Monday, 25 November 2013

Irish Government Department under Investigation of Cover Up

Salmon Watch Ireland Press Statement 24 November 2013

European Commission to re-open its investigation into the impact of salmon farming on wild salmon

(24 November 2013) - Salmon Watch Ireland welcomes the decision of the European Commission to re-open its file on complaints submitted to it in 2009 about the impact of salmon farm generated sea lice on migrating juvenile wild salmon. The complaints had been lodged by Salmon Watch Ireland (‘SWIRL’) and Friends of the Irish Environment (‘FIE’). The re-opening of the file has resulted from FIE drawing the attention of the Commission to the fact that an analysis of data about the impact of sea lice on juvenile wild salmons by the Marine Institute has been strongly contested by an eminent group of international scientists.

In addition to the re-opening of the Commission file, the Irish Ombudsman is conducting an inquiry into allegations that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine withheld from the Commission’s investigation of the SWIRL/FIE complaints a report from Inland Fisheries Ireland which gave a very different picture about the impact of sea lice and Irish efforts to control it, than that put forward by the Department; the Department has responsibility for both the development and the regulation of salmon farming. The Ombudsman has recently extended his investigation to include the actions of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the matter.

The Commission has re-opened its file on the sea lice issue as a result of its’ attention being drawn to a paper in the Journal of Fish Diseases in August 2013 which seriously questioned the analysis of sea lice data by a number of scientists from the Marine Institute (‘MI’) published in the same journal earlier in 2013. The Marine Institute analysis (in a version published in papers in 2011) was relied on by Bord Iascaigh Mhara in the compilation of its’ Environmental Impact Statement for the Galway Bay super-salmon-farm project. The authors of the August 2013 paper, led by Professor M Krkosek of the University of Toronto, concluded that were ‘fundamental methodological errors’ in the MI analysis and that rather than sea-lice having a 1% impact on survival rates of salmon at sea, the true rate is of the order of 34%.

Despite undertakings to do so, the MI have to date failed to respond to the Krkosek paper’s criticisms.

Commenting on these developments, the chair of the board of Salmon Watch Ireland, Niall Greene, said: ‘The decision of the EU Commission to reopen its file on the 2009 complaints of Salmon Watch Ireland and Friends of the Irish Environment, about the impact of salmon farm generated concentrations of sea lice on wild salmon, is a very significant development. Taken together with the Irish Ombudsman’s investigation into allegations that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine failed to transmit critical information relevant to the Commission’s investigations of the complaints, this means that the behaviour of the Department, of BIM and of the Marine Institute on salmon farming issues is once again now under close scrutiny’ .