Monday, 21 December 2015

Victory to Everyone Who Protested Against Galway Salmon Farm Proposal

http://www.rte.ie/news/2015/1221/755506-salmon-farm/

BIM The agency had sought an aquaculture licence to construct a farm off the coast of Inis Oirr in 2012.

It planned to run a 15,000 tonne operation there.

The proposal met with widespread opposition among sections of the local fishing community. 

In a statement this afternoon BIM said it was withdrawing the licence application in light of a new Sustainable Aquaculture Development strategy.

This sets limits regarding the scale of offshore salmon farms and was contrary to the size of the proposed development in Galway Bay.

The decision has been welcomed by groups who had opposed the BIM plan.

Enda O'Conghaile, chairman of the Inis Óirr co-operative, said islanders had raised concerns about the proposal on a number of fronts.

Residents said the location for the development had not been properly analysed, they questioned BIM data regarding the impact and danger from sea lice and said the staffing levels on the farm were "way in excess" of industry norms.

Islanders are particularly pleased because they say the integrity of Galway Bay as a spawning ground for wild fish and its importance for shell fish has been safeguarded by Bord Iascaigh Mhara's decision.

A spokesperson for BIM said it would review its options in the next 12 months. The agency estimates in the region of €500,000 has been spent on the plan to date.

Brian Curran, Spokesperson Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, welcomed today's decision by BIM and believes it was influenced, in part, by the campaign against the fish farm.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime he said he hopes the application has now been totally withdrawn.

Mr Curran said fish farms cause devastation to salmon wild stock and there are no controls and very little regulations. 

He said millions of euro and a lot of jobs have been lost in the Connemara area because of the salmon farming industry. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Report into salmon farm accident 'being withheld' - Independent.ie

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/report-into-salmon-farm-accident-being-withheld-34275056.html - Source Irish Independent

 A leading environmental group has accused the Government of withholding a report into a salmon farm accident which resulted in one of the largest-ever losses of fish in Ireland. Almost 230,000 fish were lost when storms battered a salmon farm in Gerahies, Bantry Bay, Co Cork, in February 2014.

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have sought the departmental report into the incident, so as to clarify the regulatory regime governing such salmon farms. However, the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries has informed the group that the report will not be completed until December 31. FIE successfully appealed the department's refusal to release preliminary reports and correspondence.

The department had claimed that the release of any parts of the deliberative process of advising the minister what action to take would be "premature".

It also argued that the public interest would not be served by the release of material in this manner. However the Information Commission ruled against the department on both grounds. In his ruling last July, the Information Commissioner ordered the State to release a detailed report into the accident.

Peter Tyndall said that the department's arguments for refusing to release the information were not justified. He insisted there was a strong public interest in maximising "openness and accountability" in relation to how the Department of Marine and the Marine Institute carries out their functions. He said it was difficult to follow the logic of the department's claims that the release of the information could be potentially harmful to the regulatory process.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Farm Salmon Linked to Cancer Chemicals

Ref: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-205540/Farm-salmon-linked-cancer-chemicals.html

The Food Standards Agency has urged people to keep eating Scottish farmed salmon after a scientific report claimed it is so full of pollutant chemicals it should only be eaten a maximum of three times a year. Levels of 14 toxins were significantly higher in both European and North American farm-raised salmon than in fish caught in the wild.

The pollutants, which come under the banner of organochlorines, included chemicals which persist in the environment and are potential cancer triggers. Four of the most hazardous - PCBs, dioxins, dieldrin and toxaphene - were used to calculate consumption safety guidelines. The researchers recommended that only a half to one meal - defined as eight ounces of uncooked meat - of farmed salmon bought from supermarkets in London and Edinburgh should be eaten per month. This was the maximum amount that could be consumed before boosting the risk of cancer by at least one case in 100,000.

The same guidance applied to salmon bought from Frankfurt, Paris, Oslo, Boston, San Francisco and Toronto. The most contaminated fish came from farms in Scotland and the Faroe Islands, Denmark. For these, the monthly limit was a mere quarter of a serving, equating to three servings per year.
Wild salmon, on the other hand, could be consumed at levels as high as eight meals per month.
But the Food Standards Agency pointed out that the dioxins and PCBs found in the study were within safety levels set by the World Health Organisation and European Commission.

