• Sea Lice Ireland

    Two Government departments are at odds over regulation of salmon farms in the Republic. Just a small piece of the extensive articles in today’s Irish Times written by Kevin O Sullivan, Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times. Well worth a read and it clearly states the differing opinions regarding salmon farming. We fully support the position of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Communications and Inland Fisheries Ireland. The Department of Agriculture Food and Marine and the Marine Institute are way out of line with international norms and are clearly green washing the salmon farming industry. Time for a seismic change in policy. Clear divisions have emerged in an exchange of letters between Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan and Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue. In a letter released under Freedom of Information legislation, Mr Ryan accuses Mr McConalogue’s department of operating an aquaculture licensing regime with flawed assessment of fish-farm sites and their potential impact on wild salmon and sea trout. These two species are in sharp decline in Ireland with sea lice from fish farms implicated in their demise. It is understood that Attorney General Paul Gallagher has intervened with the departments to express disquiet at the stand-off over how licence applications are assessed and to underline the need for a resolution. The opposing views are mirrored by a stand-off between two State agencies involved; the Marine Institute, which advises Mr McConalogue on all applications, and Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), which is responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and their habitats. Mr Ryan said the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in assessing applications was over-reliant on an incorrect interpretation of a small number of Marine Institute studies, which run contrary to the main thrust of international peer-reviewed scientific opinion. Mr McConalogue, in his 10-page response, insisted the regulatory regime is fully compliant with the State’s environmental obligations and that “appropriate assessments” are carried out correctly by the Marine Institute. He also robustly defended the way sea lice levels are monitored. Salmon Watch Ireland, which obtained the correspondence, has called for an overhaul of the licensing regime. Its director John Murphy described the stand-off as “an astonishing difference of opinion between two Government departments”. In response to the exchange of letters, the Marine Institute said as scientific advisers to DAFM, it “is fully engaged in the process of providing scientific advice as part of the regulatory system in place in the licensing of aquaculture. The function of this is to develop the aquaculture industry in a sustainable way.” It added in a statement to The Irish Times: “The process of assessment of aquaculture licences for salmon farms is a matter for DAFM. The role of the Marine Institute as scientific advisors is to oversee and/or prepare a report on the appropriate assessment [AA] process and to submit these reports to DAFM as part of the licensing determination process.” ‘Development activities’ The institute’s advisory inputs, it said, “are in line with best practices worldwide” and its scientists “take great care in discharging their responsibilities towards all conservation, protection and development activities in the natural environment”. The clear intention for the AA report prepared for Kenmare Bay was to determine shellfish aquaculture licensing only, it underlined. “It was not sufficient nor was it intended or proffered to enable determination of marine finfish applications [including salmon]. No finfish licensing was determined on the basis of this AA report. Any such applications would be subject to a full AA process specifically focused on finfish [salmon].” On Mr Ryan’s contention that DAFM was over-relying on an incorrect interpretation of a small number of Marine Institute studies which run contrary to international peer-reviewed scientific opinion on impact on wild salmonid stocks, the institute said: “There is an absence of clear evidence exclusively linking sea lice with high mortality rates. International organisations, including ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) have stated further research is needed to investigate the connection between sea lice infestations and effects on wild salmonids. “Irrespective of the unresolved scientific position, the fact that Ireland has operated an independent national sea lice monitoring programme for nearly 30 years with clear management measures in place, reflects the seriousness which the State takes to any risk posed by sea lice on our wild salmonid populations.” Kevin O'Sullivan  


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  • A rather unique and interesting point of view – Regenerating our salmon and rivers by Nicholas Grubb.

    This article encompasses many aspects which Salmon Watch Ireland agree with especially the management of riparian zones. It is an interesting submission which should help to garner an understanding of the many issues prevalent in Ireland regarding the ecosystem management of our river systems. It is interesting to note that management is almost non existent on all our river systems. While ownership of fishery rights are by and large fragmented there is an onus on all interested parties to work together to put in place a professional fishery and ecosystem management system especially on our rivers which produce the majority of smolts. We would also suggest that barriers should be improved to allow easier migration but also agree that large deep water sections may be appropriate in certain rivers. A changing climate scenario is fast approaching and our rivers need sympathetic and ecosystem friendly approaches to improve or indeed protect salmonid productivity. This is a very thought provoking article and the author should be congratulated for his long time unique interest and activism in conservation matters. Dromana House - Lower Blackwater, County Waterford Read More


