Monthly Archives: September 2013

SALMON FARMING – IS IT AS GOOD AS WE THINK?

72 & Rising Magazine

By Alexandra Moreton

Arctic Bear2

Salmon farm called Sir Edmund Bay, owned by Cermaq near Kingcome Inlet, British Columbia, harvesting farmed salmon

The argument for farming the oceans goes like this: the human population is growing, we need to maximize food production, humanity has moved from hunting to farming on land and it is time to do the same in the oceans.  Prominent marine explorer and educator Jacque Cousteau is often quoted and salmon “farming” sounds like a good idea in this context.  But let’s look at the reality, is salmon farming a good way to feed people, is it sustainable and is it good for us?  My firm opinion after 30 years of trying to bring reason to the invasion of Atlantic salmon farms in the North Pacific is “no” on all counts, but you decide.

Salmon farms typically contain 600,000 salmon held stationary in net pens anchored to the seafloor along the coastlines of many countries.

Atlantic salmon exist high on the food chain. They don’t eat marine plants, or even the tiny zooplankton at the ground floor of the marine pyramid of life.  To “farm” Atlantic salmon enormous quantities of wild fish have to be caught, ground up, shipped, extruded into pellets with grain and other additives, thrown back into the water and after 18-24 months less fish are taken out of the ocean, and shipped to people in cities far beyond the ecosystems they used. While wild salmon feed over 100 species as they grown and migrate, salmon “farming” pours ocean derived protein through penned salmon once and then releases it as raw sewage into marine currents where it settles to the bottom creating seafloors devoid of oxygen due the massive rotting process.  Salmon farmers are among the few who never shovel their manure.  They deplete one ecosystem to pollute another.  There is no net gain of food and the evidence suggests habitats that make food are damaged.

Larson seafloor

Seafloor covered in salmon farm waste, British Columbia

As the salmon farming industry runs out of cheap wild fish to make into pellets, they are trying to get their salmon to eat grain products.  While the percentage of wild fish in farmed salmon pellets is apparently declining, the number of farmed salmon is rising and so the industry continues to exert relentless fishing pressure on wild fish stocks.  Omega 3 oils, so important to human health, make salmon an attractive food purchase, but with the declining marine component in the feed, this highly desirable nutrient plummets.   My sense is that the industry will only stop fishing when it is finally impossible to make a profit.  Whether the wild fisheries can recover at that point remains to be seen.

From Washington State, through British Columbia, Canada and into Alaska, there are wild salmon, herring and other fish stocks that are capable of huge production.  If salmon farming is damaging these wild fish populations, the farmed salmon contribution to feeding the world is further reduced.  It becomes more of a myth.

IMG_2539

Salmon farm with feed blowers visible situated in British Columbia, Canada

Salmon farms are feedlots, attempting to grow as many fish as possible, in as small a space as possible, as fast as possible on an unnatural diet.   Like all feedlots they break the natural laws that control disease. In the wild salmon weakened by disease are picked off rapidly by predators such as other fish, birds, and whales.  But when a parasite, bacteria or virus gets into a salmon feedlot, it enjoys an abundance of fish, closely packed together, bathed each other’s bodily wastes and so disease spreads easily.  Predators are held off by the nets allowing the number of sick fish to escalate, and die slowly, their pathogens spilling into the wild environment at levels wild fish may be unable to cope with in addition to climate change.  A Canadian government scientist testified that 65 billion infectious virus particles can pour out of a salmon farm per hour1.  Because salmon farms are sited on wild salmon migration routes, feedlot viruses are now passing over the gills of wild salmon throughout Norway, Scotland, Ireland, eastern Canada, British Columbia and Washington State.  A 2008, scientific paper reports wild salmonids have gone into exceptional decline wherever there are salmon farms worldwide2 Salmon farms may be the gate-keepers on survival of wild salmon and herring as they come and go along essential migration routes.

