The Herald

Fish farm row is real live fairy tale

A bizarre claim to protect ancient magical creatures from a 12-cage site has made waves. Martin Williams reports


AS complaints about fish farms go, some might say that those responsibl­e are away with the fairies.

But a group has claimed that the protection of the magical creatures was a valid reason for opposing plans for a new fish farm on the Isle of Skye.

Highland Council planners have now blocked the 12-cage Organic Sea Harvest salmon farm after receiving various complaints, including on behalf of the group of sea fairies.

A group calling itself the Flodigarry Fairies warned the asrai – which it says has been in the waters off the Isle of

Skye for more than 1,000 years – could die.

Group members say the sprites are in “fear for their lives”, claiming the cages could draw the fairies to the surface and they would melt, and are opposing the farm off Skye’s north coast.

And they even warned that workers could be put in danger as mischievou­s sprites “lure them with promises of gold and jewels into the deepest part of the ocean”.

According to folklore the asrai is a type of aquatic fairy that lives in seas, lakes and lochs and is similar to the mermaid and nixie.

They are sometimes described as timid and shy, standing between two and four feet tall, or may be depicted as tall and lithe.

Their oldest known appearance in print was the poem The Asrai by the Scottish poet, novelist and dramatist Robert Williams Buchanan, first published in April 1872, and followed by a sequel A Changeling: A Legend of the Moonlight.

Buchanan described them as naturelovi­ng spirits who could not bear sunlight.

Signed “on behalf of the Flodigarry Fairies” by Friends of the Eilean

Fhlodaigea­rraidh Faeries, the letter said the asrai have been there for more than 1,000 years and begged Highland

Council to refuse plans.

The letter said: “Asrai live for hundreds of years and will come up to the surface of the water once each century to bathe in the moonlight which they use to help them grow.

“It is proven that the steel of the fish farm cages draws many asrai to the surface, with only one result: they melt.”

It also warns that male fishermen working on the farm may be in danger as the fairies “will attempt to lure him with promises of gold and jewels into the deepest part of the ocean to drown or simply to trick him”.

The letter also claims that seals which are living on the island are actually roanes, water elementals or mermen who take the form of seals – which could be in danger of being shot by salmon farmers.

Also mentioned are “magical misty” Skye links, including its Fairy Pools, Dunvegan Castle’s Fairy Flag and the Fairy Bridge.

Meanwhile, they also claim water spirits – called the Blue Men of the Minch – and water birds called broobries may also be in danger.

On a more serious note, complaints were lodged on the impact on local fishing and the fact that it could destroy the local area.

A joint objection from the Scottish Fishermen Federation, Scottish White Fish Producers Associatio­n and the Mallaig and North West Fishermen’s Associatio­n said the worry remains for the “safety” of local fishermen.

They also raised concerns about chemicals used in the salmon farming industry.

Scottish National Heritage, meanwhile, said that the farm would have an impact on the coast nearby but it was for the council to decide whether any environmen­tal effect would impact on local policies.

Local residents also spoke about the impact of tourism which brings in

£1.8 million to the local economy every year from thousands of visitors.

Councillor­s on Highland Council refused the controvers­ial proposals after a six-hour debate.

The fairies fear for their lives

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 ??  ?? Flodigarry on the Isle of Skye, where a proposed salmon farm sparked a storm over the potential impact on the local sea sprites
Flodigarry on the Isle of Skye, where a proposed salmon farm sparked a storm over the potential impact on the local sea sprites
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