Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Irish Times: Government’s refusal to release fish disease information may be investigated

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/government-s-refusal-to-release-fish-disease-information-may-be-investigated-1.3350682?mode=amp&utm_content=sf-man

Campaign wants department to release more than 200 documents on diseases in salmon farms
A decision by the Department of Agriculture and the Marine not to release documents relating to fish diseases in Irish salmon farms may be investigated by the Oireachtas Petitions Committee. 

Set up in 2015, the petitions committee examines requests from members of the public and is empowered to report to the Dáil with recommendations, as well as asking that its report be debated by the Dáil. The request for the committee to examine the Government’s decision follows the refusal of the Department of Agriculture and the Marine to release records relating to fish diseases at salmon farms. 

In response to Parliamentary Questions last November, Independent TD Clare Daly was told that 41 outbreaks of disease on salmon farms have been notified to the department in the last two years.

In a separate parliamentary reply, Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Michael Creed said extensive mortalities at one fish farm were due to Cardiomyopathy Syndrome (CMS), a severe viral cardiac disease. But the Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign which sought more information from the department under the Access to Information on Environment rules, were told the records were being withheld. 

Now the Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign has asked the Petitions Committee to examine the department’s decision and if necessary, to take the matter to the Dáil. 
Tony Lowes of the Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign said recently published work in peer reviewed literature showed fish disease had spread from farmed salmon to locally caught wrasse in the southwest. 

Wrasse have been used as cleaner fish to control lice in salmon farms. 
The Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign has published a list of the descriptions of the 212 records they claim they have been have been denied, including all the notifications from the fish farm to the department, mortalities and stocking details, emails from vets, and the etiology (manner of causation of a disease) - of the fish kills.

Petitions Committee chairman Sean Sherlock said he had not yet seen the petition. But he said “every petition which comes before us would be given due consideration by the members” and a decision would then be made on whether debate the issue.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Irish Examiner - Calls for crackdown on fish farms

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 by Eoin English Examiner Reporter
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/calls-for-crackdown-on-fish-farms-460728.html

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has called for a crackdown on fish farms after farmed salmon escaped into five river systems in the west of Ireland. 




The agency, which is responsible for the conservation, protection and management of Ireland’s inland fisheries and sea angling resources, confirmed yesterday that 65 farmed salmon have been caught in rivers in Galway and Mayo in recent weeks, despite no escapes being reported by salmon farm owners to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, the licensing authority.
Salmon farm operators are obliged, as one of the conditions of their license to operate, to report all escapes to the department.
IFI said the farmed salmon were caught in the rivers Delphi, Erriff, Kylemore/Dawros, Newport, and Bunowen. However, the agency, which has been monitoring the situation in the river systems since August, said the department confirmed it has received no reports of escapes in the region.
The IFI said its scientists are still assessing the risk posed by the presence of farmed salmon in the rivers to their wild salmon stocks which are already under pressure due to significant decreases in salmon runs over the last 20-years.
The IFI board called yesterday for improved compliance and enforcement, and for a full audit of existing salmon farm licence holders.
“IFI have been charged with the protection of wild Atlantic salmon and continue to have concerns regarding the impacts of fish farms on Ireland’s precious wild fish,” said the IFI.
“The licensing regime and best management practice should provide assurance to the State that controls are in place that safeguard our heritage. This does not appear to be the case in this instance. IFI supports sustainable fish farming but cautions against the renewal and/or award of licences where conditions are not being adhered to.”
The 65 farmed salmon identified were caught by anglers who generally only encounter a small number of salmon in a river. As a result, the scale of the escape has not yet fully determined.
Scientists are still analysing the captured fish in an effort to identify their history and maturity status.
Of those examined so far, three of six males were mature on capture and had the potential to spawn in the wild and impact the genetic integrity of native salmon stock.
All fish entering the Erriff are monitored in an upstream trap which allows for the removal of farmed fish but there are no trapping facilities on the Delphi, Kylemore, Newport, and Bunowen systems.
IFI said despite the lack of information on salmon farm escapes, its staff will continue to monitor the affected river systems.
Meanwhile, a delegation of trout anglers from the west of Ireland is due to meet top EU officials in Brussels tomorrow to discuss pike control in western fisheries.
They say the eco-systems of Irish wild brown trout fisheries at Loughs Corrib and Rea in Galway, Mask, Carra, Conn and Cullin in Mayo, Arrow in Sligo/Roscommon, and Sheelin in Westmeath, Meath, Cavan and Longford are under serious threat from predator pike. Martin Kinneavy, chairman of the Connacht Angling Council, said they want an immediate pike cull.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

