Saturday, 23 December 2017

Bantry Bay Update

Salmon Watch Ireland received the following updated decisions of the Aquaculture Appeals Board in relation to our objection to a licence granted to Marine Harvest Ireland for Shot Head in Bantry Bay. The report of the Chairman of the Oral Hearing has determined that Marine Harvest Ireland must submit additional information regarding a number of issues highlighted at the oral hearing. This is a decision which is positive and certainly increases the environmental burden of proof which Marine Harvest have to reach if a licence is to be granted. We await these additional Environmental Impact Assessments and Appropriate Assessments and will be stringently defending our position that open net salmon farming is not sustainable or environmentally appropriate.

The main recommendations from the Chairman are as follows:

Further to section 59 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, the Chair of the Oral Hearing recommends as follows:
Conditional upon the results of the supplemental EIA and desk-top studies recommended immediately below, the Board should issue an aquaculture licence for the Shot Head facility (Ref: T05/555) pursuant to section 40(4) of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, subject to the conditions identified below.
Before making a determination pursuant to section 40(4) of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, the Board should request a supplemental EIS addressing the following matters:
  • The risk of sea-lice infestation of wild salmonids migrating from/to the  Dromagowlane and Trafask Rivers, and any resulting implications for local freshwater pearl mussel populations, based on available research and data;
  • An assessment of the potential impact of salmon farm waste on water quality, having particular regard to the maintenance of ‘good water status’ as required under the WFD; and
Before making a determination pursuant to section 40(4) of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, the Board should conduct desk-top studies of the following matters, which may indicate the need for supplemental appropriate assessment (AA) screening for such matters:

  • An assessment of the otter population of the Dromagowlane and Trafask catchments, and (if necessary) assessment of potential impacts on otters, including the potential impact of declining wild salmon stocks;
  • The potential impacts upon common seal populations in the Glengarriff Harbour and Woodland SAC; and
  • The potential impacts upon wild birds within nearby SPAs.

·        Before making a determination pursuant to section 40(4) of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, the Board should make every effort to consider the potential impacts of large-scale farmed salmon escapes.

·         If, on the basis of such further information, the Board should decide to grant an aquaculture licence pursuant to section 40(4) of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, the Board should consider the inclusion of appropriate conditions requiring a change to the production schedule in order to protect migrating wild salmon and sea trout smolts, or otherwise to control stocking densities at the time of wild salmonid migration, for example by means of early harvesting of mature salmon.   
·        If, on the basis of such further information, the Board should decide to grant an aquaculture licence pursuant to section 40(4) of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, the Board should include conditions to change the current production limit to one based on a maximum allowable biomass of 2,800 tonnes. (Full Oral Hearing Report)

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Atlantic Salmon Lost at Sea Invitation

Salmon Watch Ireland would like to invite you to a viewing of Lost at Sea in Limerick on the 28th Dec 2017. This is a most worthwhile experience as it gives anglers and interested parties an opportunity to experience and comment on the various factors which affect Atlantic salmon on their oceanic journey. Please RSVP to address below.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Freedom of Information:Friends of Irish Environment

Hereunder find documentation regarding the gross over stocking of a smolt hatchery by Marine Harvest and an incredible situation where Marine Harvest over stocked Inishfanard salmon farm (Cork) by an incredible 400,000 smolts. The argument in regard to the Inishfanard site is that Marine Harvest did not agree that fish stocked were in fact smolts but post-smolts despite transfer from their own hatchery. Licence conditions explicitly mention not more than 400,000 SMOLTS can be stocked on the site but over 800,000 were stocked by MH. At least one department official agreed that sites should have their licences revoked but alas legalities are cited as a reason to effectively do nothing with the exception of meeting MH and effectively telling them not to do so again. This matter requires the attention of all NGO'S and must be a focus for the EU and NASCO. Marine Harvest have effectively usurped the Department due to their dominant position within the industry.We at Salmon Watch would like to thank Friends of the Irish Environment for releasing this documentation.