Broughton pink

This is a wild pink salmon lethally infected with sea lice near a salmon farm

We know exchange of viruses between feedlot chickens and wild birds is dangerous, indeed an influenza-type salmon virus (ISAv), first identified in Norway, is spreading worldwide wherever Atlantic salmon are farmed. Infectious salmon anemia virus spread to Chile causing $2 billion in damages 3. Chile, however, does not have the precious wild salmon runs now at risk in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.  An ISA virus outbreak in the North Pacific could have irrevocable impact.   I am tracking European salmon viruses in BC farmed salmon4, facing a complete failure by government in Canada to contain their spread.  The political/international trade pressures were revealed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency testimony. If ISA virus is confirmed in British Columbia, borders will close to the product5.

Salmon farming is largely a Norwegian industry. It is 98% Norwegian – owned in British Columbia, Canada, by just three companies, Marine Harvest, Cermaq (Mainstream) and Grieg.  The industry enjoys lobby support from the Norwegian government and many communities around the world are struggling to protect their coastal fisheries from this aggressive industry.  The industry has a way of convincing governments to ignore their citizens.

IMG_2756

Farmed salmon is paler with white bars of fat, sockeye is deep red, with no visible fat

 

Is farmed salmon healthy?  We know the flesh is coloured pink to resemble wild salmon, but there is more.  On June 10, 2013, one of Norway’s leading newspapers VG ran a story titled: Doctors and professors: – Do not eat farmed salmon.  Dr. Anne-Lise Bjørke Monsen, a pediatrician studying micronutrient transfer from mothers to babies, and her colleagues blew the whistle on toxins in Norwegian farmed salmon.

Norwegian doctors, professors and international health experts believe women, children and young people should stay away from farmed salmon...”6

Dr. Monsen warns that the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in farmed salmon are too high to be safely consumed because these toxins negatively affect brain development and autism in babies.  A 2010 Norwegian study reported that after twelve months of nursing their babies, mother’s milk contained 15-94% less POP toxins7.  As these babies were consuming POPs in their mother’s milk their brains were growing.  Human brains are 60% fat8 and continue to grow outside the womb. These toxins bind to fat.

A 2012 paper reports POP levels in farm salmon, exceed other fatty-type foods such as whole milk, eggs, bacon and hamburger9. Twenty-three out of the twenty-five known POPs are in farmed salmon.

In 2011, Norway’s National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research reported in the scientific journal Chemosphere that farmed salmon absorb toxins 10 times more efficiently than any terrestrial livestock10.   So if a cow and a farm salmon are made to consume the same percent of toxins in their feed, the salmon could be ten times as contaminated as the cow.   Therefore, toxins levels in farmed salmon feed should be mandated exceptionally low.  However, running low on wild fish to grind into feed, Norwegian salmon farmers began sourcing low-cost grains from South America11.  While Europe banned the insecticide POP, Endosulfan, in April 2011 under the Stockholm Convention it is still used in parts of South America11.

On June 11, 2013 one of Norway’s largest newspapers, Aftenposten, reported that after years of lobbying Norway successfully convinced the European Union to up the allowable limit of Endosulfan in food ten times.

The limit value for the concentration of Endosulfan in feed for salmonids is of great economic importance for the aquaculture industry in the short and longer term“12.

Dr. Jerome Ruzzin, Institute of Biology, University of Bergen, feels the toxin risk in farmed salmon is too high and demands action, “the risk is so high compared to what it is in other foods, we must respond”13.

The European Union also recently granted the industry a rare exemption to use 19 GMO ingredients, as well as, pig and chicken offal in farmed salmon feed14.

On June 5, 2013, the USFDA halted all shipments of Marine Harvest farmed salmon in the United States because in a random sampling of one container of frozen farmed salmon grown by Marine Harvest in Chile tested positive for crystal violet15 a known carcinogen banned in both Chile and the US.

In conclusion, the evidence suggests farming salmon is not sustainable, that it’s potential to damage to wild fisheries is very high and it is a product of questionable food value.   A better approach is for the industry to clean itself up by getting out of the oceans, put their fish in tanks, recycle the waste as crop fertilizer and stop farming so high up the food chain.  Farming fish that eat plants, recycling their waste and water mimics the ecosystem model that life on earth is based on. It is time for humanity to recognize that nature is going to shake us off this planet if we don’t learn very quickly how to operate within the natural laws that sustain life on earth.

Everyone on earth needs to use our power to stop salmon farming and rebuild a system that actually makes food.  Then we can use the power of the natural systems to restore wild salmon using everything we know. www.DeptWildSalmon.org

 

lousy neighbours

Local opinion

 

1 Dr. Kyle Garver (DFO) testimony, Cohen Commission cohencommission.ca 2011

2 Ford and Myers. 2008 http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060033

3 Vike et al. 2009 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19034606

4 Kibenge et al 2013 http://www.virologyj.com/content/10/1/230

5 Dr. Kim Klotins (CFIA) testimony Cohen Commission cohencommission.ca 2011

6http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A//www.vg.no/helse/artikkel.php%3Fartid%3D10117390&langpair=auto|en

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21090747

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/01/22/fascinating-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-human-brain.aspx

9http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A//www.okokrim.no/miljokrim/nor/tidligere-utgaver/1_april_2012/artikler/kjemikeren_ordet_helseeffekter_pop&langpair=auto|en

10 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21284993

11 http://translate.google.ca/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.underskrift.no%2Fvis.asp%3Fkampanje%3D4696

12 http://www.tnp.no/norway/panorama/3780-norway-lobbied-to-raise-toxin-level-in-salmon-feed

13 http://www.underskrift.no/vis.asp?kampanje=4696

14http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&langpair=auto%7Cen&rurl=translate.google.com&u=http://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/kommentarer/Svommende-maiskolbe-og-miljosvin—men-sunn-7226292.html&usg=ALkJrhhSUosOmmI8AgIGiQkcdATrpW9S9Q

15 http://www.santiagotimes.cl/business/economy-a-trade/26473-us-halts-salmon-imports-from-chile-due-to-contamination

 

 

Scotland :Listeria alert at top salmon firm

Mark Macaskill Published: 29 September 2013

LOCH DUART, the award-winning salmon farming company, is at the centre of a health scare amid concern packets of food contaminated with a potentially lethal bug have been sold to consumers.

In the past five weeks, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued four separate alerts of listeria contamination in smoked salmon produced by the firm, which is feted by celebrity chefs such as Rick Stein and Raymond Blanc.

The most recent was on Thursday after listeria was detected in two batches of Loch Duart’s oak-roasted flaky salmon produced by its smokehouse on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

The outbreak is of concern as listeria causes more deaths in the UK than any other foodborne illness, says the FSA.

Pregnant women and those with reduced immunity such as newborn babies and the elderly are most at risk. Most people infected with listeria are hospitalised and about a third die.

Farmed Salmon Are Not a Sustainable Alternative


Ted Danson
Andrew Sharpless

 September 27th 2013

Yesterday the Washington Post published a dangerously misleading article about farmed salmon. Lauding improvements in the salmon farming industry, they assert that farmed salmon is a viable alternative to wild-caught fish. We’d like to set the record straight: farmed salmon is a terrible choice for our oceans.

When you eat farmed salmon, you’re really eating another fish called the jack mackerel, or another wild species like sardines or anchovies. Salmon are carnivorous, and farms feed their fish food pellets made from these smaller wild fish. The problem is that many of these species, especially jack mackerel, are dangerously overfished.

For most Chilean farms, it takes about three pounds of wild fish to feed one pound of salmon. So you are likely eating three pounds of jack mackerel or other wild species — which are likely in trouble — when sit down to eat your pound of farmed salmon. A small number of Chilean farms have managed to reduce this ratio to one to one. But even then, it still takes a pound of wild fish to make your pound of farmed salmon.

Feed conversion is just one of many problems. Chilean farms are located in pristine, deep-water fjords off of Patagonia, where even minimal pollution could irreparably damage the ecosystem. No matter what they do, even the most responsible salmon farms will pollute their waters with parasiticides, chemicals, and fish feces. The Chilean farmed salmon industry also uses more than 300,000 kilograms of antibiotics a year to keep their fish alive, causing bacterial resistances that affect the surrounding ecosystem and people.

Salmon farming is better than it used to be, but it used to be horrendous. The answer to this problem is not, as the Washington Post article suggests, to make salmon aquaculture sustainable. It’s to make wild fish stocks more abundant using science-based fishery management instead of promoting salmon farming, which is a destructive and wasteful way of eating wild fish. As long as fisheries are managed properly, wild seafood can provide a healthy meal a day for billions of people.

Eating three pounds of jack mackerel straight from the oceans to your plate is a far better choice for the environment and for your health. By eating less-popular species you can still enjoy a healthy, wild fish, and our ocean waters can stay free of the pollutants that come with salmon farms. But this won’t happen if we keep on grinding our wild fish stocks up to turn them into salmon fish-food. So skip the farmed salmon. Opt for wild-caught, or break out of your boring (and unsustainable) salmon routine and try eating that jack mackerel, or another wild fish, instead.

NSFAS meet with Sinn Féin delegation

SF at ploughing

 

NSFAS Chairman Paddy Keenan and PRO Damien O’Brien attended the National Ploughing Championships on Tuesday 24th September  to meet with a delegation from Sinn Féin. NSFAS had requested the meeting and were delighted to once again have been given the opportunity to discuss the issues and our strategy with those who share our concerns. Those in attendance included Martina Anderson MEP for Northern Ireland, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh from Galway, Cllr. Matt Carthy from Carrickmacross who is also a Sinn Féin EU candidate and Conor Heaney Stormont Special Advisor to the Minister for Agriculture. We were also delighted to have a representative from the European Anglers Alliance in attendance, Mr. Bob Seaward. A very productive meeting was held and we look forward to working further with those present.

A further meeting took place with MLA for East Londonderry Cathal Ó hOisín who was also very generous with his time and expressed his desire to work with us on this issue which has consequences not just for our wild salmon and sea trout but also for the wild stocks of other jurisdictions.

Over the coming weeks NSFAS will be intensifying our already busy schedule and will provide updates as usual via our facebook page and twitter.

 

Canada : Latest Escape Threatens Wild Salmon

September 26, 2013

The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and the Salmon Council of Newfoundland and Labrador (SCNL) share deep concerns over a recent escape reported to be 20,000 farmed salmon, from a Cooke Aquaculture farm site into Hermitage Bay last week.  The timing of the escape coincides with the wild salmon spawning season, which increases the likelihood and severity of negative interactions between wild and farmed fish.  Both groups are calling on the Newfoundland government to develop and implement a comprehensive monitoring program for wild and escaped farmed salmon on the south coast, where salmon production has more than tripled in the past decade.

 

Cooke Aquaculture has assured the public that the escaped farmed salmon pose no threat to the local environment.  Don Ivany, ASF’s Director of Programs for NL, says that enough scientific evidence exists on the interaction between wild and farmed salmon to suggest otherwise: “All of the fish from this most recent escape are mature fish, and now we’re into the fall of the year when most salmon begin to spawn.  There is a high risk for interaction between these escaped farmed salmon and our wild fish, and the timing of the escape couldn’t be worse”. 

 

When farmed and wild salmon interbreed, the resulting progeny are less able to survive than their wild counterparts and are less likely to produce healthy offspring themselves.

 

Don Hutchens, President of the SCNL agrees that this escape poses a high risk to wild salmon along the Coast of Bays area, adding that plans to recapture the escaped farmed fish will likely be unsuccessful.  “We know that when farmed salmon escape, they tend to hang around the cage site for a couple of days and then they disperse.  Once they’ve dispersed, it is a well-known fact that there is no effective way to recapture them.  Once these escaped fish enter our rivers this time of year, it’s too late; they can compete with or spawn with our wild fish”, says Mr. Hutchens. 

 

Both Mr. Hutchens and Mr. Ivany also point out that no comprehensive monitoring programs exist to sample and identify returning salmon as wild or farmed along the South Coast, where the aquaculture industry currently operates.  “We will likely never know how many of these fish made it into our rivers, whether they carried diseases or parasites with them, or what effect an escape of this magnitude had on our local environment”, says Mr. Hutchens. 

 

Newfoundland’s salmon farming industry has been plagued with problems this year, including three outbreaks of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) this summer according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website, and confirmation by DFO of farmed salmon in half a dozen rivers on the South Coast in the past 12 months from previous escape events. 

