18th December

Urgent need to encourage shellfish farming in Lough Foyle

John Sandford

Confirmation that Bonamia has been found in stocks of native oyster in Lough Foyle brings into sharp focus the disastrous results that disease can have on farmed and wild animals.

The effects of disease always tend to be underestimated, and this disease, like so many others, had largely been forgotten. Is there even one information leaflet available on shellfish diseases in Ireland - on Bonamia in particular?

If there is, I have not seen it.

A serious information campaign would highlight the dire consequences of this disease in wild native oyster stocks and the importance of preventing its spread. Of course too, the source of the infection in this case has to be tracked, and an investigation must be carried out with all haste before the trail goes cold.

Steps must also be taken to prevent it spreading from Lough Foyle to other adjacent bays in the Northwest where native oysters are harvested. This will not be easy and will require vigilance by the regulatory authorities as well as industry itself on movements of native oysters from Lough Foyle.

It will be no easy task as oysters are marketed live and often re-immersed in seawater before they are marketed in areas far from where they originated. Because of the damage caused throughout Europe by this disease in particular, the development of a sustainable industry based on fishing native oysters in Lough Foyle must now be questioned.

The various state agencies involved in the promotion of fishing and aquaculture must work to encourage the farming of other shellfish species in Lough Foyle. Since it takes time and effort to make the changes from fishing to farming, this task cannot be started soon enough.

Let the work begin! 

Spread the News

Shellfish producers slam level of sewage discharge
Sea trout collapse: a complicated issue
Irish shellfish safety reporting goes live
Increase in Irish aquaculture production