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.


Friday, 11 August 2017

Financial Times: The terrible cost of Scotland’s salmon farms

The veteran angler Jeremy Paxman bemoans the rise of salmon farms and the ‘bleak’ prospects for these wild fish

Article: https://www.ft.com/content/8b73e21a-7cf8-11e7-ab01-a13271d1ee9c


Like, I’m sure, most FT Weekend readers, I spent last Sunday at Ikea, on the North Circular Road in Wembley. It is not an experience to be enjoyed by those who appreciate peace and solitude. But at least there is food to be had. A poster on the cafeteria wall advertises that traditional Scandinavian delicacy, salmon. “Good and Good For You”, the ad claims, followed by lots of stuff about the benefits of fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins. The poster is not unusual: salmon has long been sold on the prospect of cleanliness and health. The fantasy is that it comes to your table fresh from wild seas. The impression is fraudulent. Most salmon arrives in the kitchen not from untamed nature but from cages in the sea. You cannot see the end of the salmon’s tail in the Ikea poster, because it is covered in fishmonger’s ice. If this dead fish lived a typical life, the tail will be a raggedy thing. But then, a farmed salmon doesn’t need much of a tail, because it has nowhere much to swim. The 250 salmon farms on the western coast of Scotland may be set in one of the most magnificent wildernesses in Europe, but the farmed salmon has no freedom. 

A single circle of mesh measuring 40 metres across may contain up to almost 70,000 fish; on a farm of 12 cages that is getting on for a million fish. It is like a series of floating battery hen sheds. You do not hear animal rights activists protesting because it is the misfortune of fish not to be cuddly, not to make audible sounds, to have no eyelids and to live in an alien environment. That is their lot. I freely confess there is something absurd about the fact that the only defenders of fish freedoms are those who want to catch them. But that’s how it is: there is nothing to stop the heart like the sight of a silver salmon, fresh from the sea, leaping up a river on its journey to its spawning redds. In decades of chasing these untameable animals (and learning to respect their contempt for the flies I have spent hours tying) the prospects for these fish look as bleak as they have ever been. There are plenty of theories to explain why wild salmon seem imperilled. Ghillies tell tales of ghost trawlers from Russia just over the horizon. Environmentalists talk of global warming changing sea temperatures. The truth is no one knows the overall picture. But one thing is observable: salmon farms have done enormous harm. Last Tuesday, Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland announced a collapse in the number of wild salmon returning to spawn in the most closely monitored river in the western Highlands. 

The river Awe is a short, pretty river on which a fish counter was installed when a hydroelectric dam was constructed, so the figures are accurate. This year those numbers are the lowest recorded. A similar disaster has hit other west-coast rivers, while those on the east coast have been unaffected. (The salmon farms are all on Scotland’s west coast.) Conservationists are confident of the cause of the decline: young salmon beginning their oceanic migration must pass dozens of cages at sea where captive fish are bred for the table. Wild salmon do not return to rivers like the Awe because they were killed at the start of their migration to sea. Only a few decades ago, you ate Atlantic salmon if you were lucky enough to be a toff, or one of his employees. Now it is ubiquitous, piled high in supermarket fridges or lying pink and flabby on plates at wedding receptions and awards dinners. The discovery of how to farm fish by the hundreds of thousands has revolutionised the food industry. But when you rear fish in the quantities necessary to meet growing demand, you start playing with the environment. Confining naturally migratory and carnivorous animals in packed pens produces enormous quantities of faeces, which covers the seabed beneath. 

 The cages provide ideal breeding grounds for the sea louse, which, smaller than a fingernail, eats into the salmon’s skin and either directly or indirectly (by exposing them to infections) kills them. Unfortunately, the salmon farmers like to site cages close to the shore, where they are easier to manage. Often the farms are in estuaries, where the tidal flows that might wash away residues are smaller than in the open sea. Salmon and trout migrating to sea or returning to their natal rivers to spawn must swim through clouds of sea lice. In 1987, a salmon farm opened in Loch Ewe, surrounded by the mountains of Wester Ross, setting for John Buchan’s novel John Macnab. Loch Maree, a freshwater loch at the head of the river emptying into Loch Ewe, was at the time a world-famous destination for anglers trying to catch sea trout, its hotel booked 12 months or more in advance. But the year after the salmon farm opened, the number of sea trout caught in Loch Maree collapsed. It has never recovered. 

