As the Minister signs the contract to undertake a strategic environmental assessment of the departments new forestry programme for the period 2014 – 2020, FIE is calling on the state to recoup the available EU funding.
‘The current forestry programme was set in 1996 and has led to a forestry policy that is based on fast growing poor quality trees destined for short rotation clearfell. These outdated concepts make only token gestures towards bringing back our native broadleaf forestry which could be managed to bring permanent economic, environmental, and social benefits to society.
But the EU will pay only 80% of the establishment costs and loss of income grants are only allowed for 15 years. Ireland insists in paying 100% of the establishment costs and 20 years of generous annual lose of income premiums. These premium payments are far in excess of that could be made by farming animals on the land, reaching over €500 a hectare and the final product is tax free.’
The decision to go it alone in the 2007 – 2015 Rural Development Plan has cost the exchequer €400 million to make up and should not be repeated in the new Plan.
Irish Fisheries Minister Simon Coveney has been asked to come clean on the number of escaped farmed salmon in Bantry Bay during the February 1 storm.
According to FIE and the local group Save Bantry Bay [SBB], there are only between 3,000 and 5,000 fish left at a site that held between 160,000 – 180,000 salmon.
The storm on February 1, 2014, saw a cage break loose from its mooring and upend itself into another cage, according to SBB. The physical damage to the cages was more extensive than appeared at first and the continuing stormy conditions prevented any immediate repair.
These fish can interbreed with native stocks, lessening their chances of survival and out competing native salmon for habitat and breeding locations. Escaped farmed salmon may inflate catchbased spawning stock estimates to such an extent that the stock appears either to be healthy or recovering, the consequences of which are that conservation measures are either relaxed or not strengthened, or new measures not being introduced.’
FIE has written to Minister at State Fergus O’Dowd asking him to facilitate a voluntary scale sampling genotype scheme on all Irish rivers this summer to determine the level of escaped fish in Irish salmon rivers.
The Ombudsman has rejected FIE’s complaint that DAFF did not provide the views requested by the Commission from IFI on sea lice and salmon during the EU Pilot investigation. The Ombudsman made no attempt whatsoever to investigate the issue, simply accepting DAFF’s statements that the IFI report contained ‘many inaccuracies’ and ‘fundamental errors’, stating that ‘the files reveal that the report had serious inaccuracies, omissions of relevant facts and misleading commentaries’. As the revised report ‘contained the same factually incorrect and misleading statements’, DAFF said that the particular report ‘would have had disastrous results for Ireland’s reputation had it sent the report to the European Commission.’ The Ombudsman failed to ‘consider the content of any of the reports pertinent to sea lice or other maritime activities on file because we do not have the expertise to make any comment whatsoever, rather our role is confined to examining complaints about maladministration’. Put simply, the Ombudsman made no attempt whatsoever to investigate the complaint, simply accepting word for word DAFF’s claims that IFI’s views were misleading, inaccurate, and omitted relevant facts. Over to IFI.
Minister Simon Coveney is due to answer a written parliamentary question this week on the reported escape of between 60,000 and 80,000 large salmon from a farm in Bantry Bay, County Cork.
The written parliamentary question, tabled by TD Clare Daly on behalf of Friends of the Irish Environment last week, asked if the Minister ‘will detail the damage to aquaculture operations during the recent stormy weather and in particular, the number of fish escaped as reported under the Licencing conditions for fin fish operations to his Department.’
Save Bantry Bay yesterday confirmed the disaster occurred on Saturday, 1 February when a cage pulled its anchor and upended into another cage, allowing the fish to escape.
The escape of farmed fish iis being termsed an ‘ecological disaster’. The number of maturing fish that escaped in Bantry Bay are twice the world wide total of escapes in 2012.
Read this Press Release | The Save Bantry Bay Press Release | Inland Fisheries Ireland Factsheet | UN Food and Agricultural Organisation
Hit by ‘disease, parasites, and adverse biological events’, Marine Harvest, responsible for 80% of Irish farmed salmon, has halted harvesting in Ireland after exception loses of €6.6m in 2013.
Today’s 2013 4th quarter report revealed that harvesting has been halted in January and the first half of February, 2014 ‘in an effort to grow the fish’. The Report shows ‘exceptional’ Irish loses in the last half of 2013 net of insurance cost was €6.5 million. The company noted that record sea water temperatures of 21 degrees were a factor in the proliferation of parasites and disease and may be connected to the increase in algae blooms and jellyfish.
‘The report entirely undermines the continual ‘everything is fine down on the farm’ which we have been receiving from BIM and Minister Simon Coveney’, said a curt statement from Friends of the Irish Environment.