Wild salmon at risk

Proposed fish farm raises concern

Sir, – In this biodiversity crisis, it is very welcome to see your detailed articles on fish farming (“Row over proposed Connemara fish farm goes to heart of bigger conflict”, News, August 2nd). The salmon run has reduced in Ireland from 2.5 million to just 10 per cent of that, at 250,000, over a period of about 40 years, echoing the worldwide collapse in aquatic species.

The situation of fish farms operating with expired licences for more than a decade is simply unacceptable. I hope that this issue will gather momentum to ensure that all of our fish farms are licenced and fully in compliance with the Habitats’ Directive using the excellent IFI research to underpin this decision-making. – Yours, etc

MARIE LOUISE HEFFERNAN,

Aster Environmental Consultants,

Letterfrack,

Co Galway.

Sir, – I want to compliment The Irish Times and Kevin O’Sullivan for publishing such detailed articles on the effects salmon farms are having on our wild salmon and sea trout.

As an avid angler I have seen first-hand the devastation which lice from salmon farms are having on our wild salmon and sea trout populations.

Each spring we witness sea trout smolts leaving the Dawros river in Connemara in order to feed along the coast for a few months – instead they are returning to the river after a few weeks at most with their heads bleeding from sea lice infestation.

They are returning to the fresh water in order to get relief from salmon farm lice.

As for the salmon smolts who leave the river in April/May to start their migration to the North Atlantic to feed, it is well documented that in years of high lice levels emanating from salmon farms, adult salmon numbers returning to their rivers the following year can be decimated.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue has been regarded as being sympathetic towards salmon farm operators but it is time he put Irish freshwater and marine environments and the future of our wild salmon and sea trout first. – Yours, etc,

SEAMUS O’NEILL,

Ballyconneely,

Co Galway.

Sir, – I must congratulate Kevin O’Sullivan on his outstanding articles on salmon farming.

As a sea trout fisherman of more than 40 years, we have seen our sport decimated during this time due to the lack of numbers and the heartbreak of experiencing the result of the effects of sea lice on our precious fish.

This has led to a dramatic drop in visitors to our shores to participate in fishing activities, in which many local businesses have invested.

Should a licence be awarded to a mega fish farm in Ballinakill Bay in west Connemera, the Minister will be signing the death warrant for the future of our salmon and sea trout on our Western shores. –

Yours, etc,

RICHARD STAPLETON,

Greenane,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – The large salmon farm proposed for Ballinakill Bay, Connemara should not be permitted as it will ruin the benefits of angling tourism in the area. Kevin O’Sullivan’s article should give the Minister a wake-up call to stop this proposal.

Fish farms are of little benefit to the economy as they create few jobs, with profits often ending up outside the country. – Yours, etc,

IAN CRAIGIE,

Ballycroy,

Co Mayo.