Press release 17 April 2017

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3,000 sign up to oppose Sound of Jura fish farm proposal

The recently formed group Friends of the Sound of Jura, which was set up to oppose an application for a fish farm at Dounie in the Sound of Jura, announced this week that their local and online petitions have attracted over 3,000 signatures.

“This number of signatures clearly shows a loud chorus of objection to the inappropriate siting of the proposed fish farm” said Friends of the Sound of Jura supporter Lottie Goodlet.  “As well as individuals we have the support of our Community Councils, businesses, fishermen, water-enthusiasts’ groups, Lochgilphead Angling Club and MSP Michael Russell.” She added: “Since the application was submitted to SEPA in December,  our campaign continues to attract local, national and social media attention.”

Wildlife cameraman John Aitchison said: “ Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura was designated a Marine Protected Area to protect the spectacular but critically endangered flapper skate.  A salmon/trout farm at Dounie, within this MPA, could contain more than 1.1 million fish, that’s 2,500 tonnes.  The fish farm company has already made an application to SEPA for permission to release pesticides into the water and to deposit huge amounts of organic waste at the site, mostly in the form of salmon faeces and uneaten food.”  He added:  “The location is just 200m from one of the deepest troughs in the Sound, and therefore near to the skate.  No-one knows what effect this much effluent or the fish farm pesticides will have on them.”

Friends of the Sound of Jura say that it is well documented the industry’s use of pesticides is soaring in a, so far, unsuccessful attempt to control infestation by sea lice.  Environmental Advisor Richard Luxmoore said:  “The normal response of fish farmers is to treat the fish with a variety of toxic chemicals.  Many are highly poisonous to birds and mammals and all are toxic to crustaceans, such as lobsters and prawns.  Chemicals are being used to less and less effect and, not surprisingly, quantities of these poisonous substances build up in the sediments near the fish farms.”  He added  “Figures recently released by SEPA show that the residues have breached Environmental Quality Standards on numerous occasions.”

The proposed fish farm site is only 5km from the River Add, which Friends of the Sound of Jura say is one of the last remaining rivers between Tarbert and Fort William that has any appreciable numbers of sea trout and salmon.  Local anglers who have signed the petition are worried that a sea lice infestation among the farmed fish could easily spread to the wild salmon and trout, wiping them out.

Lochgilphead Angling Club member Mark Smith said: “The Scottish government’s own scientific evidence shows that wild sea trout and salmon are badly affected by the high levels of sea lice present around fish farms.”  He warned: “Putting this fish farm close to the mouth of a spawning river is irresponsible and is likely to result in the extinction of these wild fish in the River Add. This has already happened in most other rivers up the west coast but it shouldn’t be allowed to happen here.  A healthy river not only supports wild fish but also anglers and related local businesses such as bed and breakfasts and tackle shops.”

Ross Appleyard, owner of a beat on the River Add and Kirnan Holiday Cottages said: “The River Add has one of the healthiest populations of young salmon on the west coast of Scotland and if this farm goes ahead then the impact on the River Add would be huge and would provide conclusive evidence of the damage done to wild populations by fish farms. Our holiday business attracts hundreds of visitors a year who want to see these fish in the wild. The jobs these tourists generate for the local area in the service industry far outweigh the few jobs the fish farm would bring in. Wild salmon are a hugely important part of Scotland’s heritage. Please act now to stop this application and give our fish a chance.”

Philip Price of Ardfern-based Loch Visions said: “We formed Friends of the Sound of Jura to protect the Sound, the River Add and their local users from threats to the area’s wildlife and local economy.  The tourism industry in Scotland is worth much more to the economy than fish farming, especially so in Argyll.  My own and many of our area’s businesses are based on the sustainable use of the sea, and on Knapdale’s great natural beauty.  There are many more jobs in tourism than the few that fish farm expansion can create.”

Andrew M who signed the online petition (which is at tinyurl.com/fosoj) wrote: “I am a frequent visitor to this area of outstanding natural beauty and tranquility.  I come for the undisturbed views, the peace and quiet and the abundant wildlife – all of which will be destroyed by the siting of this industrial complex at Dounie.  Scotland is a remarkable place, renowned the world over for its natural beauty – surely the tourism that this generates secures far more jobs than the handful that this fish farm will create?”

Local fisherman Hans Unkles said:  “I have concerns that the bay would be closed to creel boats and scallop divers.  I’m not against fish farms but I signed the petition because I don’t think the fish farm applicants have thought through the exposed location of the site.  I have fished in the Sound for more than 30 years and am worried that survey work is being carried out by organisations that are ill-equipped to do so.”  He added:  “It’s the last of the areas not to contain fish cages and there is good reason for that – it’s not a safe place to put one.”

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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