Our Aims & Objectives

Aims and Activities

Salmon Watch Ireland’s current programme (adopted in 2007) prioritises the following aspects of salmon conservation:

  •  Remain vigilant about commercial exploitation of salmon;
  •  Campaign for the application of best international practice in the siting and management of salmon farms so as to eliminate the threat posed by sea lice to migrating juvenile salmoids;
  •  Develop a programme with the State authorities for the control of predators with initial emphasis on cormorants and seals.

Salmon farms and sea lice

In February 2009 Salmon Watch Ireland submitted a detailed scientific and legal complaint to the European Commission contending that, as currently regulated and operated, salmon farms in Ireland were, in the main, in breach of the terms of the EU Habitats Directive. Additional information in support of the complaint is now being compiled. A copy of the complaint is available here.

Castlemaine Harbour

In pursuit of the first of these priorities Salmon Watch Ireland, in conjunction with the Kerry Anglers Federation, in 2007 obtained a High Court injunction restraining the South Western Regional Fisheries Board from licensing what was essentially a mixed stock fishery in Castlemaine Harbour, Co Kerry.

The substantive issue was eventually addressed by the Court in March, 2009 and, while the Court ruled that the original issue was now moot in the light of new legislation introduced by the Minister for Natural Resources, Salmon Watch Ireland was awarded the substantial part of its costs in the case.

Bergthraboy Bay, Connemara

Bergthraboy Bay in Connemara encompasses the estuaries of the Ballinahinch system, the Gowla and a number of minor rivers. The impact of sea lice associated with salmon farms in the Bay have been the subject of scientific study for over 25 years and considerable data and conclusions has been accumulated over the period. In 2005 an experimental cod rearing farm was introduced into the Bay in place of one of the existing salmon farms. 

The non-renewable licence for this experiment expired in 2008 but cod farming continued in 2009. In addition, salmon farming was renewed in close proximity to the cod farming, in contravention of scientific limitations imposed by the original licence. 

Salmon Watch Ireland has worked closely with the Ballinahinch Fishery Cooperative in investigating the situation in Bergthraboy and in making representations to the State departments and agencies involved.