Protection agency set to approve salmon farm expansion in Arran's MPA
West coast communities fighting for more say in MPA mangement
The Scottish Salmon Company might sound like a purveyor of wild salmon owned and run by our fellow Scots. But unfortunately, this is not the case. As many west coast communities know to their cost, the SSC is in fact a large internationally-based corporation aiming to increase the number and capacity of fish farms in Scottish waters - whether or not communities want them. Many do not. COAST does not oppose on-shore contained fish farming but believes, with good reason, that net cage farming is detrimental to wild salmon and other marine life. It is therefore regrettable that, once again, the people of Arran are having to devote scarce resources to fighting off a proposed expansion of net cage salmon farming in Lamlash Bay. This expansion is within a stone's throw of the No Take Zone and in the recently designated South Arran Marine Protected Area. It is clearly not compatible with the conservation and restoration status of priority marine features in the MPA, such as the nearby recovering maerl beds and seagrass meadows. Despite this, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) seems to be under pressure from commercial interests to give its approval.
This is short-sighted and must not be allowed to happen. We are asking the new Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, to 'call in' this application and reject it on environmental grounds. Scotland's hard-won MPA network must not become an easy option for fish farms. It is vital that MPAs such as Arran's are not put under further pressure. There are far more sustainable and creative ways in which we can benefit economically from our MPAs. Communities need to be able to focus on these and not have to take action against those who would seek to undermine Scotland's MPAs before they have had a chance to flourish.
The Scottish Salmon Think Tank has an excellent and very readable web site on this topic.