National Salmon Life Centre for Mayo is 'back on the agenda'

THE proposed National Salmon Life Centre for Ballina is back on the agenda, Senator Michelle Mulherin has revealed.

In a statement issued this morning, she stated: “I organised a meeting of stakeholders to see if the the project could be resurrected and progressed.

“The meeting involved management from Mayo County Council, Inland Fisheries Ireland, The Marine Institute and Ballina Chamber of Commerce, and was very positive and encouraging. I want to thank everyone for making it very constructive.

“The general consensus was to keep the life cycle of the salmon at the heart of the project but to expand on the interpretive centre concept to include the natural heritage and landscape of north Mayo.

“The centre could be a key to unlocking an understanding of the dynamics that have created our natural physical environment and our flora and fauna in our region through a technologically interactive educational experience.

“As Minister for Education Richard Bruton launches a major strategy this week to encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, there is a golden opportunity to respond by providing curriculum relevant material and experiences for students tasked with projects and further studies. It could also cater for the outdoor ethics programme, Leave no Trace.

“Both Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of The Marine Institute, and Dr. Ciaran Byrne, CEO of IFI, were enthusiastic about synergies, the wealth of scientific and technical knowledge and expertise their organisations could bring to the table for such a project.

“For my own part, I can see the possibility of tying in with GMIT Mayo campus, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Coillte to develop the concept further. Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development, IFI, and Dr. John Connelly also had very constructive and practical inputs to the meeting.

“As well as catering for educational interests and needs, this project would add greatly to the experience we have to offer tourists in north Mayo along the Wild Atlantic Way. It would open up the development and promotion of our walks and greenway. It would complement the Ceide Fields centre, the Jackie Clarke Library and other visitor centres and ultimately the Mary Robinson Centre with its serious focus on global warming and climate justice.

”I am delighted that our new director of services for the Ballina area, Tom Gilligan, and council architect Kevin Keegan, along with Ballina Chamber of Commerce president, Paul Regan, have agreed to take up the baton and work to develop further the concept of the project with other and potentially new stakeholders.

“A lot of work was done on this project approximately eight or nine years ago by the stakeholders, including the undertaking of a feasibility study, identifying a site beside Ballina Arts Centre and obtaining planning permission, but it stalled. I am delighted that it is now being revisited with enthusiasm.

“A project like this has great potential to give a boost to the town and the region. It definitely has my support.

'I have no doubt from my own enquiries that with the right proposition for this project it could attract government funding as a flagship tourism and educational project for the region.”