Sea lice investigation could be re-opened

Juvenile salmon infected with sea lice

Given complaints regarding the presumed mis-administration by the Department of Agriculture  during the European Commission (EC) sea-lice and salmon farm investigation, the case may be re-opened.

The NGO Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) claims that the Department has not provided all the scientific information to the European Commission when this entity was carrying out the procedures.

The NGO states the ministry in question “hid” a report from the from Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) during the investigation.

A request had previously been made by the EC regarding this issue to “correct” a possible mis-administration but the Ministry contested this affirmation, Irish Times reported.

“Following consideration of the scientific facts underpinning the State’s control protocols for the management of sea lice the EU Commission closed the case on October 11, 2012,” the Department of the Marine pointed out.

According to the FIE, the Irish Ombudsman has consented to start the preliminary investigation on the basis of already available information, while the environmental commissioner for the EU told MEP Nessa Childers that they would seek all the available material in order to establish if a reopening of the investigation was justified.

There are concerns that the sea lice issue was diverting attention from other serious problems related to the proposed 15,000 tonne organic aquaculture farm for Galway Bay, such as sourcing sustainable feed and the impact that antibiotics have on the environment.

The Irish Times informed that Seamus Sheridan, Green Party marine spokesman, has requested for plans for said farm to be halted, request which Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Simon Coveney, still has to approve. He also suggested the establishment of a group to work on the future of aquaculture.

Sheridan is confident that Ireland could lead the way in fish and shellfish farming provided they are run in a sustainable way. On the subject he said that the development of more fish hatcheries, lobster nurseries, shellfish, seaweed farming and oyster beds as well as the creation of marine conservation areas could be extremely beneficial for local marine tourism and that these options would be far better than exporting frozen fish to China.

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