Page 1

Bimonthly

incorporating

News from the coast and inland waterways

Aquaculture Ireland SEA ANGLING Getting hooked at any age Pages 14-15

May/June 2009 Vol 5 Issue 2

INTERVIEW

Efficiency is essential Enda Connellan, chief executive of Dublin Port Company discusses the impact the economic downturn is having on the port :

Wrong signals T

Pages 16-17

Comment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Aquaculture News . . . . . . . . . . 18 Your view . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Marine R&D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Freshwater focus . . . . . . . . . . 8 Island living . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

WORLD first

ISGA lashes out following Court ruling

GERY FLYNN & GILLIAN MILLS

he Irish Salmon Growers Association (ISGA) has lashed out at what it describes as the `dismissal on a technicality' of legal proceedings against a seafood processor charged with falsely declaring and selling Scottish farmed salmon as wild Irish salmon. This charge refers to the second of two cases taken within a week by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) against well-known seafood processors and retailers, Wrights of Howth. A statement from the FSAI, referring to the first case

heard on 18 and 19 March, expressed `satisfaction with the outcome of legal proceedings in relation to Wrights of Howth, Galway Ltd of Unit 2, Galway Harbour Enterprise Park.' It notes that `after a partial hearing' before Judge Aingeal NõÂ ChonduÂin in Dublin District Court, `when authorised officers from the FSAI and the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority gave evidence, Wrights of Howth, Galway Ltd entered a plea of guilty to all seven summonses on which they were charged' (see page 4). According to the FSAI, these proceedings followed an investigation by its authorised officers into breaches of food legislation as part of routine FSAI labelling and traceability audits conducted between 7 Decem-

ber 2006 and 27 September 2007. Quoting Judge NõÂ ChonduÂin at the hearing, the FSAI statement reads: `Whilst she was looking at this case in the light of a product area where there are loose practices, she hopes that this will change. Saying that whilst she understood how businesses work, the consumer was at the end of this. She said that she was sending out a message not to do this again. As a consequence of the plea entered by Wrights of Howth, Galway Ltd, they are to make a contribution of 5,000 to the Children in Hospital Fund and to make a contribution of 10,000 to the costs and witness expenses of the FSAI. The matter stands adjourned for one week for payment.'

>> Page 4

The world's first UNESCO international Global Geopark was established in 2008 around the Marble Arch caves network and Cuilcagh Mountain Park, between Fermanagh and Cavan. See story page 26 PICTURE: Fermanagh Lakelands Tourism

Strength in Unity for all Aquaculture Producers JoinTODAY - Call 01 4508755 - or visit our website www.ifa.ie Home of The Irish Salmon Growers’ Association The Irish Trout Producers’ Group & The Irish Shellfish Association


May/June 2009

5

COMMENT tnemmoC

INSHORE IRELAND

Marine industry can influence recovery of economy THE Irish economy, once the envy of the world, is now in deep recession. Other countries too are facing economic turmoil, with rising unemployment, financial institutions in severe difficulty, and governments scrambling to slow, if not halt, the worst effects of the downturn. Traditionally dependent on farming, Ireland has been very successful in attracting foreign multinationals to locate here. Almost 90% of our exports and more than two-thirds of the country's R&D is now generated by such firms. Research and development has been hugely beneficial to the Irish State, creat-

ing many jobs and greatly adding to the national tax take. With changing economic conditions, many of these multinationals are looking to cheaper cost locations, as Ireland has priced itself out of the labour market. Many businesses are now trying to stay afloat but are having difficulty accessing bank credit to fund dips in cashflow. The State is desperately trying to stabilise public finances as tax revenues plummet, and spending cuts are being implemented in all directions. Despite the gloom, however, perhaps the light will finally dawn on the fact that the

natural resource surrounding Ireland might just hold some of the answers. The Irish State has invested heavily in developing an aquaculture industry; however, it is now at a critical stage in its development. Entrepreneurs have been born from this sector Ð many of whom are highly regarded on the global seafood stage. The sector deserves all possible State support to preserve such precious businesses and jobs. The Irish government must take courageous decisions to support existing businesses, and be creative in developing

conditions to support entrepreneurs. Aquaculture offers opportunity in both of these areas but immediate attention is needed on issues such as licence renewal and access to funding. Creative thinking may be needed to help access funding for aquaculture projects. If the Irish State is prepared to guarantee personal savings through the bank guarantee scheme and recapitalise some Irish banks, surely a means can be found to help secure funding for projects/sectors like this?