The fishermen and the boatmen disappeared too. A report by Andrew Walker, formerly of the Scottish government’s Fisheries Research Services, reached the cautious conclusion that “the introduction of salmon farming in Loch Ewe played a prominent part” in the disappearance of sea trout. It is a similar picture on many, previously prolific, West Coast salmon rivers. Salmon runs on west coast rivers have fallen by about half. Responding to the reports of environmental damage the industry began to try to kill off the sea lice with chemicals. Unsurprisingly the lice began to develop a resistance to the chemicals, which meant they had to be used in greater quantities. One of the latest weapons is Azamethiphos, an organophosphate, belonging to the same toxic family as pesticides, herbicides and some nerve agents. The most popular chemical at present seems to be “Slice”, whose active ingredient is emamectin benzoate, a powder added to the salmon feed to kill the parasites.


The industry argues that it leads to the creation of thousands of jobs. There’s certainly no denying fish farming has been a commercial success story. By 2015, the Scottish industry was producing nearly 180,000 tons of salmon. The Scottish government hopes production will double in value by 2030. It has bought the argument that fish farming offers a way of creating employment in the wilderness communities essential to Scotland’s sense of itself. But that is an exaggerated claim and anyway, so does angling. The salmon farms are highly automated and according to the Scottish government’s 2015 fish farm production survey, total full-time employment in marine salmon farms amounts to a mere 1,256 jobs in an economically active population of 3.5m. It is less than 1 per cent of those employed by the NHS in Scotland. Yet the Edinburgh government looks to have decided it is more important to let the farmers have what they want than to heed environmentalists. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency had been discussing whether to ban emamectin. But after pressure from the salmon farmers on the Scottish government, the agency says it is now merely “tightening conditions for the medicine’s use”. For what it’s worth, a committee of the Scottish parliament has decided to hold its own inquiry into the effects of fish farming. This “Scottish” industry is largely controlled by half-a-dozen Norwegian companies, which are able to benefit from the fact that environmental standards in Scotland are often lower than those at home. 


Their salmon reaches the supermarkets under names that emphasise supposed Highland origins. Marks and Spencer salmon, for example, carries the brand name Lochmuir. Loch Muir does not exist. Loch Duart Salmon, a comparatively small, British-owned producer, does at least take its name from a genuine (and rather beautiful) geographical feature. When I visited one of its farms, it seemed alive to the industry’s environmental image problems. Loch Duart is a top-end producer, supplying expensive restaurants. It keeps fewer fish in each cage and allows longer periods than many for the pens to lie fallow between use. In a hatchery onshore it was rearing lumpfish, which feed on the lice. Elsewhere were tanks of wrasse, a species even lower down the index of sexy fish, but which are “cleaner fish” that eat the lice. 

 Yet even Loch Duart uses chemicals (though it prefers to call them “medicines”) on its fish. The latest report from the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation showed Loch Duart farms in the north-west Highlands to have the highest adult female sea lice infestations in March in Scotland. The company says it was an unexpected spike, and that its new, non-chemical, approach using “cleaner fish” has ensured that all its farms are below industry chemical-treatment trigger levels. There are two very obvious solutions, if people wish to continue eating farmed salmon. One is to locate the cages in deeper water with stronger currents, much further offshore. It would be inconvenient for the industry, but it might stop pollution by lice and chemicals. 

The more radical solution is for salmon farming to be in tanks on land, with arrangements for waste disposal. Geography, though, is an insuperable problem. Salmon farming has political appeal because it seems to offer employment in these Highland communities that have a powerful romantic hold over Scottish identity. Once you use land-based systems, with manufactured salt water, why locate them in the Highlands at all? It could be much more economical to build them somewhere near the markets of southern England or the airports supplying export destinations. Would you buy Loch Hounslow salmon?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

BBC News - Call for action over 'unprecedented collapse' of salmon run

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-40861649

Salmon fishing groups have called for urgent action over the "unprecedented collapse" of a major run in Argyll.
The 2017 catch from the River Awe in the south-west Highlands is projected to be the lowest since records began.
Fishery groups believe the declining salmon count is the result of "intensive" fish farming in the area, and the spread of sea lice at farms.
The government said a number of factors could be to blame, but said a project was under way to tackle the lice issue.
MSPs are set to hold an inquiry into the industry in early 2018, after the rural economy committee studied a petition from Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (STCS) about protecting wild fish from sea lice breeding in salmon farms.

