Thursday, 6 April 2017


Galway Bay FM Newsroom – Marine Harvest Ireland – the largest salmon farming concern in the country – has signed off on a new arrangement with a Connemara based aquaculture company.
The new salmon farm venture will be based on Bertraghboy Bay in the Carna area.
This is a significant development in salmon farming in Connemara.
Marine Harvest Ireland has its main base in Norway.  The company has its Irish headquarters in Donegal and employs almost 300 people along the Atlantic coastline.
Marine Harvest was previously in production for over two years in Cill ChiarĂ¡in Bay and it has now linked with the Mannin Bay Salmon company in Connemara on the neighbouring Bertraghboy Bay.
The present deal will continue for  appromiately 5 years and the operations on Bertraghboy Bay will be managed by Marine Harvest Ireland with Mannin Bay Salmon company sharing in the arrangement.
Marine Harvest Ireland produces 10,000 tonnes of salmon per year in Ireland.
Over a half million smolts will be put to sea on the Bertraghboy Bay in the first part of the 5 year programme.
Eight people will be employed directly on the Bay with further employment benefits coming in the processing sector, locally.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Demise of Loch Maree "Eaten Alive - End of an Era"

This film was commissioned by Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland

What has occurred across the west coast of Scotland over the last few decades is nothing short of a travesty. We have been responsible for the systematic demise of a great natural resource, decimating the wild populations of salmon and sea-trout in order to support big business in farmed salmon. 

In the case of the river Ewe and Loch Maree system, the installation of a fish farm in Loch Ewe correlated with the decline of what was once the worlds premier destination for sea-trout in the world. 

Not only have we lost the sea-trout, but almost all the jobs its supported. This is the story of the demise of Loch Maree.

For more information visit:

Friday, 24 February 2017

Council risks EU fines for not building 'fish path' to aid migrating salmon at River Blackwater

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Irish Examiner

Hefty EU fines could be imposed on Cork County Council which hasn’t the money to build a ‘fish path’ for migrating salmon. A hands-on approach to dealing with migrating salmon may be needed again this year it is feared. The salmon need help getting over a weir because the fish path has been destroyed.

It’s estimated it will cost in the region of €2m to purchase land and build a new fish path at the River Blackwater weir in Fermoy town.

The council is writing to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources seeking the €2m needed.

It also has to cap the weir and put in protective boulders to prevent it from again being damaged by trees which were swept downriver in previous floods. The council has enough money to do that, but not buy land and install the fish path.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the council’s Northern Division in Mallow by Fermoy-based Cllr Noel McCarthy. He said last October people, waded into the river to physically pick up salmon and take them to the upstream side of the weir.

Cllr McCarthy said it was believed that fish which weren’t picked up died: “I’ve met several people who are very concerned that this will happen again this year. We need to speed up the process and make sure there are no more delays in getting this work done. It’s totally unacceptable.” “We were told at one stage that we could face fines from the EU if this work isn’t done. We were also told originally that Lagan (contractors) would do the work as part the flood relief scheme,” said Cllr Frank O’Flynn who added that he knows a landowner who is anxious to sell the land needed for the fish path.

Council officials said they are in negotiation with a landowner and their legal department is progressing the transfer. However, they admit that they don’t have the money to pay for this part of the project and are in behind the scenes negotiations with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

“The structure of the weir is compromised. Capping must be done and their funding in place for that. This work could be progressed in the coming year,” one council official said. It had been hoped that capping would be undertaken in conjunction with the building of the fish path.

But assistant county manager James Fogarty said this couldn’t happen.

Councillors then agreed to write to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources asking it to immediately release the €2m for the project.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Southern Star Newspaper: Salmon farm of 1m fish ‘will devastate’ Bantry


THE oral hearing into an application for a salmon farm containing 1 million fish, at Shot Head in Bantry Bay, was adjourned last week when a 102-page document emerged, that had not been seen by all the interested parties.

A document commissioned by Marine Harvest Ireland outlining sea lice distribution in Bantry Bay, which was submitted to the Aquaculture Licences Appeal Board (ALAB), was not circulated to all the appellants and therefore the chair of the oral hearing, Dr Owen McIntyre, adjourned the meeting for four to five weeks.

The decision came after two days of evidence in Bantry.

