Organic fish farm proposed for Inis Oírr

 

BORD IASCAIGH Mhara (BIM) has initiated consultation on plans for one of Europe’s largest deep-sea organic fish farms off the Aran island of Inis Oírr.

The proposed 15,000-tonne salmon farm would be located in the lee of Inis Oírr, the most southerly of the Aran islands, on a 500-hectare site in Galway Bay.

The State agency says it could create 350 direct and 150 indirect jobs, in both high and low-technology areas, if approved, and would meet a constant and rising demand for organic Irish farmed salmon in the European market.

Scoping documents outlining the plans have been sent to stakeholders, including Aran islanders and relevant State bodies and organisations, this week. The deepwater location is in no designated area under the EU habitats directive, but will require an aquaculture licence and accompanying environmental impact statement.

The island co-op Comhar Caomhán Inis Oírr welcomed the project, but said it was important that a promised €8 million pier for the island, approved for planning in 2007, is constructed beforehand to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place.

“We have young people here with the marine skill sets for this, but they will be very disillusioned if these promised jobs go elsewhere,” the co-op’s manager Paddy Crowe said yesterday.

New piers have already been built on Inis Mór and Inis Meáin, with Inis Oírr having been bypassed, and the Connemara fisheries harbour and ferryport of Rossaveal has factory processing capacity.

The agency, which has primary responsibility for developing the seafish and aquaculture industries, says it intends to own the fish farm on the State’s behalf, but will lease out its operation on a franchise basis.

It says that 80 per cent of the Irish salmon farming industry is “organic-certified” and total Irish organic farmed salmon tonnage last year was 10,400 tonnes.

The new deep sea farm will more than double this figure if it is licensed.