Irish Times, 28 September 2014: Welcome from IFI for review of studies into effects of sea lice on trout and salmon stocks

Welcome from IFI for review of studies into effects of sea lice on trout and salmon stocks

Irish Times, 28 September 2014

By Derek Evans

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Mariet Timmermans from Holland with an excellent sea trout of 4lb caught on Lough Currane, Waterville, Co Kerry, on the fly. photograph: vincent appleby


INLAND Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has welcomed a review of more than 300 scientific publications on the effects sea lice can have on sea trout stocks. A team of international scientists from Norway, Scotland and Ireland reviewed all published studies and concluded that sea lice have negatively impacted on stocks in salmon farming areas in Ireland, Scotland and Norway.

Funded by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund, the study also examined the effect of sea lice on salmon, and concluded that sea lice have a detrimental effect on marine survival of Atlantic salmon with 12-44 per cent fewer spawning in salmon farming areas.
Chairman Brendan O’Mahony, said: “These conclusions concur with previously published IFI research on the potential impact of sea lice from marine salmon farms on salmon survival.”
Indications from studies reviewed show that salmon- farming increases the abundance of lice in marine habitats and that sea lice in intensively farmed areas have negatively impacted wild sea trout populations.
This new study confirms the evidence collected since the early 1990’s in Ireland, particularly in relation to the collapse of Connemara’s sea trout stocks. IFI has consistently called for marine salmon farms to maintain sea lice levels close to zero prior to and during the sea trout and salmon smolt migration period in spring.
The board of IFI believe this new review confirms the need for very tight regulation of sea lice levels on salmon farms and raises legitimate concerns with regard to the potential impact of new, large scale salmon farms, proposed along Ireland’s west coast, on salmon and sea trout stocks.
Billy Smyth, chairman of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages welcomed the publication and called on Minister Simon Coveney to reject the application from BIM to licence a mega salmon rearing farm on twin sites off Inverin and Inis Oirr.
The chairman said the Minister should instead instigate “an inquiry into the minority position taken by the Marine Institute in regard to the damaging effects of sea lice on wild salmon and sea trout”.
He went to say the Minister should also look into the “the continuing use of public funds into this failing industry at the expense of long-term jobs and opportunities of other marine activities; and, the refusal of BIM to consider on-shore recirculating systems for salmon rearing, now rapidly becoming a reality in more forward-thinking countries.”

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