Inland Fisheries Ireland questions Connemara fish farm plans
Public body Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is set to question plans by the world’s largest producer of farmed salmon to develop a fish farm in Ballinakill Bay, off Cleggan, Connemara.
Owi Ireland, which is part of a Norwegian seafood company, plans to open a public consultation on its license application for the 22-cage fish farm shortly.
The bay is in a special conservation area and is part of a proposed natural heritage area.
Details of the project have been communicated to notified bodies, including the IFI and the Marine Fisheries Protection Authority.
Both government agencies are believed to have serious reservations about the location of the farm due to the potential impact on wild salmon and sea trout stocks.
Trap fishermen working in the area could also be impacted by an aquaculture project of this scale, depending on local interests.
Mowi Ireland says it contributes over € 20million to the national economy each year, working with 920 Irish suppliers
Over the past 41 years, the company, formerly known as Fanad Fisheries and Marine Harvest, has employed 300 people between its salmon farms, hatcheries and processing plant.
A spokesperson for Mowi Ireland confirmed that the company was “engaged in the early stages of statutory consultation regarding a potential aquaculture facility off the coast of Galway.”
“The next steps will be defined by the aquaculture and foreshore management division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Marine,” added the spokesperson.
“The applicant will engage in a full series of public consultations in accordance with current aquaculture legislation. ”
IFI, the state agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and their habitats, told the Independent Sunday he had “submitted observations on the application which will go to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Marine, which will rule on the application and whether the license should be issued or not”.