Monthly Archives: August 2013

EU considering re–opening sea lice investigation

Friends of the Irish Environment Press release 29 August 2013

EU considering re–opening sea lice investigation

The European Commissions has requested documents from the Irish Government which were not made available during the recent Commission ‘Pilot’ investigation into sea lice on Irish salmon farms.

The request follows a ‘Request for Redress for Maladministration’ lodged against the Department of Agriculture by the environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment for their handling of the EU investigation of complaints from Irish NGOs on salmon farms and sea lice.

FIE has published on its website internal Irish Government files which they say show that the Report requested by the EU from Inland Fisheries Ireland [IFI] during the investigation was withheld by the Department of Agriculture from the investigators.

Janez Potocnik, the European Environmental Commissioner, has told Nessa Childers, MEP, that ‘all the information and material referred to by FIE will be sought from the Irish Authorities and duly examined’ to see if it ‘justifies reopening the investigation.’

The IFI Report entirely contradicted the Department of Agriculture’s claims during the Pilot investigation which were based on a Marine Institute study (Jackson et al., 2011; Jackson et al., 2011). The Institute said their 10 year study proved that infestation of outwardly migrating salmon smolts with sea lice was only a ‘minor component of the overall marine mortality in the stocks studied’. The same Marine Institute study formed the basis of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Galway Bay salmon farm.

However, in a critique published in the same the peer reviewed international ‘Journal of Fish Diseases’ recently, four international scientists have re–evaluated the Marine Institute’s work. Rather than the 1% of wild salmon mortalities claimed by the Institute, using the same data but correcting three methodological errors the authors show that the true figure is 33% mortalities of wild salmon due to farmed salmon sea lice.

FIE has now provided this critique to the Commission as well as providing data that contradicts the Minister for Agriculture’s recent claim to the Oireachtas that ‘As far as we are concerned, the sea lice issue is no longer significant.’

A FIE statement released with the Commission correspondence says that ‘Sea lice infestations continue to rise in spite of the Minister’s assurances that sea lice are ‘no longer an issue’. The group cites Marine Harvest, the largest producer of farmed salmon with 80% of the country’s production, 2013 Annual Report which records infestations of sea lice above the permitted level more than tripling from 6% of their sites in 2010 to 20% in 2012.

‘Figures from the Marine Institute itself show that with two–winter salmon, the most vulnerable, the number of Irish sites exceeding the permitted level of sea lice have doubled over the last three years from 24% to 50%.

The Commission has told the organisation that it expects to reach a decision in September.

Call to Coveney to halt Galway Salmon Farm

Anglers in Ireland have today called on Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to halt Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM)’s licence application for a massive salmon farm in Galway Bay until an independent scientific examination of the facts is carried out. The call, by No Salmon Farms At Sea, is the latest salvo in what is becoming a furious debate raging in Ireland amongst anglers and conservationists on one side, and Ireland’s aquaculture industry on the other.
In its licence application, and subsequent communications to the media, BIM has relied heavily on a report by Marine Institute Ireland scientists in April, which purported to show a negligible risk (1%) to migrating salmon from sea lice. This conclusion has been challenged by a team of researchers, led by Dr M Krkosek of the University of Toronto, who state that “such a conclusion can be supported only if one is prepared to accept at least three fundamental methodological errors”, and that the actual mortality of salmon caused by sea-lice is 30 times higher.

This follows on from the letter from Dr. Mark Costello, University of Auckland, to Minister Coveney in May of this year, which expressed surprise at the incorrect information about whether sea lice from salmon farms can cause problems on wild fish. Dr. Costello concluded his letter stating “It appears that sea lice are the most significant impact of salmon farms generally by virtue of their impact on wild salmonids.”

Chair of No Salmon Farms At Sea (NSFAS), Paddy Keenan stated: “This proves what we have been saying all along. BIM and the minister have stated that they are relying on the science to justify the salmon farm proposal, despite counter arguments from scientists at Inland Fisheries Ireland, Canada and New Zealand. This work by Dr Krkosek completely demolishes the scientific basis for the proposal and indeed calls either the motives or the capabilities of Marine Institute Ireland into question. We are calling on the minister to delay any work on this licence until he has commissioned an independent report from acknowledged experts. Our wild salmon stocks are in a precarious state for many reasons. We cannot afford any further threats to them.”

