Thursday, 13 June 2019

Cork Independent: Fishy business sees salmon off the menu at Liberty Grill

Liberty Grill on Washington Street have taken all salmon off their menu after learning of the poor conditions in which salmon are farmed in Ireland.

Article Source: Cork 
A popular city centre restaurant has taken the liberty of removing salmon from its menu with immediate effect.

Liberty Grill, based on Washington Street, made the decision after learning of the manner in which the flavoursome fish are farmed in Ireland.
A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page read: “Last week we stopped serving smoked salmon after reading some horrific stories about this once revered mythical Irish fish.
“Salmon are packed into cages of up to 250,000 fish off the coast with just enough water to swim. They are basically being attacked and eaten alive by sea lice which can reach levels of 50 plus lice per fish.”
Liberty Grill is encouraging others to get on board in an effort to bring an end to the poor treatment of farmed salmon in Ireland. The post also condemned the large amounts of pesticides, chemicals and antibiotics that are used to control disease, which it claims turn the areas surrounding the fish farms into “death zones”.
The post continued: “They are fed pellets that are made up of a pink dye to give the salmon its pink colour.
“These farms have been implicated in the serious reduction of our native salmon and sea trout populations.”

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Eight million salmon killed in a week by sudden surge of algae in Norway

News Source:

Deaths come weeks after similar incident in Scotland: ‘We’re all pretty worried’

A sudden surge in algae has killed at least eight million salmon in one week across Norwegian fish farms, the state-owned Norwegian Seafood Council has said.
The enormous algal blooms, due to recent warm weather, have spread rapidly around Norway’s northern coast, sticking to fishes’ gills and suffocating them.
Wild fish can swim away from the lethal clouds of aquatic organisms, but farmed fish are trapped.
The algae is continuing to spread, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said.
The organisation said on Tuesday that more than 10,000 tonnes of farmed salmon, with a sales price of some 620 million Norwegian crowns (£56m), had been killed, but the Seafood Council said the loss would be much greater.
“It’s too soon to say how big the losses will be for the producers. Preliminary numbers point to eight million dead fish, corresponding to 40,000 tonnes of salmon that won’t reach markets,” Seafood Council analyst Paul Aandahl said.
This means the algae may already have wiped out over £200m worth of fish in total.
Similar algal blooms have been reported on the west coast of Scotland in recent weeks, and experts told The Independent the algae, believed to have killed thousands of fish in Loch Fyne, had come very early in the year. Hundreds of tonnes of dead fish were removed following the bloom, according to the BBC.
Norway is the world’s largest exporter of salmon and the effect of the millions of deaths will likely see half the expected growth in salmon volumes wiped out this year as a result, while prices are likely to rise, said Lars Konrad Johnsen, an analyst at Fearnleys, an investment bank which specialises in maritime industries.
“Providing the net effect is something in the area of 20 – 30 thousand tonnes, this means you lose around half of the growth that was to come this year – and that will no doubt affect prices,” Mr Johnsen told Reuters.
Norway exported 1.24 million tonnes of salmon in 2018, up 2.5 per cent from 2017, according to data from Statistics Norway. 

This year Fearnley had expected a volume growth of around 4 per cent.
The colossal death toll comes as Mowi, the world’s biggest salmon farming company, which is also Norwegian, is being investigated over claims it has misreported the volume of chemical medications it uses to fight disease at its Scottish salmon farms. Overuse of chemicals has disastrous impacts on the surrounding marine environment.
Farmed salmon stocks are already collapsing due to infestations of sea lice, which have in turn affected wild stocks. Last month, Mowi revealed the amount of gutted salmon it produced from Scottish waters had fallen by 36 per cent in a year, with infestations of sea lice and disease blamed.
Open-net salmon farms, alongside climate change and soaring demand for salmon are all blamed for impacting wild salmon populations, which have dwindled to the lowest levels ever recorded.
There are now no commercial wild salmon fishing stations operating in the UK due to the collapse in numbers.
“We had a major bloom here in upper Loch Fyne a fortnight ago,” Alastair Sinclair, the national coordinator for the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation, told The Independent.
He said the overall impact of salmon farming was having a serious effect on the marine environment.
“It’s a huge risk to the inshore fishing industry in the sense that these farms are generally sited in sea lochs which historically have been known as breeding and spawning grounds for every species you could imagine.”
“There’s basically no fish stocks left on the west coast. It’s become almost a marine desert, and the use of these chemicals (from the salmon farming industry) has not helped the situation – they are exacerbating it.”  
He added: “There are many concerned communities on the west coast where salmon farming takes place, who are worried the future has not been thought of here… We’re all pretty worried.”