Ð Diarmaid Mulcahy

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Effect of fishing subsidies on overcapacity DEAR Editor, As a reader of Inshore Ireland with a special interest in your `Outside Ireland' column, I am writing to share some concerns with the statement made by European Commission representatives at the WTO. The last meeting of the WTO's Negotiating Group on Rules (the Rules Group) in late March discussed the chair's roadmap on fisheries subsidies. Discussions centered on questions posed by the chair in his roadmap, relating to how subsidies may contribute to overfishing and overcapac ity ; whether or not to prohibit or allow other kinds of subsidies, and how to address the issue of `interchangeability' of subsidies. A report by the Third World Network (http://

www.twnside.org.sg/title2/ wto.info/2009/twnin fo20090410.htm) states that: `According to trade officials, the EU said that its subsidy programmes are aimed mainly at maintaining the small-scale fishing sector.' And further, `that the removal of subsidies often results in domination by big fishing fleets and companies' and that `the fisheries problem is one of boats.' This comes at a time when the Rules Group is discussing whether small-scale fisheries should be exempt from subsidies, and when the EC is about to kick off a public debate on the reform of the CFP (in the Green Paper Process) Ð a process where a key objective is to reduce fishing capacity in line with available resources.

Most worrying is that 30% of these subsidies went for constructing and modernising the largest vessels. Given `technological creep', the overall effect of the subsidies is likely to have increased fishing capacity in the Spanish industrial fleet

@

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If the Commission sees this problem as `one of boats', reducing capacity equates to reducing the number of boats, which hits the smallsector hardest, and which leads to fishing monopolies. The EC statement hardly reflects the realities in Europe, particularly for those European countries with large small-scale fleets. These include Spain, Greece, Italy, France and Portugal, which account for between 60% and 80% of the Europe's (EU 25) fishermen. For Spain, the fleet register shows some 8.10 boats below 12m; 2.20 boats between 12m and 24m and 1.10 larger scale vessels. Taking Spain as indicative, far from helping to `maintain the small-scale fishing sector' EU subsidies have bolstered the large-scale sector. Spain

received 40% of EU fishing subsidies over the period 2000 to 2006. Of these, 52% benefited the largest vessels; 36% vessels of 12m to 24m (where 19% was for scrapping), and with only 10% going to vessels below 12m. Most worrying is that some 30% of these subsidies went for constructing and modernising the largest vessels. Given `technological creep', the overall effect of these subsidies is likely to have increased fishing capacity in the Spanish industrial fleet. The high running costs and high fuel requirements of larger vessels means that such subsidies, combined with fuel tax exemptions, may have helped these vessels to remain profitable and to stay afloat. NGOs, therefore, question whether the

removal of subsidies would actually increase the domination of big fishing fleets and companies for which subsides are responsible. What is more, thanks to Fisheries Partnership Agreements; joint ventures and other arrangements, a large segment of the Spanish fleet fishes outside EU waters. In the West African and other regions, Spanish trawlers compete with the local artisanal sector for the same overexploited stocks, thereby jeopardising the future of the local small-scale sector. Not only have EU fisheries subsidies not helped the EU small-scale sector they have undermined the prospects for local small-scale fisheries in third countries. I feel that subsidies have a positive role to play in putting EU fish-

eries on a sustainable footing. But in order to achieve that, radical changes are needed. As part of the Green Paper process, the European Commission should evaluate how fishing subsidies could be used positively to promote more sustainable fishing both within and outside Community waters. With this in mind, subsidies should be prioritised for promoting more environmentally sustainable fishing practices to favour greater distributional equity, safer and better working conditions, and more localised and sustainable economic activity. In this regard, smallscale fisheries have a vital role to play. ÐBrian O'Riordan, secretary, ICSF Belgium Office.

