Mowi could be facing official opposition to its latest salmon farm plan in the west of Ireland.
The state organisation Inland Fisheries Ireland, which is responsible for the protection of river and lake fish, is reported to be preparing to question company plans to develop a 22 cage facility in Ballinakill in Connemara.
The problem for the company is that the site is set in a proposed Natural Heritage Area– this is an area considered important for the habitats present or which holds species of plants and animals whose habitat needs protection.
Mowi had a similar problem in northern Norway last year when it wanted to open a salmon farm in the Vega Islands, a UNESCO heritage area. The plan was opposed by several groups and was initially rejected, although provisional permission was eventually granted.
But the company was allowed to go ahead following an appeal and support from the local community who said it would create badly needed jobs and prosperity
Mowi Ireland said it intends to start a public consultation with the community in Connemara.
The Irish newspaper Sunday Independent says details of the project have been circulated to notifiable bodies, including Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.
It says both state bodies have reservations about the location and the possible impact on wild salmon and sea trout, adding that IFI has already submitted its own views on the plan.
The final decision rests with Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
Set against Norway and Scotland, Mowi Ireland is a relatively small operation for the world’s largest salmon farmer. But it produces high quality organic salmon that is much in demand worldwide.
It has organic farms in five counties along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard with further expansion planned in in Bantry Bay, Cork.