Mechanical harvesting of kelp proposal

 
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Marine Scotland are currently consulting on a scoping report as part of the pre-application process for an application for one or more 5-year marine licences to harvest wild kelp (Laminaria hyperborea) on the west coast of Scotland.  Marine Biopolymers Ltd propose to extract approx. 30,000 tonnes of kelp per annum.

The harvesting technique proposed comprises use of a dredge-like harvesting head deployed from a vessel trawling through the kelp bed.

 

Industrial mechanical harvesting of kelp has never taken place in Scotland and it is critical that we take a stance on this unprecedented proposal.
 
The desired licence area covers a large area of the West Coast and covers multiple MPAs and other designated sites, including the Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura MPA, Firth of Lorn SAC, Loch Sunart MPA, Small Isles MPA, Loch Carron MPA, Lochs Duich, Long and Alsh MPA and the Wester Ross MPA.

Many coastal communities like FoSoJ are deeply concerned about the environmental impacts of this proposed operation.  Below is a summary of our response: 
 

'The Friends of the Sound of Jura believe that this method of mechanical harvesting would result in substantial ecological pressure on natural kelp beds and that this activity is not consistent with the Government’s policies to protect biodiversity in the marine environment.


FoSoJ therefore supports research on the cultivation of kelp for harvesting, rather than damaging wild populations by mechanical harvesting and we suggest that MBL should invest in farming kelp instead. This would create more jobs in remote communities like ours than the 42 in this proposal, all but 10 of which are in Mallaig, and would produce a higher quality product with less 'biofouling' than wild harvested kelp.'

Read the scoping report here

Read our response to Marine Scotland in full here

See press report in the Guardian here

 

Dredge-like harvesting head

Kelp forest: photo credit - Richard Shucksmith, SNH

Kelp forest: photo credit - Richard Shucksmith, SNH

Kelp forest: photo credit - Richard Shucksmith, SNH

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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.

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