Marine Harvest Ireland gets go-ahead to build its new salmon farm
Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, has decided to grant Marine Harvest Ireland (MHI) with aquaculture and foreshore licenses to be applied to the company’s new salmon farming site at Shot Head in Bantry Bay.
The decision comes four years after MHI made its initial bid for the licenses back in June 2011, and will allow the seafood company to move forward with its plans to invest EUR 3.5 million (USD 4 million)in the impending fish farm. Once constructed, the farm is expected to create eight sustainable, long-term jobs in the area.
The proposed farm will house a maximum stock of 2,800 metric tons of salmon at a peak stocking density of 10 kg/m3, with peak stock occurring in February and March of year two for each production cycle. Every two years, smolt will be delivered to the site from October through November until harvest weight is reached within 22 months. The average harvest weight is expected to measure to 4.5 to 5.6kg.
The development of a second site in the Bantry Bay area – MHI already operates a production site in Roancarrig – will allow for the advancement of compliance with international best practices and therein work to guarantee an extended future for aquaculture in the region, the company said. Stocking, harvesting, fallowing and rotation programs are also expected to improve with the addition of the farm.
A larger overall seabed area is required for the new facility as a means to accommodate “the lengths of moorings for anchoring the pens and a feed barge,” and to allow “sufficient space for the movement of the pens over new ground within the overall site area,” explained MHI.
“This is a very positive step forward for our company and for the aquaculture industry as a whole. Our seas have rightly been identified as a key component of our economic recovery and sustainable growth. We are extremely keen to begin work on this site as soon as possible with development at Shot Head likely to be complete in just 14 weeks,” said MHI Managing Director, Jan Feenstra.
As of now, MHI already engages 800 local suppliers all along its coastal locations, spending over EUR 15 million (USD 17 million) to area economies annually. The company also shells out an annual EUR 10 million (USD 11.4 million) on wages and salaries for its workers in Ireland. Overall, MHI is prepared to invest EUR 22 million (USD 25 million) across its sites in Ireland, ultimately adding 500 people to its workforce there. The investment will aid in nullifying one of the biggest problems facing Irish salmon producers currently – that they cannot meet the demand for their product, said MHI.