Newsletter No17 September 2018
Many of us know and love the west coast of Jura and there is hardly anywhere in the whole country that's so wild. This email is to let those of you who don't already know that Kames Fish Farming Ltd has proposed to site a huge industrial fish farm at Corpach Bay on the west coast of the island. This would comprise 14 floating cages and an anchored 43m long feed barge/service building. At their maximum the cages would hold around 3300 tonnes of salmon or 4400 tonnes of rainbow trout, making this one of Scotland's largest fish farms, sited on one of its most beautiful and wildest coastlines.
There are important principles at stake here. This area has been recognised by the Scottish Government and Local Council as among the most precious pieces of landscape in the country and is also one of the richest for rare wildlife on the sea and the coast. Is this rare wild landscape going to be sacrificed to the aquaculture industry's hunger for expansion, as soon as the first company asks to spoil it?
Here are some of the reasons why this proposal is completely inappropriate:
The west Coast of Jura is a truly unspoilt wilderness. It is a place precious to many who come to seek solitude and appreciate the remote and beautiful landscape. It is impossible to mitigate the visual Impact from this development on this landscape; its presence alone would remove the wilderness and scenic qualities valued by many. These values have been recognised by the Scottish Government and local council who have designated this land as ‘Wild Land’ & an ‘Area of Panoramic Quality’. This wild area is an important attraction for visitors to Jura. Tourism is worth much more to Scotland than aquaculture and in Visit Scotland's surveys, visitors always give the landscape as their number one reason for visiting.
Aquaculture has had devastating impacts on our native wildlife and although small improvements have been made to how it is practiced, these have not been enough to convince us that this is the right approach for fish farming in Scotland, especially not on the west coast of Jura.
This coast is of vital importance to many types of whales and dolphins. The proposed site at Corpach Bay lies within the Inner Hebrides and The Minches Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) designated for Harbour Porpoises. Bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and minke whales use this area regularly. There have even been sightings of killer whale and sei whales close by in 2018.
All cectaeans are European Protected Species and have high protection status. The plan shows that Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) would be used to deter seals. Studies have shown that cetaceans can be displaced by ADDs at ranges of 7km. It is illegal to disturb cetaceans and the cumulative impact of the increase of fish farms around our coast will be devastating to these species.
Sea trout use these coastal waters year-round and salmon migrate through them on their way to and from breeding rivers. These iconic fish are an intrinsic part of our natural heritage and play an important role in the local economy. Their numbers are in steep decline. The estates on Islay and Jura work hard to conserve and enhance their local native populations. The impact to native fish stocks from fish farms is well documented, including parasitic sea lice which thrive in fish farms and eat the farmed fish alive, as well as spreading to wild fish, as does disease.
The current proposal is inherently flawed: There has been no consideration of to the exposed nature of the site, with the cages and associated feed barge anchored just off one of the most dangerous shorelines in the UK. service buildings. The hydrographic report submitted to the council only shows tidal flows recorded during 15 days of calm weather in the summer, which is unrepresentative of the winter storms on this coast, that could wreck the farm and release more than a million farmed fish, harming wild salmon through interbreeding, competition and disease.
Fish farm pesticides and waste can kill other marine life. The head of 'Compliance and Beyond' at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency recently confirmed that 'There is no other single sector making discharges to the water environment which will have a same total cumulative extent of impacts as fish farms', yet there has been no hydrodynamic modelling done to track when the thousands of tonnes of fish faeces and the fish farm pesticides from this fish farm would go, and no benthic (seabed) biology survey has been submitted to show the impact of this pollution, even though the maximum proposed stocking biomass of 4400 tonnes of fish hugely exceeds the previous maximum allowed in Scotland (2500 tonnes). The proposed eight week maximum fallow periods every two years are unsustainably short.
Crustaceans are poisoned by fish farm pesticides but the impacts of this on other wildlife have not been considered, including on birds and otters that rely on eating crustaceans. Jura is one of the most important areas in Europe for otters.
There has been little consideration of the impact of this proposal on other industries which use the area sustainably, such as the local creel fishermen whose livelihoods depend on unpolluted seas, and the tourism industry which relies of the pristine beauty of the West Coast of Scotland.
A campaign against this proposal has been set up by the residents of Jura. It has widespread support and also from other coastal community groups such as the Friends of the Sound of Jura.
If you would like to support their campaign please sign the petition:
Friends of the Sound of Jura