Connemara fish farm resumption ‘illegal’
Friends of the Irish Environment Press Release
16 December 2013
Latest Connemara fish farm could lead to EU daily fines Government reported to EU.
An environmental group has reported the resumption of fish farming in Kilkiernan Bay on the north shore of Galway Bay to the European Commission.
Friends of the Irish Environment, whose submission in June 2013 is being considered by the Commission as part of the reopening of the investigation into sea lice and salmon, have published the REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE MEASURES AGAINST IRELAND FOR RENEWED AND UNASSESSED SALMON FARMING IN IRELAND IN KILKIERAN/CILL CHIARÁIN BAY NATURA 2000 SITE on their website.
According to a statement from the group ‘The reopening of these sites in Kilkieran Bay using expired licences is in direct contradiction of the European Court Judgment against Ireland in 2007 and, if sustained, could lead to daily fines against Ireland.’
A 2007 court judgment found that Ireland has not properly assessed aquaculture operations that might impact on protected bird life as this is required even for renewals. The site at Ardmore Point, Kilkieran Bay, was licensed in 2002 without any assessment and abandoned in 2009 because of high sea lice levels and pancreatic disease. The licences expired in 2012.
FIE’s Report alleges that the Government is deeply involved in the renewed operations. ‘The company involved, Bradon Beo Teo., was established with Údarás na Gaelteachta, the State Regional Authority, direct funding of €750,000 in 2012.’ The group has provided an accountant’s report which shows that through direct shareholding and part ownership of other shareholders, the State through Údarás is the effective controller of the Company.
According to the Minister, Bradan Beo Teo. has entered into a contract with Marine Harvest, the international company that produce 80% of Ireland’s farmed salmon, to take up the licences. Marine Harvest has said it will be investing €3 million in the site and last month hauled in open pen net cages, stocking them by helicopter.
The group says that ‘These licences expired in July 2012. At this point the Minister transferred the licences to Bradan Beo Teo., in spite of the very clear requirement on him to revoke these licences. The legislation states that:
‘Where aquaculture in respect of which a licence has been granted has ceased for a continuous period of two years, the Minister shall, without compensation to the licensee, revoke the licence.’
‘The Minister has no discretion. The continuation mechanism added to the legislation in 2006 that allowed operators to continue while applications for renewal were being considered does not alter the requirement to revoke abandoned licences.’
In their Report, the group cites studies by the Heritage Council and an independent EU funded LIFE study of the conservation value of the areas as well as two Government ‘site synopsis’ that give the area the very highest conservation value.
‘Kilkiernan Bay is a wildlife a paradise with otters throughout the islands and the shoreline, four kinds of protected terms – including 9 nesting sites – and rare red corals and sponges that exist almost nowhere else in Ireland. These cages are at the mouth of a Bay with two salmon river systems. Smoults travelling out to sea will be exposed to any disease and lice present on these farms. This led to the closure of the previous operation in 2009.’
Clare Daly, Independent TD, has tabled a written Parliamentary Question to the Minister seeking an explanation of his actions which is due for reply the day the Dail rises for the Christmas holiday, Thursday 19 December. [See below]
Read the illustrated Report
Contact and further information: Tony Lowes 353 27 74771 / 353 87 2176316
Daily fines can be imposed by the European Court if a member state does not meet the terms of a Court judgment. Ireland was fined €2 million upfront and €12,000 for 54 days for failing to fulfil its obligations on septic tanks in time. The court also fined Ireland €1.5 million for failing to properly implement rules on environmental impact assessments.
After paying the fines in March of this year, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced it had established an interdepartmental committee that “would ensure rigorous and ongoing examination of transposition and implementation of EU legislation”.
Parliamentary Question 16 December 2013
To:The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, TD
If the Minister will provide the Deputy with a list of aquaculture licences issued under the Fisheries (Amendment Act) 1997 where aquaculture in respect of which a licence has been granted has ceased for a continuous period of two years and the Minister is required to revoke these licences [Fisheries (amendment) Act 1997, S 68(2)]; the name of the original and last holder of each such license; the nature, extent and location of each such licence; if the Minister has notified the appropriate bodies of the revocation of each of these licences; if he has notified the holders of these licences; if has published a notice of the revocation of these licences in a newspaper circulating in the vicinity of these licences.
Clare Daly, TD (Ind.)