FIE: BIM ‘bringing Coveney into disrepute’

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From a Friends of the Irish Environment press release, 6/2/2013

Agency ‘Bringing Coveney into disrepute’

Bord Iascaigh Mhara [BIM] has been accused of bringing Minister Simon Coveney into ‘disrepute’ after they announced that recent research supports their claim that there is “no evidence to support the contention that salmon farming causes any environmental damage”.

Friends of The Irish Environment Director Tony Lowes said the BIM was relying on a study that found the level of sea lice mortality from fish farms was just one per cent of over all mortality of salmon smolts. But he said the overall survival rate of salmon smolts “is only 5% at the best of times – everything wants to eat them”.

What mattered, he said, was that “of the 5% that should be returning, tests show that 40% of these are not”. Mr Lowes said the recent paper quoted by Bord Iascaigh Mhara by four Marine Institute scientists had acknowledged that ‘Sea lice-induced mortality is significant in just under 40% of the releases in the study.’

Karin Dubsky of Coastwatch agreed that the research “supports the view that infestation of outwardly migrating salmon smolts with salmon lice has a negative impact on fitness and can contribute to increased marine mortality”.

Alex O’Donnovan, Secretary of the Save Bantry Bay group formed to oppose the planned further expansion of salmon farming in Bantry Bay, said that ‘it is such findings that led to a moratorium on the expansion of open net salmon farming in the National Seafood Programme 2007 – 2013. Far from these issues now being resolved, research continues to show sea lice emanating from salmon farms are destroying wild salmon populations.’

He said that ‘Save Bantry Bay had found that as early as 1994 an Irish Government commissioned report recommended that open net salmon farms should not be located within 20km of rivers that host wild salmon.’

Inland Fisheries Ireland, which has previously raised concerns about the BIM proposal, issued a statement yesterday flatly contradicting BIM’s repeated claims about the research. The statutory body charged with the protection of Irish wild fish said that ‘This recent study provides further evidence that salmon will be impacted by sea lice’.

Patrick O’Flaherty Chairman Great Fishing Houses of Ireland said attempts by Bord Iascaigh Mhara “to pretend that Salmon Farming does not affect wild fish stocks would be, if not so serious, laughable. They most certainly must cause raised eyebrows among the international marine science community who, almost to a man, cite aquaculture as a serious threat to wild salmon stocks”. The project he said “beggars belief”.

Mr. Lowes said that even the definition of the proposal by BIM as a ‘deep sea’ location was ‘pure spin’. ‘Deep sea means open unsheltered deep water. The site is in the shallow sheltered inlet of Galway Bay and the water is less than 40 metres deep. ‘Deep sea’ only begins at depths of 1,000 meters.’

‘The activities of BIM in their promotion of the Galway Bay salmon farm are now bringing the Minister into disrepute’, he warned.



Inland Fisheries Ireland statement 5 February 2012:

Further information and comment on this issue:

Tony Lowes, Friends of the Irish Environment 087 2176316
Karen Dubsky, Coastwatch Europe 086 8111684
Alex O’Donnovan, Save Bantry Bay 087 7949227