FISSTA UPDATE ON THE EU SAGA OF COMPLAINTS
FISSTA commends TONY LOWES & FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT on their pursuit for accountabilty within the maze they call the EU framework.
Once again, the failure of the EU to protect our wild Atlantic salmon as outlined in long standing complaints have highlighted the weaknesses in the system.
While this major setback and not good news for all 19 wild Atlantic salmon countries, FISSTA are hopeful as the closure letter from the Commission states that the wider infringement case against Ireland arising from the adverse judgement of the Court of Justice in 2007 remains open and ‘the debate is not closed.’
See full Press release below:
FRIENDS OF THE IRISH ENVIRONMENT – 8 OCTOBER 2014 PRESS RELEASE
EU INVESTIGATION CLOSURE DEMONSTRATES LIMITATIONS OF EU CONSERVATION LAW
The EU’s decision to close its longstanding PILOT and CHAP investigations into Irish salmon farming demonstrates the limitations of EU environmental law, according to Friends of the Irish Environment.
COMMISSION ADMITS IMPACT
The environmentalists provided a number of studies that demonstrated the link between salmon farms and wild salmon mortality which the commission in fact accepted, stating:
‘The various studies brought to our attention and relied upon by you and the Irish authorities clearly show that sea lice infestation levels in salmon farms have an effect on migrating wild Atlantic salmon in terms of their overall survival rate.’
However, it points out that there is no provision under EU law for a general ban on salmon farming. They are in fact limited in their powers to examining only salmon in rivers specifically listed for their protection. In this case, the three rivers cited by Salmon Watch Ireland – the Bundorragha River, The Newport River, and the Ballynahinch catchment – have maintained ‘reasonable conservation status’. Therefore the commission had no grounds to proceed further to court
A review published last week by top international scientists from Norway, Scotland and Ireland of all 300 available published studies on the effects of sea lice confirmed that sea lice have ‘negatively impacted wild sea trout stocks in salmon farming areas in Ireland, Scotland and Norway‘ and that ‘sea lice have a potential significant and detrimental effect on marine survival of Atlantic salmon with potentially 12-44% fewer salmon spawning in salmon farming areas’.
BIM’s statement welcoming the closure of the case in which they state that there is ‘no evidence to support the suggestion that salmon in Irish rivers are being adversely affected by sea lice from salmon farms’ is both unscientific and unsound.
CONTESTED SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
The other failure of the system that emerged over the five year investigation was the environmental directorates insistence on ‘uncontested scientific evidence’. The nature of scientific research is to test – or contest – accepted hypothesise. That is the way science proceeds. In this case, a Marine Institute staff Fisheries inspector published works dismissing the impact of salmon farm lice on wild salmon as ‘minor component of marine mortality’. In spite of the subsequent criticism by five international scientists of three statistical errors in this work which rendered its result without value, the Commission was still able to state that the ‘debate is not closed’.
The correct legal test used by the ECM is the balance of probability’. If this test were applied and the overwhelming scientific evidence of the adverse impact of farmed salmon lice on wild salmon fell within the terms of the directive, the outcome of the investigation would have been very different.
CASE REMAINS OPEN
Further, the closure letter from the Commission states that the wider infringement case against Ireland arising from the adverse judgement of the Court of Justice in 2007 remains open and ‘the debate is not closed.’
Tony Lowes 027 74771 / 087 2176316
Read the letter
SEE IFI’s comment ‘Salmon Farms can have Significant Impact on Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Stocks’
PLOT and CHAP investigations were established in 2008 as a pre-infringement proceedings in which member states were required to answer within strict time frames. Complaints were forwarded to the relevant Governments who were encouraged to contact the complainant in an effort to resolve the issue. That did not happen in the Irish salmon case, and delays in receiving documents from Ireland – some over a year in length – led to a long drawn out investigation.
The closure comes 5 years after FIE and Salmon Watch Ireland lodged formal complaints over the impact of sea lice in farmed salmon cages on wild salmon, a species protected under European legislation.
