#FishFarm - The Marine Institute says it stands over the "quality and accuracy" of its research into the environmental impact of the proposed Galway Bay fish farm as the journal behind an alternative report acknowledged it had erred in its publication.
Last August the institute spoke out over "inaccuracies" in a news story citing a paper in the Journal of Fish Diseases, which was described as identifying "fundamental errors" in the Marine Institute's (MI) research on the potential impact of salmon farming on wild salmon numbers in the region.
The MI-sponsored study was submitted to Brussels by the Department of the Marine to support the case for Bord Iascaigh Mhara's (BIM) 500-hectare organic salmon farm planned off Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands.
This was despite concerns expressed last summer by Inland Fisheries Ireland that the research was based on flawed methodology.
However, the Journal of Fish Diseases has since issued an apology for presenting its report on the Marine Institute's research as having been peer reviewed. It has since been reclassified as 'comment', and the journal has published a rebuttal by the Marine Institute.
In a statement this week, Marine Institute chief Dr Peter Heffernan defended the science behind its research, saying: "The methodology and statistical analyses used in the original Marine Institute paper is the accepted scientific approach, allowing for robust findings."
He also claimed that the comment piece criticising the MI's research "was based on an analysis of just 56 summary data points as opposed to over 352,000 individual data points used in the Marine Institute analysis."
Dr Heffernan added: "As the national agency responsible for marine research, we stand firmly over our science."
The Marine Institute's statement comes as the fish farm controversy returns to the news agenda, with the Irish Examiner reporting on the European Commission's ongoing investigation of conflicting scientific studies related to the scheme, after Brussels called a halt to BIM's plans last November.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, it will be at least six months before any decision is made by Government on the Galway Bay fish farm proposals.