 

“If you add up all of these incidents of disease outbreaks and escapes, you conclude that this industry is not sustainable, both from an economic and environmental standpoint.  The province of NL should invest in a transition to environmentally-sustainable alternatives, such as closed containment salmon aquaculture on land”, says Mr. Ivany. 

 

“We’ve got the skills and knowledge to begin developing that industry right here in Newfoundland”, says Mr. Ivany, “we just need support from our provincial government to do it”.   

European Anglers Call For Tighter Controls On Salmon Farms

 

#Angling - A resolution passed last week at the general assembly of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), representing the interests of 3 million recreational anglers across 13 European nations, demands that all farmed Atlantic salmon should be produced in closed or contained farm systems.

The EAA also urges all fish farming nations across Europe to pursue rapid development towards sustainability to reduce the impact on wild salmon populations, and urges policy makers to use the ‘precautionary principle’ and ‘polluter pays principle’ to ease the transition towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable salmon farming practices.

According to the lobby group, escaped farmed salmon and sea lice infestations continue to have a devastating impact on wild Atlantic salmon and Europe’s sea trout populations – many of which have seen severe declines, or have been destroyed completely.

So far the focus has been to fish-out escaped farmed salmon, as well as using chemical and biological measures to remove lice in the farms – measures that have unfortunately not solved the problems.

The alliance argues that closed or contained systems, either at sea or on land, would reduce the infestation of sea lice among farmed fish, reduce the risk of farmed fish escaping into the environment and dramatically reduce the damage done by waste, pollutants and chemical residues from disease treatment entering the natural environment.

“It may come as a surprise to most people that in many rivers there are more farmed than wild salmon,” said EAA secretary general Jan Kappel. “The escaped farmed fish compete with and genetically pollute our wild salmon stocks. It is well known that sea lice spread from the salmon farms and harm wild salmon stocks.

“To our greatest surprise Norway has banned recreational angling in the Hardangerfjord where salmon stocks have declined due to the impact from extensive salmon farming. This doesn’t make sense. The polluter should be managed before other legitimate and sustainable users like recreational anglers are denied access to what used to be healthy salmon stocks.”

The EAA’s comes in the wake of continued controversy over the proposed Galway Bay organic salmon farm, which if green-lighted would be the largest aquaculture facility of its kind in Europe.

NSFAS in todays Irish Independent : UPSTREAM BATTLE

Tuesday 24th September

Figures released on September 9 last (http://www.fishupdate.com) stated that 162,000 tonnes of Scottish-farmed salmon had a value of £537m (€638m) and sustained a total of 1,500 direct and indirect jobs.

These figures suggest that a 15,000- tonne salmon farm as proposed by the state agency An Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) would produce farmed salmon worth €60m. Utilising the Scottish figures as a benchmark, such a farm would create 138 jobs.

At first glance this looks like a great opportunity. However, if you look at claims by BIM that a 15,000-tonne salmon farm would create 300 jobs and produce salmon to the value of €102m, it would seem that maths is not the strong point of those within that state agency.

Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd recently stated that the value of angling tourism to the Irish economy was €750m per annum, much of this attributable to fishing for wild salmon.

All this is at risk due to the negative impact that open-net cage salmon farming, as proposed by BIM, will have on our environment and wild migratory stocks. I would urge those in positions of power nationally and in Europe to look very closely at these proposals before embarking on a course that leads to disaster.

Jim Kelly

Co Kilkenny

 

Mass cull ordered of Norwegian farmed salmon!

The Norwegian Food Saftey Authority has ordered the forced slaughter of millions of fish at two locations this week. The reason? sea lice… the lice appear to be resistant to chemical treatment and In order to save the wild salmon passing through next spring, the farms have been ordered to close down to get rid of the lice. The locations are more than hundreds of miles apart, so it is not just an isolated incident.

The first is in Vikna outside Brønnøysund where sea lice levels have been reported to be as much as ten times the permitted levels. One of the companies is Sinkaberg-Hansen linked to the Minister for Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen. The Minister’s family is heavily involved in the salmon farming industry and is reported to be the largest family owned operation in Norway.

Norwegian Minister for Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen.