Marine Institute Ireland has been criticised in recent weeks for its report (produced earlier this year) which sought to downplay the role of sea lice in compromising salmon populations, particularly the survival of wild salmon. An analysis of the report published by the University of Toronto (with contributions from scientists in Canada, Norway and Scotland) shows the Marine Institute’s study is “scarcely worth the paper it is written on.” Indeed, FF&FT was contacted by Irish scientist who said on the condition of anonymity that the paper was “worthy of the slickest of snake-oil salesmen” and that by accepting what has become globally-panned scientific report the Marine Institute is simply propping up BIM’s plans for the Galway Bay salmon farm.

• In July, Minister Coveney was accused of deliberately misleading the European Commission in its investigation of sea lice and wild salmon.

Clare Champion, 23 August 2013: Sea lice figures for salmon farm queried

Sea lice figures for salmon farm queried

Clare Champion, 23 August 2013

Written by Nicola Corless

Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s plan for the construction of the country’s largest salmon farm off the North Clare coast hit rough waters this week.

Figures used in the Environmental Impact Statement have been questioned in a new study published in the Journal of Fish Diseases.

The new scientific paper identifies what it said was “three fundamental methodological errors” in the original study. The EIS for the proposed 456-hectares salmon farm uses a 2011 study, which says that sea lice infestation of outwardly migrating salmon molts “was only a minor component of the overall marine mortality in the stocks studied”.

The new paper published in the Journal of Fish Diseases states that whereas researchers in the study quoted in the EIS “assert that sea lice cause 1% of mortality in Atlantic salmon, the correct estimate is actually a one third loss of overall adult recruitment.”

A statement from Inland Fisheries Ireland said that the alleged errors cited in the new paper “undermine Galway Salmon Farm EIS”.

“IFI welcomes the clarification in this new paper regarding the potential negative impact of sea lice emanating from marine salmon farms and looks forward to ensuring effective sea lice management to reduce or eliminate this impact. In this context, the location of salmon farms in relation to salmon rivers and the control of sea lice prior to and during juvenile salmon migration to their high seas feeding ground is critical if wild salmon stocks are not to be impacted. The development of resistance to chemical treatment of sea lice and other fish husbandry problems, such as pancreas disease and amoebic gill disease, are likely to make effective sea lice control even more difficult in future years,” it predicted.

No Salmon Farms at Sea called on Minister Simon Coveney to stop BIM’s licence application for the salmon farm North of Inis Oirr and questioned the “motives or capabilities of the Marine Institute.”

“We are calling on the minister to delay any work on this licence until he has commissioned an independent report from acknowledged experts. Our wild salmon stocks are in a precarious state for many reasons. We cannot afford any further threats to them,” Paddy Keenan, chair of the NSFAS said.

An Taisce was even more scathing in its comments about the Marine Institute. A statement from the trust said, “An Taisce notes that as authoritative scientific voices have weighed into the debate regarding fish farming, the plans for a giant 1,130-acre caged-fish installation between the Aran Islands and Clare, along with similar proposals elsewhere along the coast, appear increasingly ill-advised.”

Salmon Watch Ireland is also calling for the withdrawal of the licence application saying, “In the face of these most recent revelations BIM’s justification for its Galway Bay plans is now in tatters.”

The Marine Institute has said it will “consider” the new paper “as we do with all relevant scientific papers, and if appropriate will issue a response through a peer-reviewed scientific process.”

“The Marine Institute is tasked with providing independent scientific advice to the Minister as part of the deliberative process in considering aquaculture licence applications. In formulating such advice, the institute consider all of the available scientific literature and do not support individual applications,” it concluded.

Concerns Over Sea Lice Treatment Planned for Galway Bay Fish Farm

 

FishFarmBord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has responded to concerns from environmental groups that an ingredient in treatments for sea lice in salmon farms poses a threat to wild marine life.

As Galway Bay FM reports, campaigners Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages – one of the groups opposed to the planned Galway Bay fish farm – say that cypermethrin, an active ingredient in veterinary medicine used to treat sea lice, is toxic to aquatic organisms.

