Friends of the Irish Environment Press Release, 4 August 2013: Sea lice infestations tripled in last three years – Marine Harvest Report

Sea lice infestations tripled in last three years – Marine Harvest Report



4 AUGUST 2013

Ireland only Marine Harvest country to record fall in production

Sea lice infestations on Irish salmon farm sites are continuing to increase, in spite pf Minister Simon Coveney’s reassurances that ‘the sea lice issue is no longer significant’.

The 2012 Marine Harvest Annual Report shows that Ireland’s largest operator of salmon farms has seen the number of sites exceeding the Government’s ‘Trigger Treatment Level’ for sea lice increase from 6% in 2010 to 13% in 2011 to 20% in 2012.

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has been under increasing pressure after receiving a letter this May from Dr. Mark Costello, a leading scientist in the field. Costello told Coveney that he felt ‘conscious-bound’ to make it clear that sea lice are ‘linked to mass fatal parasite infestations on wild salmon and trout in Ireland, Scotland, Norway and Canada’ to counter ‘misinformation appearing in the Irish media.’

Coveney recently told the Irish Oireachtas that ‘systems in place in Ireland to control sea lice and salmon farms are probably the best anywhere in Europe. As far as we are concerned, the sea lice issue is no longer significant.’

The statistics contradict the Department of Agriculture’s claim during a recent investigation by the European Commission on the sea lice issue that there was a ‘decreasing trend’ in the general level of sea lice on salmon farms.

Marine Harvest is the world’s largest salmon farming company with operations in Norway, Scotland, Ireland, The Faroes, Chile and Canada. In Ireland the company produces 9,000 tons of salmon a year, 80% of the Irish national production. The company employs 137 full time and 117 temporary workers at its 8 Irish salmon farms.

While Marine Harvest reported an increase in 22% of production world wide, its Irish operation reported a decrease of 3%, the only country in the multi-national to report a fall in production.

The environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment, commenting on the Annual Report, said ‘While, disease and pollution remain significant problems, there are three solutions to the sea lice issue: move the pens from the paths of migratory salmon; contain the pens, controlling all input and output, or change species.’

Further Information Tony Lowes 027 74771 /087 2176316


Marine Harvest Annual Report 2012

Click to access 558857.pdf

Dr. Costello’s letter to the Minister

Note for Financial Editors

Marine Harvest accounting principle reveal how the company is taking advantage of Ireland’s lax aquaculture licensing system to avoid tax.

31 of the 39 Irish salmon farm sites are continuing to operate under expired fish farm licences, permitted by an amendment to Irish law under Section 101(c)19A‐1 2 of Sea‐Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006 (No. 8 of 2006).

DAFM defends this position:

‘A licensee who has applied for the renewal or further renewal of an aquaculture license shall, notwithstanding the expiration of the period for which the licence was granted or renewed but subject otherwise to the terms and conditions of the license, be entitled to continue the aquaculture or operations in relation to aquaculture authorised by the license pending the decision on said application.’ [Letter to FIE, 19 July, 2013]

Marine Harvest therefore sees these licences as ‘indefinite’ and has capitalised their value allowing depreciation to be claimed on these licences, lessening the tax liability:

‘The value of the licences acquired by the company (mainly licences for salmon farming), is capitalised. In Norway, Chile, Ireland and the Faroes the licences are considered indefinite which licences in Scotland and Canada are automatically renewed as long as operations are in accordance with the required conditions. Farming licences in these countries are therefore not depreciated. An impairment test is performed annually. Impairment write-downs are reversed if the value recovers.

Marine Harvest Annual Report 2012

Auditors Notes, Note 2: Significant Accounting Principles

Oslo, 21 March 2013, Ernst and Young SA

While this is a financial issue, because the requirement for a renewal is not in place, European environmental law is being circumvented because renewal of an aquaculture licences triggers an environmental assessment process under the Habitats Directive and specifically under the European Court of Justice Waddenzee judgment C‐127/02.


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