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“Two fingers to the EU”

“Two fingers to the EU”

Ireland's Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFF) knowingly misled the European Commission in its investigation of sea lice and wild salmon, Friends of the Irish Environment claimed today.

DAFF denies having, and failed to send to the Commission, a report which the Commission had specifically requested prepared by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and forwarded to them by the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources. The Report, is a damning commentary on the official position put in by DAFF in response to the Complaint in June 2010. It was sent from DCENR to DAFF in November 2010 but the Department of Agriculture told the EU investigation in November 2011 that it had not received it.

As a result, The Friends say that the EU complaint was dismissed in 2012 and an application for the doubling of Ireland’s salmon production was ordered by the Minister.

Noting that it had not been consulted in the preparation of Ireland’s reply, the suppressed report cited examples from Marine Institute salmon farm lice records, stating: "This does not constitute good sea lice control." It said DAFF’s position that "no empirical evidence has been made available suggesting the presence of sea lice in salmon fish farms has a significant impact on the protected species" is "not consistent with available information," providing "numerous records that provide contrary evidence." It concluded that: "Mortalities of salmonids attributable to sea lice have been well documented."

The report, marked ‘final’ and sent to the same official who denied its existence to the Commission investigation less than a year later, concluded: "The potential exists for sea lice transfer from farmed salmon to outward migrating wild salmon smolts in any estuary with a marine salmon farm present."

The report and letters were obtained by a series of Access to Information Requests in Ireland and in Europe.

Friends of the Irish Environment director, Tony Lowes, said: "In many years of reading files and preparing cases, I have never seen such brazen behaviour. Essentially, Simon Coveney’s Department gave the two fingers to the EU investigation because it stood in the way of their expansionist plans. This report by the Government agency legally responsible for our wild salmon makes it crystal clear that the sea lice issue is not resolved."

The environmental group has lodged a ‘request for redress of mal–administration’ to Minister Coveney, and is seeking to have the investigation reopened.

The Requests for Redress, documentation and related records can be found by clicking HERE.

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