Open-cage salmon farms

Concern over risk to native species

Sir, – I refer to Kevin O’ Sullivan’s article (“Row over proposed Connemara fish farm goes to heart of bigger conflict”, News, August 2nd). The devastating impact of open-caged salmon farming on some of our most sensitive ecosystems globally has long been publicised and discussed.

We have come to accept the loss of a historically significant sea trout run and decline in wild salmon numbers on the Connemara coast as just another shifting baseline.

A shift from relative abundance to one of paucity and struggle, this has affected other native species including the corncrake, red grouse and farmland birds.

As an external multinational again seeks to exploit our flexible environmental laws, lip service is being paid to our special areas of conservation.

The proposed extension of salmon farming operations at Ballinakill Bay comes at a time when food ethics and security are paramount.

Should we not be funding the development of our own sustainable, quality-based fin aquaculture that is compatible with our unique inshore waters?

The moral argument extends beyond damage to keystone species, such as salmon and sea trout.

In an age where animal welfare is high on the agenda, is it acceptable to have these stocking densities? Is it also acceptable to have individual salmonoid smolts dying miserably from ulcers caused by sea lice infestation?

The principle should be that the polluter pays, and technologies now exist to mitigate the impact of farmed fish on our wild populations.

Given the profits globally from this company, Mowi, should they be part of a solution to find alternatives to the open-caged system, which is clearly not compatible with our shallow inshore waters? – Yours, etc,