By Cronan Scanlon
THE highest recorded levels of sea lice on farmed fish in Ireland were found on two Donegal fish farms in recent months, it has emerged.
According to industry-circulated Marine Institute reports leaked to the Donegal News, the worst affected fish farms were those in Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay.
The reports were passed to us by an international anti-fish farming activist, Mr Don Staniford, who visited Donegal this week.
Mr Staniford said the figures proved the sites in Mulroy Bay and Lough Swilly recorded the highest sea lice levels during the months of August, September and October.
Sea lice from fish farms, he said, were destroying local, long-established wild Atlantic Salmon stocks.
Marine Harvest has said that it operates controls laid down by the Marine Institute which are of the highest international standard.
Mr Staniford said: “Marine Harvest (stock) is disease-ridden with more than 70 lice recorded on some fish at their site in Lough Swilly in September and as many as 58 per fish in Mulroy Bay during the same month.
These figures come from official Marine Institute reports which have been leaked to me,” Mr Staniford said.
“Sea lice is a result of the intensification of fish farming and lethal chemicals are being used to kill them.
“This is having a devastating effect on wild Atlantic salmon, the environment and traditional fishermen,” he added.
The figures quoted by Mr Staniford were confirmed by copies of the same reports which were released to us by the Marine Institute.
A spokesperson for the institute said these reports are circulated to stakeholders, including Inland Fisheries Ireland and Salmon Watch Ireland, on a monthly basis.