Clare Champion, 23 August 2013: Sea lice figures for salmon farm queried

Sea lice figures for salmon farm queried

Clare Champion, 23 August 2013

Written by Nicola Corless

Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s plan for the construction of the country’s largest salmon farm off the North Clare coast hit rough waters this week.

Figures used in the Environmental Impact Statement have been questioned in a new study published in the Journal of Fish Diseases.

The new scientific paper identifies what it said was “three fundamental methodological errors” in the original study. The EIS for the proposed 456-hectares salmon farm uses a 2011 study, which says that sea lice infestation of outwardly migrating salmon molts “was only a minor component of the overall marine mortality in the stocks studied”.

The new paper published in the Journal of Fish Diseases states that whereas researchers in the study quoted in the EIS “assert that sea lice cause 1% of mortality in Atlantic salmon, the correct estimate is actually a one third loss of overall adult recruitment.”

A statement from Inland Fisheries Ireland said that the alleged errors cited in the new paper “undermine Galway Salmon Farm EIS”.

“IFI welcomes the clarification in this new paper regarding the potential negative impact of sea lice emanating from marine salmon farms and looks forward to ensuring effective sea lice management to reduce or eliminate this impact. In this context, the location of salmon farms in relation to salmon rivers and the control of sea lice prior to and during juvenile salmon migration to their high seas feeding ground is critical if wild salmon stocks are not to be impacted. The development of resistance to chemical treatment of sea lice and other fish husbandry problems, such as pancreas disease and amoebic gill disease, are likely to make effective sea lice control even more difficult in future years,” it predicted.

No Salmon Farms at Sea called on Minister Simon Coveney to stop BIM’s licence application for the salmon farm North of Inis Oirr and questioned the “motives or capabilities of the Marine Institute.”

“We are calling on the minister to delay any work on this licence until he has commissioned an independent report from acknowledged experts. Our wild salmon stocks are in a precarious state for many reasons. We cannot afford any further threats to them,” Paddy Keenan, chair of the NSFAS said.

An Taisce was even more scathing in its comments about the Marine Institute. A statement from the trust said, “An Taisce notes that as authoritative scientific voices have weighed into the debate regarding fish farming, the plans for a giant 1,130-acre caged-fish installation between the Aran Islands and Clare, along with similar proposals elsewhere along the coast, appear increasingly ill-advised.”

Salmon Watch Ireland is also calling for the withdrawal of the licence application saying, “In the face of these most recent revelations BIM’s justification for its Galway Bay plans is now in tatters.”

The Marine Institute has said it will “consider” the new paper “as we do with all relevant scientific papers, and if appropriate will issue a response through a peer-reviewed scientific process.”

“The Marine Institute is tasked with providing independent scientific advice to the Minister as part of the deliberative process in considering aquaculture licence applications. In formulating such advice, the institute consider all of the available scientific literature and do not support individual applications,” it concluded.

One thought on “Clare Champion, 23 August 2013: Sea lice figures for salmon farm queried

  1. Pingback: Clare Champion, 23 August 2013: Sea lice figures for salmon farm queried | No Salmon Farms At Sea

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