Fish Farm Oral Hearing reveals fish farm escape Reports

The Department of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries refused to release an accident report on the escape of 230,000 adult salmon from Bantry Bay in 2014 to the Aquaculture Licencing Appeals Board unless the Board agreed not to release it into the public domaine.

The Board was unable to agree to the condition of confidentiality and subsequently withdrew the request.

However, in a presentation by FIE on the second day of the Hearing, the Appeals Board was shown that the Reports they were seeking were released to FIE by an order of the Office of the Environmental Commissioner made on January 27, 2017 and provided by the Department to the organisation on 22 March, 2017.

The group provided the Hearing with the title page of three Reports on the accident from the Marine Institute, the Marine Engineering Division, and the Company itself, Murphys Irish Seafood. They asked why the Department had not told the Appeals Board that the documents were freely available

Friends of the Irish Environment also provided two reports by the Principle Officer of the Aquaculture Division of the Department of Agriculture and the Marine that recommended Marine Harvest licences at their smoult rearing site in Lough Alton and their main growing site in Kenmare Bay be withdrawn

The Reports show Marine Harvests operations at Inishfarnard in Kenmare Bay in County Cork were 105% overstocked at the last annual inspection, in spite of warnings since 2012 to the operators.

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 input level of 400,000 fish.

The second report relates to the smoult production site in Donegal.  Donegal County Council informed the Department that Lough Alton site has ‘been consistently [emphasis in original] in breach of their [discharge] licence conditions’ and ‘persistent’ requests for an action plan to address the breaches 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’.

 Further Information and verification: Tony Lowes 087 2176316

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