At random with Martin Laing week 40

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Fish farm conundrum

We published last week a highly erudite letter from Andy Grant of Achnamara arguing very cogently against a proposal to site a fish farm off the west coast of the isle of Jura.

In his correspondence, Mr Grant has the sentence: ‘Here we are again – the economy versus the environment.’

Indeed.

While I would not dispute Mr Grant’s arguments for this particular proposal, it raised in my mind the broader and ongoing conundrum he highlighted: the environment versus the economy, and the fish farming sector’s importance to both.

This is thrown into especially sharp relief in this area, renowned as it is for its stunning scenery and pristine coastline and islands. Yet there is no disputing the fact that fish farming plays a vital role in our local economy and is responsible for many jobs.

There are many highly successful fish farming companies in Argyll and the Isles providing excellent employment for a large number of people. I am sure their perspective would be at odds with the opinions of some others.

This is a tricky balancing act: we need to produce farmed fish to meet demand and economic realities, yet we must protect the marine environment.

I do not envy those whose responsibility it is to decide on this application. I suspect they are in a no-win situation.

Lifeboat heroes

It is no coincidence that we have reported numerous call-outs in recent weeks for the RNLI volunteer crews across our area.

Oban, Tobermory, Islay and others have all been busy racing to the aid of various vessels in trouble off the west coast and its many islands.

Those ‘shouts’ have also included launching during Storm Ali and other atrocious weather. The volunteers and the handful of full-time crew put to sea regardless of the conditions and with no hesitation.

I am in awe of their selfless dedication and bravery.

What do you think?

Write to me at mlaing@obantimes.co.uk or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4HB, or call 01631 568021.