The Marine Institute is the Competent Authority in respect of the monitoring activity referred to by the Deputy. During the period in question, my Department’s records do not indicate any negative results on the relevant sites in relation to Benthic Monitoring, Residue Monitoring or Water Framework Monitoring.
Under EU Directive 2006/88/EC, operators of fish farms are obliged to report the presence or suspicion of the presence of OIE-listed diseases to the Competent Authority. No diseases listed in EU Directive 2006/88/EC were recorded in Ireland in 2018 or to date in 2019.
In addition, a voluntary arrangement is in place for operators of marine salmon farms to report mortalities above defined levels (less than 1% in fish over 750g) to the Competent Authority. The production site referred to by the Deputy at Ardmore exceeded trigger values for voluntary reporting of increased mortality for a 7-week period between August and September 2018. The reported causes of mortality were multifactorial, but were not attributable to reportable disease agents under EU Directive 2006/88/EC. No increased mortality has been reported since.
Furthermore, all marine salmon farms in Ireland are inspected on an annual basis by my Department’s veterinary inspectors acting on behalf of the Competent Authority for fish health purposes. The production site referred to by the Deputy at Ardmore was inspected in June 2018 and no issues were noted during the inspection.
The Marine Institute has concluded that the measures taken by the operator referred to by the Deputy, which included expedited harvesting, have been effective in the control of sea lice infestation on farmed Atlantic salmon during the period referred to.
The control protocols for the management of sea lice operated by the Marine Institute on behalf of the State are more advanced than those operated in other jurisdictions for the following reasons:
- The inspection regime is totally independent of the industry
- Data obtained as a result of inspection is published and made widely available
- Treatment trigger levels are set at a low level.
The sea lice monitoring and control programme in Ireland has been acknowledged by the EU Commission as representing best practice.