Aquaculture for all

Minister Evades Answering Questions on Salmon Escapes

Salmonids Environment Politics +2 more

IRELAND - When responding to Parliamentary Questions this week Minister Simon Coveney continued to avoid giving any details of salmon farm escapes in Bantry Bay, stating "it is not possible to quantify the potential number of mortalities versus escapees, at this time", according to a Save Bantry Bay press release.

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Now, five weeks after the event on 1 February, Mr Coveney has said the escapes remain a ‘priority’. Yet he has also chosen not to release details, or make public the scientific and technical reports on the matter prepared by the Engineering Division of his Department and the Marine Institute. Save Bantry Bay is calling for a statement and data to be made public.

Alec O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay stated: "Mr Coveney has said three cages appear to have “bagged”, trapping fish and leading to extensive mortalities. The law requires that any mortalities must be counted and disposed of at a licensed facilities. We are now five weeks after the event. Surely the dead fish have been counted, disposed of, and therefore numbers known?"

Chair of Save Bantry Bay and local fisherman, Kieran O’Shea added: "I am regularly out fishing in Bantry Bay. Anyone can see the pens are destroyed. Inspection vessels, including well-boats that allow fish to be gathered and counted, visited over two weeks ago. I do not understand how they can have failed to quantify the number alive, dead or missing."

The recent storms have also proved disastrous for Scottish salmon farms. An almost identical escape event has occurred in Yell, Scotland on 19 January 2014, with 154,569 fish lost. The Unst-based Balta Island Seafare farm lost 2,500 salmon between 14 and 29 January. And, not long after on 11 February a salmon farm North Voe, in Whalsay experienced escapes, though confirmation of numbers are awaited.

Total losses in Ireland and Scotland are thought to be worth millions of Euros.

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