Salmon disaster report delay is queried by FIE
Southern Star, 11 July 2014
By Siobhán Cronin
FRIENDS of the Irish Environment (FIE) and Save Bantry Bay are claiming that the Department of Agriculture has ‘refused’ to release a report on last February’s loss of 230,000 salmon.
A storm on February 1 saw a cage break loose from its mooring and upend itself into another cage at Gerahies. Alex O’Donovan, secretary of Save Bantry Bay [SBB], has claimed that the fish in the area had been ‘virtually wiped out’.
Minister Simon Coveney subsequently confirmed the figure of 230,000 salmon but this week FIE said the minister had ‘refused’ to release the report on the grounds that it ‘would not be in the public interest to release the report’.
Tony Lowes of FIE said similar reports into two disasters in Clew Bay and Inver Bay had been released by Minister Coveney’s department earlier this year. Mr Lowes claims these reports put the onus on the Department to ensure proper inspections of underwater equipment, to prevent such disasters.
Mr Lowes said this week: ‘Fish farms are not regulated by land based building regulations because they are not on land. But neither do they fall under the Maritime Equipment Directive and Regulations because they are not on flag-bearing ships. ‘
However, Minister Coveney issued a statement to The Southern Star this week, saying the report was not yet complete. The department, he said, was currently examining the damage to structures in question. ‘ This examination, which is nearing completion, is detailed and involves all engineering, scientific, environmental and technical matters associated with the incident.’
The Minister added: ‘In the meantime, and without prejudice to the outcome of this examination, the Department has no objection to the re-stocking of the site, which has been refurbished , subject to the strict adherence by the operator, to certain specific conditions set down by the Department and also the issue by the Marine Institute of a Fish Movement order in accordance with applicable legislation, rules and procedures.’