COAST launch new fish farm ex­pan­sion fight

The Arran Banner - - News - Colin Smee­ton ed­i­tor@ar­ran­ban­ner.co.uk

A cam­paign to fight the pro­posed ex­pan­sion of the fish farm in Lam­lash Bay was launched last week.

The Com­mu­nity of Ar­ran Se­abed Trust, COAST, took its first steps in its re­newed op­po­si­tion to ex­pan­sion plans by the Scot­tish Salmon Com­pany (SSC) by hold­ing a well at­tended pub­lic meet­ing in Brod­ick.

It was the first of six sched­uled pub­lic meet­ings to be held around the is­land – fur­ther meet­ings are planned for Kil­do­nan, Whit­ing Bay, Lam­lash and Black­wa­ter­foot and Lochranza in the com­ing weeks.

They have been or­gan­ised fol­low­ing the news, re­ported in the last month, that the com­pany has sub­mit­ted a new ex­pan­sion plan which is al­most dou­ble a pre­vi­ous pro­posal.

The SSC, based in Lam­lash Bay, had pre­vi­ously ap­plied for per­mis­sion to ex­pand its op­er­a­tions but these were later with­drawn. They were fiercely op­posed by COAST, who hosted demon­stra­tions and nu­mer­ous pub­lic aware­ness cam­paigns as well as lob­by­ing against the pro­posal.

COAST founder Howard Wood told the meet­ing: ‘Af­ter a long process of lob­by­ing to op­pose the ex­pan­sion of the Lam­lash Bay fish farm and af­ter the ap­pli­ca­tion was with­drawn, we once again find our- selves hav­ing to stand up against this large multi­na­tional com­pany whose ex­pan­sion plans puts the eco­log­i­cal health of Lam­lash Bay at risk.’

The meet­ings which will take place across the is­land, will in­clude a short film and in­for­ma­tion on the im­pact and his­tory of the com­pany, and the reper­cus­sions of the de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing a dis­cus­sion on the ben­e­fits that it could bring.

COAST di­rec­tor Paul Chan­dler opened the Brod­ick meet­ing with back­ground in­for­ma­tion on why COAST was orig­i­nally formed, tak­ing the au­di­ence through the long-drawn out process of se­cur­ing a Ma­rine Pro­tected Area in Lam­lash Bay. He then handed the chair over to Mr Wood who out­lined why he op­posed the de­vel­op­ment.

He said the main con­cerns cen­tred on ef­flu­ent from the fish farm, which if in­creased, would fur­ther pol­lute the waters of the bay, and the use of chem­i­cals, which even when used in small amounts, are po­ten­tially harm­ful to other an­i­mal life in the bay.

In par­tic­u­lar a chem­i­cal mar­keted as SLICE, which is used to con­trol lice in­fes­ta­tions which are preva­lent in fish farm­ing, is known to be dev­as­tat­ing to shell­fish and is be­lieved to be used in larger and larger quan­ti­ties by fish farm­ers across the west coast of Scot­land.

Of fur­ther con­cern for COAST, and one with even more se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions, is the oc­cur­rence of farmed salmon es­cap­ing and breed­ing with wild salmon, some­thing which Mr Wood ex­plained re­sulted in a weaker gene pool.

This re­cently oc­curred on the Isle of Mull where 11,000 farmed fish es­caped from a Scot­tish Salmon Com­pany farm at Geas­gill, spark­ing fears for the ge­netic pu­rity of wild salmon.

Af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion, com­mu­nity coun­cil chair­man Bill Calder­wood, who chaired the meet­ing, opened the dis­cus­sion by ask­ing the au­di­ence for their opin­ions and com­ments which saw many voic­ing their op­po­si­tion to the ex­pan­sion, ei­ther through the ef­fects on their busi­ness or on eco­log­i­cal grounds.

COAST will use the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from the par­tic­i­pants, in­clud­ing a pe­ti­tion which most in at­ten­dance signed, to for­mu­late a plan of ac­tion and to gal­vanise sup­port for what is ex­pected to be another long drawn-out fight against fur­ther ex­pan­sion in the Ma­rine Pro­tected Area in Lam­lash Bay.

In a let­ter printed in the Ban­ner last week the CEO of the Scot­tish Salmon Com­pany Craig An­der­son promised a full pro­gramme of con­sul­ta­tion with lo­cal res­i­dents and or­gan­i­sa­tions to lis­ten to their views and con­cerns over the de­vel­op­ment plans.

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COAST founder Howard Wood ad­dresses the au­di­ence out­lin­ing his con­cerns about the po­ten­tial fish farm ex­pan­sion.

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The first pub­lic meet­ing in Brod­ick hosted by COAST was at­tended by mem­bers of the com­mu­nity op­posed to the pro­posed fish farm ex­pan­sion.

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