Dounie Fish Farm Campaign

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The Friends of the Sound fo Jura believes that aquaculture is necessary and creates important jobs in coastal communities like ours. We also believe it can do this without compromising the marine environment on which we all depend. There are many innovative ways to reduce the impact of fish farming, especially by capturing its pollution rather than releasing it into the sea, and by preventing sea lice being released from farms. We welcome many of the recommendations of the Scottish Parliamentary inquiry into fish farming and the initiatives being proposed by SEPA and others.

Dounie saved!

In December 2017, Kames Fish Farming Ltd withdrew their application to site a fish farm at Dounie. We would like to thank all our many supporters who have helped us achieve this fantastic goal. 

Friends of the Sound of Jura (FoSoJ) learned with relief recently that Kames Fish Farming Ltd has decided to withdraw their application for a 12-cage fish farm at Dounie Bay, south of Crinan. Under pressure from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage, they had broadened their original assessment of the farm’s environmental impact, and concluded that that it would damage the important wildlife of this Marine Protected Area. The proposal had attracted much concern from a wide spectrum of the local community, many of whom rely on the Sound of Jura to support environmentally sustainable local businesses.

Mark Smith, speaking on behalf of FoSoJ said “We have always maintained that this industrial-sized fish farm should have no place within a Marine Protected Area. The wildlife of the Sound includes the rare flapper skate, porpoises and otters, as well as smaller rarities like the northern sea fan. They have been spared being smothered in thousands of tonnes of fish faeces laced with pesticides every year. The wild salmon and sea trout which migrate to the River Add have been spared the catastrophic burden of sea lice associated with fish farms. We will continue to promote the Sound of Jura as an important resource for use by the local community, anglers, creel fishermen, scallop-divers, sailors, tourists and all of us who value and depend on the good health of the marine environment.”

See also our letter to Stuart Cannon, Managing Director Kames Fish Farming Ltd in response, below.

Mr S Cannon

Kames Fish Farming Ltd

Kilmelford

18 December 2017

Dear Mr Cannon

Thank you for showing us your letter to SEPA and for doing the right thing with respect to Dounie, in the light of the damage that would have resulted to the sea fan and sponge community there.  Protecting the breeding salmon and sea trout in the River Add and in the Sound from sea lice would have been an equally good reason to drop your plans.

We do not agree with you that the impact of a fish farm on flapper skate and porpoises can be dismissed by saying that these species are highly mobile. Tagging studies have shown that individual flapper skate are faithful to their own small areas in the deep trenches of the Sound. As you know the area is also protected as an cSAC for porpoises (a species in steep decline in the UK) because they breed here. Neither species can just swim off to find somewhere else that suits them equally well.

Nor are flapper skate found over a wide area. They are classed by IUCN as critically endangered: the same category as mountain gorillas and Sumatran rhinos – the last stage before extinction. The Marine Protected Area was set up to specifically to protect them, because Scotland holds most of the world's population of these fish, mostly in Argyll and Orkney. They are protected as Marine Priority Features outside the MPA as well.

Given that this is one of the two best areas in the world for flapper skate, it is entirely possible that they sometimes feed on dead fish or surplus fish pellets under your fish farm cages.  This should be a cause for concern for you, SNH and SEPA, given that there is not information on the long-term effects on skate of emamectin benzoate or the various bath chemicals.  They live for many decades and these toxins are likely to accumulate in their bodies.

If you have any plans to site fish farms in the Sound of Jura in future, the Friends of the Sound of Jura would of course be interested.  If you do consider such a course, we hope you will reconsider the significant impact that any such plans would have on the Sound's skate, porpoises and wild salmonids.

With best wishes for a happy Christmas.

The Friends of the Sound of Jura

Cc Jim Frame, SEPA

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The Sound of Jura is home to some of the most fascinating and diverse marine life in Scotland.  We seek to protect the Sound, the River Add and their local users from threats to the area’s wildlife and local sustainable economy.

Registered Charity No: SC049740