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May 16, 2018

Coast call out Cab Sec

As an island nation and a nation of islands, it’s a bit of a mystery that the marine and coastal environment doesn’t have greater prominence within national policy. Perhaps in response to this policy vacuum, coastal and island communities have become increasingly active in recent years. A national network provides a platform for its members to become more vocal on the big issues of concern. None bigger than the emerging ecological disaster that surrounds our salmon industry. COAST, based on Arran, have no fear in speaking truth to power. Fergus Ewing is in their sights.



Will our politicians surrender Scottish seas to development at any cost?

The Scottish people should be deeply concerned when one of their Cabinet Secretaries promises industrial growth in our seas at any cost. Fergus Ewing addressed salmon producers at the Seafood Expo in Brussels: ‘I’m determined to give what leadership I can to make sure that no matter what challenges are thrown at it, you double growth,’ ‘Let’s do it…let’s go Scotland!’

Ewing keeps avoiding his responsibility to manage the risks to our marine environment. Instead he encourages the growth of some of the most destructive or risky industries that benefit some but jeopardise the future of coastal communities, sustainable fishing and biodiverse seas. His portfolio of blunders keeps growing; as well as promising to double salmon production in Scotland, he has supported “scientific trials” for electrofishing of razor clams mostly across the West coast, and many within the network of Marine Protected Areas. This fishery has been illegal in the EU since 1998 as it can cause irreversible damage to marine ecosystems. He has also ignored the black hole of the unregulated wrasse fishery, driven by salmon producers to treat sea lice in their cages. This goes to show how little Marine Scotland has learnt from the lessons of the past 50 years of ineffectual marine management, the decline of the Firth of Clyde ecosystem being one of the main examples of this.

All eyes are now on the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee’s inquiry into the development of salmon farming in our seas. Will the REC Committee MSPs pay heed to the Parliament’s own Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee letter and report that concluded: “The status quo [of salmon farming] is not an option”? Will they listen to the hundreds and thousands of people represented by 27 fishery, environmental and community groups (see list of signatories and press release here) who have asked for an immediate moratorium on salmon farm development?

Let the REC Committee MSPs know what you think about this issue.

The public is clearly concerned. Over 30,000 people have signed a petition asking the government to test wastewater from salmon cages in Scotland for pathogens and diseases. They expect our parliament and government to work hard to leave the Scottish people a legacy of a healthy and diverse marine ecosystem, that will support a sustainable economy. COAST will continue to hold any government to account.