Farmed salmon and wild fish

Protected species at risk

Sir, – Our organisation sought to bring the views of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to the European Commission as part of a 2009 “pilot” investigation by the Environmental Directorate over the impact of farmed salmon on protected wild salmon stocks.

While the complaint from Salmon Watch Ireland was closed in 2012, the investigation was reopened in 2014 when it transpired that Ireland had not provided the “express views” of the agencies involved as requested by the commission officials – the “full Irish position on these matters”.

The only views provided came from the Department of Agriculture, itself the subject of the complaint. Their position came from the Marine Institute and was largely based on a single scientist’s study on the impact of sea lice, which was widely discredited as soon as it was published.

The Marine Institute’s work suggested a 1 per cent increased mortality. Inland Fisheries Ireland, who are charged with protecting wild fish but came under Department of Communications and Natural Resources, published conclusions based on a three-country, EU sponsored three-year study of protected and non-protected salmon passing by salmon farms.

It showed 39 per cent more salmon died if unprotected from lice from salmon farms.

A subsequent Irish Ombudsman’s investigation into why the Department of Agriculture had denied holding and failed to pass on the IFI “express views” found that the process under the “pilot” investigation meant the Department of Agriculture was designated Ireland’s “lead department”, the sole voice allowed to enter responses in the online “pilot” system.

In the Department of Agriculture’s view outlined and accepted by the Ombudsman, providing the IFI research would have a “disastrous effect on Ireland’s reputation, containing serious inaccuracies, omissions of relevant facts, and misleading commentary”.

In The Irish Times report (“Application for large salmon farm beside wild salmon rivers in Connemara ‘flawed’”, News, August 2nd), the IFI has again found that the same Marine Institute’s discredited studies were used to justify the Environmental Impact Assessment’s conclusion that “no direct causal link between lice on farmed and wild salmon has yet been demonstrated empirically”. Will anyone listen this time? – Yours, etc,


Friends of the Irish Environment,


Co Cork.

Sir, – Kevin O’Sullivan in his article states that there are no open-pen farms in English or Welsh waters (“Row over proposed Connemara fish farm goes to heart of bigger conflict”, News, August 2nd).

If such a development by Norwegian multinational Mowi to build a 3,500-tonne open-pen farm with 22 high-profile cages would be unwelcome and, I understand, banned in California, Oregon and Alaska, why should we in Ireland risk destroying our West Connacht Coast special area of conservation?

I would urge the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue to hold a public consultation before making a final decision on whether to grant Mowi a licence for such a development.

If the consequences of letting this development go ahead result in the destruction of the existing wild salmon stock and the population of freshwater pearl mussels, toxic algal blooms and the contamination from faeces and food waste dropping down to the seabed, it would be akin in seriousness to another section of the Amazon rainforest being destroyed.

Let us protect and look after our natural environment, so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.