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

RTE: Decline in salmon numbers raises concern

Brian Curran of Costello and Fermoyle Fishery in Connemara
The Chief Executive of Inland Fisheries Ireland Dr Ciarán Byrne has expressed ‘serious concern’ over the decline in the number of wild salmon returning to spawn in Irish rivers.
Dr Byrne made his comments in light of a Scottish Government report signalling that the survival of wild salmon is at ‘crisis point’.
The number of wild salmon caught in Scotland last year was at the lowest point since Scottish records were first compiled.
"The findings in Scotland are in no way a surprise to us," says the Chief Executive of IFI.
"All of the stock on the south east side of the Atlantic; Ireland, UK, France and even Portugal and Spain are under severe pressure," he said.
The number of salmon returning to spawn in Ireland reached a high point in the mid-1970s, about 1.6 million.
Currently, that return is about 250,000-300,000 salmon per year.
In the past, up to 30% of smolts (young salmon) leaving Irish rivers returned to spawn. In recent years that figure fell to 3 or 4%.
Dr Byrne says that the "arrow has gone on a downward trajectory in the past 45 years."
He added that an awful lot of fish are dying at sea.
The Chief Executive of IFI believes that there is good data available on the status of salmon in Ireland.
"We use the phrase ‘controlling the controllable’. We can improve our water quality, predation, barriers and spawning beds. The real solution for us at present is to try and maximise the number of salmon smolts (young salmon) going out so we have the best chance in the future," he said.
He also added that salmon lice from fish farms can also pose a threat to wild salmon.
The Costello and Fermoyle Fishery in Connemara is one of 43 ‘open fisheries’ in Ireland where anglers are permitted to catch and keep salmon.
Brian Curran, manager of the Fishery says the number of tourist anglers has declined substantially over the years.
"This fishery used to employ about 20 people during the summer months, small farmers that acted as gillies. They were employed from June to September," he added.
Two people are now employed at the fishery.
Brian Curran attributes the declining salmon stock to a myriad of factors at sea.
"We are losing the salmon at sea. Some of reasons include; overfishing, increased acidification of the water, climate change has resulted in currents moving further north so that smolts are in danger of starvation because they’re unable to get to their food source.
There are a variety of factors that have resulted in our wild salmon stocks declining substantially. They (wild salmon levels) are at crisis point," he added.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Irish Examiner: Kerry fish farm licence discontinued after probe

Minister for Marine Michael Creed
News Source: Irish Examiner

Minister for Marine Michael Creed has discontinued a licence held by Norwegian multinational Mowi for a fish farm in Co Kerry.
A breach of licence conditions at a smolt hatchery run by the Norwegian aquaculture company’s Irish division in Donegal has also been identified by Mr Creed’s department.
A third investigation by his department found no “provable” breach of licence conditions at a salmon and rainbow trout farm run by the same company near Inishfarnard in Coulagh Bay, Co Cork.
Mr Creed’s decision to discontinue a fish farm licence for the first time was taken under the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997, which permits him to revoke or amend a licence if he considers it in the public interest, or if he is satisfied of a breach of conditions.
Mowi, the world’s largest farm-reared salmon company, has its headquarters in Norway and runs farms in Chile, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and the Faroe Islands. It employs almost 300 people at over a dozen fish farms in five coastal counties here.
Its global operation employs over 14,000 people in 24 countries and recorded a turnover of almost €3.6 billion in 2016.
Investigations by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine identified overstocking at Silver King Seafoods Ltd at Deenish in Ballinskelligs bay, Co Kerry three years ago.
The Kerry farm is licenced to harvest up to 500 tonnes (dead weight) of salmon in any one year, but harvested just over 1100 tonnes in 2016 – over 121 per cent more than permitted.
The breach is “significant”, the department says, and the decision to rescind the licence under section 68 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997 is “proportionate and warranted”.
“The company was fully aware of the limits set by the specific condition of the licence governing harvest tonnage,” it notes.
"Breaching licence conditions serves to undermine public confidence in the regulatory system, and therefore enforcement by the department of licence conditions is in the public interest."
The department says that an increase of 121 percent in stock harvested from the site must increase its effluent discharge.
Mr Creed’s department also identified a licence breach at a freshwater smolt cultivation site run by Comhlucht Iascaireachta Fanad Teo T/A Marine Harvest Ireland at Lough Altan, Procklis near Falcarragh, Co Donegal.
Under the licence terms, annual production should not exceed 2.5 million smolts at the plant, which provides juveniles for seawater farms.
However, the department opted not to revoke the licence, but to amend it, due to the “very serious commercial consequences for the company”. The department’s inspector had recommended revoking the licence. 
The department also decided to amend the licence at the Inishfarnard farm in Co Cork where it found “no provable breach” in “circumstances where evidential issues may arise as to what technically constitutes a smolt”.
The licence amendment is to “avoid a similar situation occurring in the future”, it states. Its inspector recommended discontinuing this licence. Mr Creed declined to comment on the decisions. Mowi/Marine Harvest said it was seeking legal advice and would comment further. It said it was “disturbed” by the fact that it had sought renewal and improvement of the Deenish licence back in 2007.
Environmental group Salmon Watch Ireland said it “welcomed the fact that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is doing its job”.
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) welcomed the decision in relation to the Deenish fish farm in Co Kerry. However, FIE spokesman Tony Lowes urged Mr Creed to reconsider his decision in relation to the two other fish farms, given the recommendations by the department’s own official. "The high levels of overstocking means that the pressures on the environment have 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 is based on samples taken multiplied by the number of fish licenced,” Mr Lowes said.
Mr Lowes said that a “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”.
“The Government must reorganise the department so that the Marine Institute and the Sea Food Protection Authority are administered by a non-fisheries division of the department,” he said.

