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EU Investigation into Irish Sea Lice Closed

09 October 2014

IRELAND - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has welcomed the EU Commission’s decision (dated the 22 September) to close the EU Pilot Investigation (764/09/ENVI), which scrutinised the potential impact of sea lice on wild salmon stocks in Ireland.

The investigation was opened following complaints raised by Friends of the Irish Environment and Salmon Watch Ireland.

The closure of the investigation means that the commission has concluded that the Irish State has no case to answer in relation to the complaint raised.

Donal Maguire, BIM’s Director of Aquaculture Services welcomed the closing of the case stating: “The closure of this complaint by the EU Commission confirms three things. First it shows that there was no evidence to support the suggestion that salmon in Irish rivers are being adversely affected by sea lice from salmon farms.

"Second, it is a clear demonstration that the EU Commission accepts the science, developed by the Marine Institute of Ireland, which shows that sea lice have only a very minor influence on wild salmon survival and third, the closure of the case upholds Ireland’s excellent sea lice monitoring and control programme on salmon farms, which commission officials have classified as being the ‘best in Europe’. Hopefully the formal closure of this pilot investigation will mark a turning point in the long running and sometimes bitter debate about salmon farming and wild salmon stocks.”

However, Tony Lowes, a Director of Friends of the Irish Environment and one of the authors of the original 2009 complaint to the Commission that led to the investigation, stated: "The Environmental Directorates closure of its investigation into sea lice and salmon farming is based on the fact that they require ‘uncontested scientific evidence’. This is an impossible requirement, given the nature of science. Nor does it accord with the European Court of Justice’s legal test of ‘the balance of probability."

"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 concluded 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 per cent fewer salmon spawning in salmon farming areas," he continued.

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