In a letter to The Irish Times yesterday, the fisheries board wrote in response to Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment, whose own letter to the paper on Tuesday lambasted the IFA's claims of an "inexplicable delay" in the State's processing of licence applications for new fish farms off the west coast.
BIM chief executive Jason Whooley said it was "refreshing" to read Lowes "expressing confidence in and support for the current Irish aquaculture licensing system", which is "both rigorous and science-based... involves a high level of public consultation and is fully transparent."
However, Whooley hit out at what he described as Lowes' "scare tactics" and "spurious" attempts "to mislead by comparing the output from a salmon farm with human sewage".
Lowes had written that salmon farming "is a highly polluting industry", and that discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous from aquaculture facilities "can fuel toxic algae blooms, which have cost the shellfish industry dear".
Whooley countered that argument, stating that "the harmful elements from human sewage, such as E.coli, cryptosporidium or viruses, are simply not present in the excretions from cold-blooded creatures, such as the Atlantic salmon."
He also urged Lowes to "get behind Ireland’s aquaculture industry and support it as a sustainable and valuable source", adding that "increasing the output of farmed Irish organic-certified salmon represents a great opportunity to create a large number of sustainable jobs in Ireland’s coastal communities."