But there is more .Skiftesneset Hardanger is the location where the Norwegian company Bolaks has 2 sites. The two sites are located barely 700 meters apart and biomass will reportedly consist of 460 000 fish in Skifteneset South and 480 000 on Skifteneset North , a total of 940 000 fish.The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (FSA) has issued a decision on the compulsory slaughter of two sites owned by Bolaks in Hardanger after they failed to get below the permitted limit . – The FSA stated that there was a clear risk to migratory stocks.

FSA has since late summer, followed the evolving lice situation at Bolaks closely. Following unsucessful attempts by Bolaks to bring the infestation under control , the FSA found it necessary to send the decision on the compulsory slaughter of the two plants .They have failed to bring down the number of lice, despite repeated treatments. It is the first time such an order has been given because of resistance of lice to treatments , stated veterinarian Hulda Bysheim , of the Food Safety Authority of Bergen.

She did not deny that resistance problems have been a major contributing factor to the compulsory slaughter order. The treatments have not been effective enough and the sites have now been above the permitted limit since summer. According to unconfirmed reports the relevant fish are said to be in class 3-4 kg .

This is a rough translation of what the chair on the union Naturviterne (Norwegian Assocation Of Natural Scientists) has to say about the lice situation in Norway:

Then it happened ; farming on the coast of Trøndelag have to use drugs . Sea lice are becoming multi-resistant to antibiotics and chemical poisons . Toolbox is empty veterinary institute say . FSA has ordered massive slaughter of fish. This is a foreseen disaster.Salmon farmers are about to incur a serious crisis of confidence . Foreign food authorities have been skeptical, but in the Norwegian media , this is interpreted as trade policy measures. We should, however, take issue with lice , disease and massive medication seriously. This is about more than Russian government’s protectionist attitudes. It is worrying when fisheries minister own company is among those who have to slaughter because of excessive use of medication . Does the management of the Ministry had a great sales page for the aquaculture industry ? Many people I talk to are now more skeptical of Norwegian farmed salmon.Natural scientists have for several years been skeptical of several factors in the salmon industry.Livestock certainly put a massive concentration of biomass in marine ecosystems that provide a large infection pressure of diseases and is a feast for the jumper lice . This allows one to reach unresolved challenge of keeping salmon healthy and free of parasites. In addition, it represents a huge burden on wild salmon stocks .

The taxation of marine resources for feed production moves in reality only biomass from non – commercial resources to marketable salmon. It is important that this is done in a sustainable way that does not destroy marine ecosystems. It has unfortunately not always been the case .
Genetic pollution through escapes have been a burden for several wild salmon stocks . Along with other factors such as power regulation and acid rain has led to a decline and even extinction of wild salmon in several rivers.


The salmon industry has been more keen to reassure markets and investors than sustainability . Share prices on key businesses in the salmon industry has not been affected by the last day slaughter because multidrug resistance . There is reason to question whether aquaculture is able to deal with the problems . New licenses should not be granted until this issue is finally resolved.
This situation occurs because the aquaculture industry has not taken the signals from communities in salmon management , marine biology and veterinary medicine seriously. Sustainable management requires holistic thinking. Then expertise of sustainability must into decision-making to a greater extent than now .

Complaint may reopen sea lice inquiry

Irish Times, 17 Sept 2013

Green Party calls for ‘pause’ on Galway Bay fish farm

image (5)

The Ombudsman has initiated a preliminary examination of a claim that the Department of the Marine withheld scientific information from the European Commission.

Friends of the Irish Environment has claimed the department “concealed” a report from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) during the commission’s pilot investigation of the issue.

The Ombudsman has agreed to undertake the preliminary examination on the basis of available information, while EU environmental commissioner Janez Potocnik recently indicated to MEP Nessa Childers that all material would be sought to see if a reopening of the investigation was justified.

The department maintains it “forwarded all relevant material to the commission, including material supplied by IFI” and that the commission arranged for IFI to “make a directoral presentation of its position at a meeting on December 19th, 2011”.

“Following consideration of the scientific facts underpinning the State’s control protocols for the management of sea lice the EU Commission closed the case on October 11th, 2012,” the department has said.

Green Party marine spokesman Seamus Sheridan has said the sea lice debate was overshadowing other serious concerns relating to the proposed 15,000-tonne organic fish farm for Galway Bay, such as the impact of any antibiotics used and source of sustainable feed.

