Report into salmon farm accident 'being withheld'
Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30
A leading environmental group has accused the Government of withholding a report into a salmon farm accident which resulted in one of the largest-ever losses of fish in Ireland.
Almost 230,000 fish were lost when storms battered a salmon farm in Gerahies, Bantry Bay, Co Cork, in February 2014.
Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have sought the departmental report into the incident, so as to clarify the regulatory regime governing such salmon farms.
However, the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries has informed the group that the report will not be completed until December 31.
FIE successfully appealed the department's refusal to release preliminary reports and correspondence.
The department had claimed that the release of any parts of the deliberative process of advising the minister what action to take would be "premature".
It also argued that the public interest would not be served by the release of material in this manner.
However the Information Commission ruled against the department on both grounds.
In his ruling last July, the Information Commissioner ordered the State to release a detailed report into the accident.
Peter Tyndall said that the department's arguments for refusing to release the information were not justified.
He insisted there was a strong public interest in maximising "openness and accountability" in relation to how the Department of Marine and the Marine Institute carries out their functions. He said it was difficult to follow the logic of the department's claims that the release of the information could be potentially harmful to the regulatory process.