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  • Ballinakill Salmon Farm- Submission

    Application for licence for an open cage salmon farm at Ballinakill Bay, Co Galway   Dear Minister, The documentation submitted by Comhlucht Iascaireachta Fanad Teoranta, (CIFT), trading as MOWI Ireland, seeking a licence for an open cage salmon farm to be sited in Ballinakill Bay, County Galway, falls far short of what is required pursuant to Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive. Nor can there be reliance on Article 6 (4) thereof, as there are no stated ‘imperative reasons of overriding public interest’, (IROPI), which could justify locating a salmon farm at this sensitive location. The proposed site is within close proximity to the Dawros river mouth. This river forms part of the ‘Twelve Pins Garraun Complex,’ Special Area of Conservation, (Site Code 002031). In this river Wild Atlantic Salmon are a ‘Qualifying Interest.’   Juvenile salmonids, which are already susceptible to mortality from parasitic sea lice from the existing salmon farm in Ballinakill Bay, would be also subject to the cumulative impact of the additional sea lice loading from the proposed MOWI/Marine Harvest salmon farm. No appropriate assessment has ever been conducted in relation to the adverse impact of the existing salmon farm, which is there already. It is suggested that Appropriate Assessment must be conducted on the cumulative effect of both salmon farms before any decision may be reached. Read More - Full Submission


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  • Management of Tagging System – Submission

    The submission from Salmon Watch Ireland in regard to the management of the Salmon and Sea Trout tagging system seeks to offer more protection to spring salmon. To this end SWIRL have suggested some targeted solutions which will effectively conserve salmon. It is essential that commercial salmon fisheries do not exploit spring salmon and that recreational anglers reduce exploitation on these ecological valuable fish.  A general tightening of the tagging system is warranted and we have suggested a number of administrative changes to help and streamline the system. It is imperative that we move to a real time online system to guage how stocks are performing.  The issue of recreational and commercial exploitation must reflect on how the magnitude of the surplus is related to the conservation limit. It is imperative that the traceability of wild commercially caught salmon is improved to tighten quota compliance. Our policy would also support a moratorium on commercial exploitation especially on rivers with a relatively low surplus. In the longer term with continued fluctuation in survival indices it may be pertinent to examine the issue of commercial exploitation and indeed recreational exploitation with a view to reducing exploitation. There would appear to be a very limited scope going forward to allow the continuation of a commercial fishery and Salmon Watch Ireland is supportive of a scheme to alleviate losses to the commercial sector. Read the full submission here


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  • COP 26 – Salmon School

    Salmon and COP26 Wild salmon are a majestic symbol and indicator of the health of our rivers, land, and oceans. They range across nearly half the planet. But climate change and other human impacts are driving them towards extinction. Investing in community-driven approaches to save wild salmon will help us limit global warming to 1.5°C and help communities adapt to near-term climate change. Salmon School embodies the local work on river systems worldwide to restore salmon and the cold, clean water they need—from the River Clyde in Glasgow to the outermost reaches of the Arctic. ​ Here is how safeguarding salmon can help achieve the four goals outlined in the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26). The following initiative at COP 26 SEEKS TO HIGHLIGHT THE PLIGHT OF WILD SALMON IN A CHANGING CLIMATE.  Take the time to get involved. There is little doubt that climatic change has and will substantially change wild salmon survival here in Ireland. The Salmon School


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  • Sea Lice Ireland

    Shot Head – Bantry Bay

    Salmon Watch Ireland is extremely disappointed with the decision of the Aquaculture Licensing Appeal Board decision to grant an aquaculture licence to MOWI for a new salmon farm at Shot Head in Bantry Bay. Our initial evaluation of the Board's decision points to a lack of knowledge and indeed understanding of the European Court of Justice standard of the ‘best available scientific knowledge in the field ” regarding the impact of sea lice on wild salmonid populations. The decision is counter to the recent and very welcome intervention of the EU delegation at the recent North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation conference in June 2021 which stated that: Parties/ Jurisdictions should consider adopting a policy of phasing out open net pen salmon aquaculture over a specified period or licence term and restrict any new licences to those utilising alternative technologies in order to make significant progress towards achievement of the International Goals for sea lice and containment. This policy should be prioritised in sensitive areas such as the estuaries of Class I salmon rivers or salmon rivers in Special Areas of Conservation. The reliance of the industry and ALAB on scientific material provided by the Marine Institute which has consistently downplayed the impact of sea lice from salmon farms on wild salmonids is alarming. The Marine Institute as part of the Irish delegation to NASCO and thus part of the EU delegation must now explain why the institute is lending support to the open net salmon farming industry in Ireland while being supportive of EU policy to NASCO regarding the phasing out of open net salmon farming in order to protect wild salmonids from sea lice and escapees. Salmon Watch Ireland will examine in detail the determination by ALAB before deciding our next course of action.


