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ACCORDING to the pressure group Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), BIM Aquaculture Manager Donal Maguire’s recent statement that the sea lice treatment cypermethrin “has been fully tested in the marine environment for toxicology to ensure it is safe” is in direct contradiction to the Irish Medicines Board [IMB] and the manufacturer’s warnings.

Cypermethrine is used for the control of sea lice on all Irish salmon farms, including the proposed organic Galway Bay mega-farm. BIM is awaiting the Minister’s decision on its application for a salmon farm in Galway Bay that will double national production of farmed salmon.

The Friends cite the IMB product description which states that cypermethrin is “dangerous to fish and other aquatic life” and instructs “Do not contaminate ponds, waterways or ditches with the product or used containers. The product should not be allowed to contaminate water.”
The Data Safety Sheet states that: “According to Directive 67/548/EEC [Dangerous substances Directive] and 1999/45/EC [Dangerous Preparations Directive] cypermethrin is ‘Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment’.”

FIE say that: “Cypermethrin is a biocide which kills life, not a medicine which saves lives. The sea lice it teats are not an ‘ailment’, as BIM suggests – they are an infestation of parasites. Cypermethrin is a chemical used with the ‘intention of destroying, deterring, rendering harmless, preventing the action of, or otherwise exerting a controlling effect on, any harmful organism’.”
“It is a highly ecotoxic active neurotoxin. There are known effects on fish and, most sensitive of all, crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. Bathers and watersports may also be at risk. For this reason, the manufacturers clearly indicate that there should be no release to environment.”

According to the Galway Bay EIS: “The volume of chemical used to treat a pen is estimated at 3,333 cubic metres”. For comparison, an Olympic swimming pool holds 2,500 cubic metres. This will be discharged directly into the (once) natural waters of our Bays under BIM’s ‘organic certification’, creating massive biocide plumes without any attempt to formalise the environmental risk assessment within the existing EU legal framework.
“Mr Maguire’s position and that of BIM is without any scientific justification and contradicts the IMB and the manufacturers’ warnings. BIM have not even undertaken a base line study of lobster and crabs in Galway Bay,” said FIE Director Tony Lowes.