An appeal has been lodged against the Norwegian multinational Marine Harvest’s application for a salmon farming expansion in Bantry Bay that claims the applicant is not a ‘fit person’ to hold a licence. The appeal cites records showing the company refused to cooperate with audits by the Department of Agriculture and by the Marine Institute in 2013 and 2014.
The claims are based on records released to Eyeries based organisation ‘Friends of the Irish Environment’ (FIE), recently by the Commissioner for Environmental Information, after the Department of Agriculture had cited ‘public interest’ for refusing them.
A recent FIE Study of Fin Fish Inspections Reports from the Department of Marine’s records 2012 – 2014 show that the applicant, Marine Harvest, failed to co-operate in the 2014 audit after overstocking was identified and ordered to be corrected in two of their Castletownbere-based sites in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Citing a further Marine Institute’s Veterinary Audit Report, in which Marine Harvest refused to provide the Institute’s Auditor with any sea lice treatment details in 2014, FIE has argued to the Aquaculture Appeals Board that Marine Harvest is not a ‘fit person’ to be issued with further licences.
‘It is part of the licence conditions that operators must cooperate fully with audits. Marine Harvest’s failures to do so mean that they are not a ‘fit person’ to be granted a further licence.’
The group has also provided a detailed scientific examination of the Environmental Impact Statement that demonstrates that fundamental errors in Marine Harvest’s original application, which the group identified in 2012, have remained uncorrected. ‘The EIS continues to significantly misrepresent the length of coastline and nominal sea area as well as the prevailing wind conditions on the Western Irish Coast’, according to the appeal.
The appeal argues that the applicant’s claim that the waste from the site – given by FIE as equivalent to the nitrogen content of treated sewage from a population of 58,000 – will pass to the south of Bere Island and ‘out into the Atlantic circulation’ is clearly contradicted by the Marine Institute’s own published weekly models. These show the flow from Shot Head is both in and out of the inner bay.
The appeal cites scientific studies that demonstrate that the already frequent closures of mussel farms in inner Bantry bay due to the presence of significant levels of toxicity will be made worse by this project.
FIE’s appeal is one of many highlighting the failure of the EIS authors to review the literature of sea lice and the potential impact of farmed salmon on migratory Irish salmon in the five nearby rivers.
The organisation gives its overall position as ‘against any farming of piscivores – fish which eat fish – high up the food web – like farmed salmon and farmed tuna. One-third of the global fish harvest is now used to make fish food.
‘If Ireland is serious about feeding people, farmed salmon are not a sustainable food source as the fish required to feed them could and should go directly to feeding human beings’, FIE Director Caroline Lewis concluded their appeal.