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

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/ourview/fish-farms-indicted-on-sea-trout--debate-is-over-438374.html

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.”