Thursday, 9 May 2019

Questions (34)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

34. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number and location of organic salmon farms requested to accelerate harvesting in view of concerns about high sea lice levels on their farms; the number and location of other farms with levels of sea lice that are of concern; the actions being taken to address and resolve these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20098/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The control protocols for the management of sea lice are operated by the Marine Institute on behalf of the State.

To date in 2019, seven finfish production sites have been identified by the Marine Institute as having elevated sea lice levels. These sites are in Kilkieran Bay (1); Inver Bay (2); Ballinakill Harbour (1); Killary Harbour (1); Mulroy Bay (1); Lough Swilly (1).

The Marine Institute, in accordance with standard procedures, issued Notices to Treat to the operators at these sites with measures such as bath treatment, mechanical treatment and cleaner fish treatment undertaken, in consultation with the Marine Institute, to address these issues. Accelerated harvests were undertaken at three sites in the following bays - Kilkieran Bay, Ballinakill Harbour and Inver Bay.

The Marine Institute has concluded that the measures taken by the salmon farms at each site have been effective in the control of sea lice infestation on farmed Atlantic salmon in the Spring period to date.

The protocols for the control of sea lice in Ireland 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 Environment Directorate (DG Environment) of the EU Commission as representing international best practice.

Briefing Note