Arran Banner letters – week 47

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More detail, less fudge

Sir,

I wish to comment on the response by Mr Kevin Hobbs, chief exectutive of CMAL, to my recent letter re ferries which you were good enough to publish.


I should not refer to it as a response as it was not a response in any constructive way.  In fact, it was a long series of statements and, perhaps, hopes and, mentioning other parties, suggesting ‘it wisnae only me’.

A more useful response would have addressed the points I raised e.g. the unsuitability of ever-larger vessels and their inability to manoeuvre safely in confined or difficult harbours.

He makes no comment on the possible use of catamarans which have proved, over some 10 years, so efficacious in the notorious Pentland Firth.

The fact that MV Alfred, a 98-car catamaran cost some £17 million, about one third that of a CMAL monohull, proved not worthy of mention and indicates a continuing profligacy with our money.


There was no mention of the increasing number of weather related cancellations which, interestingly, have appeared to rise in proportion to the size of the vessels.

Come on Mr Hobbs and let us have more detail and less fudge and some indication of how you intend better to serve the needs of island communities.

Yours,

J Patrick Maclean,

Oban.

 

Car park concerns

Sir,

While browsing the CalMac website for ferry information I spotted the following information tucked away in the small print: ‘Ardrossan car park is now unmanned for the foreseeable future. Users of this car park do so at their own risk, CalMac will not accept liability for any accidents/damage or loss incurred.’

I presume from this CalMac still intend to levy the charge of £5/£4 per 24 hours without any responsibility for the security of the car park.  Given the isolated location of the car park I fully expect users to experience theft and vandalism on a frequent basis.  This will affect both motorists on holiday and those island residents who work on the mainland and leave a car in the car park for weekend returns home.

I cannot believe that the fees from this busy car park cannot cover the cost of manned security or CCTV supported by travelling security staff.  I strongly urge the ferry committee to take this matter up on behalf of residents and visitors alike.

Yours,

Michael Smith,

North Shields,

Tyne and Wear.

 

Stick to the rules

Sir,

It seems that we in North Ayrshire have escaped going in a more severe lockdown (at least for now) and will remain in restriction tier three. The Covid levels in North Ayrshire are still high albeit not high enough for tier four.

The past couple of weeks have shown that we are no different to anywhere else and Covid can spread here just as well as it has been doing in most other places.

As a councillor I hear reports of people gathering inside houses on Arran, which is clearly against the rules, and it is all of us that suffer the consequences of a Covid outbreak on Arran.

The vast majority of us are keeping to the restrictions, which can be a huge emotional cost especially for those living on their own.

We all have to play our part to stop the spread of this disease. If we can help get the levels right down across North Ayrshire we might just have a slightly less isolated Christmas.

Yours,

Timothy Billings,

Ardrossan and Arran Councillor.

 

Increasing fish losses

Sir,

A recent correspondent in The Banner referred to a lack of research prior to putting a digital pen to paper regarding the impact salmon farms have on the wild salmon population.

In the last 18 years to 2019, premature deaths on salmon farms have risen from 3.1 per cent of the fish harvested to 13.5 per cent of harvested fish. That is 4,420 tonnes of dead or culled fish out of 141,000 tonnes of harvested in 2002 rising to 25,770 tonnes from a crop of 190,500 tonnes farmed salmon. From 2016 the average annual loss is 12.7 per cent of harvested salmon.

Within these average figures the mortality rates can range from around three per cent on some farms to over 35 per cent on others. Sources: aquaculture.scotland.gov.uk, Scottish Government and issf.org.uk.

Deaths are due to viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Algal blooms, and ‘treatment losses’ from mistakes with chemicals or de-licing machines.

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) is at pains to point out how seriously they take fish health and welfare. It continues to invest and innovate in the management challenges of fish health.

These efforts are running in tandem with increased sector-wide information sharing and the Scottish 10-year Farmed Fish Health Framework, May 2018. Among other things this project aims to focus on, and establish mechanisms to develop high standards of fish health over the long term. The cabinet secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, Fergus Ewing has charged the Farmed Fish Health Working Group, to deliver concrete results on improving fish husbandry including, health related issues, licensing, and information spread on best practice.

In January 2018 the Scottish Government had published A Review of the Environmental Impact of Salmon Farming in Scotland. It was compiled by a consortium led by SAMS Research Services which undertakes marine research and provides environmental assessments.

Both government-sponsored projects are in their infancy in terms of tangible outcomes. There is generally a considerable time lapse between reports, recommendations and their implementation.

Salmon farming is not a young industry now. It has made a product, considered a luxury once, more available to the consumer, created employment in rural areas, mainly when a processing facility is established. There is likely to have been a degree of expertise built up in the industry to meet ongoing challenges.

Regardless of its efforts to improve fish health, SSPO cannot be anything but disappointed in the increasing scale of fish losses in the industry. It would suggest that whatever fish farm monitoring methods or dissemination of best practice are in place, they have been unsuccessful to date.

Until there is a greater understanding of the industry’s wider environmental impact and action to deal with it, coupled with solid evidence of continuing improvement in fish health, resulting in an marked decline in fish losses, it is difficult to see how there can be any justification for new fish farms either off Arran or elsewhere.

Yours,

John R Logan,

Brodick.