Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Department accused of covering up 20,000 salmon break-out

Another massive salmon farm escape 20,000 salmon this time in Donegal. No one would have known except that Marine Harvest had it in their annual report for 2017 When farmed salmon were found in the Galway and Mayo rivers in Autumn last year. DAFM were asked if there had been any salmon escape off the west coast but they denied there was any escape now it seems Marine Harvest had reported this 20,000 escape last July. 

These salmon farms are totally out of control with massive salmon escapes practically every year. and now it seems DAFM think it's something we shouldn't know about. Why did they deny there was an escape?

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Protests Against 'Diseased & Dangerous' Scottish Salmon

In May, Scottish Salmon Watch will be organising protests outside the Scottish Parliament when Marine Harvest (2 May) and the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Connectivity (16 May) are grilled by the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Salmon fishermen call for wild fish safeguards

RTE News Article:
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

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Irish Times: Government’s refusal to release fish disease information may be investigated

Campaign wants department to release more than 200 documents on diseases in salmon farms
A decision by the Department of Agriculture and the Marine not to release documents relating to fish diseases in Irish salmon farms may be investigated by the Oireachtas Petitions Committee. 

Set up in 2015, the petitions committee examines requests from members of the public and is empowered to report to the Dáil with recommendations, as well as asking that its report be debated by the Dáil. The request for the committee to examine the Government’s decision follows the refusal of the Department of Agriculture and the Marine to release records relating to fish diseases at salmon farms. 

In response to Parliamentary Questions last November, Independent TD Clare Daly was told that 41 outbreaks of disease on salmon farms have been notified to the department in the last two years.

In a separate parliamentary reply, Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Michael Creed said extensive mortalities at one fish farm were due to Cardiomyopathy Syndrome (CMS), a severe viral cardiac disease. But the Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign which sought more information from the department under the Access to Information on Environment rules, were told the records were being withheld. 

Now the Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign has asked the Petitions Committee to examine the department’s decision and if necessary, to take the matter to the Dáil. 
Tony Lowes of the Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign said recently published work in peer reviewed literature showed fish disease had spread from farmed salmon to locally caught wrasse in the southwest. 

Wrasse have been used as cleaner fish to control lice in salmon farms. 
The Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign has published a list of the descriptions of the 212 records they claim they have been have been denied, including all the notifications from the fish farm to the department, mortalities and stocking details, emails from vets, and the etiology (manner of causation of a disease) - of the fish kills.

Petitions Committee chairman Sean Sherlock said he had not yet seen the petition. But he said “every petition which comes before us would be given due consideration by the members” and a decision would then be made on whether debate the issue.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Irish Examiner - Calls for crackdown on fish farms

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 by Eoin English Examiner Reporter

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has called for a crackdown on fish farms after farmed salmon escaped into five river systems in the west of Ireland. 

The agency, which is responsible for the conservation, protection and management of Ireland’s inland fisheries and sea angling resources, confirmed yesterday that 65 farmed salmon have been caught in rivers in Galway and Mayo in recent weeks, despite no escapes being reported by salmon farm owners to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, the licensing authority.
Salmon farm operators are obliged, as one of the conditions of their license to operate, to report all escapes to the department.
IFI said the farmed salmon were caught in the rivers Delphi, Erriff, Kylemore/Dawros, Newport, and Bunowen. However, the agency, which has been monitoring the situation in the river systems since August, said the department confirmed it has received no reports of escapes in the region.
The IFI said its scientists are still assessing the risk posed by the presence of farmed salmon in the rivers to their wild salmon stocks which are already under pressure due to significant decreases in salmon runs over the last 20-years.
The IFI board called yesterday for improved compliance and enforcement, and for a full audit of existing salmon farm licence holders.
“IFI have been charged with the protection of wild Atlantic salmon and continue to have concerns regarding the impacts of fish farms on Ireland’s precious wild fish,” said the IFI.
“The licensing 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. IFI supports sustainable fish farming but cautions against the renewal and/or award of licences where conditions are not being adhered to.”
The 65 farmed salmon identified were caught by anglers who generally only encounter a small number of salmon in a river. As a result, the scale of the escape has not yet fully determined.
Scientists are still analysing the captured fish in an effort to identify their history and maturity status.
Of those examined so far, three of six males were mature on capture and had the potential to spawn in the wild and impact the genetic integrity of native salmon stock.
All fish entering the Erriff are monitored in an upstream trap which allows for the removal of farmed fish but there are no trapping facilities on the Delphi, Kylemore, Newport, and Bunowen systems.
IFI said despite the lack of information on salmon farm escapes, its staff will continue to monitor the affected river systems.
Meanwhile, a delegation of trout anglers from the west of Ireland is due to meet top EU officials in Brussels tomorrow to discuss pike control in western fisheries.
They say the eco-systems of Irish wild brown trout fisheries at Loughs Corrib and Rea in Galway, Mask, Carra, Conn and Cullin in Mayo, Arrow in Sligo/Roscommon, and Sheelin in Westmeath, Meath, Cavan and Longford are under serious threat from predator pike. Martin Kinneavy, chairman of the Connacht Angling Council, said they want an immediate pike cull.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

RTE1 News - Farmed salmon escape into Connacht rivers

Inland Fisheries Ireland is investigating an escape of farmed salmon in counties Galway and Mayo. A total of 65 farmed salmon have been caught in the Newport, Errif, Bunowen, and Kylemore river networks in recent days. A number were also recovered at the Delphi fishery. 
Analysis on some of them has shown that several male fish were mature on capture and had the potential to spawn.
This would have an impact on the integrity of the native salmon stock. IFI says that no escapes have been reported to the Department of Agriculture by farm owners.
It is a legal requirement to notify officials of any such breach. The Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages group says it is concerned that if escaped fish interbreed with native stocks, the genetic integrity of wild fish will be severely compromised.
Inland Fisheries Ireland said its investigations are seriously compromised by a lack of information from fish farm operators regarding the escapes.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Friends of the Irish Environment - Minister blocks bid to revoke salmon licences

Minister blocks bid to revoke salmon licences
Gross overstocking and arrogance is revealed in two submissions to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries recommending the withdrawal of Marine Harvest’s salmon farming licences in Donegal and Cork.

The claim is based on two submissions to the Minister by the Principle Officer of the Department’s Aquaculture and Foreshore Division published by Friends of the Irish Environment at the Oral Hearing for a new salmon farm in Bantry Bay by Marine Harvest, the Norwegian multi-national that produces more than 80% of Ireland’s farmed salmon.

In the case of Donegal’s Lough Alton, which supplies 80% of Marine Harvest’s smolts, ‘by its own admission the company exceeded its stocking limitation by a significant degree (17%) for commercial reasons,’ the Report states.

‘Persistent’ requests for an action plan to address the breaches by Donegal County Council had been met with a refusal by the company who ‘cited economic reasons for not implementing the of treatment facilities which their current production rates would demand in order to achieve compliance’. 

The Principle Officer states ‘It can be reasonably stated therefore that the company knowingly breached the terms and conditions of its licence to a substantial degree for clear commercial gain’.

At Inishfarnard in the Kenmare River Special Area of Conservation, gross overstocking has been recorded in the annual Department’s Fin Fish Farm Inspection Reports since 2012. An application for increased capacity was refused by the Minister in 2010 as ‘Such a major increase in stocking capacity would have to be the subject of a new licence application accompanied by the necessary Environmental Impact Statements’.

The Inishfarnard site, which is licensed to contain no more than 500 tons of fish, had a standing stock that was 26% above the permitted level before the input of 820,604 young fish in March 2014, this input itself being 105% in excess of the permitted level of 400,000 fish.

In response to this major non-conformity raised by Aquaculture Stewardship Council the company made no apology or commitment to meet the stocking requirements, simply stating ‘the current limit of 500 tons per annum would require harvest at 1.25 kg which is not a saleable size.’

Marine Harvest, the Norwegian multi-national that produces more than 80% of Ireland’s farmed salmon, called the licensing system ‘Anachronistic, legally and technically meaningless in its application to modern good farming practice’. 

FIE published the reports as part of its presentation to the recent Oral Hearing of a number appeals against the company’s proposed new salmon farm in Bantry Bay. They told the Oral Hearing, held in Bantry earlier this month, that ‘an applicant who openly informs a licencing authority that he has no intention of meeting his licencing conditions is not a fit person to hold a licence’.

The consequences of this overstocking, according to the environmental group, are ‘that the pressures on the environment has not been assessed, as required by European and national law’. The overstocking also ‘undermines the Department’s sea lice control, where the number of lice are based on samples taken multiplied by the number of fish licenced. If the site is overstocked by 105%, the number of lice will also be 105% higher than the recorded level.’

The detailed 20 page submissions were rejected by the Minister because of proportionality and the commercial consequences to the company.

However, the Principle Officer’s Submission addressed the issue of the commercial consequences:

‘While it can be argued that the development of the industry will be adversely affected by any sanction against the company, the overriding obligation of the department is to take action against the operator in accordance with the obligations set out in the legislation. Anything less will seriously undermine the State’s regulatory system in relation to Marine aquaculture. The long-term effect this would have on the regulation of the industry is as serious as it is obvious.’

FIE said that the failure to deal vigorously with significant breaches of licence conditions is ‘a result of the conflict of interest within the Department between its role as industry developer and as industry regulator which creates an objective bias in the functioning of the Department.’

In separate submissions, they have urged the Government to ‘reorganise the Department so that the Marine Institute and the Sea Food Protection Authority are administered by a non-fisheries division of the Department. The necessary and appropriate checks and balances incumbent on the Department in the exercise of its functions is impossible under the current regime.’

According to FIE Director Tony Lowes, who made the presentations, the publication of the Reports in hard copy and electronically at the Oral Hearing was not covered by the local or national press present. Complementing the UK’s Sunday Times, which today is covering the story, Mr. Lowes said that ‘if the Washington Post was right in saying that ‘democracy dies in darkness’, our struggle to bring out the story shows that the lights have been truly extinguished by the Irish media’.

Creed blocked bid to revoke salmon licences