Ireland discontinues Mowi site licence in unprecedented move

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Minister uses powers for the first time section 68 under the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997, to discontinue licence at Mowi Ireland salmon farm site.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine for Marine Michael Creed has discontinued a Mowi Ireland licence to produce farmed salmon in Ballinskelligs Bay sea site in County Kerry due to an alleged regulatory breach, the department posted to the agriculture.gov site.

The story was originally reported in the Irish Examiner.

An investigation by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine discovered a breach of licence conditions over overstocking three years ago at the site. The department wrote that it found that harvest figures were 121.78% in excess of what is permitted under current licence conditions.

The department also said it had identified a licence breach at a freshwater smolt cultivation site run by Comhlucht Iascaireachta Fanad Teo T/A Marine Harvest Ireland at Lough Altan, Procklis near Falcarragh, Co Donegal, where annual production exceeded the 2.5 million smolts allowed.

It marks the first time that section 68 of Ireland’s Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997, which permits a minister to revoke or amend a licence if in the public interest, or if he is satisfied of a breach of conditions, was used on a fish farm.

“Breaching licence conditions serves to undermine public confidence in the regulatory system and therefore enforcement by the Department of licence conditions is in the public interest,” the department wrote.

In an email to SalmonBusiness, a representative from Mowi Ireland: “Mowi Ireland is currently taking advice, following due process and so do not wish to make any statements that might affect this, at this time.”

In an email to SalmonBusiness on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine wrote: “An appeal against the determination of the Minister may be made to the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board within one month beginning on the date of the publication of the Minister’s decision. As the timeline for possible appeals remains open as part of a statutory process it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”