Galway Bay fish farming project could net €14.5 million and 500 jobs
Galway Bay fish farming project
By Martina Nee
An eight-week public consultation period has begun on a deep sea fish farming project for Galway Bay which could result in 500 new jobs being created as well as injecting €14.5 million into the local economy.
Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has announced that the project’s licence application has now moved into the public consultation phase. The consultation period officially began last Monday and is expected to run for eight weeks giving the general public the opportunity to learn more about this unique deep sea salmon fishing project.
The licence application for the deep sea salmon farm is to produce 15,000 tonnes of organic-certified salmon and, if successful, it is envisaged that this output will be gradually built up over a six year period resulting in the creation of more than 500 new jobs. This welcome jobs boost will comprise the provision of 350 directly related positions and 150 indirectly, as well as an annual wage flow of €14.5 million, mainly in the vicinity of the proposed farm.
According to the application notice has been given by BIM to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, for an Aquaculture Licence to cultivate salmon using circular net pens, on the foreshore at Inis Oírr, Galway Bay. Notice has also been given for a Foreshore Licence for the placing of structures on the area of foreshore to be used for the fish farm.
BIM’s CEO, Jason Whooley, reiterated the Seafood Development Agency’s commitment to full and transparent communications throughout the process and welcomed the beginning of the public consultation phase. He said: “BIM have a vital role to play in the coming eight weeks to ensure that members of the public are given the opportunity to inform themselves about the proposed development. The level of scientific research that has gone into identifying these potentially suitable locations in outer Galway Bay for deep sea fish farming is unprecedented, bringing together research and modelling from some of the State’s most eminent marine scientists. We are confident that the very carefully chosen locations, matched with the rigorous monitoring that must accompany any salmon farm in Ireland, will enable the proposed development to run successfully and produce premium organic salmon, something that Ireland is world renowned for.”
Welcoming the announcement Fine Gael senator for Galway West, Fidelma Healy Eames, said: “I would encourage the public to engage with the consultation phase of this exciting project. If the application is successful it has the potential to create more than 500 jobs in Galway bringing €14.5 million into the local economy. This presents a great opportunity to capitalise on our highly valuable coastal resources.
“The deep sea salmon farm would cover 500 hectares and would produce 15,000 tonnes of certified salmon which would be worth €102 million annually. The farm is designed in a way and taking on board the most up to date science, so that it would have no environmental impact.
It would be barely visible from two kilometres away and effectively not visible from land. The farm will take up a negligible amount of inland fisheries ground in the bay (0.22 per cent) and would not interfere with Galway Bay ferry routes.”
“I am very keen to see a positive outcome from the consultation period and to see this project come to fruition. It would represent a major jobs boost for the Galway Bay area.”
Members of the public have until midnight December 12 to make their observations to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine. All application information is available on the BIM website (www.bim.ie).
According to BIM Irish organic farmed salmon is a premium product in Europe, commanding on average a 50 per cent premium on farmed salmon produced elsewhere. In order to ensure that this highly valuable natural resource remains in the ownership of the State and also to ensure ongoing rigorous enforcement of environmental standards BIM would retain the licence as an asset for the State and seek a suitable commercial operator to manage the efficient running of the salmon farm.