The group, which was formed two years ago to oppose further salmon farming in the area, released a statement saying that they 'had been monitoring the situation since a storm on Saturday, 1 February.' They say they are 'surprised that the company has made no announcement.'
'According to reports we have received, one of the four cages at Gerahies, Bantry Bay dragged its anchor, upending into another cage. This led to an immediate escape of between 60,000 and 80,000 one year old fish as well as an undetermined number of smaller fish.'
'We are particularly concerned because of the very real likelihood of further escapees. The protective nets have been stripped by the gales and the seas are overtopping the cages, allowing salmon to escape and predators like seals to enter.'
'Their licence requires that they report all escapes to the Department of Agriculture without delay and this information should be available to us all through the local media.'
The statement went on to explain that 'The escape of farmed salmon is a potential disaster for our native wild stock.'
'These escaped fish interbreed and compete with wild salmon, transmitting disease and parasites to them. Farmed salmon compete with native stock for scarce food and irreversibly weaken the genetic
makeup and survival of wild salmon if they reproduce with them.'
'Contained systems on land are the only way to protect the environment and raise salmon. It is clear now that the proposed expansion by Marine Harvest in Bantry Bay can not be defended', the statement from the local group concluded.
You can read the full statement by clicking here.