Two sides of salmon farming

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Two stories in this week’s edition of the Banner clearly highlight a juxtaposition, that of round-Arran swimmer Carole Laporte who noted the cleanliness of Arran’s water and a lack of marine litter, and the shocking state of regulated fish farming across Scotland, including at Lamlash on Arran.

The contrast between the statistics from some quarters of the aquaculture industry and the quality of the sea around Arran perfectly illustrates the balancing act required to preserve our natural environment on Arran, while also trying to promote industry and employment opportunities. Whether the two can exist side-by-side is something that can be debated endlessly, and it has been, for decades.

Like it or not, the Scottish aquaculture industry is worth an estimated £885 million for the Scottish economy each year, and anything that threatens that will be fiercely defended by many.

Something that is a seldom mentioned, however, is the fact that salmon farming can take place on land in a self-contained system where effluent and chemicals can be effectively managed. This option is not preferred by the industry as it is more expensive, meaning less profit. And currently the law in Scotland does not make it a requirement, as it does in Denmark or Argentina where open cage farming has been banned or severely restricted.

To many it appears that big industry is allowed to pursue profits over environmental concerns, and unless our government does something to remedy that, the sad state of salmon farming in Scotland will continue.