State agencies at loggerheads over Aran fish farm

Inland Fisheries Ireland - LogoThe state-controlled Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has been criticised for rejecting a report compiled by another state body over a proposed fish farm off the Aran Islands.

The Inland Fisheries of Ireland (IFI) is worried that a fish farm on such a large scale could seriously threaten wild fish with sea lice infestation – a by-product of most fish farms.

BIM say that they never received the IFI submission, which they say explains why it is not included on their website. All submissions made on the EIS report about the proposed fish farm were handled by the Dept of Agriculture. The IFI accept that their submission missed the October 2 deadline by a day. However, the report can be re-submitted during the current public consultation process which closes on December 12.

Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development at IFI, said they were “shocked and disappointed” that their extensive submission had been rejected by BIM or that its findings were not posted on BIM’s website.

She explained that BIM had been late in supplying them with copies of the EIS report and that despite them being a day late, BIM was aware they were compiling a submission and she believes that it should have been included with the first public consultation round.

“But we are now re-submitting our report for the current public consultation period and we expect our findings to be posted on the BIM website,” she said.

The IFI, has serious concerns about the size of the proposed fish farm off Inis Oirr – BIM has applied for a licence to operate a 15,000 ton capacity salmon farm where 3.6 million fish will be grown to full size to produce 30,000 tonnes of farmed salmon annually.

The report, compiled by CEO Dr Ciarán Byrne outlines that while moving a fish farm into a deep sea location was preferable than having it near the mainland or near the mouth of a river, he was still concerned about the bigger chances of farmed fish escaping and spreading sea lice, which they and others working in the fishing industry had done their best to control.

November 1, 2012
By Bernie Ní Fhlatharta Connacht Tribune.

BIM refutes suggestion it suppressed report

by Conor Harrington

A war of words has erupted between Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and the environmental lobby group, Friends of the Irish Environment over the publication of a report that is critical of the proposed Galway Bay organic salmon farm.

In a statement released yesterday, the environmental lobby group, Friends of the Irish Environment, accused BIM, the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, of suppressing a damning report on the Salmon Farm by failing to post it on the board’s website.

The report, which was commissioned by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), is critical of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that was carried out on Galway Bay, and claims that relevant research was ignored while other statements in the EIS are not supported by research.

“In spite of BIM’s statement on its website that it was ‘making all documentation available’, the Inland Fisheries’ Submission is not included amongst those from the EPA, the Galway Harbour Company, the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and An Taisce,” read the statement by Friends of the Irish Environment.

However, following a strenuous denial of these allegations by BIM, which called the allegations “spurious”, Friends of the Irish Environment then retracted the allegation that BIM had suppressed the report.

“The critical report on the proposed Galway Bay fish farm submission by Inland Fisheries Ireland was not suppressed by BIM. It was rejected by BIM as being late for the public consultation period,” read the correction issued by Friends of the Irish Environment.

Speaking to the Galway Independent yesterday, a spokesperson for BIM revealed that IFI had, in fact, missed the deadline for submissions for the statutory consultation period, which passed on 2 October, 2012.

The spokesperson said that only submissions received by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine before the deadline would be passed on to BIM.

“BIM certainly did not suppress or ignore or gloss over anything from IFI, because we never received anything. There was an eight-week consultation period that was widely flagged and they had material sent to them directly. We even sent them extra copies,” he said.

However, Friends of the Irish Environment has now said that the reason the IFI report missed the deadline was due to a delay in BIM supplying these additional copies of the Environmental Impact Statement to IFI.

The public consultation period for the Galway Bay Salmon Farm is now underway, and it closes at midnight on 12 December. The IFI submission will now be made as part of the Public Consultation period, according to Friends of the Irish Environment.

Galway Independent, 31 October 2012
http://galwayindependent.com/stories/item/4542/2012-44/BIM-refutes-suggestion-it-suppressed-report

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