Wednesday, 9 August 2017

BBC News - Call for action over 'unprecedented collapse' of salmon run

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-40861649

Salmon fishing groups have called for urgent action over the "unprecedented collapse" of a major run in Argyll.
The 2017 catch from the River Awe in the south-west Highlands is projected to be the lowest since records began.
Fishery groups believe the declining salmon count is the result of "intensive" fish farming in the area, and the spread of sea lice at farms.
The government said a number of factors could be to blame, but said a project was under way to tackle the lice issue.
MSPs are set to hold an inquiry into the industry in early 2018, after the rural economy committee studied a petition from Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (STCS) about protecting wild fish from sea lice breeding in salmon farms.

'Run the gauntlet'

The group said this year's catch from the Awe has only been running at a third of the 2016 count, which was itself only just above the all-time low since records began in 1965.
The 2016 total was 807 fish, but STCS said the 2017 catch may "struggle to reach 400", with 30 weeks of the season already past.
They said juvenile salmon migrating from rivers in the south-west Highlands had to "run the gauntlet" close to lice-producing salmon farms the whole way up the west coast before reaching the open ocean.
STCS wants farms moved into closed containment tank systems to prevent the spread of parasites, saying only this could allow both farmed and wild fish to thrive.
Director Andrew Graham-Stewart said the numbers of mature west Highland sea trout had "collapsed" since the arrival of intensive fish farming, and said wild salmon numbers were also now in a decline which is "accelerating into a free fall".
Roger Brook, chairman of the Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board, said rivers like the Awe were facing "a very precarious future", and called on the government to make changes.

Sustainable growth

He said: "The Scottish government has promoted the continued expansion of the salmon aquaculture industry whilst refusing to implement adequate control on the siting of farms and the levels of sea lice on the farms.
"We call upon the Scottish government to insist that future farms are sited away from the probable migration routes. The worst existing farms, both in terms of location and lice control, should now be closed."
Scotland's farmed salmon industry continues to grow, with exports rising by 17% by value last year. However, there have been persistent concerns about sea lice, which can spread at farms and potentially damage ecosystems.
Efforts have been made to tackle the spread of lice at farms with "cleaner fish" which attack and eat the parasites. Scottish Sea Farms said their use has been "transformational", with lice levels at a three-year low at the end of 2016.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said: "We recognise that a number of factors may be having an impact on wild salmon stocks, including the activity of aquaculture, which can result in elevated numbers of sea lice in open water and hence is likely to increase the infestation potential on wild salmons.
"The magnitude of any such impact in relation to overall mortality levels is not known for Scotland. Marine Scotland Science has recently commenced a project to address this issue."

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) welcomes the decision made on the 19 June by Galway County Council to again refuse planning permission to Bradán Beo Teo

GALWAY BAY AGAINST SALMON CAGES PRESS RELEASE
26/6/2017
Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages (GBASC) welcomes the decision made on the 19 June by Galway County Council to again refuse planning permission to Bradán Beo Teo (BBT) for their illegal pump and piping system at Loch an Mhuillinn, Connemara.
This is the second time in 2 years that Galway Co. Council planners have refused planning permission to Bradán Beo Teo for their 5 year illegal development at Loch an Mhuillinn. We would hope that Bradán Beo Teo. would not waste any more of the Council's limited resources by applying a third time for permission for


this unsustainable and environmentally damaging illegal development.
We commend the courageous decision of the Co.Council planners not to reward BBT with planning permission in light of the fact that Bradán Beo Teo, in which Udaras has a major shareholding, had ignored numerous warning letters over 3 years that their development was illegal.
The Council planners have said in their refusal decision letter (attached below), that the development is likely to have significant, adverse impacts on the integrity and qualifying interests/conservation objectives of designated European sites, would contravene materially a policy, objectives and a development management standard contained in the currant Galway County Development Plan, would set an undesirable precedent for similar future development within European sites,and therefore would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.''
A number of illegal fresh water abstractions are taking place from rivers and lakes in salmon farming areas along the Connemara coast as we go to press.
GBASC have in the last two weeks reported 2 possible illegal fresh water abstractions by salmon farmers to Galway Co. Council and the Department of Agriculture,Food and the Marine. One from the Bunowen River flowing into Killary Harbour and another from Loch an Iarainn, Kilkieran Connemara. These suspected and damaging illegal fresh water abstractions of millions of litres per day are being taken from rivers and lakes in drought conditions. (See pictures below)
We ask the public to be on the look out for such unauthorized developments and bring them to the attention of the relevant planning authority in their area. Please see pictures attached below.
Billy Smyth
Chairman, Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Irish high court grants salmon farming licence against minister’s decision