The investigation was initially closed in 2012 but was reopened later that year after FIE provided the commission with further information, including a damming report from IFI.
Salmon Farms can have Significant Impact on Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Stocks
The Chairman and Board of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have today (18.09.14) welcomed a definitive review of over 300 scientific publications, which has just been published, on the effects sea lice can have on sea trout stocks. A team of top international scientists from Norway, Scotland and Ireland reviewed all available published studies on the effects of sea lice and have now concluded that sea lice have negatively impacted wild sea trout stocks in salmon farming areas in Ireland, Scotland and Norway.
Effects of salmon lice on sea trout
Previously research was based on individually published studies but this new review reached its conclusions based on comprehensive studies of the effects of salmon lice from over 300 scientific publications. The project was funded by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund which provides investment in Norwegian seafood industry-based R&D with the objective of creating added value for the seafood industry.
The study also examined the potential effect of sea lice on salmon and concluded that sea lice have a potential significant and detrimental effect on marine survival of Atlantic salmon with potentially 12-44% fewer salmon spawning in salmon farming areas. Chairman Brendan O’Mahony commented, “These conclusions concur with previously published Inland Fisheries Ireland research on the potential impact of sea lice from marine salmon farms on salmon survival.”
The studies reviewed indicate that salmon farming increases the abundance of lice in marine habitats and that sea lice in intensively farmed areas have negatively impacted wild sea trout populations. The effects of sea lice on sea trout are increased marine mortality and reduced marine growth. This new study confirms the evidence collected since the early 1990’s in Ireland regarding the impact of sea lice on wild sea trout stocks, particularly in relation to the collapse of Connemara’s sea trout stocks. The Board of IFI has consistently called for marine salmon farms to maintain sea lice levels close to zero prior to and during the wild sea trout and salmon smolt migration period in spring. IFI has also raised concerns regarding the location of salmon farms in the estuaries of salmon and sea trout rivers.
The Board of IFI believes this new review confirms the need for very tight regulation of sea lice levels on salmon farms and raises legitimate concerns with regard to the potential impact of new, large scale salmon farms, proposed along Ireland’s west coast, on salmon and sea trout stocks. Regulators will now need to consider the results of this comprehensive review when making decisions on the sustainability and approval of future marine salmon aquaculture licences and the regulation of sea lice at existing sites so as to ensure no negative impact on salmon and sea trout stocks.
To download the document:
Effects of salmon lice on sea trout a literature review NINA Report 1044 September 2014
Suzanne Campion, Head of Business Development, Inland Fisheries Ireland
Tel: 087-2690183Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
About Inland Fisheries Ireland:
Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. IFI will promote, support, facilitate and advise the Minister on, the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling and develop and advise the Minister on policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling.
About the Study:
A new study has just been published by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) which outlines the negative effect of salmon lice on sea trout populations in intensively farmed areas of Norway, Scotland and Ireland. The project, funded by The Norwegian Seafood Research Fund, indicates that salmon farming increases the abundance of lice in marine habitats and that salmon lice in intensively farmed areas have negatively impacted wild sea trout populations. The effects of salmon lice on sea trout result in increased marine mortality and reduced marine growth.
The aim of this project was to summarize available knowledge on effects of salmon lice on sea trout to provide the aquaculture industry, wild fishery managers and researchers with a comprehensive and updated knowledge status. Knowledge gaps are also identified. The literature review was based primarily on international publications in peer-reviewed journals or books in order to establish a solid and justifiable knowledge base on the effects of salmon lice on sea trout. The authors of the report constitute an international group of scientists, from several institutions in Norway, Scotland and Ireland. A reference group was established to serve as advisors for the authors of the report and included individuals from NINA, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Bremnes Seashore AS and the Norwegian Seafood Federation.