FSA chairman Sir John Krebs said: "This study shows that the levels of dioxins and PCBs in salmon are within internationally recognised safety limits and confirms previous studies by the FSA. Our advice is that people should consume at least two portions of fish a week - one of which should be oily like salmon. There is good evidence that eating oily fish reduces the risk of death from recurrent heart attacks and that there is a similar effect in relation to first heart attacks."

Monday, 26 October 2015

Appeal Cites Records Showing Company Refused to Cooperate with Audits by the Department of Agriculture and by the Marine Institute

An appeal has been lodged against the Norwegian multinational Marine Harvest’s application for a salmon farming expansion in Bantry Bay that claims the applicant is not a ‘fit person’ to hold a licence.

The appeal cites records showing the company refused to cooperate with audits by the Department of Agriculture and by the Marine Institute in 2013 and 2014.

The claims are based on records released to Friends of the Irish Environment recently by the Commissioner for Environmental Information after the Department of Agriculture had cited ‘public interest’ for refusing them.

Read the Appeal here
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/shot_head_appeal_15_10_15.pdf

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Salmon Confidential, Documentary About Salmon Farms in Canada & Diseased Salmon

This shocking documentary by film maker Twyla Roscovich and biologist Alexandra Morton discovers British Columbia's wild salmon are testing positive for dangerous European salmon viruses associated with salmon farming worldwide and how a chain of events is set off by the Canadian government to suppress the findings contained within this documentary.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Licence Granted for Shot Head, Bantry Bay Salmon Farm

FISHERIES (AMENDMENT) ACT, 1997 (NO. 23) & FORESHORE ACT, 1933 (NO. 12) NOTICE OF DECISION TO GRANT AQUACULTURE AND FORESHORE LICENCES. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has decided to grant an Aquaculture Licence and a Foreshore Licence to, Bradán Fanad Teo t/a Marine Harvest Ireland, KINDRUM, FANAD, LETTERKENNY, CO. DONEGAL, REF: T5/555 for the cultivation of Atlantic Salmon; Salmo Salar on a site on the foreshore at SHOT HEAD, BANTRY BAY, CO. CORK.

The reasons for this decision are elaborated on the Department’s website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/fisheries/aquacultureforeshoremanagement/aquaculturelice nsing/aquaculturelicencedecisions/cork/ An appeal against the Aquaculture Licence decision may be made in writing, in accordance with Section 40 & Section 41 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act within one month of date of publication, to THE AQUACULTURE LICENCES APPEALS BOARD Kilminchy Court, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, by completing the Notice of Appeal Application Form available from the Board, phone (057) 8631912, e-mail at info@alab.ie or website www.alab.ie A person may question the validity of the Foreshore Licence determination by way of an application for judicial review, under Order 84 of the Rules of the Superior Courts (S.I. No. 15 of 1986). Practical information on the review mechanism can be obtained from the Citizens Information Board, Ground Floor, George’s Quay House, 43 Townsend Street, Dublin 2. The documentation upon which the Minister determined the application is also available on the Department’s website as set out above and may be inspected free of charge at the Department’s Offices in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, by contacting the Aquaculture & Foreshore Management Division on 023 8859500.

REASONS FOR THE DECISION “Determination of Aquaculture/ Foreshore Licensing Application – 42.49 hectares Bradán Fanad Teoranta t/a Marine Harvest Ireland (MHI) has applied for an aquaculture licence for the cultivation of salmon on one site totalling 42.49 hectares at Shot Head, Bantry Bay, Co. Cork. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has determined that it is in the public interest to grant an Aquaculture/Foreshore Licence for site numbered T5/555. This determination takes into consideration that the proposed aquaculture will be located in suitable waters, has potential economic benefits, will have no significant ecological effects on wild fisheries, natural habitats, flora and fauna or the environment generally.”