https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2017/06/14/irish-high-court-grants-salmon-farming-licence-against-ministers-decision/

Murphy’s Irish Seafood, a company operating fish farms and hatcheries in Bantry Bay, Ireland, has successfully brought an application for judicial review -- quashing the decision of the minister for agriculture, food and the marine to revoke their licence, Irish Legal News reported.

Justice Marie Baker found that the impugned decision had not been made within the statutory time limit, and that the notice of this revocation did not contain a sufficient statement of the grounds on which the minister was considering to enable representations.

The application for judicial review related to the purported termination of the aquaculture licence held by Murphy’s for an adult salmon site and a smolt site.

Aftermath of storm in 2014

Following a catastrophic storm of hurricane force in February 2014, most of the fish stock -- amounting in total to 235,000 fish -- and almost all of the aquaculture equipment on the site was destroyed.

Since that time, the damaged cages and equipment had been removed, and one cage remaining has been upgraded; the court heard that there were no fish on site at the time of the hearing.

The damage caused by the storm was such that Murphy’s became technically in breach of the conditions of its licence.

In July 2014 Murphy’s reached an agreement to facilitate the ongoing operation of the aquaculture process. The agreement provided for submission, on or before July 31 2014, of a maintenance and recording program in accordance with a Norwegian standard.

Salmon farmers ‘put wild fish at risk’ in fight to kill off sea lice

A ballan wrasse devours a crab. Concern is growing over their falling numbers in the wild. Photograph: Marevision/Getty Images/age fotostock RM
Sourced from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/10/salmon-farmers-put-wild-wrasse-at-risk--sea-lice-scotland-anglers#img-1

Salmon farmers have been accused of playing dirty by using fish caught in the wild to clean lice from Scottish fish farms. Marine conservation experts say that shipping tonnes of English-caught wrasse a year – to tackle lice infestations in salmon pens north of the border – is endangering natural stocks. English anglers have also warned wrasse is becoming harder and harder to find in local waters.

However, salmon farmers have rejected the charge. They say the use of wrasse as a “cleaner” fish is part of a long-term plan to replace chemicals – which are currently administered to pens to control lice infestations – with sustainable, biological controls.

Fishermen remain concerned, nevertheless. “Wrasse play a role in keeping the marine ecosystem in balance,” said David Mitchell, of the Angling Trust. “We simply do not know what will be the consequence of removing so many of them from our coastal waters.”

More than 170,000 tonnes of salmon a year are grown in Scotland at more than 200 marine farms. However, production is affected by lice infestations that cause lesions and secondary infections in the fish. Chemicals can control this but pollute water around the farms. Another solution is provided by wrasse which feed on marine insects. Many species – such as ballan and goldsinny wrasse – will eat lice that infect larger fish. As a result wild wrasse are being caught in pots and shipped to Scotland to tackle sea-lice infestations. One wrasse for every 25 salmon is used.

But this exploitation of wrasse is raising concerns. “We are very worried that a large local fishery has developed rapidly over the past couple of years – with large numbers of wrasse being taken from local waters – without proper management or any indication of its sustainability,” said Samuel Stone, of the Marine Conservation Society. “It is a real concern.”

A similar line is taken by the Angling Trust, which is particularly concerned that wrasse are killed after they have completed their lice-devouring activities. Wrasse caught by anglers are usually put back in the sea and the Angling Trust said it was receiving more and more reports from anglers who had found very few wrasse left in their local waters, particularly around south-west England.