RTE1 News - Farmed salmon escape into Connacht rivers

Inland Fisheries Ireland is investigating an escape of farmed salmon in counties Galway and Mayo. A total of 65 farmed salmon have been caught in the Newport, Errif, Bunowen, and Kylemore river networks in recent days. A number were also recovered at the Delphi fishery. 
Analysis on some of them has shown that several male fish were mature on capture and had the potential to spawn.
This would have an impact on the integrity of the native salmon stock. IFI says that no escapes have been reported to the Department of Agriculture by farm owners.
It is a legal requirement to notify officials of any such breach. The Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages group says it is concerned that if escaped fish interbreed with native stocks, the genetic integrity of wild fish will be severely compromised.
Inland Fisheries Ireland said its investigations are seriously compromised by a lack of information from fish farm operators regarding the escapes.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Friends of the Irish Environment - Minister blocks bid to revoke salmon licences

Minister blocks bid to revoke salmon licences
Gross overstocking and arrogance is revealed in two submissions to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries recommending the withdrawal of Marine Harvest’s salmon farming licences in Donegal and Cork.

The claim is based on two submissions to the Minister by the Principle Officer of the Department’s Aquaculture and Foreshore Division published by Friends of the Irish Environment at the Oral Hearing for a new salmon farm in Bantry Bay by Marine Harvest, the Norwegian multi-national that produces more than 80% of Ireland’s farmed salmon.

In the case of Donegal’s Lough Alton, which supplies 80% of Marine Harvest’s smolts, ‘by its own admission the company exceeded its stocking limitation by a significant degree (17%) for commercial reasons,’ the Report states.

‘Persistent’ requests for an action plan to address the breaches by Donegal County Council had been met with a refusal by the company who ‘cited economic reasons for not implementing the of treatment facilities which their current production rates would demand in order to achieve compliance’. 

The Principle Officer states ‘It can be reasonably stated therefore that the company knowingly breached the terms and conditions of its licence to a substantial degree for clear commercial gain’.

At Inishfarnard in the Kenmare River Special Area of Conservation, gross overstocking has been recorded in the annual Department’s Fin Fish Farm Inspection Reports since 2012. An application for increased capacity was refused by the Minister in 2010 as ‘Such a major increase in stocking capacity would have to be the subject of a new licence application accompanied by the necessary Environmental Impact Statements’.

The Inishfarnard site, which is licensed to contain no more than 500 tons of fish, had a standing stock that was 26% above the permitted level before the input of 820,604 young fish in March 2014, this input itself being 105% in excess of the permitted level of 400,000 fish.

In response to this major non-conformity raised by Aquaculture Stewardship Council the company made no apology or commitment to meet the stocking requirements, simply stating ‘the current limit of 500 tons per annum would require harvest at 1.25 kg which is not a saleable size.’

Marine Harvest, the Norwegian multi-national that produces more than 80% of Ireland’s farmed salmon, called the licensing system ‘Anachronistic, legally and technically meaningless in its application to modern good farming practice’. 

FIE published the reports as part of its presentation to the recent Oral Hearing of a number appeals against the company’s proposed new salmon farm in Bantry Bay. They told the Oral Hearing, held in Bantry earlier this month, that ‘an applicant who openly informs a licencing authority that he has no intention of meeting his licencing conditions is not a fit person to hold a licence’.

The consequences of this overstocking, according to the environmental group, are ‘that the pressures on the environment has not been assessed, as required by European and national law’. The overstocking also ‘undermines the Department’s sea lice control, where the number of lice are based on samples taken multiplied by the number of fish licenced. If the site is overstocked by 105%, the number of lice will also be 105% higher than the recorded level.’

