Unsustainable kelp dredging banned in Scotland

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The Scottish Wildlife Trust has welcomed a vote in the Scottish Parliament that puts a stop to damaging plans to dredge thousands of tonnes of kelp from Scotland’s seas each year.

Bruce Wilson, public affairs manager for the trust said: ‘Scotland’s kelp forests are rightly protected as priority marine features. They are ecosystems in their own right, providing nursery grounds for many fish, and shelter for marine mammals including otters and seals. There is also growing awareness of their importance as a store of blue carbon.

‘It is clear that the damage to the natural environment of introducing mechanical dredging on an industrial scale is too high a price to pay, both environmentally and economically.

‘There are no guarantees that kelp will recover from being dredged. Allowing these habitats to be intensively harvested could cause irreversible harm to a system that is already under threat from climate change and ocean acidification.

‘We believe that Scotland has the potential to be a leader in sustainable aquaculture and support further investigation into techniques that allow seaweed to be harvested with minimal environmental impact. However, it is clear that the damage to the natural environment of introducing mechanical dredging on an industrial scale is too high a price to pay, both environmentally and economically.

‘The Scottish Parliament has listened to the concerns of experts in marine conservation and coastal communities and we welcome the principled stance that MSPs have taken.’

In August the Scottish Wildlife Trust joined a number of members of Scottish Environment LINK to express their concerns about mechanical harvesting of kelp in a joint response to a scoping report produced by Marine Biopolymers Ltd.