazing and utterly captivating sight and experience it is, If you have not and this farm goes ahead you may never witness this on Ireland’s west coast nor will your children. This brings a tear to my eye. The farm has not been given the green light yet so there is still hope. Maybe we will keep this wild fish resource and not give it up like we did our sea fishing rights and our oil.
Below is a link to the episode, Start 17 minutes in.
By the way, The BIM spokesman on the show made reference to the fact that wild salmon and sea-lice have coexisted for millions of years, (which is true in the wild), but he neglected to mention what happens when you pack a million salmon into a little cage. The lice will find it and their population will explode due the amount of available food. Also what happens in the open ocean cannot be accurately compared to the confines of a cage. I could see the No Salmon Farms At Sea spokesman chomping at the bit to retort but he never got a chance! And to Richard from the IFA, “Does it take 3kgs of wild fish to produce 1kg of farmed salmon?” he was asked, “No” he said, “it takes 600gs of protein / fish meal to produce a kg of farmed salmon” Well my question to him is, how many kgs of wild fish does it take to produce 600gs of fish meal?? Dam evasive politics.
Here is a link to a fact sheet from the I.F.I, Please take 5 minutes to read over it. http://www.fisheriesireland.ie/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=330&Itemid
Here are Minister Simon Coveney’s details.. http://www.finegael.ie/our-people/ministers/simon-coveney/
Please sign and share this petition.. https://www.change.org/petitions/simon-coveney-td-minister-for-agriculture-food-and-the-maine-refuse-the-application-from-bim-to-put-salmon-cages-in-galway-bay#share