Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Irish Examiner: Appeals board delays decision on salmon farm go-ahead

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/appeals-board-delays-decision-on-salmon-farm-go-ahead-866508.html

A decision on whether to allow a huge new salmon farming operation in Bantry Bay may not now be made until next summer. The Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) was due to make a decision on the application by this October, having signalled last December that it would request a string of new reviews in relation to the proposed development off Shot Head, including a new environmental impact statement on the risk of sea lice infestation and assessments regarding any potential impact on the otter, seal, and wild bird population in the area near Bantry.

However, in a letter issued to those opposing the salmon farm, and Marine Harvest, the company which applied for the development, ALAB said it could be June 30, 2019, before a decision is reached. The case involves an appeal lodged with ALAB following the granting by the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine of aquaculture and foreshore licences to Braden Farad Teo, trading as Marine Harvest of Fanad, Co Donegal.

An oral hearing last year was halted over a technical issue and in April this year ALAB sought submissions from the various parties and has now revised the timeframe for its decision.
In the letter, ALAB said: “It is the intention of the Board that the Appeal will be determined by it as soon as practicable and by no later than June 30, 2019.”

Alec O’Donovan of the Save Bantry Bay group said opposition to the plan is still as strong as ever and that it was a “complicated” matter that needed time.

A spokesperson for Marine Harvest said: “While respecting ALAB’s mandate and independence, Marine Harvest Ireland wishes to place on record its disappointment that a final decision still hasn’t been reached on an application which the company originally applied for to the Department of Agriculture in 2011.

“Seven years later, we are told that the decision won’t be taken until the middle of next year at the earliest. It sends out a very negative message to the Irish aquaculture sector and doesn’t provide any of the certainty which is necessary for those seeking to invest and create employment in the industry.”

“Those who end up bearing the brunt of this inaction and suffering most are our workers who don’t have the certainty and security of regular work because we cannot grow enough fish. The spokesperson said the Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, had been asked to address “the serious bottlenecks in the aquaculture licencing system” in an independent report commissioned by his department and Marine Harvest those recommendations implemented “to break the never-ending cycle of unnecessary delays”.

The spokesperson added that the company has earmarked €22m for investment in Irish sites and the country’s failure to meet aquaculture targets could result in lost income of €1.3bn by 2020 “if no tangible, progressive action is taken by the department”.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Department accused of covering up 20,000 salmon break-out

Another massive salmon farm escape 20,000 salmon this time in Donegal. No one would have known except that Marine Harvest had it in their annual report for 2017 When farmed salmon were found in the Galway and Mayo rivers in Autumn last year. DAFM were asked if there had been any salmon escape off the west coast but they denied there was any escape now it seems Marine Harvest had reported this 20,000 escape last July. 

These salmon farms are totally out of control with massive salmon escapes practically every year. and now it seems DAFM think it's something we shouldn't know about. Why did they deny there was an escape?


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Protests Against 'Diseased & Dangerous' Scottish Salmon

In May, Scottish Salmon Watch will be organising protests outside the Scottish Parliament when Marine Harvest (2 May) and the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Connectivity (16 May) are grilled by the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee




Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Salmon fishermen call for wild fish safeguards

RTE News Article: https://www.rte.ie/news/connacht/2018/0219/941784-salmon/
A group representing salmon fishermen has called on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to safeguard wild fish stocks. 
The Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages group says action is needed after confirmation that farmed salmon had escaped into the western river network last autumn. 
A report by Inland Fisheries Ireland says up to 500 fish may have entered western rivers in August and September of last year. 
The agency says that this poses a threat to native wild stocks as a result of interbreeding and other ecological impacts. 
Salmon farm operators are obliged under law to notify the Department of any escapes. IFI says there is no record of any such contact in relation to this investigation. 
An investigation was launched after anglers reported catching suspected escapees in mid August. Over the weeks that followed, fish were caught in the Ballinakill fishery district, as well as in the Erriff, Bunowen and Newport rivers. 
Analysis of scales was carried out on 34 samples, with more detailed tests conducted on seven fish. All of these were found to have originated in salmon farms. They had a larger smolt size and an absence of markings that would distinguish them from wild Atlantic salmon. 
Some of the male escaped fish were sexually mature and of Norwegian ancestry. 
IFI said this presents a potential threat to wild salmon populations and that more extensive studies may be needed to quantify the long term impact of the escaped fish on native stocks. 
Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages says it is not surprised by the report findings.
It said the analysis confirms its worst fears and has called for decisive action by the department to ensure that licences are revoked as a result of the non compliance with regulations. 
The group claims this is the latest in a series of breaches, for which no sanction has been applied on salmon farms. 
It says that the industry is now effectively "unregulated" and poses a massive danger to inshore fishing and angling tourism. 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Wild salmon stocks at risk as farmed fish escape into Irish rivers

