Newsletter No9 10 August 2017
SEPA’s Determination of the Application by Kames Fish Farms
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is still considering an application made last December by Kames Fish Farms, for a licence to release pesticides and thousands of tonnes of waste (mainly fish faeces) from a proposed new salmon or rainbow trout farm at Dounie, near Crinan, on the Sound of Jura.
On the advice of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), SEPA has requested that Kames do a second biological seabed survey before any decision is made, to establish the distribution of rare northern seafans and sponges living on the seabed. Although some seafans appeared in Kames' first seabed survey, the company failed to point them out. SNH say they are likely to be smothered by fish-farm waste. This waste would be equivalent to the amount of sewage produced by Lochgilphead each year, dumped into the sea untreated.
SEPA uses a computer model to show where fish-farm waste will go. They admit that their old model does not work for high-energy sites, such as the Sound of Jura, but say they will use it to assess the Dounie application anyway.
In order to guide Kames' second survey SEPA have tried out a newer computer model. The results show that thousands of tonnes of waste would travel up the coast towards Crinan, and large amounts would settle in the deep trenches close to Dounie, where the endangered flapper skate live. In some parts the predicted levels are so high that they are comparable to the highest-impact area directly below the cages: creating a dead seabed zone in the skates' key habitat, inside the MPA created specifically to protect them.
Fish-farm companies are unique among all types of industry in being allowed to dump their waste and toxic chemicals in the sea, at no cost to themselves and at a high environmental cost, paid by all of us. The solution is closed-containment but the government and industry say this would be uneconomic, despite an on-shore trial at Machrihanish that's in its second year and working well.
By 'uneconomic' the salmon farming companies mean that, despite the record profits they have been announcing, they prefer to dump their waste in the sea for free, rather than start paying to clean it up on-shore.
Visitors to Norway this summer report seeing many un-staffed automated fish farms. Increasing automation here would suggest that Dounie will not produce the four (+ two half) long-term jobs that Kames claim. The Marine Harvest fish farm off Colonsay has created only one new job for an islander.
Even if SEPA were to grant a licence, Kames would still have to seek planning permission from Argyll and Bute Council.
If you would prefer not to hear updates on this ongoing campaign please drop us an email.
Friends of the Sound of Jura