In the wake of Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Simon Coveney’s upcoming decision on whether or not to grant the state agency for fishing and aquaculture in Ireland, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, licenses for fish farms in Galway Bay, Slow Food International has reaffirmed its position on intensive fish farms. Slow Food does not consider open net pen fish farms an environmentally sound practice, Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, confirms. “Open net pen aquaculture is not a solution to the problem of overfishing: It damages natural ecosystems on a local and a global level, including wild stocks, habitats and water quality. Feeding carnivorous salmon in farms means other wild species must also be harvested, resulting in a larger carbon footprint – since the fish feed must be fished, processed and transported”. Slow Food acknowledges the value of traditional wild salmon and would like to see political action to help preserve this threatened species. Rather than putting further pressure on stocks with intensive farm operations, effective conservation programs should be implemented before it is too late. “If you must farm salmon, then at least reduce the local impact by using closed pens removed from the marine open environment”, Sardo adds.
John Volpe, PhD, Director of the School of Environment at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, also expresses his opinion in this regard: “The independent scientific community speaks with a single voice; open net pen salmon farms are not only a net loss of marine resources and human food but threaten our collective marine environment with potentially irreversible damage. Governments that continue to support this industry in spite of overwhelming contrary ecological, social and economic evidence do so at their – and our – peril”.
Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD), one of numerous farm pathogens potently catastrophic to already threatened wild salmon is once again infecting open cage installations along the west coast. The threat is widespread and clearly not under control; from Bantry Bay in Cork to Mulroy Bay in Donegal, as well as the B.I.M.’s flagship open cages at Clare Island Co Mayo; this is typical of the information that the public has not been made aware of.
In regard to the Minister’s imminent decision, Slow Food International wishes to reiterate its opposition to intensive open pen fish farms, correcting any misconception resulting from the mention of Slow Food in the Environmental Impact Statement published by B.I.M.