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

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Regulations 2017: Public Consultation

The Tagging Regulations are open for public consultation over the next 30 days in relation to the 2017 season. There appears to be a quite sizeable reduction in surpluses available on the majority of rivers. This has become apparent over the last number of years with dwindling commercial and rod catches.

Tagging Regulations for 2017

Thursday, 10 November 2016

River Water Quality Continues To Decline: Salmon at increased risk

Outlook Progress with Water Framework Targets (EPA: 2016)
"The slow progress in improving the ecological status of surface waters means that new approaches are needed. The target of 13.6% improvement in ecological status for surface waters from the 2009 baseline by 2015 included in the first cycle RBMPs has not been achieved (EPA, 2015b, 2016a). Instead, the overall situation has not changed during the first river basin planning cycle. A radically different approach is required to target management measures to where they are needed. There is an opportunity to improve implementation under the new water governance structures recently put in place and by using the integrated catchment management approach supported by better evidence and science."