The deep sea salmon farm, proposed to be located off Inis Óirr, could devastate wild salmon and sea trout numbers and natural fish habitats.
This is the view of Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish who is “seriously concerned” about the proposal which has been brought forward by An Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
Dep Grealish is concerned about the farms potential effects on wild salmon and sea trout numbers, pointing out research which shows that infestations of sea lice concentrate in salmon farms.
“Research has shown that 39 per cent of wild salmon mortalities are attributable to sea lice,” said Dep Grealish. “As stocks of wild salmon and sea trout have already diminished substantially, we must ensure anything which further threatens this resource be avoided.”
Dep Grealish also feels the proposed location is unsuitable, pointing out that salmon smolts migrating through Galway Bay into Irish rivers are at a much higher risk.
“There are 13,000 tonnes of salmon farmed nationally,” he said, “but if this project gets the go ahead, output from this farm alone is expected to be 15,000 tonnes annually – more than double the current national figure and a farm of this scale is certain to impact on natural fish habitats.”
While An Bord Iascaigh Mhara believes the new salmon farm would create 500 jobs, Dep Grealish fears it may adversely effect other employment sectors.
“The recreational angling and tourism sector is worth millions to the Irish economy annually from both domestic and international anglers,” he said, “and this would be under serious threat if wild salmon stocks drop below minimum conservation levels.”
Dep Grealish will also be calling on the Minister for the Marine, Simon Coveney, to ensure adequate environmental protections for wild fish stocks are a priority when making a decision on this proposal.