“Wrasse are very popular and many young people take up angling as a hobby after fishing for them,” said Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust. “They put the wrasse back in the water because they are not particularly appetising. By contrast, those that are being shipped north are killed and discarded after they have done their work cleaning lice and that is causing real problems of depletion. It is also a waste of protein.”

The fear that wild wrasse populations are shrinking badly is backed by researchers in Norway, where wrasse-catching to supply fish farming has also soared in recent years. According to a report in New Scientist, annual wrasse catches have risen from 2m to 22m in less than a decade to supply Norwegian salmon farms with cleaner fish. However, this was matched by considerable depletion of wrasse stocks where fishing took place.

Conservationists and anglers are now calling for a number of measures to be introduced to tackle the issue. In particular, they want careful monitoring of wrasse numbers to be introduced and strict limits imposed on catches.

However, the danger posed to wrasse stocks was dismissed by Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation. “The fishermen who supply us with wrasse do not take away juveniles or brood stock, so at the end of the day stock should always recover. And we simply do not have any hard figures that show serious depletion in going on.”

He said that the industry – which employs around 2,200 people – was also moving towards wrasse sustainability. “We have set up farms for both wrasse and lumpfish, which also eat lice, and the aim is that we will produce our own cleaner fish from our own farms in a few years,” he told the Observer.

It remains to be seen how successful this will be. Some marine conservation experts have questioned the potential usefulness of wrasse raised in farms as cleaner fish compared with those taken from the wild. Landsburgh remained confident. “We are spending a great deal of money on this. I am not worried.”

Monday, 29 May 2017

Mounting international decisions stop expansion of open cage salmon farming in the marine.

Dated :25th May 2017
In recent days both Norway and Sweden have made decisions to curtail open cage salmon farming.
At the Norwegian annual fish farming Hardangerfjord seminar, Mr Stein Lier-Hansen, CEO of Norsk Industri which includes the main salmon farming interests as well as Marine Harvest which has 80% of salmon farming production in Ireland, announced a stop to all further open cage salmon farming in Norway.
This was due to a cost last year of 15 billion NOK just to combat sea lice and it was still not possible to overcome the negative effects of the salmon farms on the environment.
In Sweden, its Land and Environmental Court has ordered a halt to fish farming in cages in open sea water at three locations and reduced the amount of farming permitted at another site.
Delivering the ruling, the court questioned whether open cages in the sea was the best fish farming technique and raised doubts whether the affected waters could cope with the amount of nutrients. The decision is a result of the so called Weser judgement from the EU Court in combination with new environmental quality standards in Swedish waters.
Meanwhile in Ireland a new peer reviewed published scientific paper from Inland Fisheries Ireland scientists, Shepherd and Gargan, indicates that wild salmon returns to the Erriff system in Co Mayo were strongly reduced(>50%) following years when there had been high lice levels on the salmon farms nearby during smolt out-migration. Their results show that sea lice infestation from coastal salmon aquaculture is likely to be an important negative contribution to the Erriff River system's wild salmon stocks.
Billy Smyth, Chairman of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, agrees with these international moves to stop the expansion of sea based salmon farming and is calling on Government Departments and semi state bodies like the Marine Institute, B.I.M. and Udaras to stop promoting this destructive industry, to remove the installations onto land so as to provide containment against lice, diseases and escapees that are affecting the valuable but declining stocks of wild salmon and sea trout.
Billy Smyth Chairman GBASC
Tel No: 086 3511628
Brian E. Curran PRO GBASC
Tel No: 0872509722

Thursday, 6 April 2017

MAJOR SALMON FARMING ORGANISATION SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH CONNEMARA FIRM

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 Chiaráin 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: salmon-troutscotland.org

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 
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/council-risks-eu-fines-for-not-building-fish-path-to-aid-migrating-salmon-at-river-blackwater-443478.html

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

http://www.southernstar.ie/news/roundup/articles/2017/02/21/4135139-salmon-farm-of-1m-fish-will-devastate-bantry/

By BRIAN MOORE

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

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/bantry-bay-fish-farm-oral-hearing-fears-over-jobs-pesticides-and-threat-of-disease-in-fish-population-442940.html 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.