He has called on Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney to “pause” plans for the farm – which Mr Coveney has yet to approve – and establish a working group on the future of aquaculture.

Mr Sheridan believes a project of this size should be built on land to reduce risk of escapees, contact with wild salmon and other impacts on marine life.

Last March, an indigenous community in Canada, Namgis First Nation, began production on an €8.5 million onshore salmon farm, while an €18 million onshore project was also initiated by Scottish private company Fishfrom for the Kintyre peninsula.

Mr Sheridan said he believed Ireland could be an international leader in fish and shellfish farming, if these were run sustainably.

Developing more lobster nurseries, fish hatcheries, oyster and shellfish beds and seaweed farming, and creation of marine conservation areas up the coastline could yield enormous benefits for marine tourism, he said. These would be “far preferable to exporting frozen fish to China”.

Tourism ‘triumvirate’
Mr Sheridan said while he had no difficulty with the visual impact of fish farms, the location of this project so close to a “triumvirate” of the west coast’s tourist attractions – the Burren, the Aran Islands and Connemara – was questionable. He also queried the actual employment the farm would create and the use of the term “organic”.

He said that, for a State body advising Mr Coveney on the project, the Marine Institute was showing “overenthusiasm” for it. Bord Iascaigh Mhara is seeking the licence.

“It really behoves the institutions of State to be very cautious and up-front about where they choose to publish their science,” he added.

The Marine Institute has said it stands over the work of its scientists, following recent criticism by IFI and environmental groups over its latest aquaculture-related research.

For full article see: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/complaint-may-reopen-sea-lice-inquiry-1.1531134

Irish launch further lice investigation

Created on Tuesday, 17 September 2013

THE Irish Ombudsman’s office has opened an investigation into possible maladministration by the country’s Department of Agriculture Food and Fisheries [DAFF] during the recent EU investigation into sea lice and salmon farms.

The decision comes after an examination of an extensive dossier provided by the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE). The investigation will determine whether DAFF intentionally withheld information from the European Commission, thereby influencing the outcome of EU investigations.

During their investigation the European Commission sought the “express views of the agency responsible for wild fisheries”. Inland Fisheries Ireland [IFI] provided these views to DAFF in October 2010, strongly criticising the position DAFF had made to the Commission. However, in November 2011 DAFF told the Commission they had not received any IFI Report.

The IFI Report stated that the Irish system “does not constitute good sea lice control”. It said DAFF’s position that “no empirical evidence has been made available suggesting the presence of sea lice in salmon fish farms has a significant impact on the protected species” is “not consistent with available information”. It concluded that “the potential exists for sea lice transfer from farmed salmon to outward migrating wild salmon smolts in any estuary with a marine salmon farm present”.

After Simon Coveney became Minister for Agriculture, in June 2011 DAFF told the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources [DCENR, IFI'S Department] that “transmission of your Department’s observations to the Commission would not only be misleading but would also cause confusion in the public mind regarding sea lice controls and possibly undermine the state’s regulatory system. For these reasons I would ask you to withdraw the formal observations of your Department and to support the observations supplied to the Commission by DAFF.”

As late as November 2011, DCENR continued to “categorically and emphatically disagree with DAFF position’ stating: ‘This is their [IFI] valued and considered expert advice, accepted by this Department”, DCENR concluded that “there appears to be no useful purpose in continuing this debate in correspondence as there clearly is a fundamental differing of views on the salient issues…”

However, less than a month later a single page from IFI supporting DAFF’s position was given to European Commission investigators by DAFF, leading to the closing of the case by the EU in October 2012.

Meanwhile, says FIE, sea lice levels continue to rise. Marine Harvest, responsible for 80% of the country’s farmed salmon, has reported a tripling of sites infested with sea lice above the permitted level in the last three years.

According to Marine Institute documents, in 2012 five cell interventions were made by the Irish authorities in Galway and Donegal for persistent breaches of sea lice levels in spite of repeated pesticide applications. Two sites were fallowed and three subject to “accelerated harvesting”, with a “significant commercial impact for the companies concerned”