The study reviewed laboratory studies which show that salmon lice may induce osmo-regulatory dysfunction, physiological stress responses, anaemia, reduced feeding and growth, increased susceptibility to secondary microbial infections, reduced disease resistance and increased mortality in individual sea trout. Osmo-regulatory dysfunction is likely caused both by the mechanical damage of the skin and tissue and is an expression of overall physiological stress responses. Mechanical abrasion and impairment of the barrier between the fish body and seawater results in increased leakage of water from the host individual, and thereby affects its overall osmotic and ionic balance. Salmon lice-induced fish mortality tends to be incurred within 10-20 days of exposure to juvenile lice (copepodids) in the laboratory, by which time the salmon lice have developed to the pre-adult and adult stages. Field studies have confirmed laboratory observations on the effects of sea lice.
Premature migratory return of salmon lice-infested sea trout to freshwater has been documented in Ireland, Scotland and Norway. Premature return is interpreted as an adaptive response by the host to salmon lice-induced osmo-regulatory dysfunction in seawater. Return to freshwater may, in the short term, enable the fish to regain osmotic balance and survive. Return to freshwater also allows short-term recovery from salmon lice infestation, because salmon lice have a low freshwater tolerance. In the long term, however, growth opportunities and future fecundity of individuals may be greatly reduced by an abbreviated sea migration caused by salmon lice.
The study revealed a number of comparative field studies which have demonstrated a link between Atlantic salmon farms and salmon lice levels in wild sea trout, with increased salmon lice levels on wild sea trout closer to salmon farms. Several studies have shown elevated salmon lice levels of wild sea trout, particularly within 30 km of the nearest farms. Elevated salmon lice levels also may be recorded at distances >25-30 km, and models have shown that the planktonic stages of salmon lice larvae can be dispersed >100 km. How far, and in which direction, larvae are transported depend upon numerous variables, including their development rate, water temperature, currents and salinity. Several studies have also shown temporal correlations between salmon lice levels in wild sea trout and year of the production cycle and biomass of fish in adjacent farms, with increased salmon lice levels on sea trout with increased total fish biomass in those farms.
The study also examined the potential effect of sea lice on salmon. The overall effect is consistently clear; salmon lice have a potential significant and detrimental effect on marine survival of Atlantic salmon. Meta-analyses and long-term studies, and similar results from an increasing number of experimental studies in Ireland and Norway, show that these are levels of extra mortality (i.e., 12-44% fewer spawners) that can be expected for Atlantic salmon in farm-intensive areas. The study points out that the salmon louse-induced mortality from Atlantic salmon studies referred to above should likely best be regarded as minimum estimates for sea trout mortality as sea trout remain in near coastal waters and are therefore exposed to seasonally higher risks of salmon lice infestation.
Elevated marine mortality rates, such as that induced by salmon lice, result in a proportional reduction in the number of spawning adults. Because sea-run brown trout typically are females, any additional marine mortality has the potential to affect egg deposition and hence ultimately recruitment even more negatively than would be the case were there an equal sex ratio.
The studies reviewed indicate that salmon farming increases the abundance of lice in marine habitats and that salmon lice in intensively farmed areas have negatively impacted wild sea trout populations. The effects of salmon lice on sea trout are increased marine mortality and reduced marine growth. In summary, the combined knowledge from the reviewed studies provides evidence of a general negative effect of salmon lice on sea trout populations in intensively farmed areas of Ireland, Norway and Scotland.
Premature migratory return, increased marine mortality and reduced growth of survivors that are induced by elevated salmon lice levels inevitably imply (1) a reduction in numbers and body size of sea trout returning to freshwater for spawning, and (2) a reduced or eliminated surplus that can be harvested by recreational and commercial fisheries. In the extreme, reduced marine growth and increased mortality could result in the local loss of sea trout populations.
Effects of salmon lice on sea trout a literature review
NINA REPORT 1044
Eva B. Thorstad1, Christopher D. Todd2, Pål Arne Bjørn3,
Patrick G. Gargan4, Knut Wiik Vollset5, Elina Halttunen3, Steinar Kålås6, Ingebrigt Uglem1, Marius Berg1 & Bengt Finstad1
1 Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
2 University of St Andrews, Scotland
3 Institute of Marine Research, Norway
4 Inland Fisheries Ireland
5 Uni Research Environment, Norway
6 Rådgivende Biologer AS, Norway