Sunday, 26 February 2017

Successful Conference Galway

The annual conference of Salmon Watch Ireland took place on the 18 February in Galway with each of the presenters outlining their perspectives relating to aquaculture and its regulation. The conference was attended by over 70 delegates who represented academics, legal profession, fishery owners and managers, state agencies, anglers and conservationists. 

A number of presentations are available to view at Presentations SWIRL Conference

The Inland Fisheries Presentation will be available at a later date. The presentation was a very concise look at how our salmon stocks are in decline and will be available after publication of a scientific report containing much of the data displayed. Dr. Ciaran Byrne and Dr. Paddy Gargan answered questions related to the presentation in a very open manner. The situation is concerning and despite many gains regarding water quality and huge reductions in exploitation, the situation continues to decline. A small improvement appears to have happened in 2016 but overall trend is downward.

Mr Tony Lowes gave an excellent speech to the conference which looked at the impacts of salmon farming over a wide range of areas from inshore to the wider ocean. The text of the speech which is available at Friends of the Irish Environment.is a very good insight how salmon farming is conducted without much concern for the wider environment. The speech really explains the many difficulties associated with the industry and how sustainability of this industry cannot be really achieved.

Roar Olsen from the Faroes gave an excellent presentation which outlined their regulatory regime which focusses on hard law and penalties for farms which break the levels of sea lice on farms. These range from a large reduction of smolt stocking, mandatory fallowing and early harvest. They also have a policy of rewarding farms which comply by allowing them to increase smolt stocking. Mandatory sea lice inspection by outside authority with fortnightly published results is also a feature with mandatory chemical parameter testing for dissolved oxygen. One trend discovered is the low level of dissolved oxygen on sea bed in their fjords'

Eanna Molloy S.C addressed shortcomings of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997 in relation the licensing of aquaculture projects, with particular emphasis on salmon farming.

He dealt with the lack of public information and participation involved in decision making regarding amendments, renewals, and revocation of licenses.  Similar issues arise in relation to public information, participation in decision making, and access to review of decisions regarding new licences where adverse environmental impacts are apprehended.
He also compared the regulatory framework regarding veterinary products and pesticides applying to terrestrial agriculture to that which applies to salmon farming.  There is a perception that there is inadequate oversight of the control and usage of pesticides on salmon farms, compared to the strict supervisory regulation of pesticides and chemicals in land based agriculture.

Dr. Liam Carr gave an excellent talk on his research regarding aquaculture. Primarily his research focuses in on measuring the local knowledge of stakeholder communities in the context of wild and farmed salmon in western Ireland.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Submission Salmon Watch Ireland to Independent Aquaculture Licensing Review

Salmon Watch Ireland Limited (‘SWIRL’) is a not-for-profit membership organisation dedicated to the restoration of wild salmon abundance. It is SWIRL’s position that open cage salmon farming is inherently damaging to sea-migrating wild salmonids, Atlantic salmon and sea trout, and that it has proved to be so in Canada, Norway, Scotland and Ireland; in addition, there are other significant environmental threats associated with open cage farming. In the view of SWIRL, and many others here and internationally, it is only through conversion to closed containment systems, whether on land or in the sea, that the hugely negative impacts flowing from current systems of salmon farming can be mitigated. There are now marketable quantities of closed containment salmon being produced on both sides of the Atlantic and the Norwegian government has committed to closed containment for further expansion of its industry.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

FEB 18: Can salmon farming be regulated to effectively protect wild salmonids?

The annual Salmon Watch Ireland Conference is taking place on 18 February in the Salthill Hotel, Galway on the 18th February 2017. This is a unique opportunity whereby attendees can access information on the many complex issues surrounding salmon aquaculture both in Ireland and internationally.  The speakers at the conference encompass a wide range of individuals from fisheries management, legal, scientific, NGO and regulatory authorities. 

