TWO government agencies have clashed over plans for a massive deep sea salmon farm off the west coast, which backers say will create 500 jobs.
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) claims it will bring in less than half the employment forecast by the promoters, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).
The seafood agency has applied for a licence to produce 15,000 tonnes of organic-certified salmon each year in Galway bay, in waters 1.7km off Inis Oirr on the Aran Islands.
But conservationists in the IFI said they have serious concerns over the location and scale of the farm.
The IFI said fears over damage to native habitats and angling are based on science, which found sea lice has devastating effects on wild salmon stocks accounting for up to 39pc of mortalities in stocks.
The IFI also disputes the 500 jobs figure and said that based on 2007 production and employment statistics only 202 jobs will be created.
It also said proposals for two offshore farms off Mayo and Donegal should be shelved until agencies are satisfied the deep sea plan does not risk Ireland's €230m recreational angling industry.
BIM has said its farm plan would produce salmon worth €102m a year and local wages of about €14.5m.