Farmed salmon is known to be detrimental to wild salmon populations and the environment. For Ireland to fulfil even the smallest increase in demand in China production would have to increase dramatically - as would the associated environmental impacts. Even if each person in China ate just one small portion (100g) of Irish farmed salmon a year, they would be consuming nine times Ireland’s current total output, said the group.
"I am horrified at this announcement," said Alec O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay and keen angler. "Before any deal was done Government should have addressed the controversies already boiling at home. We have Government agencies at loggerheads, and increasing numbers of anglers, fishermen, tourism business owners, residents and holiday makers protesting around the country. Now the ink is dry, we can only ask how Government can commit to delivering massive tonnage of salmon while at the same time continuing to claim it is making ‘independent’ decisions on current applications to expand salmon farming."
Save Bantry Bay has been calling on Government to undertake a full Strategic Environmental Assessment of salmon farming policy as is required by EU legislation. In addition Save Bantry Bay has asked for a review of current aquaculture licencing systems, which give almost total control to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. To date, the Government is planning neither.
"Sadly, this legislation allows for a single Minister to blindly push forward with a reckless and ill-conceived salmon farming policy," noted Kieran O’Shea, Chair of Save Bantry Bay.
"This already signed deal makes it quite clear that government is dressing-up their so-called independent decision making in a ludicrous fig leaf of fair process. Now is the time for a full independent investigation into Irish salmon farming policy and systems."