BIM aquaculture manager Donal Maguire attempted to play down fears over the use of the pesticide, saying it has been fully tested for toxicology in the marine environment.

However, another campaign group claims BIM’s position is contrary to the manufacturer’s own warnings on the use of the drug.

According to FishNews.eu, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) cited the Irish Medicines Board’s product description for cypermethrin, which states that it is “dangerous to fish and other aquatic life” and demands that the chemical “should not be allowed to contaminate water”.

FIE went on to describe cypermethrin as “a biocide which kills life, not a medicine that saves lives” and as “a highly active neurotoxin” with “known effects on fish and, most sensitive of all, crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. Bathers and watersports [enthusiasts] may also be at risk.”

Earlier this month, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) expressed “serious concerns” over the findings of a study on wild salmon in Ireland that claimed fish farm schemes were less harmful to wild fish than pollution and possibly even beneficial to wild catchments.

IFI is among the significant opposition to BIM’s proposed organic salmon farm off the Aran Islands, a 500-hectare project that would be the largest of its kind in Europe and create hundreds of jobs in the locality.

‘Organic’ farmed salmon misleads conscientious consumers

 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013
8:00 AM GMT

Dear Editor,

We are repeatedly being told the economic salvation of Ireland’s remote coastal and island communities will be massive new ‘organic’ salmon farms.

Barely a day goes by without either BIM, Marine Minister Simon Coveney, or the Irish Farmers’ Association promoting this ‘organic’ label as a sustainable solution in a world suffering from collapsing fish stocks and increased demand for seafood.

But are the practises allowed what consumers have come to expect from an organic label?

Rather than saving wild fisheries, farmed salmon are further depleting them. Salmon are carnivores and in the wild their diet consists of smaller fish and crustaceans. Today, between 30 and 50 per cent of wild fisheries are going to feed farmed fish worldwide.

To combat this, the theory was organic salmon farmers would feed their fish on filleting waste from sea fisheries that have won sustainable status or products derived from other forms of organic aquaculture.

Unfortunately, this approach failed. There simply wasn’t enough supply to meet demand.

As a result, the rules have been changed to allow fish meal and oil from unsustainable sea fisheries and non-organic aquaculture operations to be used. This means ‘organic’ Irish salmon farming is supporting unsustainable sea fisheries and non-organic aquaculture practises. Further problems include ever-increasing chemical use and marine pollution.

Even the colour of ‘organic’ salmon is artificial. Wild salmon is pink, a result of the crustaceans in their diet, but farmed salmon, due to their artificial diet, is grey. Unsurprisingly, consumers do not want to eat grey salmon. For this reason, they’re fed the same dye as used in conventional salmon farms.

They also use chemical treatments, antibiotics, and sedatives to combat disease and parasites such as sea lice. Again, these are the same chemical treatments used in non-organic aquaculture. The chemicals designed to kill sea lice can also harm valuable crustaceans such as prawn, shrimp, crab, and lobster — no surprise given sea lice are also crustaceans. In recognition of the problems associated with excessive chemical use, EU organic regulations state only two sea lice treatments are allowed per year.

An exception is, however, allowed when compulsory eradication is required because the number of sea lice exceed the ‘trigger level’. Today, this exemption is increasingly exploited as Ireland’s ongoing sea lice infestations thrive in our warming ocean.

While salmon farms are required to keep data on such chemical use, this data is not gathered by any government authority. When requested, the Government has been unable to provide it, instead directing interested parties to the salmon farm operators who simply refuse to make this data public.

This begs the questions: How can organic salmon farms be allowed to use chemicals without any public record? And what have they got to hide? It’s not just chemicals.

Salmon farms, just like any other intensive form of livestock farming, produces waste (fish faeces and uneaten feed). While no land-based farm is allowed to discharge such waste directly into the environment, this is permitted in Irish organic salmon farming.

What does all this mean? Any consumer purchasing salmon labelled organic in the belief they are protecting the environment from pollution could not be more wrong.

The organic label also suggests improved fish welfare. Yet regulations state that every 10kg of organic salmon only needs a cubic metre of water. This equates to about a bathtub of water per adult salmon. To claim such a situation resembles their natural environment is absurd; in the wild a salmon would swim up to 14,000km. Indeed, the only resemblance between the open ocean and an organic salmon farm is that it is suspended in seawater.

