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Accident Report Refused On Fish Farm Disaster

category national | environment | press release author Sunday July 13, 2014 23:25author by foie - Friends of Irish Environment Report this post to the editors



Simon Coveney has refused to release the Department’s Report on the loss of 230,000 salmon in Bantry Bay last February.

His decision claims that the work is not completed and that the public interest would not be served by the disclosure of the Department of Marine’s Engineering Division report.

The storm on February 1, 2014, saw a cage break loose from its mooring and upend itself into another cage at Gerahies.

Alex O’Donovan, Secretary of Save Bantry Bay [SBB] said in March of this year that after the official count on 19 February 2014 they understood that the farm had been ‘virtually wiped out’.

Minister Simon Coveney subsequently confirmed the loss of 230,000 Salmon in the extreme weather event of 2 February 2014.

Despite repeated requests, Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] and Save Bantry Bay have been refused the Report, breaking Minister Coveney’s previous precedent of releasing such documents regarding salmon farm escapes.

Last week FIE’s appeal against the refusal was refused by Simon Coveney on the grounds that the Report was an ‘internal communication in the course of completion’ and that it ‘would not be in the public interest to release the Report’.

Tony Lowes, a Director of FIE, said that ‘The Department has announced that it has given permission for the operators to restock this site. How can they do this if the report on the accident is not complete and how can this secretive manner of operating be in the public interest?’

Mr. Lowes explained that the group had been released similar accident reports earlier this year and that the Engineers’ Report on the loss of 80,000 salmon in Clew Bay in 2010 blamed the disaster on Simon Coveney’s officials’ failure to enforce licensing conditions.

The Report stated ‘if a more rigorous/frequent mooring inspections programme had been in place it is possible – even likely - there would have been earlier detection which would therefore have avoided the November 2010 failures.’

It explained: ‘While the Department has no capability itself of mounting its own inspections of underwater equipment it does have a role to play in ensuring that licensing conditions to the effect that licences shall take all necessary steps to prevent the escape of fish are complied with. We did not to my knowledge actually check that there was an adequate monitoring system in place at this site.’

A note by an Assistant Secretary on the Report states: ‘This Report clearly points to the fact that adequate systems in relation to certification, maintenance, inspection, repairs and records need to be in place for this type of installation’.

Mr Lowes explained that ‘Fish farms are not regulated by land based building regulations because they are not on land. But neither do they fall under the Maritime Equipment Directive and Regulations because they are not on flag bearing ships. ‘

‘We believe this Report will show that in spite of the 2010 recommendations, nothing has been done to ensure that these installations are inspected to ensure their viability. That is why the Minister is refusing to release this Report.’

The group has appealed the decision to the Information Commissioner and are filing a complaint for maladministration with the Ombudsman.

Tony Lowes [FIE] 087 2176316

Alex O’Donovan [SBB] 087 7949227



This detailed 60 page report from the Marine Engineering Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries on the cause of the escape of 83,000 salmon from a farm in Inver Bay in 2010 which says it is ‘likely’ that if the Department of Agriculture had ensured adherence to licensing conditions it would have avoided the disaster.

Appeal to Information Commissioner:



Published peer reviewed research shows that between 1996-2004, 415,000 salmon escaped from Irish salmon farms.

This Research shows genetic integrity of protected species are interfered with. Escaped farmed salmon may inflate catch based spawning stock estimates to such an extent that the stock appears either to be healthy or recovering, the consequences of which are that conservation measures are either relaxed or not strengthened, or new measures not being introduced.

Monitoring the incidence of escaped farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., in rivers and fisheries of the United Kingdom and Ireland: current progress and recommendations for future programmes

Alan M. Walkera,∗, Malcolm C.M. Beveridgeb, Walter Crozierc, Niall Ó Maoiléidighd and Nigel Milnere

ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil

ICES J. Mar. Sci. (2006) 63 (7): 1201-1210. doi: 10.1016/j.icesjms.2006.04.018

ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseilicesjms.oxfordjournals.org

ICES J. Mar. Sci. (2006) 63 (7): 1201-1210. doi: 10.1016/j.icesjms.2006.04.018

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