Fish farm opponents support O Cuiv's call


Galway shoppers are being asked to boycott farmed salmon this Christmas and to opt instead for Irish wild fish.

The call follows an admission by Galway West TD Eamon O Cuiv, that he 'will not touch' salmon from farms because it is a 'totally unnatural product'.

'No one can tell me that organic fish farmers do not use chemicals to control for various diseases or lice. Fish produced on such farms can be labelled as organic but I would take the hill lamb over such a fish any day in terms of it being a natural product. I will not touch farmed salmon because it is a totally unnatural product’, declared the former Minister at an Oireachtas Agriculture Food and Fisheries Committee hearings this month.

Campaigners against farmed salmon have pounced on the statement to support their opposition to fish farms.

Galway Bay Agaianst Salmon cages (GBASC) is backing the call by the Boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign to 'boycott all farmed salmon products this Christmas'. GBASC said it is 'shocked but not surprised' at findings of a number of banned chemicals in tests in farmed salmon in 2011. One of the chemicals Malchite green has been banned in the EU since 2000 as it was found to be carcinogenic, it claimed. They have sought data from 2014 and 2015 but haven't been given access.

According to Appendix 12 on Organic Certification of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Galway Bay salmon farm, ' treatments for parasites not including compulsory control schemes operated by Member states are limited to twice per year where the production cycle is less than 18 months.'

The anti fish farm campaign group said: 'This loophole in organic certification means that a salmon farm operator may have to dose the farmed salmon multiple times with toxic pesticides if ordered to do so by the Marine Institute and still be able to qualify for organic certification. The organic certification of farmed salmon should now be questioned by all Irish state and private organisation certification bodies, especially the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA).’

GBASC has asked people of Galway to support this boycott against Minister Simon Coveney’s proposal to put a large salmon farm in Galway Bay which the group claims ‘will destroy the wild salmon and sea trout stocks in the Corrib and the other rivers flowing into Galway.’

The boycott Farmed Salmon Campaign in a statement said ‘There are may other reasons for consumers to avoid farmed salmon. The king of fishes likes to roam freely from the rivers of his birth, covering vast distances even as far as Greenland before faithfully returning home.

‘Now we are told by the Department of Agriculture, who determine the national ‘organic’ standards, that these untouched wild fish are not ‘organic’ and only those raised in pens, polluting our waters and subject to a range of chemicals unprecedented in our food chain can qualify as ‘organic’.

‘The use of chemicals at this level in food for human consumption makes a mockery of the ‘organic’ label, which is awarded by the same Department that is promoting farmed salmon. If the public was aware of this industry’s practice, they would never buy farmed salmon.’

Dara Bradley

© Connaught Tribune, 19 December 2015

Almost 230,000 fish were lost when storms battered a salmon farm in Gerahies, Bantry Bay, Co Cork, in February 2014 (stock photo)

A leading environmental group has accused the Government of withholding a report into a salmon farm accident which resulted in one of the largest-ever losses of fish in Ireland.

Almost 230,000 fish were lost when storms battered a salmon farm in Gerahies, Bantry Bay, Co Cork, in February 2014.

Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have sought the departmental report into the incident, so as to clarify the regulatory regime governing such salmon farms.

However, the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries has informed the group that the report will not be completed until December 31.

FIE successfully appealed the department's refusal to release preliminary reports and correspondence.

The department had claimed that the release of any parts of the deliberative process of advising the minister what action to take would be "premature".

It also argued that the public interest would not be served by the release of material in this manner.

However the Information Commission ruled against the department on both grounds.

In his ruling last July, the Information Commissioner ordered the State to release a detailed report into the accident.

Peter Tyndall said that the department's arguments for refusing to release the information were not justified.

He insisted there was a strong public interest in maximising "openness and accountability" in relation to how the Department of Marine and the Marine Institute carries out their functions. He said it was difficult to follow the logic of the department's claims that the release of the information could be potentially harmful to the regulatory process.

 Irish Independent 10.12.15


State must release salmon farm report


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

By Eoin English
Irish Examiner Reporter

 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.

© Irish Examiner



An environmental group has lodged an appeal against a licence for a €3.5m salmon farm in Bantry Bay.

Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] have lodged the appeal against the granting of the licence to Marine Harvest Ireland (MHI), a multi-national company with offices in Donegal.

The site is at Shot Head in Bantry Bay, and will create eight sustainable long term jobs post-construction.