‘Nobody wants this salmon farm here,’ Breda O’Sullivan, representing her community of Roosk, told the board. ‘Not one resident of our community was approached by Marine Harvest in connection with this salmon farm. We have a very important tourist industry in our area, most of our community depends on the income that holiday rentals provide, and having such a salmon farm just out there in the bay, not far from our shore, would have a devastating effect on our community,’ she said.

The Beara Peninsula Residents’ Group was just one of 14 appellants who made presentations to ALAB in Bantry this week.

In its application, first lodged five years ago, Marine Harvest Ireland outlined its plans to develop an additional 18 salmon cages off Shot Head. The new salmon farm and the 18 cages, which will each contain up to 60,000 fish, is expected to produce up to 3,500 tonnes of salmon every two years.

Local fishermen were represented at the oral hearing by Kieran O’Shea, whose family have fished the waters around Shot Head for three generations.

He outlined what a disastrous effect he believed a salmon farm would have, not only his livelihood, but on the many other boats and families who have always relied on the crab, prawn and lobster fishing off Shot Head.

‘This will affect the inshore fishing industry in Bantry Bay,’ Mr O’Shea said. ‘For too long inshore fisherman have been ignored, at no time were the fishermen consulted by either the Department of the Marine, nor by the company planning to put the site here. We will be denied access to fishing grounds that we have fished for generations. From an economic, social and environmental standpoint, it makes little sense. There are four other families working the area and while we’re not in the area, all year round, the salmon farm will create unnecessary pressure in the area.’

Speaking on behalf of the Save Bantry Bay group, Peter Sweetman said that a licence for the farm would have a devastating effect on Bantry Bay, both in terms of local jobs, fishing stocks and other wildlife across the area. ‘This whole process is fundamentally flawed under European legislation. We should never have had to request all the relevant documents be sent to us in the first place, and now we learn there is a 102-page submission that we – and all the other appellants – know nothing about.

‘Until we have had a chance to examine these documents, we cannot continue with this appeals hearing,’ Mr Sweetman said.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Irish Examiner: Bantry Bay fish farm oral hearing: Fears over jobs, pesticides, and threat of disease in fish population by Noel Baker Irish Examiner
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A hearing into objections against the granting of a licence for a salmon farm in Bantry Bay has heard that, were the development to go ahead, it could prove a “tipping point” for local families who have fished the area for generations.

The two-day hearing into the granting of the licence to Marine Harvest heard from a number of the 14 appellants and from the company itself, which was appealing on different grounds.
Signs declaring opposition to the project were placed outside the Westlodge Hotel. Inside, Dr Owen McIntyre, chairman of the oral hearing which is operating under the Aquaculture Licences Appeal Board (ALAB), heard specific concerns.
Environmentalist Peter Sweetman of Save Bantry Bay said the oral hearing was itself flawed as it was ruling out hearing new scientific evidence published since the original appeals were lodged and that it was not adhering to a European directive on including such evidence.
Solicitor Alan Doyle for An Taisce said the Board had no power to limit the scope of the oral hearing. He said An Taisce had not been notified of the appeals and claimed: “The public is effectively being shut out of the oral hearing process.”
Some other appellants made submissions under protest. Kieran O’Shea said he was a third-generation fisherman in the Shot Head area where the development would be located. He said six onshore fishermen operate out of three boats in the area, fishing for prawns, crab, and lobster, adding the area in question accounted for 15% of annual fishing grounds.
“Were we to lose these fishing grounds it could be a tipping point,” he said, referring to local jobs and the viability of business. He also referred to concerns over the use of pesticides and limited access to areas close to the salmon farm were it allowed to proceed, and the threat of disease in the fish population.
“To make matters worse for us, Marine Harvest is now requesting an increase in the size of the salmon farm from 12 to 18 cages,” he said. “We are at serious risk, as are other boats in the area.”
Paddy Gargan of Inland Fisheries Ireland said IFI believed the environmental impact statement in the granting of the licence was “inadequate” regarding sea lice and escaped farmed salmon. He said there was a lot of international literature on this topic that had not been addressed. He said there was “clear potential” for escapes in Bantry Bay and referred to a previous escape in 2014 involving 230,000 fish.
Mr Sweetman asked department officials for the report conducted into that fish escape. In response, John Quinlan of the department said there were matters before court and it would be inappropriate to comment. Mr Sweetman said a judgement was due on March 10 and there was no reason for it to be suppressed, but Mr Quinlan said the case had nothing to do with Marine Harvest and the department was awaiting the judgement in the case before commenting.
Dr Jervis Good of the National Parks and Wildlife Service quoted from a number of different studies suggesting there was a significant population of fresh water pearl mussel in the catchment of the Dromagowlane River and that a reduced fish population could have an effect on it.
He said it could be possible that the site chosen for the proposed development could be designated as a national heritage area in the future.
Local resident Breda O’Sullivan raised concerns for the community, particularly considering the number of tourists who visit it and the number of foreign people who have moved there in recent times.
Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment said there was a clear conflict of interest in the issuing of licences as the regulatory and development arms of the department were interlinked, while Mark Boyden of the Coomhola Salmon and Trout Anglers Association said the production target of 3,000 tonnes per annum was the equivalent in human terms of an additional population of 60,000 people.
He warned the presence of such a large fish farm could lead to the collapse of wild neighbouring stock and that best international practice indicated farmed salmon be reared in isolation.
The oral hearing continues today.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Irish Times - Lice infestation of sea trout worst close to marine salmon farms, research finds

Angling Notes: Lice infestation of sea trout worst close to marine salmon farms, research finds

NEW research by scientists from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and Argyll Fisheries Trust (AFT, Scotland) have found that sea trout carry significantly higher levels of sea lice infestation and reduced weight closer to marine salmon farms.
Scientists examined levels from more than 20,000 sea trout from 94 river and lake systems in Ireland and Scotland at varying distances from salmon farms over 25 years. Sea trout are known to remain for extended periods in near-coastal waters and are therefore vulnerable to sea lice impact.
The research paper entitled Aquaculture and environmental drivers of salmon lice infestation and body condition in sea trout was authored by Dr Samuel Shephard and Dr Paddy Gargan of IFI alongside Craig MacIntyre of AFT. It was published in the journal Aquaculture Environment Interactions in October.
Studies have shown that the impact of lice in farmed areas on sea trout is substantial, with increased mortality, reduced body condition and a change in migratory behaviour.
Heavily liced sea trout return to freshwater prematurely to rid themselves of lice and exhibit very poor marine growth and greatly reduced marine survival. In fact, the most heavily lice infested sea trout die at sea, the study found.
Data from 18 Connemara fisheries (1974 to 2014) show a collapse in rod catch over the 1989/1990 period. This collapse is linked to lice infestation from salmon farms while recovery of sea trout rod catches to pre-collapse levels did not occur.
Dr Gargan, said: “While there had been some improvement in sea lice control in recent years, lice control on salmon farms was still not sufficient in certain west of Ireland bays during the spring migration period for sea trout to avoid heavy lice infestation and increased marine mortality.”
IFI’s Head of Research and Development, Dr Cathal Gallagher, added: “This research will inform coastal zone planning of aquaculture in the future and contribute towards the avoidance of potential impact on sea trout stocks.”

Salmon Watch conference

The 2017 Salmon Watch Ireland conference in the Salthill Hotel, Galway, on February 18th, from 10.30am to 5pm, is taking place at a time when the Minister has established an independent aquaculture licensing review.
The review, he said, “must ensure all stakeholders can participate in a transparent licensing process and have confidence that any licensing decision complies with all EU and national legal requirements and protects our oceans for future generations”.
Regrettably, his statement makes no mention of how all those legal requirements are going to be enforced. That is the focus of the conference.
Stocks of wild Atlantic salmon continue to decline. The causes are multiple, some having an impact on parts of the salmon population, such as climate change, and salmon farming having a more local effect.
There is general consensus among salmon conservationists that the impact over which man has some influence, eg freshwater and inshore environments, water quality, exploitation, by-catch at sea and the impact of salmon farms, need to be addressed with urgency.
Where salmon farms are concerned, the settled view has to be as rapid as possible a transition to recycling and closed containment systems. There are now sufficient examples of such systems operating in Europe and North America to confirm they are viable methods for producing high quality farmed salmon economically.
But the vast open cage salmon farming industry is not going to change to closed containment overnight; it is vital that it be regulated so as to mitigate its negative environmental impacts, including on wild salmonids.
The conference will examine the following issues: Current state of wild salmon stocks; Environmental impact of salmon farming; Current legal structure for regulation of salmon farming; Case study – the Faroe Islands; Is a consensus on salmon farming regulation possible?; What needs to be done to regulate Irish salmon farms?

