Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Salmon fishermen call for wild fish safeguards

RTE News Article: https://www.rte.ie/news/connacht/2018/0219/941784-salmon/
A group representing salmon fishermen has called on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to safeguard wild fish stocks. 
The Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages group says action is needed after confirmation that farmed salmon had escaped into the western river network last autumn. 
A report by Inland Fisheries Ireland says up to 500 fish may have entered western rivers in August and September of last year. 
The agency says that this poses a threat to native wild stocks as a result of interbreeding and other ecological impacts. 
Salmon farm operators are obliged under law to notify the Department of any escapes. IFI says there is no record of any such contact in relation to this investigation. 
An investigation was launched after anglers reported catching suspected escapees in mid August. Over the weeks that followed, fish were caught in the Ballinakill fishery district, as well as in the Erriff, Bunowen and Newport rivers. 
Analysis of scales was carried out on 34 samples, with more detailed tests conducted on seven fish. All of these were found to have originated in salmon farms. They had a larger smolt size and an absence of markings that would distinguish them from wild Atlantic salmon. 
Some of the male escaped fish were sexually mature and of Norwegian ancestry. 
IFI said this presents a potential threat to wild salmon populations and that more extensive studies may be needed to quantify the long term impact of the escaped fish on native stocks. 
Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages says it is not surprised by the report findings.
It said the analysis confirms its worst fears and has called for decisive action by the department to ensure that licences are revoked as a result of the non compliance with regulations. 
The group claims this is the latest in a series of breaches, for which no sanction has been applied on salmon farms. 
It says that the industry is now effectively "unregulated" and poses a massive danger to inshore fishing and angling tourism. 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Wild salmon stocks at risk as farmed fish escape into Irish rivers

Friday, 16th February, 2018: Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has today published a report into the occurrence of Farmed Atlantic Salmon in the Western River Basin District which confirms the presence of escaped farmed fish in a number of rivers in the Galway and Mayo region.
IFI has not been advised of any reports, by salmon farm owners, of escapes, coinciding with the detections, to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the licensing authority for aquaculture. The reporting of escapes to DAFM are a condition of aquaculture licences.  
The new report by Inland Fisheries Ireland says that ‘up to five hundred escaped farmed salmon may have entered western salmon rivers during the August/September period 2017’.
Furthermore, it says ‘that the presence of sexually mature farmed salmon in rivers poses a potential threat to local wild salmon populations from interbreeding and other ecological effects’.
In October 2017, the Board of Inland Fisheries Ireland issued the following statement: ‘Inland Fisheries Ireland has been charged with the protection of wild Atlantic salmon and continues to have concerns regarding the impacts of fish farms on Ireland’s precious wild fish. The licencing regime and best management practice should provide assurance to the State that controls are in place that safeguard our heritage. This does not appear to be the case in this instance. Inland Fisheries Ireland supports sustainable fish farming but cautions against the renewal and/or award of licences where conditions are not being adhered to. The Board recommends immediate strict enforcement and audit of existing licence conditions to ensure compliance and ultimately a sustainable resource for all.’
Speaking on the publication of the new report, Dr Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development, said: “While a small number of farmed salmon spawning in a catchment may not have a detectable long term effect on the wild salmon population, repeated escapes of large numbers of farmed fish have the potential to cause serious damage to vulnerable wild salmon populations. The large number of escaped farmed salmon entering into these rivers, with a high proportion of males likely to be sexually mature, presents a potential threat to local wild salmon populations. IFI will continue to monitor the situation and may need to conduct longer-term genetic studies on the impact of the presence of these farmed salmon.”

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Threats made against Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages Chairman

Threats made against Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages Chairman as a result of objection to Cill Chiárain Aquaculture Business Park
In December Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) connemara members who were opposed to the proposed Aquaculture Business Park at Cill Chiarain Connemara raised the issue at our meeting. GBASC is a coming together of a wide range of interests including, inshore fishermen, anglers organisations, tourism business operators, food business operators , islanders, Connemara people and indeed concerned groups from wider afield. A group of concerned Connemara citizens who were in contact with our members were afraid to put their names to an objection to the Aquaculture Business Park (ABP) for fear of intimidation! 

Their fears seem to have been completely justified, for as soon as the objection was published on the Galway County Council planning website with my name and address as chairman of GBASC attached, I received threats on Facebook from a small group . One thug threatened to burn my house down, another advised that you could find my house on Google Earth. GBASC are seeking legal advice on how to deal with this serious situation. Intimidatory threats like these are a serious interference in the planning process, which is designed to allow concerned citizens to make submissions so that the planning authority can make decisions that take many views into account. The planning law as it stands allows for objections and comments from individuals and groups who have concerns in relation to a particular proposal. 

In fact there are laws to protect citizens from intimidation and bullying. Of greater concern than the Facebook issue is the repetition on some mainstream media of the name and address of myself, who in discharging my duties as chairman of GBASC, submitted an objection on the instructions of our committee, am now the focus of personal threats and intimidation for partaking in the democratic process.
They are putting personal data into the public domain in a manner that is very worrying. This is not the behaviour one would expect of journalists.

Billy Smyth
Chairman, Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages