Severe weather puts a stop to salmon harvesting
STORMS and jellyfish attacks have damaged Irish salmon farming, forcing a major producer to stop harvesting fish for over six weeks.
And farmers are also counting the cost of flooding, which has taken its toll on thousands of acres of land.
Marine Harvest, which is the biggest producer of Irish farmed salmon, reported exceptional fish mortality losses of €2.7m in Ireland during the final three months of 2013.
Company spokesperson Catherine McManus said the weather conditions this winter had been "unprecedented" in the company's 35-year history in Ireland, making it difficult to access offshore sites.
This came on top of problems with large waves of jellyfish last summer and outbreaks of pancreas disease and gill disease, which resulted in high death rates.
Harvesting of salmon was suspended during January and will not resume till February 17 in an effort to grow the fish, a company financial report said.
Marine Harvest is a Norwegian-owned multinational fishfarm company, which has nine sites in Ireland, in Mayo, Cork and Donegal.
Friends of the Irish Environment said the fish death losses showed the need to move to closed containment systems that separated farmed fish from the natural environment and diseases.
But the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) aquaculture chief Richie Flynn said most fishfarms had weathered the storms well.
Meanwhile, IFA officials met the Minister for the OPW Brian Hayes yesterday to discuss flood damage to farmland.
JP Cowley, who farms in Easkey, Co Sligo, said over 100 acres of land belonging to various farmers in Rathlee had been badly affected.
"There are fields strewn with rocks and seaweed and sand that you couldn't farm and people are worried will they lose their single farm payments on these," he said.
The IFA wants a guarantee that farmers hit by flood damage won't lose out on EU payments under hardline new rules on land eligibility.