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Expansion of fish farm opposed
It was with disbelief that I read that the Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) intends to submit another application to significantly extend their fish farm in Lamlash Bay in last week’s Arran Banner.
There is growing scientific evidence that aquaculture has a negative environmental impact both on-site (chemicals used, disease, fish waste issues, escaped salmon interbreeding with wild salmon etc.) and in the countries where the fish that are used to feed the salmon are caught. I know that I speak for many of us when I say that I can’t understand why the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), whose job it should be to protect the marine environment, is even considering this application when the farm is located in the newly designated Marine Protected Area. If open water fish farms are tolerated in MPA’s at all, then surely they shouldn’t be allowed to increase in size.
SEPA is Scotland’s principal environmental protection agency and claims to be ‘protecting and improving Scotland’s environment’ but were recently accused of suppressing a critical report on pollution after private lobbying by the fish farming industry. We should be asking ourselves just how independent they are and if there is a tendency to push through the Scottish Government’s plans for ‘sustainable’ growth of the aquaculture industry at all costs.
In addition, as far as I’m aware, SSC is mainly owned by Norwegian and Ukrainian investors and the parent company is registered in Jersey – one does ask oneself where the profits go. Why should they be allowed to pollute and degrade our marine environment for profit when the technology exists for land-based fish farms, where the effluent can be dealt with in a responsible way and there is no chance of fish escaping into the wild?
Whether we enjoy the bay as rowers, kayakers, sailors, divers or just appreciate a walk on the beach, the majority of us want to know that the biodiversity of the Clyde (the beauty of which can be seen on the website Arran Sealife) is being supported and protected. Why are local residents not being listened to? And why do we need to keep spending time and energy again and again to fight against something that has very little support on the island.
Too little too late
I read your article on the proposed expansion of the fish farm in Lamlash Bay with interest in last week’s Banner.
Back in the autumn of 2015 Scottish Salmon Company applied to SEPA for a variation in its licence to increase the maximum biomass in their farm in Lamlash Bay from 1,154 to 1,881 tonnes, over 60 per cent of an increase. In fact SEPA itself in adopting the precautionary principle, seven years ago determined that an increase in the maximum biomass over and above the existing limit of 1,154 tonnes would not be appropriate.
This salmon farm is now in one of the established Marine Protected Areas in the Firth of Clyde. This in itself should have been reason enough for ruling against any increase in biomass. No Environmental Impact Assessment has ever been done here, and self monitoring hardly provided confidence of the latest SEPA ‘proposed determination’ this time around to grant a licence for expansion. As is well-known, this proposal was ‘called in’ by the Scottish Government to be determined, essentially taken out of SEPA’s hands. That was a year ago and just before a follow-up hearing by a Reporter for the Scottish Government scheduled for this month, the Scottish Salmon Company withdrew their application.
Only two weeks later this company informs the community that it intends to apply now for an even larger 2,000-2,500 tonnes maximum biomass farm in the same place. There is also a veiled threat in their communication about future expansion in the area. How much more public money and effort is going to be spent before the message gets through that this company and its practices are not welcomed, at least in terms of expansion.
In the past five years, 2011-2016, the Scottish Government figures for the Lamlash Bay fish farm discharges to the bay amount to:
* 7.6 tonnes of total cop
per from feed and nets.
* 0.59 of zinc from feed.
* 209 tonnes of nitrogen
as ammonia and urea.
* 29 tonnes of phospho
rus as phosphate
* 670 tonnes of total
Then there are the licensed treatments for disease, another reason to refuse any increases of these toxic chemicals. The application of neurotoxins and bioaccumulation in sediments is now causing wider concern, in particular the long-term effect on the ecosystem and marketable catch of crustacea, such as prawns, crabs and lobsters. Finally, it is quite evident that tourism on Arran has led to increased use for water sports and recreation demanding a guaranteed water quality for human contact, an objective incompatible with expansion of a polluting industry.
It is ironic that in 1998 the EU banned the dumping of sewage at sea or discharge from surface waters. The Clyde has been ‘cleaned up’ yet fish farmers seem to use the marine environment as a free waste disposal facility. Right now we have no idea of the longer term effects of bioaccumulation of these contaminants. In the recent past Scottish Water has spent £3.1million installing a primary treatment plant in Lamlash with the associated collection and pumping of sewage to a collection point.
Yet Scottish Salmon Company, like all salmon aquaculture companies in Scotland, continues to employ the discredited ‘dilute and disperse’ method, which involves no cost to them, but, most likely, a great deal of environmental cost to the sea floor, ecosystem and the wider Clyde.
In my opinion it is high time for these industrial sites to be curtailed. The Scottish Government talks economics, economics, economics, yet the tourist industry in the west, an economic powerhouse, relies on the perception of pristine waters as well as wonderful views. Over the past decade at least, many community members in Scotland and elsewhere, especially in British Columbia, Norway and Chile, armed with scientific and video evidence of anoxic mass underneath farms, harms to the ecosystems, especially wild salmon runs, called for reductions in biomass and stocking density on salmon aquaculture farms, and drastic reductions of neurotoxins and antibiotics, the panoply of chemical warfare employed by this industry
Farmed salmon, wild salmon and trout have been decimated by uncontained ravages of sealice from the 250-odd salmon farms off western Scotland. Recently, aquaculture has deployed ‘cleaner’ fish to consume the sealice attached to the farmed salmon as high levels of sealice increases salmon mortality.
