In 2009 the European Commission investigated the impact of sea lice from salmon farms on wild salmon stocks. They repeatedly requested viewpoints of Inland Fisheries Ireland, the government body responsible for the conservation of wild salmon. IFI prepared a file, but the Department for Agriculture refused to forward it as it stated salmon farming put nearby wild salmon stocks at serious risk, reports the Save Bantry bay Group.
Instead, the Department of Agriculture presented a case that relied on a single study by the Marine Institute which suggested sea lice from salmon farms pose no problem at all. On the basis of this evidence the case was closed in June 2012.
During this time Bord Iascaigh Mhara was also using this faulty research to promote the massive increase in salmon farming around Ireland’s coast.
However, in August the Marine Institute’s research was discredited by an international team of experts. The damning critique was published in the Journal of Fish Disease – the World’s most authoritative publication of the topic. Little has been heard of this study since, and the Marine Institute has yet to respond.
Meanwhile, Save Bantry Bay and Friends of the Irish Environment submitted Freedom of Information request for all documents relating to the EU investigation. Upon receipt of the documents it quickly became apparentvital evidence was suppressed, and requests were sent for the European Commission to reopen their investigations.
"The Department of Agriculture’s history of presenting bad science as fact, and suppressing evidence of the negative impacts of salmon farming has finally caught up with them," said Kieran O’Shea, Chairman of Save Bantry Bay.
Alec O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay added: "It is time for Ireland’s salmon farming policy and the aquaculture licensing system to be opened to scrutiny. While the European Commission investigations may beconfined to the impacts of sea lice, we ask that the Irish Government initiate a full independent review coveringall aspects of the national salmon farming agenda."