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Commissioner for Environmental Information overrules Minister for Agriculture

category national | environment | press release author Thursday December 13, 2018 22:48author by foie - Friends of Irish Environment Report this post to the editors

Implications for licensing of Ireland’s salmon farms

In a decision that will have significant repercussions for the licensing of Ireland’s salmon farms, the Commissioner for Environmental Information has found that the Minister for Agriculture’s refusal to release information in the annual Department Inspection Reports about the standing stocking rates on salmon farms was not justified.

Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment - Dec 12th 2018

In a decision that will have significant repercussions for the licensing of Ireland’s salmon farms, the Commissioner for Environmental Information has found that the Minister for Agriculture’s refusal to release information in the annual Department Inspection Reports about the standing stocking rates on salmon farms was not justified.

He directed the release of the information on the basis of an appeal lodged on behalf of Boycott Farmed Salmon for Christmas campaign. The industry had argued that it was ‘market sensitive information’ but the Commissioner pointed out that ‘unnecessary secrecy will simply breed further distrust of the industry’. The Minister’s position was that the information did not relate to emissions to the environment.

The decision comes after the environmental campaigners obtained copies in 2017 of two 30 page submissions by the Principal Officer of the Aquaculture Division of the Department of Agriculture recommending the rescinding of licences held by Marine Harvest in Donegal and Cork for persistent overstocking, in one case by 105%.

The Principal Officer stated ‘It can be reasonably stated therefore that the company knowingly breached the terms and conditions of its licence to a substantial degree for clear commercial gain’.

The Minister refused the recommendation after Marine Harvest argued that the licensing conditions were ‘anachronistic, legally and technically meaningless’ and that the company was ‘acting within the spirit of the regulatory system.’

Campaign coordinator Tony Lowes said when the stocking figures were released, they had no doubt that every one of the salmon farms in the country would be shown to be grossly overstocked. ‘The faeces, chemically treated feed, parasites and disease are all amplified as a result of this gross overstocking. This is far beyond the level assessed as acceptable in the environmental impact assessment process’, he said.

This information follows on the recent publication of a peer reviewed scientific paper showing that native wrasse caught and used as ‘cleaner fish’ against lice had developed CMS, a disease now endemic in Irish fish farms. The discovery raises the possibility of the transmission of the disease to Ireland’s native stock of wrasse, a traditional source of food for coastal communities. CMS, or ‘broken heart disease’, was discovered in Irish farmed salmon in 2014.

‘These farms are a nexus of disease and parasites that overstocking can only increase. We are urging consumers to give a gift to the environment this Christmas and boycott Irish farmed salmon’.

ENDS

Tony Lowes 353 (0)27 74771 / 353 (0)87 2176316
Daithí Ó hÉalaithe (Irish language) +353 (0)87 6178852

Commissioner for Environmental Information
CEI/17/0051; 6 December, 2018
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/Fishfarms/CEI...n.pdf
2017 Report:
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17445...ences
https://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/MH_overstocki...d.pdf
Wrasse August 2017
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319012496_Piscine_myocar...gylta
https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/library/17597-speech...oland

Related Link: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17602-boycott-farmed-salmon-for-christmas-campaign-wins-appeal
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