Taking the latest research together, sea lice from salmon farms can cause anything from a 40 to 50 per cent reduction in wild salmon returning to our rivers. It is for this reason recommendations were made by a government report as early as 1994 that no salmon farm should be placed within 20km of a wild salmon river. Yet organic standards have no such requirement, and are often located only 1km or 2km off salmon river mouths.

Wild salmon face further problems because Irish salmon farms import smolt (young salmon) often from Norwegian stock that bears no relation to the local wild salmon. As farmed salmon often escape, they in turn breed with wild salmon, weakening them genetically. Wild salmon are now outnumbered by escaped farmed salmon in many of Norway’s rivers.

Wild salmon are not the only species at risk. Sea birds, seals, otters and small cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) are attracted to salmon farms as a ready food source. They get tangled in nets and drown.

Consumers have come to respect the organic label. They are willing to pay more to source food that is free of artificial chemicals and will not damage the environment. The ‘organic’ farmed salmon label not only misleads the conscientious consumers who choose ‘organic’ salmon believing they are protecting the environment, it also brings all organic labelling into disrepute.

Yours sincerely,
Alec O’Donovan,
Secretary,
Save Bantry Bay

New evidence fuels Salmon & Trout Association demand for Scottish Salmon Producers to retract dismissal of sea lice impact on wild salmon

forargyll.com posted on by newsroom

The Salmon and Trout Association Scotland is demanding that the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation [SSPO] retract its February 2013 statement dismissing the impact of sea lice on wild salmon.

The basis for the demand is a new scientific paper which shows that SSPO relied on a study that was fundamentally flawed. A summary of the paper is available at the foot of this article.

Back in February this year the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation issued a triumphant announcement that ‘the average mortality in wild salmon due to sea lice is tiny, less than 1%’.

The scientific study in Ireland, which SSPO used to justify its controversial position, has now been exposed as fundamentally flawed.

In January Dr Dave Jackson of the Marine Institute in Ireland had a paper published in the Journal of Fish Diseases, concluding that there was a negligible risk (1%) to migrating salmon from sea lice.

The paper apparently examined 350,000 fish, released into eight different rivers in 28 separate experiments over nine years.

This paper was seized on by SSPO as a silver bullet dismissing once and for all that sea lice emanating from salmon farms have any meaningful impact on wild salmon numbers.

SSPO issued a news release on 1st February 2013  entitled Sea lice threat to wild salmon ‘no basis in scientific fact’, finds new study, in which Professor Phil Thomas, Chairman of SSPO, trumpeted: ‘I welcome the findings which are rigorous, definitive and unequivocal…..’

The findings in question were certainly unequivocal but due scrutiny has demonstrated that ‘rigorous’ and ‘definitive’ are, shall we say, rather over enthusiastic.

Last week the very same Journal of Fish Diseases published another paper [summary attached] by Krkošek et al – international experts on sea lice and methodology from Scotland, Norway and Canada.

This paper demolished the Jackson paper and in particular pointed to fundamental errors in Jackson’s methodology:

  • Data differences from year to year were not treated appropriately.
  • Averages regarding the survival of fish were used incorrectly.
  • Grave mistakes in measuring control and treatment groups, leading to wide inaccuracies.

The new paper re-analyses the original data and shows that the impact of sea lice on wild salmon causes a far higher loss (34%) of those returning to Irish rivers than the 1% loss deduced in the Jackson paper.

This is no minor discrepancy.

Hughie Campbell Adamson, Chairman of S&TA(S), says: ‘In light of what has now been clarified by Krkošek and his fellow experts in this field, one would hope that SSPO, if it is to retain any credibility as the representative trade body for the salmon farming industry in Scotland, will have the integrity to withdraw formally the press release it issued in February in which the SSPO Chairman Professor Phil Thomas made his inflammatory and ill-considered statement.

‘It is now clear that the paper SSPO and Professor Thomas relied on to justify their position is simply a travesty and indeed, given the flaws which have now been exposed, should never have been published.’

