18th December

Marine Harvest Ireland responds to issues raised by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages

In August Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) issued a press release that raised serious issues regarding Marine Harvest Ireland’s (MHI) occasional abstraction of water from Loughaunore Connemara (Sept issue of Inshore Ireland carries the press release in full - available from 6/09).

MHI-Ard-Mhoir

Salmon cages at Ard Mhóir

We put some of GBASC’s points to Marine Harvest Ireland and they responded as follows:

GBASC: Marine Harvest is abstracting water from the local water supply source of Loughaunore at Kilkieran Co Galway without planning permission and despite their receipt of a warning letter from Galway County Council on the 11th July threatening Marine Harvest with an Enforcement Notice under Section 154 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

MHI: We are working closely with GCC on all planning aspects of this project.

GBASC: There is a belief that the well boats/tankers used by the operators of these salmon installations may be bringing the growing list of diseases from one site to another along the western seaboard, from Donegal to Kerry, as they are not decontaminated after each site visit.

MHI: All live fish carriers are subject to strict cleaning and disinfection procedures as required by EU and national animal health requirements.

GBASC: It is known that Amoebic Gill Disease can be passed onto other species of fish as well as wild salmon and sea trout who are unable to run into fresh water due to low water levels in many rivers as the rains have by passed the Connemara region. Fishermen are now becoming fearful that wild fish stocks will become infected from diseases from these open pens and lead to mortalities that will be unnoticed by government departments.

MHI: The Irish competent authorities for fish health are fully aware of the health status of aquaculture stocks in Ireland.

GBASC: Many people in Kilkieran and the extensive hinterland which get their water supply from the Loughaunore source are extremely annoyed with the situation and calls have been made to local councillors and TDs to take action and safeguard their dwindling water supply. Many businesses, tourism outlets and houses keeping Irish students, at this time of year, place increased pressure on the rate of abstraction and with no rain forecast in the near future, they are fearful that they will be left high and dry.

MHI: The lake used for this abstraction is not in use as a public water supply.

GBASC: It is believed that no account of the amount of water being abstracted by Marine Harvest is being kept by Irish Water nor is the multi-national paying for their unauthorised supply unlike other commercial businesses in the area. A large new pump has been installed at the side of the lake and this will be used to drain the water out of the lake quicker and in larger volume.

MHI: All abstracted water is subject to commercial water rates.

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