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.”

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Ms Whites Article in Irish Examiner Spot On

Richie Flynn Executive, Irish Salmon Growers’ Association, executive of the Irish Salmon Growers’ Association http://www.irishexaminer.com/…/no-fishy-tale-for-consumers-…


Is there something fishy about the health advice on farmed salmon?

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/columnists/victoria-white/is-there-something-fishy-about-the-health-advice-on-farmed-salmon-303043.html

Brendan O'Keefe Commented: Thank you Mr Flynn for leading me serendipitously to Ms Whites article. In the decades of debate on farmed salmon, her article has to be the most knowledgeable and enlightening to date. You need to apologise for your rude opening remark. Where there is any doubt she asks a question. I doubt M/s White has any conflict of interest in this discussion, but almost all of you reference sources have blatant conflicts.

It is crossing the line to recommend farmed salmon to pregnant mothers. The EFSA discussed advising mothers to avoid farmed salmon for six months or twelve months before getting pregnant, hard to believe.
It is a scientific fact that smoked food is cancer causing. MI Manuscript " Contaminants and Pollutants in Irish Seafood 2004-2008" had 90 farmed salmon and one wild salmon and an add for salmon in the middle of the manuscript, and the PCBs, mercury etc.uncouvered validated Ms Whites assertions.

Location of farm is also a factor. Roancarrig salmon farm is on the edge of Castletownbear harbour, one only need look at the Engineer's report on extension of Dinnish peer to call for specific monitoring of the salmon farmed at that location.

We can debate term Salmon of Knowledge, but not the Salmon Paradox outlined in the research of Prof. Floyd Chilton, Wake Forest U.
We need to have a scientific Aquaculture summit with emphases on salmon. We need to adopt the Precautionary Principle ECU Law in the mean time. Children's Health above Ocean Wealth.

SuprMammy Commented: Farmed fish, mass produced in cages, fed on artificial fèed which includes antibiotics, can hardly be described as healthy. Farmed salmon also has much higher levels of fat, which negate many of the clamed health benefits.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Concerns about toxicity from carcinogens, such as dioxins, PCBs (man-made hydrocarbons) in farmed salmon

Irish Examiner http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/columnists/victoria-white/is-there-something-fishy-about-the-health-advice-on-farmed-salmon-303043.html

SMOKED salmon is the easy part of Christmas. Throw it on brown bread, with lemon and black pepper, and the innocents will think it’s posh and that you’ve spent a lot.

But you can get 100g of Everyday Value smoked salmon in Tesco — “responsibly sourced from the waters around Scotland, Norway or Ireland” — for €3.59.

But, today, as many of us prepare for the big Christmas supermarket shop, the Friends of the Irish Environment have ramped up their boycott of farmed salmon, strengthened by the news that the international Slow Food Movement — which counts among its supporters Bridgestone’s Sally McKenna and that icon of Irish sustainable food, Darina Allen — has condemned intensive open-pen fish farms.

“Open-net pen aquaculture is not a solution to the problem of overfishing,” says Slow Food.

“It damages natural ecosystems on a local and a global level, including wild stocks, habitats and water quality.”

The Italian-based Slow Food Movement is dedicated to linking “the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment” and the FIE boycott campaign is appealing to our consciences about what they deem the dangers of farming salmon in cages in the open sea.

For example, sea-lice infestation among farmed salmon impacts wild stocks.

FIE reckons that between 12% and 44% fewer wild salmon are now spawning, but Bord Iascaigh Mhara denies that there has been any impact on wild stocks.

Most people can’t be bothered with the environment, when they’re Christmas shopping.

What they care about is a good price for a product that will make a starter Tesco calls “moreish”.

And farmed salmon is a healthy food, isn’t it? With all that Omega 3 and fish oils and low-fat protein, it’s a super-food.

Is this true? We don’t know.

Some reports show levels of Omega 3 dropping precipitously in farmed salmon, but there is so much money bound up in huge, multi-national fish-farming enterprises that we can’t rely on governments to tell us the truth about the healthfulness of farmed salmon.