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor to the S&TA Aquaculture Campaign, says: ‘It is now time for SSPO to stop hiding behind a smokescreen of dubious science and acknowledge that sea lice spreading out from salmon farms can have a devastating impact on the marine survival of both salmon and sea trout. In the short term, those farms sited in the mouths of salmonid river systems must be relocated away.

‘The only long-term solution is, of course, for all salmon farm production to move to closed containment units, thus creating a biological barrier to prevent the transfer of parasites from farmed fish to wild fish.’

It is time now to hear from Fisheries Secretary, Richard Lochhead and from Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse on this matter.

The shelter Scottish Ministers have offered to the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation in flagrant defiance of the evidence of a spectrum of unacceptable practices within the industry is a matter of profound concern.

Marine agency rejects critique of sea lice data

Irish Times Monday 18th August Lorna Siggins

Research on environmental impact of fish farm parasite defended by institute

 

Simon Coveney: being urged to “investigate the Marine Institute’s scientific expertise”. Photograph: Alan Betson Simon Coveney: being urged to “investigate the Marine Institute’s scientific expertise”. Photograph: Alan Bets

The Marine Institute says it stands over the work of its scientists, following renewed criticism by Inland Fisheries Ireland and several environmental groups regarding its research on the impact of sea lice emanating from fish farms .

Editors of two international scientific journals have also defended publication of the institute’s work, with both stressing that papers are always anonymously peer reviewed.

IFI and environmental groups including An Taisce, Friends of the Irish Environment and No Salmon Farms at Sea have criticised papers by institute scientist Dr Dave Jackson and colleagues in several journals – the most recent being in Agricultural Sciences which suggested no correlation between fish farming and wild salmon stocks.

The paper published in late June concluded that pollution and the quality of freshwater habitats, rather than fish farms, was the “key driver” in the status of wild salmon stocks here.

However, a recent critique by scientists from Canada, Norway and Scotland, led by Martin Krkosek of University of Toronto’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, published in the Journal of Fish Diseases, argues that the institute work has three “fundamental errors”.

The commentary states that sea lice is estimated to cause a 30 per cent loss of wild Atlantic salmon, rather than the institute’s estimate of a 1 per cent mortality rate. A similar low mortality rate had been found in separate research in Norway.

‘Controversial plans’
An Taisce has claimed that the critique means the institute study is “scarcely worth the paper it is written on” and has accused it of “propping up Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s controversial plans” for “vast and intensive fish farms off the coast”. BIM has applied for a 15,000-tonne organic fish farm in Galway Bay.

Friends of the Irish Environment has called on Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney to “investigate the Marine Institute’s scientific expertise”, while Salmon Watch Ireland said that the research had “appeared in an obscure journal with no track record of publishing material on sea lice or salmon”, and claimed the institute paid for the publication.

However, in a robust defence, the institute said the paper in question was published in a special edition of Agricultural Sciences dedicated to aquaculture and fisheries.

The agency said the journal was “open access”, allowing students and the public to download quality scientific research free and that it supported this concept.

“The Marine Institute does not pay to publish in journals,” it said.

Independently reviewed
Agricultural Sciences charged only for the open access facility after an article had been independently peer reviewed and accepted for publication, it pointed out. And in this case the fee for “open access” to the paper was $600, or €450.

It said Dr Jackson, author of the paper in question, had published in about two dozen journals to date, including the Journal of Fish Diseases, Aquaculture, Fish Veterinary Journal, and Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK.

“The paper was independently reviewed, minor revisions were made and following this it was accepted for publication,” it said.

Prof Daniele de Wrachien, editor in chief of Agricultural Sciences, told The Irish Times that the journal’s management was governed by an international editorial board. The publication had been indexed by several world databases and its rating or “impact factor”, based on the ISI Web of Knowledge, was 0.19.

Journal of Fish Diseases editor Prof Ron Roberts downplayed the significance of publishing the Krkosek critique of Dr Jackson’s work, stating that this option was “not uncommon in scientific publishing, and had a beneficial role in ongoing scientific debate”.

The institute said that “in the normal course of events, when one scientific publication draws a contrary view or offers a critique of a published scientific paper, it would be for the author(s) of the original paper to consider, in due course, a response through the peer reviewed scientific literature.

“It would not be appropriate to respond through the media in the first instance,” it added.

