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Large Crowd Expected at Fish Farm Protest Meeting

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IRELAND - Organisers of a meeting planned for Bantry this Friday 23 November have said they have been overwhelmed by the response from around the country to the protest meeting, which will be addressed by international anti-fish farming campaigner Don Staniford.

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Mr Staniford was recently cleared by British Columbias Supreme Court of defamation charges after he ran a campaign linking cancer from cigarette smoking to cancer from farmed salmon. He has been described by aquaculture trade media as salmon farming's "public enemy number one".

Also speaking will be Elena Edwards of the Canadian WILD SALMON FIRST! campaign and Dr. Roderick OSullivan, the author of the first study on salmon farming in Ireland in 1989.

The organisers, Save Bantry Bay, say they have had enquiries about the meeting from anglers and concerned citizens not only from Cork but from Donegal, Dublin, Galway, and the Aran Islands. More than 200 residents attending their last protest meeting in Glengarriff in the summer. The group then sent information leaflets to more than 7,000 residents on the Beara peninsula.

Chairman Kieran OShea said Save Bantry Bay has also had a very encouraging response from 179 letters to all TDs, local councillors and senators appealing to them to help their voice be heard.

Sixteen TDs are contacting to Simon Coveney directly, including Jim Daly, (Fine Gael Cork South West) and Michael McCarthy, (Labour Cork South West.)

Michael Healy-Rae, (Kerry, Independent) told the group he had tabled a Parliamentary Question for the Minister asking if he will agree with concerns of locals who feel that it would be breaking EU legislation if it were to actually be granted and if he will make a statement on the matter. Simon Coveneys response was that the matter continues to be under consideration.

The groups letter to TDs cited not only European legislation intended to protect wild salmon, but the loss of fishing grounds, increased pollution, the negative effect on the local shellfish industry, on the six local salmon rivers, and on tourism.

Committee Secretary Alex ODonnovan said that BIM and the Minister appear to have forgotten the Bantry Bay Charter agreed by the representatives of the stakeholders in the area, including local interests and regulatory bodies, which recognised the valid opinions and perspectives of all the interests in the area and requires at least a broad-based consensus for any future developments.

While Save Bantry Bay was established to oppose the expansion by Marine Harvest in Bantry Bay, opposition is also growing to a proposal by BIM for a super farm in Galway Bay that would in itself double the national production of farmed salmon. Opponents to the Galway Bay proposal are also attending the meeting, which will be held in the Maritime Hotel, Bantry, on Friday 23 November at 7.30 PM.