Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to state categorically if he and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny had talks with Alf-Helge Aarskog with regard to the issuing of new licenses for Irish salmon farms.
Speaking in the Seanad today, Senator Ó Clochartaigh said:
“Mr Aarksog is chief-executive of one of Norway’s largest fish farming companies, Marine Harvest.
“The company is already heavily involved in the Irish fish farming industry and is responsible for three-quarters of the 12,000 tonnes of farmed salmon that will be produced in Ireland this year.
“Media reports suggest Mr Aarsksog recently met with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Coveney with a view to raising Marine Harvest’s annual production to 35,000 tonnes.
“The Minister needs to come clean and inform us if such a meeting took place, and if it did we need to know what was discussed.
“All of this concerns plans by the government to develop Europe’s biggest fish farm in Galway Bay.
“Right now the EU Commission has reopened an investigation into why it did not receive a scientific report from the Minister’s Department.
“The report by Inland Fisheries Ireland showed that a farm on the scale of the one planned for Galway Bay would result in the production of large amounts of sea lice.
“This in turn would destroy much of the country’s wild salmon and trout stock.
“It would appear that the Department supressed the report as it had the potential to derail their plans.
“This entire project lacks transparency and accountability.
“Minister Coveney has questions to answer and he should do so without delay.
“This is the wrong project in the wrong place and it should not go ahead.”