Do our politicians care about coastal communities and healthy seas?
Time to embrace sustainable alternatives
Little has been said during the election about one of the biggest issues facing coastal communities - the health of the marine environment. Ironically, only Donald Trump has succeeded in putting the environment in the headlines - but only by withdrawing from the Paris Accord on climate change! That is bad enough, but we now need to watch out for the UK Government using Brexit as an opportunity to retract from important EU marine legislation.
In Scotland, under devolved powers, there is an opportunity for political parties to make a strong economic and environmental case for two progressive marine management measures. We urge them now and in the future to support a new three mile limit on dredging and bottom trawling in favour of hand diving and creeling - this will be better for the environment, local communities and Scotland's coffers. Fish farms on the other hand need to use closed-containment systems. Scandinavia is leading the way on both issues. Inshore dredging is largely prohibited and Norway has just announced it will put a stop to open-cage farms. These measures can be implemented and would benefit us all.
Alas, at present, none of the main parties are seriously addressing the ongoing degradation of the coastal seabed by scallop dredgers (the loss of Loch Carron flame shell beds being only one example). The Marine Protected Area now declared for parts of Loch Carron show Cab Sec, Roseanna Cunningham is listening as does Cab Sec, Fergus Ewing's announcement to pilot spatial management in some areas. However, we need stronger proactive leadership rather than piecemeal and reactive measures.
Again, on fish farms, despite many articles in the Sunday Herald suggesting collusion between SEPA, the Scottish Government and Salmon farmers, there is silence (except from the Greens) about plans to double polluting open-cage salmon production along Scotland's iconic west coast. This includes a planned 62% increase in the capacity of the farm in Arran's beautiful and popular Lamlash Bay, which the local community has demanded the Government refuse.
Scotland's seas and coastal communities could be healthier and more prosperous with the right support from politicians and Marine Scotland. Let's show the lead and demonstrate Scotland has a real vision for its environment and citizens.
Top photo: Howard Wood/COAST