The larger the number of salmon in a cage, the more likely disease and vectors spread. These cleaner fish are mostly wrasse, an important reef fish in the marine ecosystem. But now farmers are paying for the collection of these so compromising that population, even around Arran. I fear it is only when neurotoxins are found in the flesh of farmed salmon in supermarkets, or in inshore fisheries, be they crabs, lobsters, prawns, mussels, scallops or line caught mackerel, like the Dutch eggs of recent times, that the government will cry stop. Too little and too late.
Dr Sally Campbell
As an average member of the public who lives in Lamlash and enjoys the occasional walk along the shore. I have made recent observations. Firstly the coastline from cordon to Ardlui is predominantly sludge. This now seems to be spreading onwards to the left hand side of pier (looking towards Holy Isle). The water off the pier is murky and when I do occasionally swim, it is not in Lamlash Bay. The rest of the island has clear water and sandy or rocky shores.
As Lamlash is a very popular tourist area, I wonder what a coastline of sludge will do for tourism. I know nothing about water quality, but in Lamlash Bay it seems very poor in comparison to other localities round the island.
As I sit in Ardrossan harbour after the first two ferries were cancelled, including the one I booked, now two ferries later, I am number two in the queue. Yet another day’s brewing not going ahead as I have needed ingredients in the van. With demand so high this is another huge loss in sales.
Millions spent on a new terminus in the wrong place as it’s Ardrossan that has the weather problem, and with no priority for island businesses, yet another ferry related loss of a day’s brewing, which the new terminal will not prevent happening again and again.
How do we really think business will survive on an island without a ferry system that works for local businesses? As the wind picks up it looks increasingly likely more ferries will be cancelled so our mainland orders will, yet again, not make it to the supermarket shelves. It’s clear there are other breweries who will fill our space in a heart beat. So come on CalMac and our Ferry Committee, get the ferry working for us, not against, the island economy. Local jobs depend on it. Priority for island business traffic and residents is essential.
The Arran Brewery picked up a silver award for Arran Blonde at last week’s SIBA Scottish Beer Festival. The beer is wanted, only our ferry is stopping us bringing it to the world. The spread of the brand brings more tourists to the island so it’s time to fix the problems with ferry operations now once and for all. The world deserves Arran beer.
I was interested to see the recent letter in the Banner concerning the fate of the anvil which Davy Ballantyne hauled up to the summit of Goatfell to raise funds for his diabetic daughter.
It does seem a shame that the actual iconic symbolic object, the anvil itself, is now apparently lying discarded by the wayside. However, I can also understand the viewpoint of those charged with the custody of the Goatfell environment, that if they allowed this monument to be erected then other people might start following suit and carrying other objects up Goatfell for charity, and might rightly expect to see their efforts also memorialised at the summit. Where would it end?
There is, however, perhaps room for a compromise. If some kind soul or souls could endeavour to get the anvil back down the mountain, then there are several possible sites where it might perhaps be mounted on a suitable plinth to mark Mr Bannatyne’s achievement. One such might be the car park at the Claddach Centre where the ‘tourist’ path to Goatfell starts off.
Or it could be incorporated into the Smithy exhibit at the Arran Museum, or (my own personal favourite) mounted on an angled plinth on Brodick seafront, with the point of the anvil aligned with the summit of Goatfell.
Although your previous correspondent’s suggestion of an honesty box for donations might prove difficult in practice to administer, there would be no reason not to have a reference to the charity’s web page included in the wording of the plaque, in case anyone felt moved to contribute.
World class island
The oft reiterated aim for Arran ‘world class island’ provokes a deeply uncomfortable sensation since it is not a phrase which most islanders would use to frame their hopes for the island’s future.
Huge infrastructure developments and reduced fares will have a welcome, beneficial effects on the island’s tourist industry but, as many have pointed out, there are disadvantages which seem not to have been taken into account for which no provision has been made.
In the case of Orkney a recent programme highlighted the effect on the island of the regular visit of cruise ships where opinion among islanders was far from unanimous. A press photo of the Stour on Skye, a remote and majestic place, showed the access road jammed with cars and camper vans stretching into the distance while recent proposals for a hotel in Brodick involved over 90 rooms, all this on top of a new designation for Scotland as the world’s most beautiful place, surely a commercially motivated announcement despite this having been the considered opinion of Scots for generations.
While deploring NIMBY sentiments it is time for Arran’s future development to be the subject of planning towards which Arran people need to have a say with the aim of keeping traffic and infrastructure compatible, developing a balanced, varied economy which is sustainable with a tourist industry which concentrates on the island’s assets, ie, the scenery, sailing, walking, archaeology and geology rather than embarking on a course which may end as Dubai on the Clyde. Possibly far fetched but it would be prudent to start thinking about it now.