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Oral hearing for Bantry Bay salmon farm - Southern Star

AN oral hearing into a planned salmon farm in Bantry Bay is to take place in West Cork.
The Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board (ALAB) has granted a hearing to those appealing the decision by the Department of Agriculture to give a licence for a salmon farm in Bantry Bay.  ‘It is now five years since Marine Harvest first applied for a salmon farm licence at Shot Head in Bantry Bay. During this time, hundreds of objections have been submitted from inshore fishermen, anglers, tourism operators, local businesses, residents and environmentalists,’ said Kieran O’Shea of Save Bantry Bay (SBB). 
The licence was approved in October 2016. Opponents of the licence have queried why the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) failed to acknowledge the existence of nearest river to the proposed salmon farm – the Dromagowlane. ‘This river is home to various protected wildlife species, upon which the salmon farm could have a significant impact,’ said a SBB spokesperson. They claim that Marine Harvest failed to consult locals when compiling the EIA. Opponents have also said that sea lice are a serious concern for salmon farms and the pesticides which may be used to control them. 
‘These chemicals are highly damaging to the marine environment and species such as prawn, lobster and shrimp upon which inshore fishermen depend for their livelihood,’ said Alec O’Donovan of Save Bantry Bay. ‘Yet, the EIA completed by Marine Harvest failed to complete any assessment of Bantry Bay’s ability to disperse toxins. As a result, it isn’t fully understood what the long-term consequences of their use may be.’
The group says Shot Head – near Trafrask, Adrigole,  is ‘not an appropriate location’ for a salmon farm.
No date has yet been finalised for the oral hearing.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

2017 Salmon Watch Ireland Conference

The 2017 Salmon Watch Ireland conference is taking place at a time when the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has established an independent aquaculture licensing review that, he says, ‘must ensure that all stakeholders can participate in a transparent licencing process and have confidence that any licensing decision complies with all EU and national legal requirements and protects our oceans for future generations’. Regrettably, his statement makes no mention of how all those legal requirements are going to be enforced. That is the focus of the conference.
Stocks of wild Atlantic salmon, including those of Ireland, continue to decline. The causes of this decline are multiple, some having an impact on all components of the salmon population, such as climate change and others, such as salmon farming, having a more local effect. There is general consensus among those concerned with salmon conservation that the impact of those factors over which man has some direct influence (eg the freshwater and inshore environments, water quality, exploitation, by catch at sea, the impact of salmon farms) need to be addressed with some urgency.
Where salmon farms are concerned, the settled view of the salmon conservation community is that there has to be as rapid as possible transition to recycling and closed containment systems. There are now sufficient examples of such systems operating in Europe and North such systems operating in Europe and North America to confirm that they are viable methods for producing high quality farmed salmon economically. But the vast open cage salmon farming industry is not going to transition to closed containment overnight and it is vital that it be regulated so as to immediately mitigate its negative environmental impacts, including on wild salmonids.
The 2017 Salmon Watch Ireland conference will examine the following important issues:

- The current state of wild salmon stocks and the causes of decline;
- The environmental impact of salmon farming;
- The current legal structure for the regulation of salmon farming;
- A case study of a regulatory system that has teeth and works – the Faroe Islands;
- Is a consensus on salmon farming regulation possible?;
- What needs to be done to effectively regulate Irish salmon farms?

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Fish Farms Indicted on Sea Trout - Debate is Over

Irish Examiner Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A GOVERNMENT scientific agency, Inland Fisheries Ireland, has just published the result of 25 years of research involving more than 20,000 sea trout taken from 94 river systems in Ireland or Scotland at varying distances from salmon farms.