 

 

 

New Study highlights 34% loss in wild salmon numbers from Sea Lice

Statement by Inland Fisheries Ireland

New Study highlights 34% loss in wild salmon numbers from Sea Lice

Errors identified which undermine Galway Salmon Farm EIS

 

Inland Fisheries Ireland notes the findings of a new international scientific paper which identifies fundamental flaws in the methodology and findings of a study (Jackson et al), elements of which have formed the basis of an EIS submitted in support of the proposed Galway Bay Salmon Farm.

The new paper demonstrates that the impact of sea lice on wild salmon causes a much higher loss (34%) of those returning to rivers in the west of Ireland, than the 1% loss suggested heretofore in the Jackson paper. The new study entitled “Comment on Jackson et al. “Impact of Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestations on migrating Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., smolts at eight locations in Ireland with an analysis of lice-induced marine mortality” is published by Krkošek, et al. (2013) in The Journal of Fish Diseases. It points out fundamental methodological errors made by Jackson et al. (2013). Following a re-analysis of the same data, it shows that it incorrectly concluded that sea lice play a minor, perhaps even negligible, role in salmon survival and that this finding emerged following three fundamental methodological errors.

This new paper conducts  a re-analysis of the data with the findings departing substantially from those reported and interpreted by Jackson et al. (2013), and in previous publications that drew on some of the same data (Jackson, et al. 2011a;  2011b).  Whereas Jackson et al. 2013 assert that sea lice cause 1% of mortality in Atlantic salmon, the correct estimate is actually a one third loss (34%) of overall returned stocks.

The new paper gives the example that if, in the absence of parasites, final adult salmon recruitment is 6% of smolt production, then the effect of parasite mortality reduces that recruitment to 4%.  According to interpretations used by Jackson et al. (2013), that is a change of 2%.  However, the overall effect is that it reduces the abundance of adult salmon returning to a river from, say, 6,000 down to 4,000; this 1/3 loss of salmon returns could have significant conservation or fishery implications. Krkošek, et al. 2013 emphasise that their purpose is not to downplay factors other than parasites that may also have a large influence on marine survival of Atlantic salmon. They do however highlight that parasites can and, in this case, clearly do have a large effect on fisheries recruitment, irrespective of apparent changes in overall marine mortality over time, and with important implications for the management and conservation of wild salmon stocks.

Two of the publications that utilise some of the same data (Jackson et al. 2011a & 2011b), and which contain the methodological errors reported above, have been referred to in the Environmental Impact Statement submitted by BIM in their proposal for a deep sea fish farm in Galway bay. In support of the contention that sea lice do not negatively impact on out migrating salmon smolts, the Marine Institute studies by Jackson et al. 2011a & 2011b are quoted as concluding that the infestation of outwardly migrating salmon smolts with sea lice was only a minor component of the overall marine mortality in the stocks studied. This contention may now be questioned by the re-analysis undertaken in this new paper by Krkošek, et al. 2013.

This paper concurs with previously published international research (Krkosek et al, 2012 & Gargan et al, 2012) which indicates that sea lice emanating from aquaculture facilities can cause significant mortality to Atlantic salmon.  IFI welcomes the clarification in this new paper regarding the potential negative impact of sea lice emanating from marine salmon farms and looks forward to ensuring effective sea lice management to reduce or eliminate this impact. In this context, the location of salmon farms in relation to salmon rivers and the control of sea lice prior to and during juvenile salmon migration to their high seas feeding ground is critical if wild salmon stocks are not to be impacted. The development of resistance to chemical treatment of sea lice and other fish husbandry problems, such as pancreas disease and amoebic gill disease, are likely to make effective sea lice control even more difficult in future years.

IFI is supportive of the development of a sustainable aquaculture industry and welcome all advances in research that will underpin the sustainability of this industry and safeguard wild salmon and sea trout stocks into the future.

ENDS…

Media enquiries: Suzanne Campion ,Head of Business Development, Inland Fisheries Ireland,
Anglesea Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.Tel: 052 6180055 Fax: 052 6123971; Email suzanne.campion@fisheriesireland.ie Website: www.fisheriesireland.ie

Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. IFI promotes, supports, facilitates and advises the Minister on, the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling. It also develops and advises the Minister on policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling. www.fisheriesireland.ie

 

Galway Bay Fish Farm

BIM is applying for a licence to facilitate the development of a deep sea salmon farm in Galway Bay, at two sites north of Inis Oirr. The application process requires the submission of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). BIM state that Marine Institute studies have shown that sea lice are not causing problems for Ireland’s wild salmon (Jackson et al., 2011[1] and Jackson et al.,2011 [2]).