Friday, 16th February, 2018: Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has today published a report into the occurrence of Farmed Atlantic Salmon in the Western River Basin District which confirms the presence of escaped farmed fish in a number of rivers in the Galway and Mayo region.
IFI has not been advised of any reports, by salmon farm owners, of escapes, coinciding with the detections, to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the licensing authority for aquaculture. The reporting of escapes to DAFM are a condition of aquaculture licences.  
The new report by Inland Fisheries Ireland says that ‘up to five hundred escaped farmed salmon may have entered western salmon rivers during the August/September period 2017’.
Furthermore, it says ‘that the presence of sexually mature farmed salmon in rivers poses a potential threat to local wild salmon populations from interbreeding and other ecological effects’.
In October 2017, the Board of Inland Fisheries Ireland issued the following statement: ‘Inland Fisheries Ireland has been charged with the protection of wild Atlantic salmon and continues to have concerns regarding the impacts of fish farms on Ireland’s precious wild fish. The licencing 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. Inland Fisheries Ireland supports sustainable fish farming but cautions against the renewal and/or award of licences where conditions are not being adhered to. The Board recommends immediate strict enforcement and audit of existing licence conditions to ensure compliance and ultimately a sustainable resource for all.’
Speaking on the publication of the new report, Dr Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development, said: “While a small number of farmed salmon spawning in a catchment may not have a detectable long term effect on the wild salmon population, repeated escapes of large numbers of farmed fish have the potential to cause serious damage to vulnerable wild salmon populations. The large number of escaped farmed salmon entering into these rivers, with a high proportion of males likely to be sexually mature, presents a potential threat to local wild salmon populations. IFI will continue to monitor the situation and may need to conduct longer-term genetic studies on the impact of the presence of these farmed salmon.”

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Threats made against Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages Chairman

GALWAY BAY AGAINST SALMON CAGES PRESS RELEASE
Threats made against Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages Chairman as a result of objection to Cill Chiárain Aquaculture Business Park
In December Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) connemara members who were opposed to the proposed Aquaculture Business Park at Cill Chiarain Connemara raised the issue at our meeting. GBASC is a coming together of a wide range of interests including, inshore fishermen, anglers organisations, tourism business operators, food business operators , islanders, Connemara people and indeed concerned groups from wider afield. A group of concerned Connemara citizens who were in contact with our members were afraid to put their names to an objection to the Aquaculture Business Park (ABP) for fear of intimidation! 

Their fears seem to have been completely justified, for as soon as the objection was published on the Galway County Council planning website with my name and address as chairman of GBASC attached, I received threats on Facebook from a small group . One thug threatened to burn my house down, another advised that you could find my house on Google Earth. GBASC are seeking legal advice on how to deal with this serious situation. Intimidatory threats like these are a serious interference in the planning process, which is designed to allow concerned citizens to make submissions so that the planning authority can make decisions that take many views into account. The planning law as it stands allows for objections and comments from individuals and groups who have concerns in relation to a particular proposal. 

In fact there are laws to protect citizens from intimidation and bullying. Of greater concern than the Facebook issue is the repetition on some mainstream media of the name and address of myself, who in discharging my duties as chairman of GBASC, submitted an objection on the instructions of our committee, am now the focus of personal threats and intimidation for partaking in the democratic process.
They are putting personal data into the public domain in a manner that is very worrying. This is not the behaviour one would expect of journalists.

Billy Smyth
Chairman, Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages

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.