FIE Press Release, 4 Dec 2014: High Court Order sought for Bantry Bay salmon farm escape Report

High Court Order sought for Bantry Bay salmon farm escape Report

PRESS RELEASE

FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT

THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER 2014

The High Court has been asked to require the Information Commissioner , Peter Tyndall, to rule on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney’s refusal to release the accident Report on the escape of 230,000 salmon in Bantry Bay last February.

 

Friends of the Irish Environment have asked the Court for an ‘order of Mandamus’ requiring the Commissioner to hear an appeal of the Minister’s refusal.

 

Alex O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay [SBB] said that after the official count on 19 February 2014 they understood that the farm had been ‘virtually wiped out’.

 

However Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney refused to release the report on the grounds that it was an ‘internal communication’ and that the public ‘interest would not be served by the disclosure’.

 

The group appealed this refusal to the Information Commission, but he has refused to give the group a date by which he will make his decision, stating that the backlog of cases is such that he is still working on 2012 appeals.

 

Director Tony Lowes said that the recently released 2013 Annual Report of the Information Commission showed that there had been no improvement in the long delays the group has experienced with its appeals and that in fact the Report states ‘the backlog is growing’.

 

Mr. Lowes said the matter was especially urgent as a previous Report of a similar 2010 disaster released to the group last year without any delays had shown that the Minister himself was at fault for not requiring the necessary inspections of the equipment.

 

The Department of Marine’s Engineering Division Report on the loss of 80,000 salmon in Clew Bay in 2010 blamed the disaster on Simon Coveney’s Department’s 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’.

 

FIE Director Tony Lowes said the group believed that the Report would show that in fact nothing had been done in the last four years to ensure the safety of the installations.

 

‘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’, he said.

 

The group has included the Attorney General in its action for failing to ensure that Irish law correctly transposed the European Directives requirement for ‘expeditious’ procedures. ‘Expeditious’ is defined as something ‘done with speed and efficiency’.

 

The case is set to be heard before the High Court on January 20, 2015.

 

Comment and verification:

Tony Lowes [FIE]  087 2176316

Alex O’Donovan [SBB] 087 7949227

 

 

 

REFERENCES

THE INVER BAY ACCIDENT REPORT

http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/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.

 

It explained:  ‘While the Department has no capability itself of mounting its own inspections of underwater equipment it does have a role to play in ensuring that licensing conditions to the effect that licences shall take all necessary steps to prevent the escape of fish are complied with. We did not to my knowledge actually check that there was an adequate monitoring system in place at this site.’

 

 

Appeal to Information Commissioner:

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

 

 

NOTES

 

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.

 

FIE believes the Bantry Bay Report will show that in spite of the 2010 recommendations, no standards have been put in place for these installations and nothing has been done to ensure that they are regularly inspected to ensure their viability. That is the reason the Minister is refusing to release the Report.’

 

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, putting at risk the ability of the fish to return to their native rivers.

 

  • Farmed fish can out compete native salmon, leading to a weakening of native stocks.

 

  • 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

 

ENDS

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