The detailed 20 page submissions were rejected by the Minister because of proportionality and the commercial consequences to the company.

However, the Principle Officer’s Submission addressed the issue of the commercial consequences:

‘While it can be argued that the development of the industry will be adversely affected by any sanction against the company, the overriding obligation of the department is to take action against the operator in accordance with the obligations set out in the legislation. Anything less will seriously undermine the State’s regulatory system in relation to Marine aquaculture. The long-term effect this would have on the regulation of the industry is as serious as it is obvious.’

FIE said that the failure to deal vigorously with significant breaches of licence conditions is ‘a result of the conflict of interest within the Department between its role as industry developer and as industry regulator which creates an objective bias in the functioning of the Department.’

In separate submissions, they have urged the Government to ‘reorganise the Department so that the Marine Institute and the Sea Food Protection Authority are administered by a non-fisheries division of the Department. The necessary and appropriate checks and balances incumbent on the Department in the exercise of its functions is impossible under the current regime.’

According to FIE Director Tony Lowes, who made the presentations, the publication of the Reports in hard copy and electronically at the Oral Hearing was not covered by the local or national press present. Complementing the UK’s Sunday Times, which today is covering the story, Mr. Lowes said that ‘if the Washington Post was right in saying that ‘democracy dies in darkness’, our struggle to bring out the story shows that the lights have been truly extinguished by the Irish media’.

Creed blocked bid to revoke salmon licences


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Irish Examiner: ‘Already too many salmon farms in Bantry’

An organisation opposed to the development of another salmon farm in Bantry Bay says the area is “already overburdened” with them and believes there’s a direct link between such farms and sea lice infestation which can kill wild fish.

Aquaculture sector loses $1 billion a year to outbreaks of tiny crustaceans infesting and devouring fish farmed for human consumption

Independent.co.uk Tuesday 19 September 2017 
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/salmon-sea-lice-plague-outbreak-fish-farms-global-stocks-depleted-acquaculture-industry-a7955326.html

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Irish Examiner - €3.5m salmon farm hearing resumes

Irish Examiner
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Sean O’Riordan
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/35m-salmon-farm-hearing-resumes-459314.html

A consultant representing a company planning to develop a €3.5m salmon farm in Bantry Bay has told a reconvened oral hearing it will not have a detrimental impact on the general environment or wild fish stocks.
Marine Harvest has been granted a licence for the 16-cage salmon farm off Shot Head and proposes to produce 3,500 tonnes of fish from it every two years. The company already runs a 12-cage salmon farm 8km west of the site at Roancarrig.
Up to 50 people attended the Acquaculture Licenses Appeal Board oral hearing yesterday. The hearing will continue today and is expected to concentrate on submissions from 14 objecting groups and organisations.
The hearing had been adjourned last February due to an oversight that led to a technical report not being released to all parties. This hydrolic flow report was eventually delivered yesterday on behalf of Marine Harvest by Neil Bass, from consultants RPS.
He said waste from the salmon farm was modelled on “worst case” discharge scenarios.
Dr Bass said that even with a worst case situation over a year there would only be 13mm of solids (faeces and uneaten food) deposited under the salmon pens and this would not result in any degradation of the site as the deposits would be grazed on by small seabed-dwelling creatures and gently dispersed by currents.
“On sites which are properly managed you’ll see virtually nothing,” he said.
Dr Bass said the maximum stocking density would be 10 kilos of salmon per cubic metre of water.
He said that this low stocking rate would reduce stress and disease in the fish and residue from medication required to combat sea lice infestation in the salmon would not cause any problems as Bantry Bay is flushed by 27bn tonnes of water every month — equivalant to the weight of the world’s human population.
Chairman of the oral hearing, Owen McIntyre, heard one local objector claim that 13mm of solids deposited under the pens would kill off shrimp and prawns. Angling guide and fisheries manager Brian Curran, who is based in Galway, claimed that Chilean scientists had recently published a paper which stated that some medications used on farmed salmon were toxic to lobster, crab and shrimps.
Dr Bass said there was an entirely different situation in Chile as its farmed salmon industry had gone through two disasters due to “greed”. Concerns have been expressed that an outbreak of sea lice in the pens could kill not only the farmed salmon but wild salmon and sea trout.
Dr Bass said statutory monitoring of sea lice levels in all Irish salmon farms took place 14 times each year. If infestation is over a certain level the fish must be treated to kill the parasite.
He said just six treatments were needed in the past eight years in all salmon farms in Bantry Bay, which was well below the national average.
Dr Bass admitted that the sea lice could get into local rivers from salmon farms, but maintained they could not get there in sufficient numbers to cause any serious infestation.
However, he said where a salmon farm is close to a river the river “could be in trouble” from sea lice.
This, he added, was not the case in Bantry where the salmon farms were not near rivers.
A number of placards were placed by objectors at the entrance to the hotel’s conference centre at the Westlodge Hotel where the oral hearing is taking place.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Irish Examiner: High-rise fish hold solutions

http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/outdoors/donal-hickey/high-rise-fish-hold-solutions-459134.html

It may sound like a tall order, but the solution to rows about ocean-based fish farms could well be up in the sky. Fish are being reared successfully in plastic fish tanks containing 80,000 litres of salt water, 15 floors up on a high-rise building in Hong Kong, where people have voracious appetites for fish. The idea is also catching on in other parts of Asia.

Earlier this year, vehement opposition was voiced at an oral planning hearing into plans by a Norwegian company, Marine Harvest, for a salmon farm off Shot Head, in Bantry Bay, Co Cork. Twelve appeals were lodged against a decision by the Department of Agriculture to licence the project in an area of just over 100 acres.
Due to ongoing concerns about pollution from fish farms, sea lice and threats to wild fish, there’s been a movement, internationally, towards on-land fish farms in recent years. More than 10,000 such farms are now in operation, Fish Farm News reports.
Louis Luyken, of the Save Bantry Bay group, says nobody in the area wants salmon farms which have “the wrong fish in the wrong places”. He says the only way of bringing jobs and wealth is through a big number of fish farms on land over the whole country.
These would include special, closed containment systems and closed buildings in which the water would be biologically cleaned and waste used as fertiliser on the land for other production by the same farmers, he adds. On-land fish farms use a recirculating aquaculture system described by the industry as an eco-friendly, land-based fish tank.
Denmark, for instance, has half its farms on this system, while Finland has never allowed fish farms on its seas.
Two years ago, a report for the Irish fish- farming industry shot down on-land farms, claiming capital costs would be too high and would make it difficult to be competitive. Environmentalists and others, however, remain unconvinced and will continue with campaigns similar to Save Bantry Bay.
The vertical fish farms in Hong Kong are being put on rooftops because land there is really scarce. White-fleshed grouper fish are being produced to supply a huge local market.
Oceanethix, one of the companies involved, produces about two tonnes of grouper per week and is also selling its water-recycling systems to other companies across Asia setting up so-called fish farms in the sky.
Also, a growing number of organic fruit and vegetable plots are being created on top of skyscrapers and other spare rooftop spaces in bustling Hong Kong.
Nevertheless it’s safe to say it will be a long time before we see such activity on the roof of Cork County Hall, or the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

Call to Action - Salmon Farming in Ireland

The campaign to have salmon farms taken out of Ireland’s beautiful bays and coastal areas has been ongoing for years yet our elected politicians hold quiet on the matter. Lets get them to discuss the future of salmon farming in Ireland at national and EU level. Scientific evidence proves that salmon farms harm the environment yet for some reason these foreign owned corporate companies are allowed to come in and produce farmed salmon along the Irish Coast.

We want salmon farms taken off the Irish coast and moved into land based closed containment systems for safer food production and cleaner environmental protection.  


A list of all TD’s and Local Councillors can be found on Contact.ie. The message is clear - No to Salmon Farms on the Irish Coast. Send one message to all of Ireland’s politicians today on Contact.ie and make sure you get answers.