PRESS RELEASE Friends of the Irish Environment, 31 August 2014: High Court action threatened over Bantry Bay fish farm escape report

High Court action threatened over Bantry Bay fish farm escape report

 

 PRESS RELEASE: Friends of the Irish Environment, 31 August 2014

 

fish-farm-300x199

 

Friends of the Irish Environment have threatened High Court action in their attempts to obtain the report on the escape of 230,000 salmon in Bantry Bay last February.

 

The storm on February 1, 2014, saw a cage break loose from its mooring and upend itself into another cage at Gerahies in Bantry Bay. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney refused to release the report on the grounds that the work is not completed and that the public interest would not be served by the disclosure of the report.

 

He has however allowed the restocking of the cages.

 

The group appealed Simon Coveney’s refusal to the Information Commission, but he has failed to give the group a date by which he will make his decision.

 

In a letter from their solicitors, the group has said that unless the Commissioner gives a date for his decision they will apply to the High Court for a ruling.

 

Director Tony Lowes said that the recently released 2013 Annual Report of the Commission showed that there had been no improvement in the long delays the group has experienced with its appeals

 

‘74% of the cases were not addressed within the legislative period of 4 months with more than 33% of the cases still awaiting a decision for more than a year. In his report, even the new IC called these ‘unaceptable delays’.

 

Mr. Lowes said the matter was especially urgent as a previous Report of a 2010 disaster released to the group had shown that the Minister himself was at fault for not requiring the necessary inspections of the equipment.

The Report on the loss of 80,000 salmon in Clew Bay in 2010 blamed the disaster on Simon Coveney’s officials’ failure to enforce licensing conditions.

 

The Report stated ‘if a more rigorous/frequent mooring inspections programme had been in place it is possible – even likely – there would have been earlier detection which would therefore have avoided the November 2010 failures.’

A note by an Assistant Secretary on the Report states: ‘This Report clearly points to the fact that adequate systems in relation to certification, maintenance, inspection, repairs and records need to be in place for this type of installation’.

 

‘We believe the Bantry Bay  Report will show that in spite of the 2010 recommendations, nothing has been done to ensure that these installations are inspected to ensure their viability. That is the reason the Minister is refusing to release the Report.

 

‘These cages have been restocked in spite of the Minister claim that the accident report has not been completed. Given the increasing severity and frequency of storm events due to climate change, it is vital that we see this report before the storms recur.’

10_Simon Coveney

Comment and verification:

Tony Lowes 087 2176316

 

REFERENCES

 

THE INVER BAY ACCIDENT REPORT

http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.net/cmsfiles/Library/Aie14005Record1InverBay.pdf

 

This detailed 60 page report from the Marine Engineering Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries on the cause of the escape of 83,000 salmon from a farm in Inver Bay in 2010 which says it is ‘likely’ that if the Department of Agriculture had ensured adherence to licensing conditions it would have avoided the disaster.

 

Appeal to Information Commissioner:

http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/attachments/article/17268/Gerahies%20IC%20appeal%202.07.14.pdf

 

NOTES

Published peer reviewed research shows that between 1996-2004, 415,000 salmon escaped from Irish salmon farms.

 

This Research shows genetic integrity of protected species are interfered with. Escaped farmed salmon may inflate catch based spawning stock estimates to such an extent that the stock appears either to be healthy or recovering, the consequences of which are that conservation measures are either relaxed or not strengthened, or new measures not being introduced.

 

Monitoring the incidence of escaped farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., in rivers and fisheries of the United Kingdom and Ireland: current progress and recommendations for future programmes

Alan M. Walkera,∗, Malcolm C.M. Beveridgeb, Walter Crozierc, Niall Ó Maoiléidighd and Nigel Milnere

ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil

ICES J. Mar. Sci. (2006) 63 (7): 1201-1210. doi: 10.1016/j.icesjms.2006.04.018

ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseilicesjms.oxfordjournals.org

ICES J. Mar. Sci. (2006) 63 (7): 1201-1210. doi: 10.1016/j.icesjms.2006.04.018

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