Protests have been lodged by environmental and animal rights groups against alleged live transportation of fish raised on a Marine Harvest salmon farm off the Irish coast.
According to a press release from Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) the fish were previously transported to the nearest town for processing before being dispatched to the market. However, last month Marine Harvest changed the processing location from Castletownbere where the farm is located, to their headquarters in Rinmore, Donegal, a distance of 640 kilometres.
According to local activists, the fish are now being brought to a small local pier, and piped into stainless steel tankers for the journey to the slaughterhouse at the other end of Ireland.
Fie Director Tony Lowes said that on road safety grounds trucks passing along the narrow local road “are restricted to 3 tons. The unloaded weight of the tankers exceeds that limit alone.”
According to FIE, the operations have been continuing for more than a month, including Sundays and holidays.
FIE has coordinated complaints to the authorities, including the Minister for Agriculture. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has also contacted the Minister about the operations.
According to a spokesperson for Marine harvest Ireland, the press release from FIE is very misleading. “We do not transfer fish alive, they are transported chilled on slush ice after slaughtering. Not only would it be cruel to transport live fish in this way, but it would also destroy the quality of the fish.”
Marine Harvest Ireland uses the services of a local service boat to harvest, slaughter and chill the salmon before transferring them to the tanker lorry at the pier, the spokesperson adds.
“Harvesting at salmon sites occurs for a few months every two years. It is seasonal and takes place once the stock reaches a market size. This activity does result in some additional traffic, but since we started operating at this location in 2008, articulated lorries have always been used for various purposes.”
“It should be noted that neither are there any protests taking place regarding this activity apart from the media statement issued by Mr Lowes.”
Marine Harvest Ireland is Ireland’s leading farmer and processor of Atlantic salmon and is a subsidiary of the Marine Harvest ASA headquartered in Norway. The company has operated in Ireland for 38 years, employing over 290 people in some of Ireland’s most remote coastal communities, between its salmon farms and hatcheries in Donegal, Mayo and Bantry.