Concerns about toxicity from carcinogens, such as dioxins, PCBs (man-made hydrocarbons), and BFRs (flame retardants), in North Atlantic farmed salmon have been circulating since the publication of research on contamination a decade ago.

Last year, the Norwegian ministry of health warned mothers-to-be and children not to eat more than two portions a week of Norwegian farmed salmon, because of its toxicity.

That’s more than most of us eat anyway.

But it was significant in Norway, headquarters of the global fish-farming multinational Marine Harvest, that its government was issuing any kind of health warning about its farmed salmon.

What was far more significant, however, was that the Centre of Norwegian Sea Products found a willing accomplice in the Norwegian government in hiding this advice from international markets.

Contrasting advice in English, featuring a family of little blonde Nordies tucking into salmon under the heading, “Salmon is healthy! And good!”, was provided by the centre and published on the Norwegian health ministry’s website.

A similarly misleading French translation was provided to the Norwegian embassy in France.

When the Norwegian journalist, Morten Stroknes, found this out there was war.

There were claims that the Norwegian authorities only cared about the health of Norwegians.

But what is probably more important is the wider issue, that, as Stroknes said: “It is beyond the mandate of the Centre of Norwegian Sea Products to give health advice.”

Just in time for Christmas, the Norwegian health ministry has lifted the warning on its salmon, with a report that was welcomed yesterday by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

The report concludes that “the benefits clearly outweigh the negligible risk presented by current levels of the contaminants, and other known undesirable substances in fish”, and adds that the failure to eat fish once a week is the health risk.

“The change of tack by the Norwegians is, in our view, an acceptance of the very considerable consensus internationally, among a host of national food-safety agencies — who operate fiercely and independently on the consumers’ side — that the consumption of salmon, both farmed and wild, is not only safe, but advisable from a nutritional perspective,” said BIM.

The report has been launched in France with a huge publicity campaign, much to the disgust of the European Greens, who argue that salmon farms should be on land.

They say that the farmed fish was only tested for three toxins, which are decreasing in the environment anyway and that European-allowed toxin levels are 20 times lower for farmed fish than for meat, despite the fact that farmed salmon fat can have 10 times more pollutants than occurs in beef, poultry or pork.

They put this down to powerful Norwegian lobbying. But can we, in Ireland, trust agencies of the State to give us independent advice about the health benefits, or risks, of farmed salmon?

Why, then, at that meeting last January, between Marine Harvest, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and Marine Minister Simon Coveney, did the latter promise that “the new structural changes in the Marine Institute will be monitored to ensure they produce a faster turnaround on scientific advice”?

What right does a commercial multinational have to dictate the amount of time it takes to “produce” scientific advice from a State-funded institute?

None, I would say, but Mssrs Kenny and Coveney obviously disagree. No wonder Marine Harvest considered the meeting “very constructive”.

And when you look for independent advice on the food safety of farmed salmon, what you get is sketchy.

In 2007, the Marine Institute brought out a leaflet reassuring Irish consumers about the level of flame-retardant contamination in Irish farmed salmon.

The Institute reported that the UK’s Food Standards Authority had found much higher levels of BFR contamination in a certain British river system, but had still ruled that eating one portion of the fish every week was “unlikely to represent a risk to health.”

The leaflet trumpeted the advice of our own Food Safety Authority of Ireland that eating one portion of farmed Irish salmon a week is “safe” and has “proven health benefits.”

The small print says the UK study’s results were “tentative” and admits that the Marine Institute only tested “a small number of samples”.

That’s particularly ironic, given that the European Commission’s stated reason for closing its investigation, in October, into the impact of sea lice from farmed salmon on the wild population was that they needed “uncontested scientific evidence.”

Uncontested evidence on the food safety of dead fish harvested for consumption is easier to come by and should be available to the Irish consumer.

There can be no grounds for suspicion that the intertwined economic and political interests of the Government have any influence whatsoever on the workings of the Marine Institute and, downstream of them, on advice from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

We have to be absolutely certain that the advice we are getting about the safety of fish farming, both to the environment and to our health, is wholly independent, or it will make a mockery of a people who count The Salmon of Knowledge among their founding myths.