MHI already operates fish production sites at Roancarrig on the western side of Bantry Bay.

In their appeal of the licence, which was granted a month ago, FIE calls into question a number of issues which they believe were not adequately dealt with in the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) which was filed by MHI with the licence application.

MHI first applied for this licence more that four years ago, in June 2011. The appeal, which was lodged this week with the Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board in Portlaoise, could take up to four months to decide, an ALAB spokesman told the Southern Star.

The ALAB has the power to extend that time further if more investigation is needed.

Among the concerns mentioned by FIE in their appeal are what they call ‘significant errors’ is the EIS – including alleged misrepresentations regarding the length of the coastline, and the prevailing wind direction.

In response, Marine Harvest told the Southern Star ‘The licensing process is ongoing with regard to Shot Head. MHI has dealt comprehensively with all the relevant issues as part of its application for an aquaculture licence. The Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board is the independent authority for the determination of appeals.’

Tony Lowes, an Eyeries based director of FIE, has also claimed that suggestion that the waste water from the salmon farm will pass directly out into the Atlantic are incorrect. The flow of current in the Bay has not been investigated by the EIS, he says, adding a claim that the amount of Nitrogen emissions from the proposed plant would be equivalent to the amount of treated sewage dispatched by a town of 58,000 people, making it an unsuitable development in the Bantry Bay area.

Furthermore, the appeal adds, there is no Local Area Management Scheme in place in Bantry Bay so, at this time, further development is premature. Changes in water temperature, combined with climate change, will increase presence of bloom in the seawater, the appeal says. This bloom will not be discharged to sea, as suggested by the EIS, representing a threat to marine life in the Bay.

The appeal further states that the effect on the marine habitat, of which Bantry Bay has some unique species, has not been adequately measured by the EIS, and the company’s survey of mammals and protected birds is also inadequate.

There is no assessment of the impact on seal colonies – in fact a reference to seal scarers has been made in the EIA.

Mr. Lowes said that as no alternative site has been proposed, this would suggest the area is already over-developed.

The appeal also suggests that the fish farm may have a direct impact on the ‘unspoilt’ aspect of the very valuable tourism industry.

Salmon lice could have detrimental impact on the five salmon rivers in the area and there has been no mention made in the EIS of the impact of SLICE (lice treatment) if consumed by other wildlife in the area, he said. Wild salmon and sea trout stocks will be put at risk by risk of lice and escape, the FIE claims.

When the licence was initially granted, MHI said it was extremely keen to begin work on this site as soon as possible’, With development at Shot Head likely to be complete ‘in just 14 weeks’.

If given the green light b y ALAB, that deadline is likely to be extended into spring or summer, as a result of the FIE appeal.


© Southern Star, October 24, 2015, Pages 1 and 2.

A study of the annual inspection records of Irish salmon farms by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries between 2012 and 2014 has led to questions being posed about the nature of the licencing system.

Friends of the Irish Environment’s (FIE) Director, Tony Lowes, who wrote the report, said: “We found there were no provisions for ensuring inspections of the critical mooring components that have led to previous disasters in spite of repeated recommendations by the Minister’s officials in accident reports.


“When licence infringements were identified there was a persistent failure by operators to do anything about them.”


“Instructions to operators to return cages to licensed areas are being ignored, including cages located outside the boundaries for ‘a number of years’”.


According to FIE, seven inspections showed overstocked sites. Marine Harvest’s main site at Castletownbere was overstocked in 2011, 2012, 2013 and then refused to provide the authorised Department Inspector with their stocking figures in 2014, as did its Deenish Island, County Kerry Marine Harvest site management.


Of the 70 relevant records examined, 23 showed failures in the required lighting and radar reflectors. 44 left the space for checking of the shackles (which are key components for the structure of the installations) blank, Lowes claims.


Three records gave the condition of the cages as so poor as to require their removal at the earliest opportunity.


“Successive accident reports have recommended to the Minister enhanced monitoring and enforcement protocols but nothing has been done. This Report shows that these farms are dangerous, posing a risk not only to our wild salmon, but to all who use our bays,” Lowes asserts.


The FIE Report has been sent to Ireland’s Marine Minister, Simon Coveney. Clare Daly, Socialist Party TD, has tabled written parliamentary questions to the Minister due for reply after the Dail reconvenes on 9 June.

Published: 01.06.15 kl 11:23