Campaigners in west Cork have welcomed the news that further assessments are to be carried out before a decision is made on whether to allow a proposed salmon farm at Shot Head in Bantry Bay.
The Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board (ALAB) has decided an Appropriate Assessment is required for the project.
“ALAB has concluded that, based on a preliminary assessment and objective criteria, it is not possible to rule out potential significant adverse impacts resulting from the installation of the proposed salmon farm,” the board said in a statement.
ALAB has concerns about the potential impact on bird species at a number of Special Protection Areas including: Beara Peninsula, Iveragh Peninsula, Deenish Island and Scariff Island and Skelligs. The bird species it is concerned about are Fulmar, Gannets and Guillemots.
The preliminary assessment found 'the proposed development of aquaculture sites within Bantry Bay will result in the loss of 42.5 ha of inshore habitat that could potentially be used by' the bird species.
The board has asked the developer to furnish it with a Natura Impact Statement on these areas by September 21 2019.
As a result, the board now has until March 31 2020 to make a decision on the project.
“Save Bantry Bay welcomes the decision to undertake further screening,” Kieran O’Shea, Chairman of Save Bantry Bay said. “We have been saying all along the cumulative impacts of yet another fish farm in the area has been ignored.
“It seems government has forgotten all the principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, as enshrined in the Bantry Bay Charter.” Alec O’Donovan, who is secretary of the group, called for more sustainable alternatives to be considered.
“We are experiencing a mass extinction of wild salmon and our seas are in crisis,” he said. “Land based salmon farming technology is coming along rapidly and offers an economically viable alternative which puts no species at risk.
“It is time for Ireland to take the plunge and become a leader in sustainable management of its marine resources.”