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  • Seaspiracy

    This film is available on Netflix. It is well worth watching and demonstrates the appalling situation regarding fish farming and the unsustainable way we treat our oceans. Film is fully available on Netflix.   Seaspiracy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q5CXN7soQg


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  • The Status of Irish Salmon Stocks in 2020 with Catch Advice for 2021

    Salmon Watch Ireland would like draw your attention to the recently published document from the Technical Expert Group on Salmon. We will answer any questions that you may have or request clarification from TEGOS on aspects that you are concerned with. The links to the reports are listed here: Catch Advice 2021 River Specific Advice The Technical Expert Group on Salmon (TEGOS) advises that in 2021:  48 rivers have an advised harvestable surplus as they are exceeding their conservation limits (CLs).  A further 32 rivers, may be opened on a catch and release only basis, subject to IFI management criteria based on having a high probability of achieving 50% of their conservation limit (CL) or exceeding the management qualifying fry threshold of ≥15 fry (0+) per 5 minute electrofishing (multiple site catchment average).  In addition 64 rivers are (a) failing to meet 50% of their CL or (b) recent data to determine their CL attainment status are lacking. Where there is a lack of data, or where catchment-wide electro-fishing surveys indicate juvenile abundance below the fry threshold, the TEGOS assumes that these rivers are failing to meet CL. There are 16 rivers for which there are significant fisheries on the MSW (spring salmon) component of the stock and a separate assessment is made. Of these:  11 have an advised harvestable surplus as they are exceeding their CL.  5 rivers may be opened on a catch and release-only basis subject to IFI management criteria as they have a high probability of achieving 50% of their CL or exceed the minimum mean fry threshold (≥15 fry) in catchment-wide electro-fishing. There are currently 40 rivers or river tributaries of the 144 salmon rivers assessed in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) where salmon have a qualifying interest under the EU Habitats Directive. Of these, only 20 are above their CL.


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  • Roadmap Policy – Inland Fisheries Ireland

    A Roadmap Policy Framework has been launched for Ireland’s Inland Fisheries Wednesday, 27th of January 2021: The Board of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) welcomes Minister Eamon Ryan’s publication of ‘Towards a Policy Framework for Inland Fisheries in Ireland - A Roadmap’. The roadmap forms an important part of the first stage of developing a policy and regulatory framework for the inland fisheries sector.   Francis O’Donnell, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: ‘We encourage all of our stakeholders to get involved in the process of developing this framework for the future of Ireland’s inland fisheries resource. The roadmap is a significant first step in paving the way forward towards a resource that will be conserved and managed in a sustainable way.’ To read more about the roadmap and how to be involved in the process please visit: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/17099-towards-a-policy-framework-for-inland-fisheries-in-ireland-a-roadmap/.


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  • Salmon Watch Ireland – Consultation on Policy Document

    More and Stronger smolts ‘The rational management approach is to redouble efforts to address factors impacting on productivity to ensure that …. salmon rivers…. produce the maximum number of healthy wild salmon smolts’ Background – Salmon stocks are close to crisis point Before reading our Policy Document it might be advisable to review the present state of Atlantic salmon in Ireland. In conjunction with the following paragraphs and the short film you will be able to appreciate the many factors affecting Atlantic salmon and sea trout stocks in Ireland. We would appreciate your views on the Policy document and any ideas you may have to help progress conservation of these iconic fish. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that, in the lifetime of people living today, Ireland’s wild Atlantic salmon could become a curiosity confined, at best, to a small number of rivers.  The species may not become totally extinct (although it could) but there may not be sufficient stock for either commercial or recreational exploitation.  A species that has huge Irish heritage and folklore significance and which, in the past, has had major social, economic and recreational value could to all intents and purposes be lost.  There is an obligation on all of use to do our utmost to prevent that happening in the interests of our own and of future generations.  It will not be an easy task. Read More


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