Ban open farms - Salmon licence discontinued

Marine Minister Michael Creed has taken an unprecedented step of “discontinuing” a licence held by Norwegian multinational Mowi, formerly Marine Harvest, to produce farmed salmon in Ballinskelligs Bay, Co Kerry.
A second breach of licence was found at a smolt hatchery run by the company in Donegal. A third investigation found no “provable” breach at a salmon and rainbow trout farm run by the company in Coulagh Bay, Co Cork.
The Silver King Seafoods facility in Kerry had a licence to produce 500 tonnes of salmon but harvested more than double that in 2016 with an inevitable increase in the waste generated at the site.
Salmon farming is a contentious generally unwelcome industry — despite industry lobbyists’ insistence — and is accused of having a hugely negative environmental impact. 
So much so that some countries are moving to ban open-cage, sea-based farms and insist on contained feedlots for the fish. Now that the Government has recognised the threat salmon farms pose it should follow suit.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Salmon Farm Licence has been revoked in Co Kerry

Ministerial Decision - Section 68 and Section 19(A)4 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997 (as amended)


Following an examination by his Department of possible overharvesting, the Minister for Agriculture, 
Food and the Marine has determined that:

1. A breach of a licence condition 2(e) has occurred. Condition 2(e) of the licence states:
“the Licensee shall not harvest more than 500 tonnes (dead weight) of salmon in any one calendar year”
2. The statutory entitlement of Silver King Seafoods Ltd. (a wholly owned Company of Comhlucht Iascaireachta Fanad Teoranta (MOWI Ireland)) to continue aquaculture operations under the provisions of Section 19(A)4 of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act is discontinued for the following reason:
Breach of condition 2(e) of the applicable aquaculture licence.
The Minister’s consideration of the case included the following:
1. The licence conditions in question are clearly stated in the licence. The relevant condition is condition 2(e) which states:
“the Licensee shall not harvest more than 500 tonnes (dead weight) of salmon in any one calendar year”
It is noted that the Dead Weight Harvest for 2016 was 1,108,907.36kg (1,108.91 tonnes). This harvest figure is 121.78% in excess of what is permitted under licence condition 2(e).
2. The extent of the breach by the Company of condition 2(e) is significant. The breach of the licence condition (121.78% excess of authorised limit) is of such a scale that the decision to treat as discontinued the entitlement of the Company to continue aquaculture operations under the provisions of Section 19(A)4 of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act is warranted and proportionate.
3. The breach of the licence condition took place in circumstances where the Company was fully aware of the limits set by the specific condition of the licence governing harvest tonnage.
4. Breaching licence conditions serves to undermine public confidence in the regulatory system and therefore enforcement by the Department of licence conditions is in the public interest. The reasons for this include the following:
• An increase of 121% in the stock harvested from the site must increase the effluent discharge from the site.
• Enforcement of the licence conditions by the Department serves, inter alia, to uphold the integrity of the State’s regulatory regime in respect of food production from the marine environment.
• The Company is aware of the terms and conditions of the licence it holds and must conduct its affairs in accordance with the law.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Undercurrent News: Irish campaign calls on gov’t to close Galway salmon farms

The campaign group Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) has called on the Irish government's department of agriculture, food and the marine (DAFM) to take action against what it describes as "out of control" lice levels in salmon and trout farms on Ireland's west coast, from Donegal to Connemara.
The group has demanded that any salmon farms unable to keep lice below certain levels should have their licenses revoked by DAFM.
The group's demand follows the recent update from DAFM to the country's department of communications, climate action and environment on the action being taken to resolve the lice situation.
GBASC has also questioned the effectiveness of the desalination plants installed by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Ireland's seafood development agency, claiming the new strategy "has not worked."
"GBASC has no doubt IFA Aquaculture and the salmon farming industry will blame any loss of revenue on the lack of new licenses, as they did in their recent press release to the media to justify the drop in production of farmed salmon by 39% in 2018," the campaigners state. "The drop in production was more than likely caused by incompetent farming practices leading to sea lice infestations, disease, and stress-related deaths as a result of treatment procedures for sea lice and amoebic gill disease."

