65 farmed salmon have been caught in five rivers in the Counties Galway and Mayo. (Map: Stock File)
Farmers deny responsibility for farmed salmon found in Irish rivers
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Friday, October 13, 2017, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has confirmed that 65 farmed salmon have been caught in five rivers in Counties Galway and Mayo but salmon producers on the west coast have insisted they are not to blame for the presence of this fish.
The association, which has been monitoring the situation since August stocks, mentioned that the affected rivers are the Delphi, Erriff, Kylemore/Dawros, Newport and Bunowen.
IFI denounces that no escapes of farmed salmon have been reported to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (the licensing authority) by salmon farm owners, which has heightened concerns regarding salmon farm management and oversight.
However, the Irish Salmon Growers Association (ISGA), which includes five companies producing salmon at 26 sites, said its members always reported escapes, without exception.
A spokesperson for ISGA ensured producers sent divers down to check cages when reports of catches of farmed fish began to emerge in August and again in late September when a jellyfish swarm hit farms. However, no broken cages or nets were discovered at either stage.
Therefore, this spokesperson questioned whether there could be any connection between the capture of farmed salmon in Irish rivers and the discovery around the same time of Pacific salmon, believed to have travelled from Arctic waters.
On the other hand, IFI stressed that the licencing regime and best management practice should provide assurance to the State that controls are in place, which, in its view, this does not appear to be the case in this instance.
The organisation clarifies that it supports sustainable fish farming but cautions against the renewal and/or award of licences where conditions are not being adhered to.
IFI scientists are analysing captured fish in an attempt to identify the history and maturity status of the farmed salmon.
Of those examined to date, three males (out of six examined) were mature on capture and had the potential to spawn in the wild and impact the genetic integrity of native salmon stock.
IFI is assessing the risk to wild salmon stocks associated with these escapes in the various catchments which are already under pressure due to significant decreases in salmon runs over the last twenty years.