An appeal against the decision of the Minister, to grant/refuse an Aquaculture Licence application, may be made in writing within one month of the date of publication of the decision in one or more newspapers circulating in the area to which the decision relates. Details of the appeal should be sent to the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB), Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, by completing the Notice of Appeal Application Form available from the Board. Contact details for ALAB are as follows: phone 057 8631912, e-mail info@alab.ie or on their website at www.alab.ie



http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/fisheries/aquacultureforeshoremanagement/aquaculturelicensing/aquaculturelicencedecisions/cork/t5555supportingdocuments/AdvertDecisionGrant140915.pdf

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

State Must Release Salmon Farm Report

Source Irish Examiner Online http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/state-must-release-salmon-farm-report-344903.html

The Ombudsman has ordered the State to release a detailed report into a salmon farm accident which resulted in one of the largest ever losses of farmed salmon.

Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall’s decision to overturn the Department of the Marine’s refusal to release the report follows a sustained campaign by environmentalists in West Cork arising out of the incident in Bantry Bay in 2014.

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) last night hailed the success of their appeal as an important victory.

“It’s a good result. But we are concerned about the length of time it has taken to get to this point,” said FIE spokesman Tony Lowes. “The delayed release of information can often mean it is no longer useful. We have a two-and-a-half-year delay on another case.”

The department now has 60 days to consider the ruling and mount any appeal.

However, Mr Lowes said he is hopeful the information – the accident report, two separate site inspection reports from 2008 and 2013 and vital insurance claim papers — will now finally be released.

Almost 230,000 salmon were lost when storms battered a salmon farm in Gerahies in Bantry Bay, Co Cork, in February 2014.

FIE subsequently sought the department’s report into the incident, amid concerns about alleged failings in the regulatory regime governing such salmon farms.

However, the department refused to release the information on the grounds the “public interest would not be served by disclosure”.

FIE appealed this decision to the Ombudsman, claiming it was a matter of extreme public importance, not just in this case, but also amid allegations that the department had failed to properly fulfill its regulatory functions in ensuring compliance with aquaculture licensing conditions aimed at preventing the escape of fish. FIE took their fight all the way to the High Court.

It emerged during the saga that the department was “of the view” that the release of any parts of the deliberative process advising Marine Minister Simon Coveney on what action to take “would be premature and would unduly constrain the minister in respect of any action which he might deem appropriate”.

Howerver, it emerged last month that the department was still not in a position to make a specific recommendation to the minister and that, at that point, no proposal for action was under consideration.

The Ombudsman, which blamed staffing delays for some of the delay assessing FIE’s appeal, finally gave an undertaking to the court earlier this month to rule on the case within a week.

Now, in a technically complex and lengthy decision, Mr Tyndall has ruled that the department’s arguments for refusing to release the information were not justified.

He said there is a strong public interest in maximising openness and accountability in relation to how the department and the Marine Institute carry out their functions under the relevant legislation governing the aquaculture industry.

He said it is difficult to follow the logic of the department’s claims that the release of the information could be potentially harmful to the regulatory process, and he found that the public interest served by disclosure would outweigh any interest served by refusal.

A report on the loss of 80,000 salmon in Clew Bay in 2010 blamed the department’s failure to enforce licensing conditions.

That report said if a more rigorous or frequent mooring inspections programme had been in place it is possible, even likely, there would have been earlier detection which would therefore have avoided the failures.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Over 83,000 Salmon Escaped from Donegal Fish Farm - Report Raises Concerns

Donegal Now http://www.donegalnow.com/news/over-83000-salmon-escaped-from-donegal-fish-farm-report-raises-concerns/31210

Over 83,000 salmon escaped from a giant fish cage during a stormy night in Donegal back in 2010, but concern has been expressed about a lack the lack of measures being put in place to monitor the fish farm industry.

The incident occurred on the night of November 11th/12th 2010  at the Marine Harvest fish farm in Inver Bay off the south Donegal coast.

Subsequently the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food’s Engineering Division and the Marine Institute carried out an investigation.

But the environmental lobby group, Friends of the Irish Environment, claims that lessons have not been learned.

The investigation found that the storm on the night was ranked as the 5th worst storm in terms of gust wind speed and duration (combined) off the Donegal coast during the period 2003 – 2011, based on marine buoy data available.

A copy of the report has been seen by Donegal Now.

However, the report on the investigation stated that the storm was not to the extent that there should have been any structural failure on the fish cage.

