Ombudsman to investigate sea lice cover up

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The Irish Ombudsman’s office has opened an investigation into possible mal-administration by the 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. 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’.

To read more, visit FIE’s website.