Sunday, 17 November 2013

EMILY O’REILLY ACTS ON EU SEA LICE INVESTIGATION


In one of her first actions as EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly has instructed her office to seek an explanation from the European Commission’s Environmental Directorate as to why they have not replied to allegations of maladministration brought by Friends of the Irish Environment in June of this year.

The allegations, contained in a 264 page dossier submitted to the Commission, allege that the European Commission failed to complete the terms of its investigation into Ireland’s regulation of sea lice on salmon farms and their impact on wild salmon.

FIE alleges that the terms of the investigation sought the ‘direct views’ of Inland Fisheries Ireland as the body responsible for salmon in Irish rivers. Citing communications obtained through requests under Access to Information on the Environment, it claims that a report entirely damming of the official Department of Agriculture submission to the EU was prepared by Inland Fisheries Ireland in 2010 and sent to the Department of Agriculture.
The Inland Fisheries Ireland Report, published on the FIE website, is a damning commentary on the official position put in by the Department of Agriculture in response to the EU investigation. It states that current practices ‘do not constitute good sea lice control’ and that that ‘Mortalities of salmonoids attributable to sea lice have been well documented.’

The Department of Agriculture suppressed the Report and told the Commission they had not received it, according to correspondence obtained by the environmental group. Consequently the investigation was closed and the Department of Agriculture announced a plan to create nine mega salmon farms along Ireland’s western bays. A licence application for the first, in Galway Bay, is now before the Minister for Agriculture.

The Irish Ombudsman has opened investigations into the role the Department of Agriculture in allegedly suppressing the Report. It has recently extended the investigation to the Department of Foreign Affairs, who acted as contact point for the EU, for maladministration in not ensuring the requested Report was provided by Ireland.

A response was promised by the Commission by September 2013 but to date none has been received. Consequently, FIE referred the matter to the EU Ombudsman who has instructed her officers ‘to contact the Commission’s services in order to explore the possibility of finding a rapid solution to your complaint.’

FIE Director Tony Lowes said ‘It is to everyone’s benefit that the investigations underway in Ireland and Europe are addressed as quickly as possible.’

Further information and comment: Tony Lowes 353 27 74771 / 353 87 2176316

Copy of EU Ombudsman letter
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.net/cmsfiles/Library/EU-Ombudsman-seeks-reply.pdf

Index of all documents referred to and copies of all submissions:
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.net/friendswork/index.php?action=view&id=1060