Minister blocks bid to revoke salmon licences
The Sunday Times today covers FIE’s publication of two Submissions to the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries by the Principle Officer of the Department’s Aquaculture and Foreshore Division revealing gross overstocking and recommending the withdrawal of Marine Harvest’s salmon farming licences in Donegal and Cork.

Marine Harvest is a Norwegian multi-national which has bought up local fish farm licences and now produces more than 80% of Ireland’s farmed salmon.
In the case of Donegal’s Lough Alton, which supplies 80% of Marine Harvest’s smolts, ‘by its own admission the company exceeded its stocking limitation by a significant degree (17%) for commercial reasons,’ the Submission states.
‘Persistent’ requests for an action plan to address the breaches by Donegal County Council had been met with a refusal by the company who ‘cited economic reasons for not implementing the of treatment facilities which their current production rates would demand in order to achieve compliance’.
The Principle Officer states ‘It can be reasonably stated therefore that the company knowingly breached the terms and conditions of its licence to a substantial degree for clear commercial gain’.
At Inishfarnard in the Kenmare River Special Area of Conservation, gross overstocking has been recorded in the annual Department’s Fin Fish Farm Inspection Reports since 2012. The Inishfarnard site, which is licensed to contain no more than 500 tons of fish, had a standing stock that was 26% above the permitted level before the input of 820,604 young fish in March 2014, this input itself being 105% in excess of the permitted level of 400,000 fish.
Marine Harvest called the licensing system ‘Anachronistic, legally and technically meaningless in its application to modern good farming practice’.
FIE published the Submission as part of its presentation to the recent Oral Hearing of a number appeals against the company’s proposed new salmon farm in Bantry Bay. They told the Oral Hearing, held in Bantry earlier this month, that ‘an applicant who openly informs a licencing authority that he has no intention of meeting his licencing conditions is not a fit person to hold a licence’.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Still plenty more fish in the sea? Not anymore

We’re trying to sustain a miserable leftover of Atlantic salmon bearing little resemblance to historic abundance. Why? The common denominator is man, writes John Murphy
The salmon angling season closes in much of Ireland tomorrow so this is an opportune moment to take stock of the overall position of Atlantic salmon here.
I am always reminded of a concept that Dr Daniel Pauly, a world-renowned fisheries biologist, who stated that every human generation uses the images that they got at the beginning of their conscious lives as a standard.
They will extrapolate forward and the difference then is perceived as a loss but we do not perceive what happened before our time as a loss. This is largely where we are with Atlantic salmon.
We are now trying to sustain a miserable leftover which bears little resemblance to historic abundance and if we are truthful does not even come close to our own memories of what salmon rivers were like in our own time.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Bantry Bay Oral Hearing


The Bantry Bay Oral Hearing takes place on the 19th and 20th of September at the West Lodge Hotel, Bantry, County Cork. The oral hearing concerns the licensing of a salmon farm at Shot Head in Bantry Bay.

Here under please find links to the submission from Salmon Watch Ireland.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Oceans Shifting Baseline

This talk demonstrates that our perception of our fisheries is largely based on our own lifetime rather that the historic abundances which once existed. A must see for all who consider our fishery resources as acceptable.

Daniel Pauly: Oceans shifting baseline

Friday, 14 July 2017

Pink Salmon Ireland 2017

A number of pink salmon have been caught on Ireland's rivers this year with reports that this trend is also happening in some UK rivers and indeed Norway. It is important that all such catches are reported to Inland Fisheries Ireland in order that the distribution and number of these invasive fish can be assessed.

