Celtic Sea oil spill threatens Irish mussel, oyster farms

Ireland's Department of Environment, the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, environmental groups and shellfish farmers have raised concerns over the potential environmental impact of a 500-metric-ton oil spill in the Celtic Sea that occurred over the weekend.

If the oil slick, which threatens Ireland's southeast coast, reaches the Wexford or Waterford areas, oyster and mussel farms could be at risk.

"Oil spillages have been known to suffocate shellfish causing entire stocks, which have taken years of effort and millions of euro of investment to build up, to be lost," said the Irish Sea Fisheries Board.

More than 100 small and medium-sized shellfish farmers operate in the inshore areas from Kenmare Bay in west Cork County to Wexford Harbor.

The oil slick - almost twice as big as originally suspected - could hit the Wexford coast in two weeks. Resulting tar balls may land on the coast in about 16 days, and also hit the Welsh coastline, depending on weather conditions.

A Russian navy refueling operation is the suspected source of the spill, though the cause has not yet been determined.


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