Norway’s Mowi seeks new licence for Kerry salmon farm

The facility located on Deenish Island lost its licence in 2019 under then-Agriculture Minister Michael Creed for allegedly harvesting twice the amount of salmon permitted under its licence.

The facility has continued to operate pending the outcome of an appeal to the State’s Aquaculture Licence Appeals Board (ALAB), despite protests by environmental groups.

In a new aquaculture and foreshore licence application filed with the Department of Agriculture, Silver King Seafoods Limited, a company owned by Mowi Ireland, said the licenced facility would employ a minimum of seven people.

“The company is fully integrated with breeding, growing, harvest, processing and sales facilities in Ireland,” it said.

The firm said on-site staff would be supported by the Mowi Ireland “sub aqua dive team, an in-house veterinarian and technical support staff”.

Making the decision to strip the facility’s licence in 2019, Mr Creed said in 2016, Mowi Ireland harvested 1,100 tonnes of salmon at the site, instead of the permitted 500 tonnes.

He said this led to a rise in effluent discharge from the Deenish site.

In its submission to ALAB, Mowi Ireland said there was no breach of its licence conditions.

It argued that when the licence was granted in 1995, “harvesting” referred to killing fish on-site. It said the fish reared at the Deenish facility were taken to Castletownbere in Cork to be slaughtered.

The company also denied there had been a rise in effluent discharge from the site.

Mowi Ireland also previously pointed to issues with the slow pace of the Irish licensing system, saying it had sought renewal and improvement of the Deenish licence in 2007.

In its appeal to ALAB, the company said: “Some of Mowi Ireland applications to renew licences have been with the Department since 2000.

“Little or no information has been provided regarding the progress of these applications over the years.”

The Department of Agriculture referred queries on the issue to ALAB. Mowi Ireland had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

In a statement, ALAB said: “The appeal is currently under consideration by the ALAB board.

The responsibility for the implementation of licence conditions is a matter for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.”

Advocacy group Salmon Watch Ireland has opposed the operation of the Deenish facility, claiming it has a negative impact on local wildlife and fish stocks.

In September, Mowi Ireland announced it would cut 33 of its Irish staff.

The firm, which employed 265 people in Ireland before the cuts, had flagged difficulties at its Irish operations after warmer than normal sea temperatures impacted the amount of salmon fished in Ireland.

The company, which is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon, said the warmer than normal temperatures impacted on the growth of its fish and hindered its projected salmon production for this year.

In 2022, Mowi had global sales of €4.9bn, while its Irish arm had turnover of €72m. The company has operations in 26 countries and employs 11,500 people worldwide.

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