 CeallachaÂin Obituary Ð Damien O

THE Irish aquaculture sector and the Gaeltacht community lost a great leader on 24 March when Damien O CeallachaÂin died suddenly at his home in Leitir Chaladh, west Galway. Ta fear uasal, flaithu il, e irimiu il imithe uainn gan coinne. Damien was an extraordinarily gifted man. He was a pioneer in the fish farming industry; a resilient entrepreneur; an eloquent spokesman for the sector and, above all, a man who loved people. While born and reared a proud Corkman, he took Connemara as his adopted home and made a great contribution to life in Cois Fharraige in the past 35 years. Damien was one of the great innovators of Irish aquaculture who began by developing the farming of oysters and mussels with Beirteach Teo, a subsidiary of Gaeltarra Eireann, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At a testing time in the late 1980s, he served as chairman of Comharchumann SliogeÂisc Chonamara, the co-operative which helped to develop the native oyster and scallop resources of the south Conne-

mara bays on behalf of the local inshore fishermen. When UÂdaraÂs na Gaeltachta decided to promote salmon farming as a natural fit for the rugged coast line of the Gaeltacht, Damien was a key figure. He set up Muir Gheal Teo in Leitir Chaladh Bay in the mid-1980s and later built a partnership with other farms to take on the joint management of sites in Cill ChiaraÂin and Beirtreach Bays. He led the way in growing fine organic salmon, which is a key to the competitive success of the Irish salmon industry. Damien was a visionary, who believed in and embodied the integrated approach to the aquaculture sector. He helped to set up the Irish Seafood Producers Group in 1985 and the salmon packing plant, Cill Chiarain EÂisc Teo, and was a director of these firms for over 20 years. He supported the building of the Irish Seaspray smoking plant in Leitir MoÂir, which added value to the salmon product and achieved listings in top retail chains in Europe. In recent years, Damien was a catalyst for the development of the cod farming

 Ceallacha  in. Damien O

enterprise, Trosc Teo. One of Damien's mottos was `Na geÂill go deo' [`never give up']. He faced and withstood great pressures during the past three decades in each of his ventures. Storms at sea; predator seals; high water temperatures in summer which triggered viral fish diseases; changing market demands; cashflow pressures from banks and suppliers and in recent years; a bureaucratic logjam in licences from the Department. Few of us can appreciate how tough these challenges were. Damien's response every time was to pick himself up; talk through the problems; find a creative way forward and plough on.

He became the chairman of the Irish Salmon Growers Association and worked tirelessly with Richie Flynn in tackling the issues. On 20 March, Damien and Joe Lee spent the day in Kenmare at an IFA seminar, where the industry put their case to Minister of State Tony Killeen. That night in the Kenmare Bay Hotel, Damien was as serene and optimistic as ever we have seen him. ``We have turned the corner,'' he said. As we now know, he was going home. We will all miss you, Damien. It is very hard to imagine a day in the industry, a meeting of the ISGA or a seminar with our Norwegian colleagues on the Trination PD initiative without Damien's infectious, sparkling, mischievous personality! We extend our deepest sympathies to his beloved wife and partner Joan, to their wonderful children MicheaÂl, Muireann, Cliona and Aoibheann, to the personnel in the many enterprises and to his circle of friends. Is cinnte na beidh a leitheÂid arõÂs ann! Ð MicheaÂl O CinneÂide


4

NEWS

INSHORE IRELAND May/June 2009

* From page 1

The FSAI welcomed the ruling saying that

`the legal

proceedings strong

warning

businesses food

should

that

legislation

to

send all

a

food

breaches

of

will

be

not

tolerated.'

The FSAI statement further reveals, however, that seven similar summonses against Mark Wright, a director of Wrights of Howth, Galway Ltd, were struck out.

