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The spectre of yet more intensive salmon farming
Fish farm letters special
The Banner front page last week is spot on in relation to a SEPA licence to pollute. The size had to be reduced and those of us who think this entire development proposal is a bad idea are in action again.
The Scottish Salmon Company has a new owner, again offshore, but they have kept their distance and seemingly have no intention of selling their revamped project to the sceptics that we are. Innovation is a distant memory with what was heralded as a huge step forward in rearing the flabby fish in overcrowded pens being summarily dismissed for whatever reason: Probably because it was never going to work anyway.
At least a lower stocking density is now proposed at four full sized fish per cubic metre of water rather than six, still crowded and confined like all intensive animal farming; disease incubators. The entire perimeter or footprint is almost the same but the two groups of cages are much more spread out. That way it is easier to meet SEPA’s environmental limits for pollutant dispersal.
Is this development so good for Arran it is worth soiling what is probably the most valuable stretch of isolated coast around the Clyde region with a landscape and seascape to die for!
The ‘plus’ side is said now to be six jobs, the majority relatively low paid, and no certainty servicing would be centred on Arran. After all the Clyde base of the company is at Ardyne on the mainland with ease of recruiting and not much further by sea than Lamlash Bay. As for supply and service contracts these are almost always open to competitive tender so no guarantee there.
It seems to me that Arran has much more to lose with permanent damage to its economy through a loss of one of its most valuable natural assets as perceived by so many of our visitors who come here just for that experience. Of course we need a stronger economy than simply providing holidays and second homes and there are creative conversations taking place right now in the community which can give us, particularly our younger members of our society, hope for their secure future. What does this aquaculture industry really do for Scotland, is it the North Sea oil replacement? Well no actually!
Sure it is short term ‘klondiking’ so to say – low capital investment requirement and if all goes well the cash rolls in almost immediately. Long term debt is not a worry. But where does that cash go, mostly offshore to multinationals and private investors. The Scottish Government, us collectively, pick up the crumbs. If you want chapter and verse on this have a read of a recent publicaly available report * probing the real truth behind this industry in domestic economic benefit or the lack of it, contrary to the propaganda from Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, we see from month to month how vulnerable this salmon aquaculture is to disease pandemics and catastrophes probably related to climate change. We humans also! The events played out recently at Carradale in Kilbrannan Sound on our doorstep with huge escapes of genetically compromised fish and huge tonnages of carcases having to be removed and destroyed is in fact commonplace today in this industry across the west of Scotland. You only need to look back to what happened in Lamlash Bay last year where at the end of the production cycle some 80 or more tonnes of dead fish in one month were suruptitiously removed and shipped off to the mainland for onward disposal whilst the company scrambled to save some monetary value from the fish that survived.
This development is not the saviour of Arran in its current repressed Covid driven condition. We see visitors still coming , avoiding travel packages elsewhere and, staycations, so called, will remain a driver of our economy so no uncertainty there. This salmon industry does have an alternative in terms of location. It can move on to land and stop polluting our seas. A site at Hunterston is available now. Costs would be higher but disease transmission could be better managed without all the toxic chemicals.
Of course this does nothing in terms of sustainability. As with all industrial intensive farming the demands on primary resources to produce processed animal feed are robbing our diverse ecosystem and compromising our future survival. Stripping our seas of protein on which others are so dependent for their very survival simply to feed farm animals destined for our markets is no answer for the world’s population. Aquaculture has a role in feeding the five thousand but not in the way it is currently practised in our Scottish seas.
Ban fish farms
I was so shocked to read about the unhealthy condition of the farmed salmon kept in cages in the fish farm near Arran with their deformed and damaged jaws and fins. The fact that 48,834 of them escaped and can breed with our endangered healthy wild Scottish salmon leading natural lives in our rivers an oceans, is unthinkable.
Not only is it incredibly cruel to keep any living creatures in cages and deprive them of their natural lives and freedom, but it is also so harmful to the health of the seabed and the waters of the ocean, especially as so many chemicals are used for the fish farm – chemicals which destroy the natural health of the fish and all other marine life in the area as well as the seabed. Humans are destroying our planet in every way possible through their greed for money.
Instead of farming salmon, why not try to increase the numbers of our endangered healthy wild salmon in our rivers and seas around Scotland. In future there will be more storms and extreme weather with climate change and if more of these unhealthy captive salmon escape from their miserable cages, then it is very likely that wild salmon will soon become extinct. There are only 20,000 left now. The harm done to this intelligent species of fish will be total and it is against nature.
These fish farms need to be banned completely before it is too late. They are completely destructive in every way for our oceans and our planet.
The consumption of deformed, unhealthy species of sea creatures can only be extremely detrimental to the health of human beings. Future generations will be horrified that we have allowed fish farms to exist. Isn’t normal fishing in the sea good enough for us as our ancestors did before us for generations? They did not harm the planet in such a terrible way as we are now doing. Everything we do in future should be for the health of our planet, for our oceans.
Please do not allow any more fish farms at all to be created in Scotland. Let’s set an example to the world.
Last nail in coffin
When the Banner produced their fine article on the dreadful situation regarding the escape of reared salmon from North Carradale along with stunning graphic photographs of deceased dead salmon – it was a shocking sight with all the hallmarks of a huge and lasting problem. I thought then; that this must be the last nail in the coffin for the proposed fish farm at Millstone Point.
I look forward to reading many knowledgeable letters about to descend on the editor’s desk in support of Arran’s clean waters and continuance of the fight against the Millstone Point project for any number of fish farms proposed. To me, it also exposes the cruelty aspect to fish; for commercial gain.
Could I make a correction to your headline article in last week’s Banner.
Last year’s demonstration by over 200 people and the ongoing campaign against an unsustainable and polluting proposed open pen salmon feedlot was organised by the Friends of Millstone Point, an island group comprising of 100s of individuals and numerous island groups. The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) are just one of the groups supporting the campaign for North Ayrshire planners to turn down this unwanted application.
Howard Wood OBE .
One councillor plea
I respectfully take issue with the October 16 Arran Banner editorial. In my opinion Arran is best served by one full time councillor representing Arran alone in a single member ward.
This view is to cast no aspersions at the status quo before I go any further, though members of the community can sometimes be unsure which councillor to consult on what in a multi-member ward. Issues raised by the public shouldn’t be influenced by political party affiliations.
Being the only member on NAC carries a certain ‘weight’ for the island which is lost when two or more members take opposing positions on council committees. The downside of only one member is, of course, the reliability , integrity and effectiveness of that one member. Another decided advantage is that the member is an independent candidate who can first and foremost represent island interests before party allegiances.
Arran was well served in the past by single members. Councillor Evelyn Sillars MBE was the longest serving member since Arran was part of a mainland ward and a role model to many. She was followed by John Sillars, myself and John Bruce. I was, in two terms, both a party affiliate and an independent when I learned what an advantage it was to be independent especially in council where Arran’s interest transcended party politics on many occasions. A single ward status would ensure an island member on the council, which is essential in any island’s interest.
With the right person in place who can listen to every opinion and deduce the proper outcomes and who has the respect of the community, fellow councillors and council officers, Arran will have the best representation. It is a commanding job, not least because of travel to Irvine, but also with evening meetings regularly on the island. I would commend it as a very interesting job indeed which I was privileged to hold for a time.