The main cause of the escape of fish was linked with mooring ropes on the cage that had failed. All the fish in the cage escaped into the open sea.

According to one of the investigators “design shortcomings” in what is known as the “rope bridle” and the use of rope material rather than a metal chain were “at least partly responsible for the mooring system failure and consequent fish escape.”

Certification and inspection issues were also raised in the investigation.

In conclusion, Mr. Paul O’Sullivan, of the Department’s Engineering Division, made two recommendations: namely, a call for a sufficiently frequent moorings inspection system and to consider introducing a requirement for the certification of the ropes.

Now, a new report from Friends of the Irish Environment has raised questions about the structures in place to monitor salmon farms.

A copy of the report - on Marine Fish Farm Inspections covering the period 2012 – 2014 - has been sent to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and socialist TD Clare Daly has tabled a parliamentary question on the matter which is due for a reply after the Dáil reconvenes on June 9th.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Diseased Farmed Salmon Dumped on Irish Beach

Very serious situation unfolding Farmed salmon have been dumped on Spiddal beach near the pier some of which have tags from a Salmon Farming Company. This is reminder of the 2003 documentary by RTE highlight criminal activities on salmon farms where diseased farmed salmon were buried in bogs . I guess nothing has changed in this filthy industry


GALWAY BAY AGAINST SALMON CAGES PRESS RELEASE
Galway Bay may now be infected with a deadly fish virus called Pancreas Disease (PD), due to the illegal and criminal dumping of farmed salmon carcases on Spiddal beach last week and and a number of other occasions in the recent past.
Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) were first notified about this illegal dumping on Tuesday 28th of April by a member of the public who was out walking on Spiddal beach on the previous Saturday, but when we went to investigate the carcases had been washed away with the tides and eaten by crabs etc.

Then on Thursday evening 21st of May an Inshore fisherman contacted our PRO Brian Curran to say that he had seen a named individual again illegally dumping farmed salmon carcases off Spiddal pier. The fisherman said he was extremely concerned as these carcases may harbour harmful viruses such as Pancreas Disease or other non listed viruses that may have a detrimental affect on wild fish species in Galway Bay. Inshore fishermen are prohibited from using farm salmon carcases in their lobster / crab pots as bait by regulation due to the dangers of disease transfer.
When Mr Curran went to investigate that evening, he found a large amount of carcases, blue plastic wrapping and a plastic label which identified these carcases as having originated from a Marine Harvest (MH) salmon farm. (See pictures supplied below) GBASC are concerned that this illegal dumping of these carcases has occurred at a time when salmon smolts are migrating out to sea from the Co Galway Rivers and especially from the Boluisce river at Spiddal as Pancreas Disease is transmitted just as easily from dead fish as well as living fish.

We are told by the Marine Institute that ''they receive occasional samples of wild salmonids and as part of a comprehensive diagnostic screening, these samples are tested for the presence of Pancreas Disease, and that no positives have been detected.'' (Letter from Minister Coveneys office 22/5/2015) GBASC question these results as most competent Marine scientists will say that it is near impossible to detect PD in wild salmon, as when they are infected they become weak and are quickly eaten by predators especially salmon / sea trout smolts.
Marine Harvest have admitted in their Stock Market reports for 2014 and for the first quarter of 2015 that they have had outbreaks of the infectious Pancreas Disease on a number of their salmon farms in Ireland.
GBASC have tried under Access to Information on the Environment Regulations (AIE Regulations) Ref :A0051 to find out from the Marine Institute which MH salmon farms had this terrible disease. The Marine Institute said that they couldn't give us the information as they were advised by MH ''that site specific health and mortality information is commercially sensitive in situations where they share a water body with other competitors.'' This statement from MH says a lot for the Coordinated Local Aquaculture Management Systems (CLAMS) operated by BIM, where all stakeholders operating in a bay should cooperate with the local community. 

The BIM Explanatory Handbook on C.L.A.M.S. states, ''As part of its commitment to the sustainable aquaculture industry, the C.L.A.M.S. process facilitates the gathering and analysis of data in relation to fish farming. This data is then made available to the local community.''