SECOND CASE

Less than a week later, on 23 and 24 March, the FSAI took a similar case against Wrights of Howth, West Pier, Howth, Co Dublin, and two of its directors, Mark Wright and Steve Foster. Judge Watkin dismissed the charges and awarded costs to Wrights of Howth. This case was brought following an investigation by officers of the FSAI into the offer for sale of salmon labelled `Irish smoked wild salmon' at Dublin airport in April 2007. In a written clarification to , the FSAI confirmed: `There were 46 summonses relating to two infringements, as follows: Inshore Ireland

1)

the

false

declaration

on

salmon bearing the label `Ir-

Donal Maguire, BIM.

Richie Flynn, ISGA.

ish Smoked Wild Salmon' and

out by Judge Ann Watkin over

`Area 27', whereas the salmon

the

had in fact been farmed.

bring

2)

the

false

declaration

on

salmon pre-packaged product listing the ingredients as `Irish Salmon', whereas the salmon had

in

fact

been

farmed

in

Scotland. The first infringement had 42 summonses: 14 on Wrights of

Howth, West

Co

Dublin;

Pier,

14

Howth,

on

Mark

Wright, a director of Wrights of

Howth,

and

14

on

Foster, a director of

Steve

Wrights

of Howth. The

second

infringement

had four summonses: one on Wrights of Howth, West Pier, Howth, Mark

Co

Wrights Steve

Dublin;

Wright, of

a

Howth;

Foster,

a

one

director one

director

on of on of

Wrights of Howth, and one on Ireland's

Eye

Seafoods

Ltd,

West Pier, Howth, Co Dublin. This infringement was struck

length

of

these

taken

to

summonses

time

to

court.

WRONG SIGNAL

Responding to invitation to comment on this case, Richie Flynn, ISGA executive secretary, said the outcome was ``regrettable and disappointing, with very damaging consequences for consumers, Irish salmon farmers and Irish jobs''. He added that it was sending the wrong signal to the fish processing sector and the retail industry that they could wrongly label fish of any origin in whatever way they pleased ``to the detriment of consumers, the image of Irish salmon and Irish jobs. Farmed Irish salmon is of the highest quality and is backed by full traceability and worldclass quality assurance Inshore

land's

Ire-

schemes. As a product, it can stand on its own merits and certainly does not need to be mislabelled,'' Flynn said. He added: ``Everyone in the sector knows that since the ban on commercial fishing for wild salmon there has been a severe shortage of wild product on the market. This should lead to greater support for top-class conventional and organic Irish farmed salmon, and that any mislabelling of product so that retailers and processors alone achieve an inflated margin should always be an offence.'' Flynn has called on the FSAI and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to ``urgently address any weakness in laws and regulations to ensure that future prosecutions for mislabelling are successful''. Donal Maguire, aquaculture development manager with BIM, said that he would have to be cautious in commenting at this stage in light of a possible judicial review application by FSAI. ``It is clear that regardless of the rights or wrongs of particular individuals or companies, there is a serious flaw in the legislation whereby consumer interests are not being served by the current confusion. A product should

contain what it says it contains on the packaging, plain and simple.'' Maguire added that the case for properly policed assurance schemes had been strengthened by what had happened. ``At least in such a scenario, strong action could be taken, regardless of possible legal loopholes, and consumers would be confident that they were actually getting what they had paid a premium for,'' he said He would not speculate as to why the case had failed, adding that the question had

CASE 1: 18-19 MARCH

to be put to the FSAI. ``I do know that they went to very considerable lengths to gather top quality evidence. BIM believes it is vital that the FSAI should try to ensure proper labelling of all seafood products. ``It seems poor drafting of the law may have been at the core of the issue in this case,'' he said. As regards an appeal, the FSAI confirmed it was looking at its options in relation to a judicial review.

`We have

not made any decisions. Any further comments are not appropriate at this stage.'

The charges to which Wrights of Howth, Galway Ltd pleaded guilty to were: * The false declaration of the method of production for salmon darnes which described them as `caught at sea' (the purpose of this terminology denotes the fact that they are wild), whereas they were actually farmed. * The false declaration of the catch area for salmon darnes as `FAO 27' Ă? `N. East Atlantic', whereas the true country of origin of the product (which must be declared for farmed products) was Norway * The false declaration of a Portuguese premises approval number on cooked whole crab (indicating that it processed in Portugal), when in fact the product was actually processed in Ireland * Not being able to produce on inspection, marking or labelling or commercial documentation as required under law to ensure traceability, for several products which included salmon and scallops and, therefore, being unable to authenticate their origin or method of production.


INSHORE IRELAND

May/June 2009

3

NEWS

Is there light at the end of aquaculture licensing tunnel?

G

GERY FLYNN FEATURES EDITOR overnment commitment to solving the licensing logjam which is preventing expansion of the aquaculture industry here has been reinforced by the revelation that discussions between Irish and EU officials are on-going, and have also involved a bilateral meeting between the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the EU Environment Commissioner. This was Minister of State Tony Killeen's key message at the IFA Aquaculture conference in Kenmare where he underlined ``government confidence'' in the industry by committing 3.8m for new developments in 2010 and 1.4m specifically for data collection to support aquaculture licensing in marine NATURA 2000 sites. ``We have to face up to the fact that there are licensing

and regulation issues facing your industry now that cannot be circumvented or walked away from. We cannot just pretend they don't exist,'' Minister Killeen declared. He said it was time also, as a nation, to rid ourselves of the misconception that we were somehow ``too good at being Europeans, that we are the first to do the right thing when it comes to enforcing EU Directives''. He said: ``The truth of the matter of course is quite different.

DIRECTIVES

``We were among the slowest to embrace and deal with environmental directives, and the result is that we are now paying the price for that in some respects. If we had dealt properly with these issues even 10 years ago by identifying our SACs and SPAs, we'd have fewer problems now, and it would be a lot less expensive too.'' The Minister also linked the difficulties with licensing

and regulation in aquaculture with the length of time it had taken to put in place the new grant aid schemes under the 2007-2013 Operational Programme. ``I know this has been a matter of great frustration for you, but let me assure you we share your frustration,'' he said. He confirmed that his departmental officials were continuing ``to work very hard to try and clear the logjams, including those outside of the Department which are holding up progress in these vital areas'', and he revealed that ``extensive discussions have been taking place at various levels to resolve the issues''. He said that the bilateral meeting between DAFF's senior Minister Brendan Smith and EU Commissioner for Environment Stavros Dimas ``had gone a long way to advancing matters''. ``Of course, the licensing of any activity in a coastal region must take into account

Fishermen's federation welcomes CFP green paper but questions the analysis GILLIAN MILLS EDITOR THE Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) has welcomed the publication of the European Commission's green paper on the Common Fisheries Policy, which kick starts a 10-year review, saying it represents the start of a ``vital and overdue reform process'' but takes ``major issue'' with much of its analysis. According to FIF chair CinneÂide, the man, LorcaÂn O document makes clear that the Commission ``finally accepts the need for `wholescale [sic] reform of the CFP' which is a welcome acknowledgement of the position of the Irish industry for many years.'' A consultation period will follow until the end of 2009, with the substantive political negotiations to be completed by 2011. ``It is vital that the Irish Government and fishing industry engage fully in the process to maximise Ireland's national position,'' he warns. ``We have to use every effort to influence this process as it is effectively the last chance for a future for the Irish industry and, indeed, FIF have already begun to do so. ``We cannot have a halfhearted rollover of existing

policy as has been the case in previous reviews. ``We have vessels operating under crazy and complex regulations at present in a system that mitigates totally against sustainable stocks or sustainable livelihoods. That cannot be allowed to continue. However, we must also ensure that the cure is not worse than the disease, so to speak, and that is always a risk,'' he said.

POLITICAL RESPONSE

Speaking at the EU Fisheries Council in Luxembourg, Brendan Smith TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, said the paper was the `first step' in the reform process: ``In the current economic climate, it is critical we succeed in delivering a policy that both simplifies and reduces the administrative burden while, at the same time, strengthens and supports the industry's capacity to maximise employment in coastal communities dependant on fishing. ``We strongly favour an industry that delivers jobs for many in coastal communities rather than the concentration of wealth in a few big international fishing businesses with no obvious benefit for Irish fishing communities.'' The Minister added it

would be `premature' to respond in any detail on the Green Paper at this juncture: ``Suffice to say that, in Ireland, we will be engaging in an intense period of consultation with stakeholders before presenting our final position on the issue. ``It has always been my belief that it is only with the buy-in of stakeholders will this or any other strategic policy objective be successful''.

STRATEGY

Speaking of the unveiling of a strategy to develop the aquaculture sector, Minister Smith said that the Ireland was `well placed' to capitalise on the growth in demand for aquaculture products in Europe. ``I wholeheartedly welcome [the document] with its emphasis on environmental sustainability, safety and quality of EU aquaculture production. ``With meaningful stakeholder inclusion, it has the potential to provide the appropriate framework for the sustainable development of the EU aquaculture sector. ``In the current global economic environment, I believe we can further develop the Irish aquaculture industry in a sustainable manner to maximise the undoubted potential that exists,'' he said.

Westpoint Shellfish, Ardgroom, Kenmare Bay.

the likely impact on the area in which it is to be located. Interactions between aquaculture and the environment are subject to increasing control and regulation given the importance now attached to conservation and environmental protection and the potential impacts which aquaculture may have on the natural coastal environment. ``I am sure that as people who place pride in their local

area you will appreciate the need to ensure those aquaculture activities do not impact negatively on the local environment,'' he said. Regarding regulation of the aquaculture industry, Minister Killeen said that to prosper in today's farmed seafood market meant ``embracing quality assurance, having an expert and in-depth knowledge of the market and to innovate. ``I urge you all to partici-

pate fully in the excellent Quality Assurance Schemes that BIM have created for your product. The more participation and products that carry the quality mark, the more successful the entire process will be. ``I would ask you to bear with us. We are working hard on your behalf and together we will make sure that the Irish aquaculture sector achieves its undoubted potential,'' he concluded.

Marine Institute

Foras na Mara

www.marine.ie Your portal to marine research, monitoring, technology, development & innovation

Marine Institute Rinville, Oranmore, Co. Galway telephone +353 91 387 200 facsimile +353 91 387 201 email institute.mail@marine.ie


2

NEWS

INSHORE IRELAND May/June 2009

`Extraordinarily flimsy evidence' cannot be relied on to regulate shellfish farming

S

BY GERY FLYNN FEATURES EDITOR hellfish farmers and processors as well as public health regulators throughout the EU are weighing up the implications of the latest statement by the influential European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of the effect of processing on levels of certain marine biotoxins in bivalve shellfish such as mussels. Issued on 25 March and officially termed a `scientific opinion', it builds on a similar statement issued in 2007 and is the result of a European Commission request `to elaborate further on the influence of processing' on the levels of

two specific groups of marine biotoxins: okadaic acid (OA) and azaspiracids (AZA) which triggered a `rapid alert'

The statement confirms that steaming mussels causes a 30% to 70% increase in the concentration of OA-group toxins in the whole flesh

by the French authorities last year after higher than acceptable levels were detected in processed mussels imported from Ireland. Due to `limited information available at the time ', the opinion declares that earlier opinions on marine biotoxins `did not specifically assess the effect of processing of shellfish'.

Focusing on the effects of cooking on biotoxins, it confirms that steaming mussels actually `causes a 30% to 70% increase in the concentration of OA-group toxins in the whole flesh.'

Significantly, however, it notes that when mussels are cooked at higher temperatures Ð for example in an autoclave (a specialist device mainly used in laboratories to sterilise equipment by subjecting them to high pressure steam at 121ëC or more), the toxic concentration increases to between 70% and 84%. The cause of the increase, says EFSA, is due almost entirely to water loss from the mussel flesh into the cooking liquid. Significantly too, EFSA points to evidence that heat processing also appears to redistribute toxins (OAgroup) from the digestive gland of the shellfish throughout the remaining flesh. `This indicates that the analysis of whole shellfish flesh, as opposed to the digestive gland, might be more appro-

priate for regulatory purposes, particularly when processed shellfish is analysed,' it notes.

Based on what it terms the ` limited information available ' to the Contaminants Panel (CONTAM) Ð the expert group that supervised the tests Ð the opinion concludes that ` Processing of

shellfish leads to an approximate two-fold increase in the concentration of lipophilic marine biotoxins in shellfish meat.' Based on that finding, EFSA now advises that `Since limit values of marine biotoxins in shellfish meat are meant to protect the consumer, the effect of processing should be considered when testing shellfish in official control.'

Looking EU-wide, it calls for a `harmonisation of pretreatment practices (i.e. cooking versus non-cooking) before the actual analysis of lipophilic marine biotoxins are carried out'.

Azaspiracids belong to a group of toxins first discovered in Ireland in 1995. Ever since they have been a recurring feature in Irish marine waters and continue to pose a risk management problem for the shellfish industry and for public health regulators. So far, 20 different AZA types, or analogues, have been identified. An EFSA opinion released in June 2008 set the EU regulatory limit for azaspiracid equivalents at 160 microgrammes/kg of shellfish meat.

The statement notes that when mussels are cooked at higher temperatures Ð for example in an autoclave (a specialist device mainly used in laboratories to sterilise equipment by subjecting them to high pressure steam at 121ëC or more), the toxic concentration increases to between 70% and 84%.

Industry reaction

S

peaking to Inshore Ireland , IFA Aquaculture executive secretary Richie Flynn, who is also the current president of the EU's Aquaculture Advisory Group, revealed that he had already raised the EFSA opinion at the last meeting of that group. ``Following that, the EFSA has now been asked for nine separate opinions on nine different issues to do with biotoxins Ð including AZA. These are to be delivered to the EU Commission by late summer. ``I would expect the Commission then to meet with all of the industry stakeholders by this autumn.''

Publication dates for 2009 • February 26th • April 30th • June 25th

• August 27 • October 29 • December 17

To advertise in Inshore Ireland contact:

Roger Cole Email: cole@inshore-ireland.ie Tel: (01) 285 9111 / 284 1544 or 087-2611579

Wendy Scott Email: scott@inshore-ireland.com Tel: (ROI 048) 91 857721 / 0044 28 91 857721

Inshore Ireland is distributed to the coastal and inland waterway regions throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland

Flynn emphasised that, at this stage, there was no move by the Commission to change the regulation reducing the level of AZA in raw, unprocessed mussels. ``I made the point strongly that if levels were reduced based on the findings outlined in this opinion, it would in effect be shutting down the Irish mussel industry''. Flynn said the Commission was ``taking a sanguine view of these matters and could not have regulations or opinions that would actually shut down entire sectors of the European aquaculture industry. ``It's IFA Aquaculture's view that the EFSA opinion

is actually based on extraordinarily flimsy evidence going back to incidents in Arranmore and Killary 10 years ago which were never properly investigated. ``It should be remembered too that because Ireland is so dependent on mussel exports, we are, in fact, the only European country that monitors azapiracids on a weekly, and in some cases, a biweekly basis. So, if any changes were made to the regulations our mussel producers would be affected far worse than any others in Europe. ``Changing the regulations now without more information would not be fair.''

The EFSA Ð what

T

does it do? he European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was created as part of a comprehensive programme to improve EU food safety, to ensure a high level of consumer protection and to restore and maintain confidence in the EU food supply. In the European food safety system, risk assessment is done independently from risk management. As the risk assessor, EFSA produces scientific opinions and advice to provide a sound foundation for European policies and legislation and to support the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Member States in taking effective and timely risk management decisions. EFSA's remit covers

food and feed safety; nutrition; animal health and welfare; plant protection and plant health. In all these fields, EFSA's most critical commitment is to provide objective and independent science-based advice and clear communication grounded in the most up-to-date scientific information and knowledge. EFSA's goal is to become globally recognised as the European reference body for risk assessment on the areas it covers. Its independent scientific advice underpins the European food safety system and due to this system, European consumers are among the best protected and best informed in the world as regards risks in the food chain.

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