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Scottish salmon firm drops ‘Sustainable’ branding


A leading Scottish salmon farming company has stopped branding its business as “sustainable”, according to the UK advertising watchdog. 

 Loch Duart, which farms fish in Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides, used to market itself as “the sustainable salmon company”. 

But it has told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that it is no longer using the label. Campaigners are now calling on other fish farming firms and public agencies to abandon claims of sustainability for the industry. Pollution, toxic chemicals and the risks to wild fish make fish farming “inherently unsustainable”, they say. Claims and counter-claims on sustainability have often characterised environmental conflicts. 

The concept of “sustainable development” was defined in a ground-breaking report for the United Nations by Gro Harlem Brundtland in 1987 called Our Common Future. “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” it said. In the decades since growing numbers of businesses have sought to be seen as sustainable in the hope it would win them more custom. Along with other salmon farming companies, Loch Duart has promoted itself as sustainable. 

The company’s logo on leaflets, signs and packaging said “the sustainable salmon company”. On 5 April its website still highlighted the company’s “sustainable approach” and how it has “sustainability at the heart of our business”. In February an anti-fish-farming blogger, Fishy Business, complained to the ASA about an image on Loch Duart’s website describing the company as sustainable. The complaint cited evidence suggesting that this was inaccurate because of the environmental damage caused by salmon farms. In response the ASA said the complaint was “valid” and asked Loch Duart to make changes. 

“The advertiser explained that they had stopped using the term “sustainable” but that this image had not been removed,” said ASA’s complaints executive, Celia Howarth. “They have now provided their assurance they will change this image to ensure the wording is removed.” Because Loch Duart promised to stop claiming to be sustainable, the ASA decided to close the case without launching a formal investigation. Loch Duart was listed by the ASA on 3 April as a complaint that had been “informally resolved”. 

According to the Fishy Business blogger, who requested not to be named, this is the first time that the ASA has examined whether fish farming is sustainable. “This should serve as a shot across the bows of other fish farm firms,” he told The Ferret. “Claiming that their product is something it is not is misleading the public and consumers.” The blogger argued that a high proportion of the food for farmed fish was from finite and depleting resources around the world. “Factor in the massive, almost unbelievable, percentages of mortalities found in Scottish salmon farms and that alone points to an unsustainable practice,” he said. 

“We have a rising volume of hydrogen peroxide use, rising disease outbreaks and increasing spend on sea lice management. None of this can be said to be sustainable in the slightest.” Don Staniford, from Scottish Salmon Watch, described sustainable salmon farming as an oxymoron. “By definition the farming of carnivores such as salmon is inherently unsustainable,” he said. “Sustainable is a foreign country to any industry which drains our global oceans of wild fish, pollutes the sea floor, is dependent upon toxic chemicals and which discharges untreated sewage effluent.” 

 The wild fish group, Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, pointed out that Holyrood’s rural economy committee had recently concluded that “urgent and meaningful action” was needed to address “regulatory deficiencies as well as fish health and environmental issues” in Scottish salmon farming. “It is hardly surprising that the ASA has decided that Loch Duart’s claims to be sustainable needed addressing,” said the conservation group’s solicitor, Guy Linley-Adams. 

“The truth is that salmon farming in open cages is high-chemical input, high-waste output, intensive factory farming at sea. The best way to think of these farms is that they are like intensive chicken units, but floating upside down in a sea loch.” 

Loch Duart confirmed that it was dropping the word sustainable from its marketing. “We are aware of the ASA’s informal conclusions on this issue,” said the company’s managing director, Alban Denton. “Our current marketing material doesn’t use the term sustainable although we reserve the right to do so in the future. We are currently in the process of replacing any out of date collateral to reflect our current marketing approach.” 

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, which represents the industry, stressed the economic benefits of fish farms. “The Scottish salmon farming sector is committed to long-term sustainability – which by definition is a combination of its economic, social and environmental impacts,” said the organisation’s chief executive, Julie Hesketh-Laird. 

 “The sector is working hard all the time to improve our understanding of the impacts and benefits so we can focus investment in the right areas. Scottish Salmon is recognised for its growing economic contribution to Scotland and the UK in terms of company investment, employment and support for community initiatives.” 

 She added: “Scottish farmed salmon is a high quality, healthy food, high in Omega 3 and with one of the lowest carbon impacts of any farmed protein source, recognised as having good fish welfare standards by the UK’s leading welfare experts, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Performance is reported publicly and regularly.”