The people dumping these farmed salmon carcases at Spiddal Pier and other locations around Connemara are breaking the Animal By-products Regulations and those responsible must be tracked down and prosecuted.
GBASC would like to see the following questions answered by the relevant authority dealing with this pollution of our marine environment
What salmon farm did these salmon come from?
Does that salmon farm have Pancreas Disease?
Where were these salmon processed?
Why were these salmon not transported to an approved disposal facility and rendered appropriately?
Mr Brian Curran is asking members of the public to be vigilant and to report sightings of illegal dumping of farmed salmon carcases at or near piers to contact the Sea Fishery Protection Agency at Rossaveal, Tel No:091 572405
Billy Smyth, Chairman Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages
10 Colemans Rd,
Shantalla,
Galway
Phone 0863511628
Brian E. Curran PRO Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages
Aille West, Inverin Co Galway
Mob: 0872509722

Call for Cull of Farmed Salmon in Northwest Scotland

FishNewsEU.com http://www.fishnewseu.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14014:salmon-cull-sought&catid=45:scottish&Itemid=392

AN angling body has urged the Scottish government to enforce a cull of farmed salmon in northwest Scotland. 

The Salmon & Trout Association (Scotland) argues that Loch Duart Ltd should be forced to cull following the publication of the latest sea lice statistics reveal that lice numbers at the companies sites have been over the industry's Code of Good Practice threshold on all but two of the last 27 months, despite the company treating these farms for sea lice on 67 different occasions.

In March 2015, S&TA(S) observes that the company's farms reached 16 times the threshold designed to protect wild fish from infestation.

S&TA(S) therefore believes that the Scottish Government should consider ordering an immediate cull of all the farmed salmon in these farms, to protect wild salmon and sea trout, along the lines of that instigated by Norwegian authorities in the Vikna district of Nord Trondelag, in order to protect migrating their wild salmon and sea trout in the spring of 2014.

The S&TA(S) also wants to see the maximum biomass at Loch Duart's north-west Highland farms dramatically reduced to a level at which the company can demonstrably control sea lice, which figures currently suggest is only 600 tonnes, shared across all those farms.

Hugh Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), said: "Wild salmon and sea trout are a key part of what makes Scotland famous, but the latest figures for wild salmon numbers are very poor indeed. We know that wild fish need a huge conservation effort.

"What we simply cannot afford now is fish farms like those run by Loch Duart in the northwest Highlands pouring millions of mobile young lice into the paths of migrating juvenile salmon and sea trout.

"The question for Scottish Government is 'how much more evidence of failure to control lice do you need before you call time on the bad fish-farmers?'"

Monday, 9 March 2015

Fish Farming Company Fined for Damage to Salmonid River

At a sitting of Clifden District Court on Thursday, 26th of February, Judge Mary Fahy convicted a fish farm company under Section 173 of the Fisheries Act, 1959, for damage caused to the bed of a river in Co. Galway.

Mannin Bay Salmon Company was before the court, arising from an incident which occurred in July 2014. The court heard that Fisheries Officers had found  the company had constructed a dam across the Bunowen River, which flows into Killary Harbour, in order to pump freshwater to a fish farm cage located offshore. Significant damage was caused to the bed of the river, which is a spawning and nursery habitat, and the dam was impeding the passage of fish.
The company pleaded guilty to the charge, and the solicitor for the defence, Mr Thomas Mannion, pleaded that the company had experienced an emergency situation whereby an outbreak of Amoebic Gill Disease threatened the stock of fish on the fish farm. Amoebic Gill Disease can be treated by bathing fish in freshwater for a number of hours. The defence acknowledged that the company knew it should not have dammed the river, but did so in order to avoid significant financial losses.
Convicting the company, Judge Fahy commented that protection of fish habitat was very important, but acknowledged that the company had been co-operative and had removed the dam and rectified the situation immediately once Fisheries Officers became aware of it. She fined the company €500, with €500 costs.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents - 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.
For more information, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie

http://www.fisheriesireland.ie/Press-releases/fish-farming-company-fined-for-damage-to-salmonid-river.html

ENDS
Further Information:  Suzanne Campion
Head of Business Development
Inland Fisheries Ireland
Anglesea Street,
Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Tel: 052 6180055 Fax: 052 6123971
Email: suzanne.campion@fisheriesireland.ie This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Website: www.fisheriesireland.ie