The following are scientific papers referred to above:

Jackson D., Cotter D., ÓMaoiléidigh N., O’Donohoe P., White J., Kane F., Kelly S., McDermott T., McEvoy S., Drumm A., Cullen A. & Rogan, G. (2011a)  An evaluation of the impact of early infestation with the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis on the subsequent survival of outwardly migrating Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., smolts.  Aquaculture 320, 159-163.

Jackson D., Cotter D., ÓMaoiléidigh N., O’Donohoe P., White J., Kane F., Kelly S., McDermott T., McEvoy, S., Drumm, A. & Cullen A. (2011b)  Impact of early infestation with the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis on the subsequent survival of outwardly migrating Atlantic salmon smolts from a number of rivers on Ireland’s south and west coasts.  Aquaculture 319, 37-40.

Jackson D., Cotter D., Newell J., McEvoy S., O’Donohoe P., Kane F., McDermott T., Kelly S., & Drumm, A. (2013) Impact of Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestations on migrating Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., smolts at eight locations in Ireland with an analysis of lice-induced marine mortality. Journal of Fish Diseases doi:10.1111/jfd.12054.

Gargan, P., Forde, G., Hazon, N., Russell, D. J. F. & Todd, C. D. (2012) Evidence for sea lice-induced marine mortality of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in western Ireland from experimental releases of ranched smolts treated with emamectin benzoate. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 69, 343-353. (doi:10.1139/f2011-155)

Krkošek M., Revie C., Gargan P., Skilbrei O. T., Finstad B., & Todd C.D. (2012) Impact of parasites on salmon recruitment in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2359.

Krkošek, M., Revie, C.W., Finstad, B., & Todd, CD. (2013) Comment on Jackson et al. ‘Impact of Lepeophtheirus salmonis infestations on migrating Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., smolts at eight locations in Ireland with an analysis of lice-induced marine mortality’. Journal of Fish Diseases. DOI: 10.1111/jfd.12157 Article first published online: 14 AUG 2013

 

Irish anti-aquaculture lobby outraged

FISHNEWSEU.COM

TODAY has seen attacks on the Irish aquaculture industry from two separate NGOs – No Salmon Farms At Sea (NSFAS) and Save Bantry Bay – following the publication of a new report into the impact that sea lice have on wild salmon.
NSFAS focused their assault on Minister Simon Coveney, demanding that he halts Bord Iascaigh Mhara(BIM)’s licence application for a salmon farm in Galway Bay until an independent scientific examination of the facts is carried out.

NSFAS argue that, in their licence application, and subsequent communications to the media, BIM have relied heavily on research by D Jackson at the Marine Institute, which purported to show a negligible risk (1%) to migrating salmon from sea lice. This conclusion has been challenged by a team of researchers, led by Dr M Krkosek of the University of Toronto, who state that: “such a conclusion can be supported only if one is prepared to accept at least three fundamental methodological errors”, and that the actual mortality of salmon caused by lice is thirty times higher.

This follows on from the letter from Dr Mark Costello, University of Auckland, to Minister Coveney in May of this year, which expressed surprise at the incorrect information about whether sea lice from salmon farms can cause problems on wild fish. Dr Costello concluded his letter stating: “It appears that sea lice are the most significant impact of salmon farms generally by virtue of their impact on wild salmonids.”

Chair of NSFAS, Paddy Keenan stated: “This proves what we have been saying all along. BIM and the minister have stated that they are relying on the science to justify the salmon farm proposal, despite counter arguments from scientists at Inland Fisheries Ireland, Canada and New Zealand. This work by Dr Krkosek completely demolishes the scientific basis for the proposal and indeed calls either the motives or the capabilities of the Marine Institute into question. We are calling on the minister to delay any work on this licence until he has commissioned an independent report from acknowledged experts. Our wild salmon stocks are in a precarious state for many reasons. We cannot afford any further threats to them.”

