Hun­dreds op­pose first fish farm off Jura’s west coast

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FEATURE -

Is­landers on Jura are hit­ting back at plans for the first fish farm on its re­mote west coast.

Kilmelford-based Kames Fish Farm­ing Ltd, in a pre-plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion to Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil, is ‘scop­ing opin­ion’ for a 14-pen fin fish farm near Cor­pach Bay.

An on­line pe­ti­tion to stop the fish farm, started by res­i­dents Louise Muir and deer stalker Craig Rozga, had col­lected 400 sig­na­tures in the first 24 hours, and more than 700 by Tues­day.

Mrs Muir, who has a back­ground in en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion, said: ‘There are im­por­tant prin­ci­ples at stake. It is a place pre­cious to many who come to seek soli­tude and ap­pre­ci­ate the re­mote and beau­ti­ful land­scape. It is im­pos­si­ble to mit­i­gate the visual im­pact. Its pres­ence alone would re­move the wilder­ness and scenic qual­i­ties val­ued by many.’ The area is des­ig­nated ‘wild land’ and ‘area of panoramic qual­ity’ and lies within the In­ner He­brides and The Minches Spe­cial Area of Con­ser­va­tion (SAC), she said, and is ‘rich in rare wildlife’, such as har­bour por­poises, dol­phins, and minke, killer and sei whales.

‘The plan shows acous­tic de­ter­rent de­vices (ADDs) would be used to de­ter seals. Cetaceans can be dis­placed by ADDs at ranges of 7km. The cu­mu­la­tive im­pact will be dev­as­tat­ing to these species.

‘Im­pacts from lice, dis­ease, pes­ti­cides and waste, to not only wild fish, but other marine life is un­ac­cept­able. The es­tates on Is­lay and Jura work hard to con­serve and en­hance their lo­cal na­tive pop­u­la­tions.

‘The pro­posal is flawed: there has been no con­sid­er­a­tion to the ex­posed na­ture of the site and the high po­ten­tial for es­caped stock and moor­ing in­sta­bil­ity of the cages.

‘There has been no hy­dro­dy­namic mod­el­ling, no ben­thic (seabed) bi­ol­ogy sur­vey submitted, max­i­mum stock­ing biomass has been in­creased to lev­els for which fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions are needed and fal­low pe­ri­ods are un­sus­tain­ably short. Im­pacts to other wildlife have not been con­sid­ered.

‘A prom­ise of six jobs, whilst sac­ri­fic­ing a rare wild land­scape and un­spoiled marine habi­tats, is not ap­pro­pri­ate nor sus­tain­able eco­nomic devel­op­ment.’

Stu­art Can­non, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Kames, said it was ‘an en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble com­pany which has pro­duced high qual­ity, sus­tain­able fish for more than 45 years’.

‘We are very much aware there is a bal­ance to be struck, and would not want to place a site where there would be risk to the amaz­ing bio­di­ver­sity we have on the west coast.

‘We have with­drawn ap­pli­ca­tions in the past where the sci­en­tific as­sess­ment of the site has sug­gested the site is not suit­able. We re­quire new sites to meet the grow­ing de­mand for our prod­uct and want to place these sites in ar­eas deemed suit­able by the ap­pli­ca­tion process.’

‘It is a place pre­cious to many who come to seek soli­tude and ap­pre­ci­ate the re­mote and beau­ti­ful land­scape.’

Cor­pach Bay, the site of the pro­posed fish farm.

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