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Norway fisheries minister in ‘crisis meeting’ as salmon escapes tally rises - Undercurrent News

http://www.undercurrentnews.com/2015/01/28/norway-fisheries-minister-in-crisis-meeting-as-salmon-escapes-tally-rises/?utm_source=Undercurrent+News+Alerts&utm_campaign=95dc30805d-Europe_briefing_Jan_28_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_feb55e2e23-95dc30805d-91334781

Norway's fisheries minister Elisabeth Aspaker flew to Bergen to hold a crisis meeting with the fisheries directorate as the number of escapes from salmon farms has increased further, reported the local newspaper Bergens Tidende (BT).

Strong storms in the weekend of Jan. 10-11 caused six farms to report escapes, estimated at at least 120,000 salmon and trout.

According to BT, another two farms have since also reported escapes.

This means there have already been eight reported incidents in the first month of the year -- a far cry from the government's vision of zero escapes, noted the newspaper. All of these were in Hordaland, western Norway.

If one includes the escape reported by Marine Harvest at the start of the month, but which actually happened in January, the count rises to nine.

The news has caused Aspaker to come to Bergen on Monday, among other things to discuss the situation, wrote Bergens Tidende.

The number of escapes experienced is "tragic", the minister told the newspaper. The industry has to learn to withstand similar storms in the future, she said.

Under current regulations, the farmers themselves are responsible for organizing the re-catching of escaped fish. The weeks after the storm saw big discrepancies in how each company organized this, said Bergens Tidende.

The system is not optimal, and a new hearing is underway, Aspaker told the newspaper. Aspects that will be reviewed include the reward mechanism given for re-catching fish and whether to fine farms that have suffered an escape.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Irish Times: Decision ‘soon’ on controversial Galway Bay fish farm

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/decision-soon-on-controversial-galway-bay-fish-farm-1.2071796

Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 01:00

Six hundred applications for fish farm licences are under consideration by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney. He said he anticipated “significant progress will be made” this year in licensing around the Irish coast.

More than 200 licences had been issued in the past three years for bays, including Inner Bantry Bay, Roaringwater Bay, Killary Harbour and Castlemaine Harbour and “there are in the region of 600 applications awaiting determination”.

A decision on one of the most controversial applications, for a fish farm near Inis Orr in Galway Bay will be made “as soon as possible”, the Minister said.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, submitted an application in August 2012 for a 15,000 tonne salmon fish farm, which a number of international aquaculture operators expressed interest in operating on behalf of the State agency.

It has also seeking an aquaculture licence for a 5,000 tonne farm between Inishbofin island in Co Galway and Inishturk in Co Mayo, which it applied for last year.

The Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages grouping has opposed the applications on environmental grounds, claiming they pose significant risk to the area.

BIM’s strategy is to generate €1 billion in seafood sales and to increase exports by a further €650 million.

Last year, the Irish Farmers’ Association issued a report claiming 600 fish farm licence applications had been in the system for more than five years and this had cost €60 million in investment in over five years.

The association said aquaculture could create up to 2,000 additional jobs in coastal areas leading to up to €500 million in further exports.

Mr Coveney, in a series of replies to written parliamentary questions, said there was great potential for all types of aquaculture around Ireland’s coast.

He pointed out to Independent Kerry TD Tom Fleming, who asked about the number of aquaculture licences issued, that the European Court of Justice found that Ireland had failed to fulfil its obligations under the Habitats Directive. The Minister said a process was agreed with the European commission which would lead to full compliance.

Independent Socialist TD Clare Daly had asked if scientific report by the Marine Institute on the Galway Bay licence applications were rejected by his department. In its reports, the institute highlighted environmental concerns.

The Minister said “the fullest consideration is being given to all submissions received as part of the statutory and public consultation stages of the process”.

BIM’s application and its accompanying environmental impact statement were under consideration, he said.

He added that “there is always a strict separation between my ministerial role as decision maker in respect of aquaculture licence applications and my ministerial duty to promote the sustainable development of the industry.

“This separation of duties is strictly observed.”