It is expected that further catches may arise this year but as cycle is two years it is anticipated that further catches are unlikely until 2019. The identification is not problematic with the following defining features evident:

  • Large Black Spots on Tail
  • 11-19 Rays on Anal Fin
  • Small scale structure compared to Atlantic salmon
  • No spots on gill covers
  • Humpback appearance Males Spawning
Further information is contained in this leaflet: Fact Sheet Pink Salmon

Fish Counter Data 2016

Fish Counter Data available now at Fish Counter Report 2016

The report shows some interesting figures related to Ireland's latest Atlantic salmon runs. The overall trend appears to be a downward trend with the Kerry region experiencing poor returns especially in later summer months.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Sea Lice Report: Erriff RiverLong Term Study

A long term study by Inland Fisheries Ireland has definitively linked a reduction of up to 50% in returning adult salmon to high levels of lice infestation of farmed salmon in Killary Harbour. This is a real breakthrough in that it is probably the first study to illustrate that fish farming will affect wild salmon returns when lice levels are not managed effectively.

With changing sea water temperatures around Ireland the effectiveness of current protocols are really redundant and the only way to guarantee effective lice management is to surround cages with effective physical and biological barriers. This in effect must be the a system of closed containment. The lice problems are demonstrated to be generally at their worst in the second year of production.

This current year 2017 has demonstrated that weather patterns can cause a multitude of problems with little rainfall causing high salinity levels in bays with warm sunshine elevating sea temperatures which in turn are a recipe for extremely high larval sea lice production.

There needs to be a very serious discussion as to the future of aquaculture and it is essential that wild fish interests are protected.

New technologies are arriving with every passing year but essentially to suit commercial interests. We need a radical re-think by Government on the entire issue and a road map to protect our vulnerable ecosystems.

How great it would be if this industry was effectively run in the interests of wild salmon and sea trout.
We would hope that this report might form the basis of re-visiting of our complaint to the EU.

Further Details:Erriff Report

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Sea Trout and Fish Farming: Excellent article and video from Loch Maree

Loch Maree Sea Trout Have A New Champion
Please take the time to read and view the contents of this article. With all our expertise in making wonderful wildlife documentaries in Ireland, surely we can help to investigate our own fish farming enterprises and once and for all expose their harmful effect on sea trout and salmon stocks. Salmon Watch Ireland supports sustainable aquaculture which in our opinion can only be realised by moving to closed containment systems which have a physical and biological barrier from the surrounding environment.

Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS) is mounting a concerted campaign aimed at restoring what was formerly the finest sea trout fishery in Scotland. Sea trout stocks in Loch Maree collapsed in 1988, one year after the start of salmon farming in Loch Ewe, the sea loch into which Loch Maree drains via the River Ewe.
Loch Maree – the 4th longest freshwater loch in Scotland and arguably the most beautiful.

Please click on link to read article and view video. Loch Maree Article and Video

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Video Habitat Enhancement

Excellent work carried out on Trimblesown River by the Trim Athboy and District Club. This is a great initiative for salmonid habitat enhancement.

Remarks by Niall Greene to the Salmon Watch Ireland conference at Salthill Hotel, Galway on Saturday 18th February 2017.

Remarks by Niall Greene to the Salmon Watch Ireland conference at Salthill Hotel, Galway on Saturday 18th February 2017.

We have had some interesting and thought provoking presentations here today on the general theme of whether salmon farming can be regulated in a such a way that the industry no longer constitutes a threat to wild salmonids.

Ciaran Byrne has outlined the sorry tale of the decline in our salmon stocks over many decades.  In this we are generally no different than virtually all other salmon jurisdictions in the North Atlantic and it has happened despite the dramatic step taken by the Irish government in banning all salmon exploitation at sea in 2007 and serious efforts to manage our stocks on a river by river basis.

Tony Lowes illustrated very clearly that the negative impacts of salmon are not confined to those on wild salmonids but that under a wide number of headings other parts of our environment are suffering from the side effects of the industry.

Eanna Mulloy has done a masterly job in dissecting the current legislative framework within which salmon farming is supposed to be regulated.  It is clear that it is a shambles and as well illustrated at this week’s hearing in Bantry not in synch with important parts of EU legislation and jurisprudence.

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 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