EU TO REOPEN SALMON AND SEA LICE INVESTIGATION
25 NOVEMBER 2013
The European Commission is to reopen the EU investigation into salmon and sea lice closed in September of 2012. The investigation was prompted by submissions from Salmon Watch Ireland and the Friends of the Irish Environment to the Commission in 2009.
The closure of the investigation without the ‘express views’ of Inland Fisheries Ireland which the Department of Agriculture denied it held led to a series of ‘Requests for Redress for Maladministration’ lodged by Friends of the Irish Environment to two Irish Government Departments and the European Commission.
The Irish Ombudsman announced a preliminary enquiry into the Department of Agriculture’s handling of the investigation in October. It recently announced an extension of their investigations to include the Department of Foreign Affairs, who coordinate Irish responses to the Commission.
The Commission decision, which was promoted by the intervention of the European Ombudsman, cites an article FIE provided published in the Journal of Fish Diseases in August 2013 which found ‘fundamental errors’ in work by the Irish Marine Institute on which the proposal to double national production at one site in Galway Bay is based.
The authors demonstrate that if the data is interpreted correctly, the mortality rates of returning salmon due to fish lice are not 1% as claimed but 30%.
The commission are also examining a number of documents and Reports, including the Inland Fisheries Report ‘to determine whether it provides sufficient scientific evidence to meet requirements of burden of proof for allegations that Ireland is in breach of the Habitats Directive.’
FIE has until 31 December to comment to the Ombudsman on the Commission’s reply. Ireland has until the 15th of January 2014 to reply to the Commission.
Verification: Tony Lowes 087 2176316
A spokesperson for Salmon Watch Ireland said: ‘The decision of the EU Commission to re–open its file on the 2009 complaints of Salmon Watch Ireland and Friends of the Irish Environment, about the impact of salmon farm generated concentrations of sea lice on wild salmon, is a very significant development. Taken together with the Irish Ombudsman’s investigation into allegations that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine failed to transmit critical information relevant to the Commission’s investigations of the complaints, this means that the behaviour of the Department, of BIM and of the Marine Institute on salmon farming issues is once again now under close scrutiny’. [Salmon Watch Ireland 086 826 9222]
The Galway Bay Protection Association was also notified of the reopening of the investigation. The group had provided the Commission with written parliamentary questions tabled by Independent Galway TD Noel Greelish in September and October about the errors in the Marine Institute’s work which Simon Coveney had not addressed in his answer.
A spokesman for the Galway Bay Protection Association said that ‘the fact that the Minister has repeatedly refused to answer our TD’s question highlights that there is a significant problem with lice on salmon. If he is so afraid to answer this question it is because he has no defence.’
Friends of the Irish Environment said it would be inappropriate for Ireland to approve expansions in Bantry and Galway Bay until investigations here and in Europe are complete. ‘We hope this will give us time to show the public that this form of salmon farming is damaging to the environment, to wild salmon, and to the consumer’s health.’ 087 2176316
Read the Commission’s letter reopening the investigations
Read the Ombudsman letter requesting comment by 31 December 2013
Chronology and Index of all documents referred to and copies of all submissions:
Background story to the investigations: