Letters to the editor 05.03.20

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Fish farm advocate has vested interest in aquaculture

Dr Martin Jaffa from Manchester (Letters, February 20) stoutly defends the Scottish farmed salmon industry’s environmental credentials and in particular is keen to counter the assertion that commercial farming has deleterious effects upon wild stocks of fish, crustaceans, shellfish  and so on.

I’d like to ask him some questions such as was his third paragraph supposed to make scientifically explained sense, because it did not? Would he be so kind as to furnish us with the name of the ‘study from Ireland’ so that we can weigh up the quality of science for ourselves?

Could he tell us what the foul smell at the outflow of salmon hatcheries is? Or what the weight of salmon faeces released into the sea from one growing cycle, smolt to finished article, of a 2,500-tonne salmon farm is? And does he have any interests to declare on the subject of fish farming?

On googling him, I discover: ‘Dr Martin Jaffa is a passionate advocate of aquaculture, especially with regard to the promotion of market-led strategies. He firmly believes that farming must take over from the wild catch as the principal sources of fish and seafood, whilst at the same time arguing that the industry must produce what consumers actually want. Dr Jaffa has over 35 years’ experience of the industry, the last 15 as the head of the aquaculture-based marketing company, Callander McDowell.’

Additionally, I note that Dr Jaffa is recommending that we should read a book entitled Loch Maree’s Missing Sea Trout. I looked for this book online only to discover it was written by none other than Dr Martin Jaffa himself. A pithy read full of fresh and juicy revelations no doubt! Vested interests everywhere, it would seem.

Peter Isaacson, Coll.

Fish stocks are only one measure of marine environment

In his letter  of February 20, Dr Martin Jaffa argues that a decline in fish stocks cannot be blamed on the existence of fish farming, since the decline began before the industry arrived.

Whilst this may well be the case, the letter seems to suggest we therefore have no cause for concern about the negative impact of fish farms on the marine ecosystem; ‘if salmon farming was having a negative impact on wild fish, all the rivers would be grade three, which is the worst conservation level, but they are not’.

This gives the misleading impression that the Scottish Government has assessed these rivers to be in generally good condition, but that is not case, since the conservation grading system only looks at wild fish numbers. Whether or not fish farms are a contributing factor in the decline of wild fish stocks recorded to date is apparently debatable, but there is absolutely no doubt that they are causing harm to the environment, which is backed up by scientific evidence. That harm, unless addressed, will continue to degrade the marine environment which will eventually have an impact on wild fish.

In the meantime, we have to deal with fish waste smothering plants, which reduces oxygenation, water polluted by chemical treatments intended to keep the fish healthy, and the moral question of whether it is acceptable to rear fish in battery conditions where they are highly susceptible to death from being eaten alive by lice.

Wild fish stocks are only one measure of the health of a marine environment, and may not react immediately to a degrading ecosystem.

Joanne Matheson, Acharacle.

Mountaineer’s presentation was truly inspirational

The headline attraction of the Fort William Mountain Festival was the world premiere presentation by Sherpa Nims Purja. He has smashed the existing world record for climbing the world’s 14 highest peaks in an unbelievable seven months.

There was not a spare seat in the Nevis Centre for his illustrated talk. Most of us were sat open-mouthed at the scale and tale of how he made it possible.

I would love to know the reaction of the Scout troop from Connel who were in the audience. A truly inspirational evening. Thanks to Rod Pashley, Festival Chairman and his team for showing why Fort William and Lochaber remains THE Outdoor Capital of the UK.

Nick Ferguson, Fassifern Road, Fort William.

Are we prepared to deal with coronavirus?

Is Oban prepared for the coronavirus if a contaminated cruise liner turns up this tourist season and how will the authorities deal with a contaminated ship offshore ?

Answers please before the tragic event that may possibly happen.

Stephen Jones, Millpark, Oban.

Public works are needed on Islay and other islands

It was great to catch up with constituents in the villages of Portnahaven and Port Wemyss as I was checking up on local road conditions.

Like so many areas across the Kintyre and Islands ward, residents are justifiably demanding instant action from both local and central government.

With so much tax revenue leaving our island’s shores every week, it only makes sense that we on Islay are at least given some recompense in appropriate public spending.

It’s high time the government, no matter what its political stripe, got on with its day job and looked to serving the commonwealth of our country, our rural constituency and our island communities.

Sooner or later a programme of works must be rolled out across Islay, and other islands, to fix our crumbling roads network.

Roads and ferries are the vital arteries that keep our island’s economy alive and well.

Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and Islands ward.