'Run the gauntlet'

The group said this year's catch from the Awe has only been running at a third of the 2016 count, which was itself only just above the all-time low since records began in 1965.
The 2016 total was 807 fish, but STCS said the 2017 catch may "struggle to reach 400", with 30 weeks of the season already past.
They said juvenile salmon migrating from rivers in the south-west Highlands had to "run the gauntlet" close to lice-producing salmon farms the whole way up the west coast before reaching the open ocean.
STCS wants farms moved into closed containment tank systems to prevent the spread of parasites, saying only this could allow both farmed and wild fish to thrive.
Director Andrew Graham-Stewart said the numbers of mature west Highland sea trout had "collapsed" since the arrival of intensive fish farming, and said wild salmon numbers were also now in a decline which is "accelerating into a free fall".
Roger Brook, chairman of the Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board, said rivers like the Awe were facing "a very precarious future", and called on the government to make changes.

Sustainable growth

He said: "The Scottish government has promoted the continued expansion of the salmon aquaculture industry whilst refusing to implement adequate control on the siting of farms and the levels of sea lice on the farms.
"We call upon the Scottish government to insist that future farms are sited away from the probable migration routes. The worst existing farms, both in terms of location and lice control, should now be closed."
Scotland's farmed salmon industry continues to grow, with exports rising by 17% by value last year. However, there have been persistent concerns about sea lice, which can spread at farms and potentially damage ecosystems.
Efforts have been made to tackle the spread of lice at farms with "cleaner fish" which attack and eat the parasites. Scottish Sea Farms said their use has been "transformational", with lice levels at a three-year low at the end of 2016.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said: "We recognise that a number of factors may be having an impact on wild salmon stocks, including the activity of aquaculture, which can result in elevated numbers of sea lice in open water and hence is likely to increase the infestation potential on wild salmons.
"The magnitude of any such impact in relation to overall mortality levels is not known for Scotland. Marine Scotland Science has recently commenced a project to address this issue."

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) welcomes the decision made on the 19 June by Galway County Council to again refuse planning permission to Bradán Beo Teo

GALWAY BAY AGAINST SALMON CAGES PRESS RELEASE
26/6/2017
Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) welcomes the decision made on the 19 June by Galway County Council to again refuse planning permission to Bradán Beo Teo (BBT) for their illegal pump and piping system at Loch an Mhuillinn, Connemara.
This is the second time in 2 years that Galway Co. Council planners have refused planning permission to Bradán Beo Teo for their 5 year illegal development at Loch an Mhuillinn. We would hope that Bradán Beo Teo. would not waste any more of the Council's limited resources by applying a third time for permission for


this unsustainable and environmentally damaging illegal development.
We commend the courageous decision of the Co.Council planners not to reward BBT with planning permission in light of the fact that Bradán Beo Teo, in which Udaras has a major shareholding, had ignored numerous warning letters over 3 years that their development was illegal.
The Council planners have said in their refusal decision letter (attached below), that the development is likely to have significant, adverse impacts on the integrity and qualifying interests/conservation objectives of designated European sites, would contravene materially a policy, objectives and a development management standard contained in the currant Galway County Development Plan, would set an undesirable precedent for similar future development within European sites,and therefore would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.''
A number of illegal fresh water abstractions are taking place from rivers and lakes in salmon farming areas along the Connemara coast as we go to press.
GBASC have in the last two weeks reported 2 possible illegal fresh water abstractions by salmon farmers to Galway Co. Council and the Department of Agriculture,Food and the Marine. One from the Bunowen River flowing into Killary Harbour and another from Loch an Iarainn, Kilkieran Connemara. These suspected and damaging illegal fresh water abstractions of millions of litres per day are being taken from rivers and lakes in drought conditions. (See pictures below)
We ask the public to be on the look out for such unauthorized developments and bring them to the attention of the relevant planning authority in their area. Please see pictures attached below.
Billy Smyth
Chairman, Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Irish high court grants salmon farming licence against minister’s decision

https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2017/06/14/irish-high-court-grants-salmon-farming-licence-against-ministers-decision/

Murphy’s Irish Seafood, a company operating fish farms and hatcheries in Bantry Bay, Ireland, has successfully brought an application for judicial review -- quashing the decision of the minister for agriculture, food and the marine to revoke their licence, Irish Legal News reported.

