188. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to initiate an inquiry into salmon farming here in view of the public concern regarding environmental damage to the coastal environment caused by the industry and the recent report of the Scottish Parliament stating that salmon production in that country is unsustainable and is not being sufficiently regulated. (Question 16842/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): All applications for aquaculture licences are considered by my Department in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable National and EU legislation.
The licensing process provides for a period of Statutory and Public Consultation. Licensing decisions are taken following the fullest consideration of all scientific, environmental, legal, engineering and public pol...

180. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 367 of 14 November 2017, the full title and specific section of the legislation on which he is relying to withhold publication of the audit report on the organic status of the audited aquaculture sites operated by a company (details supplied). (Question 52561/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department, as the Competent Authority, delegates the task of certifying and operating the inspection system to which organic operators producing, preparing, storing or importing produce from third countries are subject. This is in accordance with the governing EU regulations. Since 2005, the associated services and obligations of the Organic Control Bodies are formalised by service agreements between the Department and the...

367. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 294 of 24 October 2017, if he will publish the audits his Department undertook into the aquaculture sites in question in order to ensure compliance with the rules governing the organic sector. (Question 47815/17 asked on 14 Nov 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): At the request of my Department the relevant Organic Control Body undertook a comprehensive audit of all sites operated by the company concerned.  Mindful of data protection and commercial sensitivity, my Department will not be publishing the audit report in question.   
I can confirm however that the outcome of these audits indicate that the company concerned is compliant with the rules governing the organic sector.
 ...

371. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of a company’s (details supplied) salmon farms that are under investigation by his Department for breaches of licence conditions; the percentage of the company’s sites that are under investigation; when the investigations will be completed; and if he will publish the results of the investigations. (Question 47819/17 asked on 14 Nov 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department is currently examining possible breaches of licence conditions in respect of three aquaculture licences held by the Company or subsidiary companies referred to by the Deputy.
This represents approximately 19% of licences held by the Company or subsidiary companies. 
Every effort is being made by my Department to bring these examinations to a conclusion as soon as possible. As these examinations are ongoing as pa...

294. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether the organic label awarded to salmon farms has been damaged in view of ongoing investigations by his Department into breaches of licence conditions by a company (details supplied) across a range of sites. (Question 44925/17 asked on 24 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): At the request of my Department, the relevant Organic Control Body undertook a comprehensive audit of all sites operated by the company named.  I can confirm that the outcome of these audits indicate that the company named is compliant with the rules governing the organic sector. I am satisfied therefore that the integrity of the organic label is protected. As with the performance of all operators, my Department will be keep...

169. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 4 October 2017, if there was a disease outbreak or other incident resulting in extensive fish mortalities at a site (details supplied) previous to the recent jellyfish strike; the date his Department and Inland Fisheries Ireland were notified of the disease outbreak or incident; the number of mortalities from this disease outbreak or incident; and the condition and number of the remaining fish at the time of the jellyfish strike. (Question 44185/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department has been advised by the Marine Institute that the aquaculture site referred to by the Deputy experienced a disease outbreak in advance of the jellyfish strike. 
On 21 September my Department received an inquiry from Inland Fisheries Ireland concerning large quantities of dead fish at the site referred to by the Deputy. Inquiries by my Department’s Marine Engineering Division indicated that substantial mortalitie...

170. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the compensation fund for biotoxin events in aquaculture provided by the State can be accessed for the recent mortalities through jellyfish strikes on salmon farms; and the extent, duration and rationale of the fund. (Question 44186/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Ireland’s €240 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme 2014-20 provides €29.6 million to support the sustainable development of the aquaculture sector, in accordance with the 2015 National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture Development. This includes a €2 million fund to aid mollusc farmers affected by suspension of harvesting of molluscs during periods of raised biotoxin levels.  
In accord...

427. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the recent statement by Inland Fisheries Ireland that 65 farmed salmon have been caught in five rivers in counties Galway and Mayo, in view of the fact that no escapes have been reported, despite the conditions of all aquaculture licences requiring operators to report all escapes to his Department within 24 hours; and if he is satisfied that the regime of regulatory oversight ensures public confidence in the effectiveness of his Department’s protection of the environment (details supplied). (Question 43714/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department has noted media reports of salmon being found in some rivers which may be from farmed stock. My Department has advised Inland Fisheries Ireland that where anglers or officers of Inland Fisheries Ireland suspect that they have collected salmon from farmed stock that the fish should be sent to the Marine Institute for analysis, with a view to determining whether they are actually from farmed stock.
If fish present...

429. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department will provide data when requested on fish farm stocking, losses, diseases and mortalities in numbers of fish and their weight, including responses to parliamentary questions, in view of the fact that the Commissioner for Environmental Information (details supplied) is not of the view that numerical information regarding fish should be withheld from the public on grounds of commercial sensitivity. (Question 43716/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department always responds to requests for information in as transparent a manner as possible consistent with the legislative restrictions applicable to information sought in individual cases including, but not limited to, environmental legislation, the Freedom of Information Act and legislation governing data protection.
 ...

430. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 4 October 2017, if the percentage figures of losses he has provided refer to a percentage of the licensed capacity of the site or to the actual fish held. (Question 43717/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department has been advised by the Marine Institute that the reported mortalities are in respect of the actual stock held.
 ...

166. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he took against the operators of a fish farm (details supplied) as a result of the failure of the operators of a fish farm in a location to notify his Department of the catastrophic farm damage on 1 February 2014 until a week later. (Question 42012/17 asked on 04 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): At the time of the incident referred to by the Deputy extreme weather conditions continued to be experienced, which delayed both the notification of the incident and its immediate investigation.
As the Deputy is aware my Department’s examination of the matter, which is nearing completion, is detailed and involves all Engineering, Scientific, Environmental and Technical matters associated with the incident.
In addition, my Depa...

167. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the location, time and mortalities caused by jellyfish to salmon farms here in the past three years and to date in 2017; and the measures he plans to take to ensure the welfare and survival of farmed fish. (Question 42013/17 asked on 04 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed):  My Department has been advised by the Marine Institute that the information requested by the Deputy is as follows:-
2014 
- One site in Co. Donegal reported that jellyfish related mortality had occurred between June and September. This mortality was however, multifactorial in nature and it is not possible to quantify the losses which were specifically attributed to jellyfish.   
- Two other sites located adjacent to each othe...

168. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the location and stocking limits of the fin fish farms; the operators of same previously licensed by his Department that are now unlicensed and operating under the continuity mechanism introduced in 2006 under section 19(A)4 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997, while awaiting new licences. (Question 42014/17 asked on 04 Oct 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The information requested by the Deputy is not immediately available and will require a detailed examination of my Department’s records. The information requested will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.
 ...

419. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has satisfied himself that the methods for slaughtering and transporting farmed fish by a company (details supplied) from salmon farms in the south west are in accordance with organic requirements. (Question 40378/17 asked on 26 Sep 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): All organic operators, including the company named, are inspected regularly to ensure compliance with all conditions applying to the production of organic food. This includes organic salmon.  No issues have been identified in relation to slaughtering and transportation of farmed fish by the company named, but my Department, in co-operation with the Organic Control Bodies, will continue to ensure that the highest standards are...

420. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the inspections which are carried out by his Department into the slaughtering and processing of farmed salmon by all aquaculture operators described by his Department as organic. (Question 40379/17 asked on 26 Sep 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The certification, control and inspection of all organic producers in Ireland, including those engaged in the production of organic farmed salmon, has been delegated in accordance with EU regulations to a number of approved Organic Control Bodies. These bodies carry out their functions under specific contract to my Department.  The inspection process for organic producers is extremely detailed and includes adherence to a rang...

421. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of inspections of salmon farms that were conducted by his Department’s marine engineers in 2016 and to date in 2017. (Question 40380/17 asked on 26 Sep 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The Department’s Marine Engineering Division conducted 41 inspections on Salmon farms in 2016, and to date in 2017, 16 inspections were conducted.
 ...

546. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 439 and 440 of 9 June 2015, the progress made on overstocking since his predecessor stated on 15 June 2015 that his Department had identified the issue of overstocking as a key operational priority over the next 12 months for the monitoring and compliance unit of his Department’s aquaculture licensing division. (Question 8490/17 asked on 21 Feb 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): As the Deputy is aware a number of aquaculture sites operated by one company have been the subject of ongoing examination by my Department in respect of possible overstocking.
In the case of two of these sites - Lough Altan Hatchery and Inishfarnard, my Department’s examination has concluded.
In relation to the Lough Altan Hatchery, I have determined that an amendment to the licence held by the company in respect of this site ...

251. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine whether overstocking of salmon farms negates the organic status of the fish produced. (Question 7490/17 asked on 15 Feb 2017 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The maximum stocking density for organic salmon production is laid down under EU regulation. Any breach of that would be regarded as a serious infringement and would be fully investigated on a case by case basis. Depending on what emerged from any such investigation, the consequences could include removal of the organic status for the affected product or indeed the suspension of the operator’s organic licence altogether.  Ho...

483. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when his Department expects to complete an examination of overstocking at fish farms operated by a company (details supplied); and if the examination will include potential damage to the marine environment and to the organic status of the fish produced at the sites. (Question 28064/16 asked on 04 Oct 2016 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department is currently examining possible overstocking in respect of a number of sites operated by the company referred to by the Deputy.
In relation to one of the sites, I have concluded my consideration of the issue and my Department will be following up with the company in relation to the matter.
Examination of the matter in relation to the other sites is ongoing and I will be giving consideration to those cases once th...

181. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 97 of 27 January 2016, which four sites operated by Marine Harvest Ireland he is examining for overstocking, and with reference to each case, to state the amount of overstocking involved and what effect the overstocking has on the organic status of the fish produced at these sites. (Question 6455/16 asked on 14 Apr 2016 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The four sites in question are Clare Island (Portlea site), Lough Altan (Hatchery), Inishfarnard and Deenish. My Department’s examination is complete in respect of Clare Island (Portlea site) and my Department is satisfied that a breach of stocking limits in respect of the applicable aquaculture licence has not occurred. This information has been conveyed to the licensed operator. My Department’s examination of possible ove...

96. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 479, 489 and 490 of 9 June 2015 regarding information on salmon farms operating outside their licensed areas and operating without the required warning lights or radar reflectors by site and by operators and given the level of non-compliance after warnings, if he will include the last element of the parliamentary questions; the actions he plans to take to ensure his authorised officers are appropriately supported and the licensing conditions are met. (Question 3457/16 asked on 27 Jan 2016 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The primary responsibility for ensuring that aquaculture licence conditions are fully adhered to rests, in the first instance, with each licence holder. Where instances of non-compliance with the terms and conditions of an aquaculture licence are identified by my Department the matter is referred to the licence holder for corrective action. The efficient and effective regulation of aquaculture is a key operational priority fo...

97. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if stocking levels on Irish salmon farms are within their licensed tonnage; the details of breaches, by site and by operator; the actions he will take to bring operators under their licensed limits, given that he informed this Deputy on 9 June 2015 that this was a key operational priority. (Question 3458/16 asked on 27 Jan 2016 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): My Department is currently examining possible overstocking in respect of four sites operated by one operator. Pending completion of this examination it would not be appropriate to comment further. 
 ...

115. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will instruct Bord Iascaigh Mhara to remove from its website all references to the amount and usage of chemicals on Irish fish farms such as chemicals that are rarely used on today’s Irish fish farms, as he has made it clear that neither he nor any of the agencies under the aegis of the Department, such as Bord Iascaigh Mhara or the Marine Institute, has any data on which to base such statements. (Question 43240/15 asked on 03 Dec 2015 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): As I have previously advised the Deputy, the specific text on the Bord Iascaigh Mhara website referred to by the Deputy reads as follows: “Chemicals are rarely used on today’s Irish fish farms. The only chemicals used would be medicines which, if needed, are administered by a veterinary surgeon and detailed in records that are routinely inspected by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Young salmon are vaccinate...

217. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if will confirm the statement on Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s website that chemicals are rarely used on Irish fish farms by providing the amount and nature of the chemicals used during 2012 to 2014. (Question 41398/15 asked on 24 Nov 2015 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The specific text on the Bord Iascaigh Mhara website referred to by the Deputy reads as follows; “Chemicals are rarely used on today’s Irish fish farms. The only chemicals used would be medicines which, if needed, are administered by a veterinary surgeon and detailed in records that are routinely inspected by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Young salmon are vaccinated before being put to sea, which means th...

124. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 223 of 3 April 2014, the reason he replied regarding the inspection of licensed aquaculture sites that he was satisfied that the current inspection regime is satisfactory, when at the same time he provided the European Commission with a programme of measures intended to avoid daily fines for non-compliance with the European Court of Justice case C-418/04, informing the Commission that a dedicated monitoring and compliance unit has been established within his Department to ensure enhanced monitoring and regulatory standards, practices and procedures, and that he had substantially enhanced the existing regulatory procedures and supplements for all other inspections of sites. (Question 24147/15 asked on 17 Jun 2015 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 to 126, inclusive, together.
As the Deputy has been previously advised, I am satisfied that the current inspection regime operated by my Department is satisfactory. The establishment of the Monitoring and Compliance Unit referred to by the Deputy has added a further enhancement to the monitoring and regulatory standards, practices and procedures already in place. A key element of the work...