As Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) wade into the fishfarm debate, Andrew Hamilton reports on the stances being taken by each side.
INLAND Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have poured cold water over the 500 jobs promised locally should a large organic salmon fish farm be allowed to be built off the Clare coast.
In its submission to the Department of Agriculture in relation to the fishfarm, the IFI claim that Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) have drastically inflated the number of potential local jobs, saying that the farm, as envisioned, has the capacity to create just 30 jobs.
The two State fishing agencies have been at loggerheads over the development, which is proposed to be built five miles north-west of Doolin.
The IFI have also claimed that the proposed fishfarm could create pollution which may prove a major threat to migrating salmon and trout, on their way to important angling rivers in North Clare and South Galway.
“These concerns are based on scientific reports by respected authors and knowledge of the impact of existing fishfarms on salmon and sea trout populations off the west coast of Ireland,” said an IFI spokesperson.
“Recent peer reviewed international scientific literature on the impacts of sea lice on salmonids show them to have devastating effects on wild salmon, accounting for up to 39 per cent of salmon mortalities. The Board does not believe that the corpus of peer reviewed international scientific literature which recognises the negative impacts of sea lice on salmonids have been adequately dealt with in the EIS.”
The IFI also say that they have “serious concerns” over the impact that the farm could have on the local angling industry.
“Whatever the number of jobs created by the current proposal, they will be more than offset by the associated loss of jobs in the recreational angling and tourism sectors if this development proceeds without adequate environmental protections in place,” continued the IFI spokesman.
“Top line figures from a recently commissioned survey of domestic recreational anglers suggest they contribute approximately €143 million to the economy, predominantly in rural areas.”
BORD Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) have accused Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) of “manipulating” statistics in order to suggest that the fishfarm planned for off the Clare coast will damage local angling.
Donal Maguire of BIM told The Clare People yesterday that his agency was rock solid on both the projected employment numbers and the pollution and sea lice risks from the proposed farm.
“We are absolutely confident of the number of jobs, we have done our numbers very carefully. We are talking about 65 jobs required directly to run the farm itself. In the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), we have also shown a detailed breakdown of how 350 people will be directly employed to do all the ancillary work around the farm,” said Donal Maguire of BIM.
“We also know from other studies that there will be a further 150 non-direct jobs created by fishfarms in areas like salmon food production, net production, maintenance and repair. We are rock solid with our numbers on this.
“The issue of the waste from the farm is extensively dealt with in the EIS and we are highly confident, to the point of virtual certainty, that there will be no issue because water dilution volumes are so enormous.
“A lot of absolute nonsense has been spoken about the sea lice. We have figures from the Marine Institute and more than 500,000 fish in Norway which shows that the effect of sea lice will be virtually nothing.
“How the IFI can come up with a figure of 39 per cent mortality is beyond me. The fish would have to die, resurrect themselves and then die again to have the outcome they are predicting. It is a manipulation of statistics.
“We are very disappointed with the attitude that has been taken. We are looking to create new jobs and employment; the IFI are not in a position to create any new economic activity.
“The sky is not going to fall – angling in Ireland will continue whether this farm goes ahead or not. But there won’t be a single extra job unless this farm goes ahead. I think a bit more forward-thinking is required.”
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