Click Here for Conference Brochure


The 2017 Salmon Watch Ireland conference is taking place at a time when the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has established an independent aquaculture licensing review that, he says, ‘must ensure that all stakeholders can participate in a transparent licencing process and have confidence that any licensing decision complies with all EU and national legal requirements and protects our oceans for future generations’.  Regrettably, his statement makes no mention of how all those legal requirements are going to be enforced.  That is the focus of the conference.
 Stocks of wild Atlantic salmon, including those of Ireland, continue to decline.   The causes of this decline are multiple, some having an impact on all components of the salmon population, such as climate change and others, such as salmon farming, having a more local effect.  There is general consensus among those concerned with salmon conservation that the impact of those factors over which man has some direct influence (eg the freshwater and inshore environments, water quality, exploitation, by catch at sea, the impact of salmon farms) need to be addressed with some urgency.
Where salmon farms are concerned, the settled view of the salmon conservation community is that there has to be as rapid as possible transition to recycling and closed containment systems.  There are now sufficient examples of such systems operating in Europe and North such systems operating in Europe and North America to confirm that they are viable methods for producing high quality farmed salmon economically.  But the vast open cage salmon farming industry is not going to transition to closed containment overnight and it is vital that it be regulated so as to  immediately mitigate its negative environmental impacts, including on wild salmonids.
The 2017 Salmon Watch Ireland conference will examine the following important issues:

-          The current state of wild salmon stocks and the causes of decline;

-          The environmental impact of salmon farming;

-          The current legal structure for the regulation of salmon farming;

-          A case study of a regulatory system that has teeth and works – the Faroe Islands;

-          Is a consensus on salmon farming regulation possible?;

-          What needs to be done to effectively regulate Irish salmon farms?


Click Here for Eventbrite Conference Tickets


Monday, 9 January 2017

New research finds salmon farming contributes to sea lice infestation on sea trout as valuable stocks decline


Monday, 9th January 2017: The Board of Inland Fisheries Ireland has welcomed new research by scientists from Inland Fisheries Ireland and Argyll Fisheries Trust (Scotland) which found that sea trout carry significantly higher levels of sea lice infestation closer to marine salmon farms. Researchers examined sea lice levels over 25 years from more than 20,000 sea trout. The sea trout were sampled from 94 separate river and lake systems in Ireland and Scotland at varying distances from salmon farms.
The research revealed that sea trout captured closer to salmon farms had significantly higher levels of lice infestation and were found to be of reduced weight. Sea trout are known to remain for extended periods in near-coastal waters where the majority of salmon farms are located. This fish is therefore particularly vulnerable to sea lice impact, having the potential to encounter lice of farm origin throughout much of its marine life.
The effect of the increased lice infestation was most evident in years of less rainfall, when a sea trout of average length (180mm) caught within 10 kilometres of a farm could weigh up to 10g less than fish of similar length caught more than 40 kilometres from a farm. The study covered the entire coasts of West Ireland and Scotland and accounted for variability in temperature and rainfall.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Shot Head, Bantry Bay: Oral Hearing Granted by Aquaculture Licencing Appeal Board

Salmon Watch Ireland  has been granted an opportunity of participating in an oral hearing regarding the proposed expansion of salmon farming in Bantry Bay. The oral hearing will take place in mid February.
Salmon Watch Ireland welcomes this development and will take this opportunity to address the many negative consequences associated with this proposed extension of salmon farming in the region.
The contents of the letter are included in this link

ALAB Letter

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Salmon: What is happening to our salmon runs: An excellent hypothesis from the Tweed Foundation

This is an excellent piece of work which looks at changing salmon run timings in the River Tweed, Scotland and relates them to changing oceanic temperatures. These same factors may be affecting our salmon run size and timing.


River Tweed Salmon: Historical Analysis

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Sea Trout and Salmon Farming: New Study Demonstrates negative effects of warming waters.


Infestation of sea trout Salmo trutta L. by salmon lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis is associated with increased mortality risk and possible sub-lethal effects. Separating anthropogenic causes of infestation from background ecological variability has proved difficult. A unique 25 yr dataset was collated comprising lice counts from >20 000 sea trout sampled from 94 separate river and lake systems in Ireland and Scotland at varying distances from marine salmon farms. Statistical models were developed to explore the potential effects of distance to a salmon farm, rainfall and ambient temperature on sea trout lice infestation and body condition (weight at length). These models indicated that sea trout captured closer to salmon farms had significantly higher levels of lice infestation, and that this effect was exacerbated in warmer years. Sea trout sampled closer to salmon farms also had significantly reduced weight at length (impaired condition), with the strongest impact in dry years. The study dataset covers a broad geographic area over multiple years, and accounts for variability in temperature and rainfall. Our results imply a rather general impact of salmon farming on lice infestation and body condition of sea trout. This finding has implications for current lice control management strategies, coastal zone planning, recovery of sea trout stocks in aquaculture areas and the scale of aquaculture free zones. 

Click Here for Full Study: Interesting Study Fish Farming Areas