Media coverage August 2018
BBC News website, 1 August 2018
BBC News website, 2 August 2018
Sunday Herald, 5 August 2018
Salmon farms named and shamed on animal welfare
BBC News website, 9 August 2018
BBC News website, 15 August 2018
The Guardian website, 24 August 2018
The Oban Times, 29 August 2018
Islanders rally to oppose kelp plan
Islanders on Tiree and Coll are objecting to plans to harvest sea kelp from west coast waters.
Ayr-based Marine Biopolymers Ltd (MBL) is applying to the Scottish Government for a five-year licence to ‘sustainably harvest wild kelp’, or Laminaria hyperborea, to extract natural polymers for uses in foods and pharmaceuticals, in seas inside the Western Isles from the Firth of Lorne to Stornoway.
MBL’s scoping report, subject to a consultation, states this is a first for Scotland, but harvesting has been carried out ‘sustainably for many decades in Norway, France and Iceland’.
MBL hopes to harvest up to 1,300 tonnes in wet weight the first year, rising to 29,800 tonnes in year five, the minimum required per year to be commercially viable. It also needs to yield at least 5kg per square metre, and these densities only occur close to shore.
It would leave ‘over 99 per cent’ of the ‘abundant’ species, estimated to be 19.7 million tonnes. ‘In any given year, the area that would require harvesting to provide 30,000 tonnes wet weight would be around 20km squared. Such an area is equivalent to the footprint of seabed trawled by a single large scallop dredger over one month.’
Kelp will be harvested year-round by purpose-built vessels, which will ‘trawl’ a ‘comb-like’ head through the beds half a metre above the rocks, in an effort to avoid harvesting juvenile plants. ‘No harvest block will be re-harvested for a period of around five years to allow for full recovery of the kelp resource.’
The kelp would be transported to MBL’s proposed processing plant at Mallaig, subject to a future planning application to Highland Council.
Nick Underwood from conservationists Open Seas said: ‘There is a rich history of kelp harvesting in Scotland by hand from as far back as the 17th century, but the thing about this latest proposal is the method of dredging.
‘When kelp was being hand-harvested in the 17th century, the industry employed hundreds of people and around 20,000 tons were harvested.
‘But this new proposal really does just smack of one company interested in much more intensively exploiting this resource without any regulatory framework being put in place.
‘They talk about the rates of recovery for the kelp but there is nothing about how the marine life which depends on the kelp would be affected.’
Coll Community Council convener Paula Smalley said up to 50 people on the 200-strong island had raised concerns so far. ‘Sea kelp is our natural line of defence against storm waves,’ she said. ‘It is proven to reduce wave height by 30 to 40 per cent. This company wants to remove a vast swathe of our natural buffer.
‘Sea kelp plays a vital part in carbon sequestration. Kelp forest provides food and shelter for all sorts of marine species. This is like a floating version of a JCB. There will not be any discrimination between species. We do not know how long it will take to regrow. There have not been adequate studies.
‘Those who made representations are totally against it. We do not have a problem with hand harvesting sea kelp, because that is sustainable. We are planning a public meeting at the beginning of next month.’
Dr John Holliday, convener of Tiree Community Council, added: ‘We’ve only recently become aware of this proposal to harvest kelp around Tiree and Coll. We’re looking into why we didn’t hear earlier.
‘The island is surrounded by some of the largest kelp forests in Scottish waters. At the same time, Tiree’s sandy beaches are really vulnerable to erosion. The community council has won an extension until September 15 to reply to Marine Scotland.
‘We’ll be looking at the proposal in detail, talking to people on the island who might be affected – particularly fishermen, crofters and those who make their living from watersports – and make our response by then.’
Argyllshire Advertiser letters page, 24 August 2018
"Decision to allow fish farm expansion is reprehensible"