Justice Marie Baker found that the impugned decision had not been made within the statutory time limit, and that the notice of this revocation did not contain a sufficient statement of the grounds on which the minister was considering to enable representations.

The application for judicial review related to the purported termination of the aquaculture licence held by Murphy’s for an adult salmon site and a smolt site.

Aftermath of storm in 2014

Following a catastrophic storm of hurricane force in February 2014, most of the fish stock -- amounting in total to 235,000 fish -- and almost all of the aquaculture equipment on the site was destroyed.

Since that time, the damaged cages and equipment had been removed, and one cage remaining has been upgraded; the court heard that there were no fish on site at the time of the hearing.

The damage caused by the storm was such that Murphy’s became technically in breach of the conditions of its licence.

In July 2014 Murphy’s reached an agreement to facilitate the ongoing operation of the aquaculture process. The agreement provided for submission, on or before July 31 2014, of a maintenance and recording program in accordance with a Norwegian standard.

Salmon farmers ‘put wild fish at risk’ in fight to kill off sea lice

A ballan wrasse devours a crab. Concern is growing over their falling numbers in the wild. Photograph: Marevision/Getty Images/age fotostock RM
Sourced from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/10/salmon-farmers-put-wild-wrasse-at-risk--sea-lice-scotland-anglers#img-1

Salmon farmers have been accused of playing dirty by using fish caught in the wild to clean lice from Scottish fish farms. Marine conservation experts say that shipping tonnes of English-caught wrasse a year – to tackle lice infestations in salmon pens north of the border – is endangering natural stocks. English anglers have also warned wrasse is becoming harder and harder to find in local waters.

However, salmon farmers have rejected the charge. They say the use of wrasse as a “cleaner” fish is part of a long-term plan to replace chemicals – which are currently administered to pens to control lice infestations – with sustainable, biological controls.

Fishermen remain concerned, nevertheless. “Wrasse play a role in keeping the marine ecosystem in balance,” said David Mitchell, of the Angling Trust. “We simply do not know what will be the consequence of removing so many of them from our coastal waters.”

More than 170,000 tonnes of salmon a year are grown in Scotland at more than 200 marine farms. However, production is affected by lice infestations that cause lesions and secondary infections in the fish. Chemicals can control this but pollute water around the farms. Another solution is provided by wrasse which feed on marine insects. Many species – such as ballan and goldsinny wrasse – will eat lice that infect larger fish. As a result wild wrasse are being caught in pots and shipped to Scotland to tackle sea-lice infestations. One wrasse for every 25 salmon is used.

But this exploitation of wrasse is raising concerns. “We are very worried that a large local fishery has developed rapidly over the past couple of years – with large numbers of wrasse being taken from local waters – without proper management or any indication of its sustainability,” said Samuel Stone, of the Marine Conservation Society. “It is a real concern.”

A similar line is taken by the Angling Trust, which is particularly concerned that wrasse are killed after they have completed their lice-devouring activities. Wrasse caught by anglers are usually put back in the sea and the Angling Trust said it was receiving more and more reports from anglers who had found very few wrasse left in their local waters, particularly around south-west England.

“Wrasse are very popular and many young people take up angling as a hobby after fishing for them,” said Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust. “They put the wrasse back in the water because they are not particularly appetising. By contrast, those that are being shipped north are killed and discarded after they have done their work cleaning lice and that is causing real problems of depletion. It is also a waste of protein.”

The fear that wild wrasse populations are shrinking badly is backed by researchers in Norway, where wrasse-catching to supply fish farming has also soared in recent years. According to a report in New Scientist, annual wrasse catches have risen from 2m to 22m in less than a decade to supply Norwegian salmon farms with cleaner fish. However, this was matched by considerable depletion of wrasse stocks where fishing took place.

Conservationists and anglers are now calling for a number of measures to be introduced to tackle the issue. In particular, they want careful monitoring of wrasse numbers to be introduced and strict limits imposed on catches.

However, the danger posed to wrasse stocks was dismissed by Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation. “The fishermen who supply us with wrasse do not take away juveniles or brood stock, so at the end of the day stock should always recover. And we simply do not have any hard figures that show serious depletion in going on.”