The research is objective and utterly credible. It once and for all confirms that salmon farms have a negative, often lethal, impact on wild fish populations.
For years the aquaculture sector — including Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the IFA — has dismissed claims that fish farms sustain unnatural levels of parasites that have a lethal impact on migrating fish using the same waters.
The sector has consistently tried to undermine findings like these and has successfully convinced governments that such claims should be dismissed as the imaginings of cranks.
There are many, many man-made reasons salmon and sea trout populations are collapsing but now we know, and can no longer dispute the fact, that fish farming is a significant factor in this spiral of decline.
Policy, especially planning policy, must quickly reflect this science.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Hearing to Examine Salmon Farm Plan

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A controversial West Cork salmon farm application will be considered at a hearing in Bantry next month. Marine Harvest Ireland was granted an aquaculture/foreshore licence in September 2015 to farm Atlantic salmon in a 106-acre area off Shot Head in Bantry Bay.
It hopes to invest €3.5m and create up to eight jobs at the site.
The licence decision took into account its location in what the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said are suitable waters. It also stated the activity has potential economic benefits, and would have no significant ecological effects on wild fisheries, natural habitats, flora and fauna, or the environment generally.
But the decision prompted more than a dozen appeals, including from individuals, residents, anglers’ associations, environmental groups, and Inland Fisheries Ireland.
The Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) has now decided to hold an oral hearing to seek clarity on a number of issues.
These include the nature of any risks to salmon and other members of the salmonid fish family in the Dromagowlane and Trafrask rivers. The presence of the mouth of the Dromagowlane just over a kilometre north of the proposed licence area was not mentioned in the company’s environmental impact statement or the environmental impact assessment submitted as part of the appeal to the board. It is understood the company had also appealed the conditions attached to the licence granted in 2015.
Other issues to be considered at the hearing will be the associated impact on the pearl water mussel, and the robustness of the company’s integrated pest management plan and single bay management plan.
The hearing is likely to take place in Bantry sometime in mid-February, with a decision anticipated by the end of May. The board may refuse the licence, back the previous decision, or grant a licence with new conditions.
Save Bantry Bay, one of the appellants, welcomed the decision to hold an oral hearing, claiming there are significant weaknesses in many studies presented by Marine Harvest Ireland.
The group’s concerns include the possibility of pollution, and the impact on wild salmon fisheries and on marine tourism.
“The fact that ALAB now wish to examine data presented in more detail confirms that local residents, businesses, inshore fishermen, anglers, environmentalists, and tourism interests were right. Shot Head is not an appropriate location for a salmon farm,” said Save Bantry Bay secretary Alec O’Donovan.
A spokesperson for Marine Harvest Ireland said the company did not wish to comment on the organisation’s statement or on the licence application.
The application was lodged in January 2012 for the cultivation of Atlantic salmon on the site near Adrigole. The company says it would employ eight people within a few years of construction and that the investment would vastly improve its existing facilities in Bantry Bay, where two of its 10 Irish sea farms are located.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Scottish salmon farming ‘fighting a losing battle’ against sea lice

Campaigners have warned that Scottish salmon farming is “fighting a losing battle” against chemically resistant sea lice.

It follows the revelation that the use of toxic chemicals to fight sea lice on salmon farms has soared by almost 1,000% in the past decade.
According to official data that has sparked fresh criticism of the industry, between 2006-16, farmed salmon production increased by 35% while the use of chemicals to control flesh-eating lice rose 932%.
They included compounds that have been linked to reduced fertility in wild salmon and mortality in shellfish such as lobsters.
Critics of salmon farming said that the growing use of chemicals to fight sea lice, a parasite that kills millions of farmed fish every year, raises serious questions about the industry’s environmental impact.
It has rekindled calls for some of Britain’s leading supermarkets to ban the sale of farmed salmon from parts of Scotland where sea lice infestations are “rampant” and pose a threat to the survival of wild salmon and sea trout.
“Scottish salmon farming is fighting a losing battle against chemically resistant sea lice,” said Don Staniford of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture. “The drugs don’t work anymore. Sadly, Scotland’s lobsters and other shellfish are collateral damage in the salmon farming industry’s war on sea lice.”
The latest figures, obtained under freedom of information from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), show that Scottish salmon farms used 45kg of chemicals in 2006 but this increased to 467kg in 2016.
Since 2002, salmon farmers have carried out almost 8,500 separate chemical treatments with nearly four tonnes of chemicals dumped into the seas around Scotland.
The treatments used by Scottish salmon farms included cypermethrin, a pesticide that was abandoned in 2012 after sea-lice developed resistance. Scientific studies have suggested that it impairs fertility in wild salmon.
However, Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation said: “Farmed salmon production has been higher in some years since 2002 and medicine amounts have responded accordingly. Salmon farmers use safe and fully approved veterinary medicines to support fish health. All medicines are applied under strict veterinary supervision and application is tightly regulated with Sepa’s official consent.”