Save Bantry Bay agree, observing that Dr Jackson’s conclusions on sea lice have been shown to be “misleading and based on bad science” following the publication of an article by “an international team of experts.”

The team, from Canada, Norway and Scotland, whose work has been published in the specialist peer-reviewed Journal of Fish Diseases state that Jackson’s conclusions “can be supported only if one is prepared to accept at least three methodological errors” in their re-analysis of data used by Jackson they highlight that rather than sea lice emanating from salmon farms causing a 1% mortality of salmon smolts, as Jackson concluded, they in fact cause a one third reduction in adult salmon returns.

Alec O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay, comments: “Crucially this is the difference between salmon farming being sustainable and unsustainable for protected wild salmon populations. With the David Jackson and the Marine Institute’s research now dismissed, the government has got to take heed of its own advisors recommendations from 1994, which clearly stated salmon farms should not be placed within 20km of wild salmon rivers.”

“It is astonishing,” said Kieran O’Shea, Chairman of Save Bantry Bay. “The government has allowed its own agencies pull the wool over their eyes. The Marine Institute’s sea lice research has caused controversy after controversy. World expert, Professor Mark Costello, has personally written to Minister Simon Coveney to warn him that he is being fed mis-information, and now a team of international scientists have discredited David Jackson’s research in a well-respected peer-reviewed journal. Not only is the Marine Institute putting their reputation at considerable risk, but also that of the Irish government as a whole. Yet again, Save Bantry Bay are asking that government stop blindly pushing their salmon farming agenda, backed by bad science, but instead complete a full Strategic Environmental Assessment as is required by EU law.”

Marine Institute’s defence of Aran fish farm now in shreds – An Taisce

Immediate Press Release 15th.  August 2013

Marine Institute’s defence of Aran fish farm now in shreds – An Taisce

Marine Institute study has been panned by Canadian, Norwegian and Scottish scientists

University of Toronto analysis shows the Marine Institute’s 2013 study is scarcely worth the paper it is written on

Earlier this year the Marine Institute produced a study which sought to downplay the role of sea lice in compromising salmon populations, particularly the survival of wild salmon.

However, according to a newly-released paper from the University of Toronto’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, at least three fundamental errors compromise the Marine Institute report.

  • First, data differences from year to year were not treated appropriately.
  • Second, averages regarding the survival of fish were used incorrectly,
  • and third, the Marine Institute study contains grave mistakes in measuring control and treatment groups, leading to wide inaccuracies.

Owing to these flaws, the Marine Institute “incorrectly lead the reader to a conclusion that sea lice play a minor, perhaps even negligible, role in salmon survival”, says the University of Toronto paper.

While the Marine Institute suggests that “lice cause 1 per cent of mortality in Atlantic salmon, the correct estimate is actually a one-third loss of overall adult recruitment”.

Led by the University of Toronto, with scientists from leading institutes across Canada, Norway and Scotland, the paper is published in the Journal of Fish Diseases. With this study, Scotland’s equivalent to the Marine Institute – the Scottish Oceans Institute at St Andrews – has shown a research publication of its Irish counterpart to be without foundation.

An Taisce notes that as authoritative scientific voices have weighed into the debate regarding fish farming, the plans for a giant 1,130-acre caged-fish installation between the Aran Islands and Clare, along with similar proposals elsewhere along the coast, appear increasingly ill-advised.

It is disappointing to see that the Marine Institute has been completely discredited but that is unfortunately the sad reality, the The National Trust for Ireland concluded.

In publishing articles which don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny, the Marine Institute has raised serious question marks over the scientific credibility of its own research, as well as making very questionable use of taxpayers’ funds.

The revelations about its research can only strengthen the argument that the Marine Institute is propping up Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s (BIM) controversial plans for these vast and intensive fish farms off the coast.

Sea lice have proven difficult to control on farms, especially large farms, because it is difficult to treat all fish simultaneously. Such fish farms are linked to mass fatal infestations of wild salmon and trout in countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Norway and Canada. With the Marine Institute study now shown to be essentially a wrong-headed attempt to mask the risks posed by sea lice – harboured in great numbers within such farms – it now needs to be withdrawn in full.