He said that the industry – which employs around 2,200 people – was also moving towards wrasse sustainability. “We have set up farms for both wrasse and lumpfish, which also eat lice, and the aim is that we will produce our own cleaner fish from our own farms in a few years,” he told the Observer.

It remains to be seen how successful this will be. Some marine conservation experts have questioned the potential usefulness of wrasse raised in farms as cleaner fish compared with those taken from the wild. Landsburgh remained confident. “We are spending a great deal of money on this. I am not worried.”

Monday, 29 May 2017

Mounting international decisions stop expansion of open cage salmon farming in the marine.

Dated :25th May 2017
In recent days both Norway and Sweden have made decisions to curtail open cage salmon farming.
At the Norwegian annual fish farming Hardangerfjord seminar, Mr Stein Lier-Hansen, CEO of Norsk Industri which includes the main salmon farming interests as well as Marine Harvest which has 80% of salmon farming production in Ireland, announced a stop to all further open cage salmon farming in Norway.
This was due to a cost last year of 15 billion NOK just to combat sea lice and it was still not possible to overcome the negative effects of the salmon farms on the environment.
In Sweden, its Land and Environmental Court has ordered a halt to fish farming in cages in open sea water at three locations and reduced the amount of farming permitted at another site.
Delivering the ruling, the court questioned whether open cages in the sea was the best fish farming technique and raised doubts whether the affected waters could cope with the amount of nutrients. The decision is a result of the so called Weser judgement from the EU Court in combination with new environmental quality standards in Swedish waters.
Meanwhile in Ireland a new peer reviewed published scientific paper from Inland Fisheries Ireland scientists, Shepherd and Gargan, indicates that wild salmon returns to the Erriff system in Co Mayo were strongly reduced(>50%) following years when there had been high lice levels on the salmon farms nearby during smolt out-migration. Their results show that sea lice infestation from coastal salmon aquaculture is likely to be an important negative contribution to the Erriff River system's wild salmon stocks.
Billy Smyth, Chairman of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, agrees with these international moves to stop the expansion of sea based salmon farming and is calling on Government Departments and semi state bodies like the Marine Institute, B.I.M. and Udaras to stop promoting this destructive industry, to remove the installations onto land so as to provide containment against lice, diseases and escapees that are affecting the valuable but declining stocks of wild salmon and sea trout.
Billy Smyth Chairman GBASC
Tel No: 086 3511628
Brian E. Curran PRO GBASC
Tel No: 0872509722

Thursday, 6 April 2017

MAJOR SALMON FARMING ORGANISATION SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH CONNEMARA FIRM

Galway Bay FM Newsroom – Marine Harvest Ireland – the largest salmon farming concern in the country – has signed off on a new arrangement with a Connemara based aquaculture company.
The new salmon farm venture will be based on Bertraghboy Bay in the Carna area.
This is a significant development in salmon farming in Connemara.
Marine Harvest Ireland has its main base in Norway.  The company has its Irish headquarters in Donegal and employs almost 300 people along the Atlantic coastline.
Marine Harvest was previously in production for over two years in Cill Chiaráin Bay and it has now linked with the Mannin Bay Salmon company in Connemara on the neighbouring Bertraghboy Bay.
The present deal will continue for  appromiately 5 years and the operations on Bertraghboy Bay will be managed by Marine Harvest Ireland with Mannin Bay Salmon company sharing in the arrangement.
Marine Harvest Ireland produces 10,000 tonnes of salmon per year in Ireland.
Over a half million smolts will be put to sea on the Bertraghboy Bay in the first part of the 5 year programme.
Eight people will be employed directly on the Bay with further employment benefits coming in the processing sector, locally.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Demise of Loch Maree "Eaten Alive - End of an Era"




This film was commissioned by Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland

What has occurred across the west coast of Scotland over the last few decades is nothing short of a travesty. We have been responsible for the systematic demise of a great natural resource, decimating the wild populations of salmon and sea-trout in order to support big business in farmed salmon. 

In the case of the river Ewe and Loch Maree system, the installation of a fish farm in Loch Ewe correlated with the decline of what was once the worlds premier destination for sea-trout in the world. 

Not only have we lost the sea-trout, but almost all the jobs its supported. This is the story of the demise of Loch Maree.


For more information visit: salmon-troutscotland.org