Letters to the Editor – 27.1.22

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Closure of Clyde cod box leaves creelers reeling

You are no doubt aware of the decision in relation to the seasonal Clyde cod spawning closure and the change in relation to exemptions, which our local fishing industry says will have extremely serious consequences for their livelihood. (For more visit www.obantimes.co.uk)

I have written to the Scottish Government about this and include below a short press release for your interest.

In response to significant concerns raised by local fishing industry representatives across Argyll and Bute, Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, has written to the Scottish Government in their support.

Local vessel owners, and industry body the Clyde Fishing Association, say that a different approach to the seasonal Clyde cod spawning closure has potentially devastating consequences for the already fragile sector, with many small or single-vessel businesses left without any income for the three-month closure period.

Following the announcement the Scottish Government is changing its approach in relation to the seasonal Clyde cod spawning closure, I have received a number of representations from the Clyde fishing community who are, quite simply, devastated at the potential impact of this decision.

I have met with fishing industry representatives on a number of occasions for positive and constructive discussions about their ambition and determination to ensure that this traditional Argyll and Bute sector not only survives, but thrives. This shift in approach presents a very real risk to survival of this vital local industry.

The CFA in its statement sets out the implications for local fishing businesses, and their families, in the starkest terms. They have previously been co-operative and supportive of actions taken to safeguard future stocks, given the exemptions that were previously provided. However, this different approach is of the utmost concern to them given that it will effectively remove income and earning potential from countless, already hard-pressed families working in one of the most challenging local industries in Scotland.

They have asked for urgent discussions ahead of the proposed closure date of February 14 in the hope that an alternative can be found. I have written to ministers expressing my hope that they will be able to meet with industry representatives in early course, given the very serious concerns that they have about their future and Clyde fishing as a whole should this go ahead in its current form.
Robin Currie, Argyll and Bute policy lead for the economy and rural growth.

Letter was disingenuous

We refer to Anne Anderson’s denigrating reply (Oban Times, January 13) to Dennis Archer’s concern about the impact of fish farms on the wider environment.
She quotes an old 2006 study on algal bloom causation and presents it as scientific fact.

This is no longer relevant, since then there has been a huge increase in disease, chemical and antibiotic use due to ever-increasing biomass on salmon farms.
It is disingenuous of Anne Anderson to claim that fish farms do not play a part in forming algal blooms. Anyone with a moderate understanding of biological mechanisms will realise there is a very real possibility the farms are the source, not just the innocent victims.

In a more recent study mentioned in Salmon Business, an industry publication April 28, 2021) Dr Paulina Montero claims: ‘We are not going to go blind that aquaculture could not be a cause of some elements of these harmful algal blooms, mainly because of the increase in nutrients generated by this industry in the water column’.

Those of us that see past the corporate spin of ‘local jobs’ and ‘protein for the world’ realise that we are witnessing a perfect storm of an environmental disaster, right here on the west coast of Scotland. The sea lice, the gill disease, the infectious salmon anaemia virus, the pancreatic disease are spreading exponentially.

The proposed increase in biomass and fish farm sizes, in a few more years, will bring this industry to its knees. If this and the incremental rate of mortalities were happening on land farms, there would rightly be a public outcry.

Ms Anderson also claims Scottish Sea Farms want to be nice and be good neighbours. We are close neighbours of the Barcaldine hatchery and the Loch Creran fish farm, sited in a Marine Area of Special Conservation and Marine Protected Area. We have videos of the lice-covered fish, also the mortalities which result from the regular visits of the thermolicer, Simon Princess. We have witnessed the pressure-washing of the cages, straight into the sea loch and the ensuing organic scum around the loch’s shores. We have seen the gushing outfall from the hatchery. We have government published spreadsheets of the quantities of deltamethrin, azamethiphos, emamectin benzoate and hydrogen peroxide that have been poured into the water. We have watched as the barge mounted incinerator belches out thick black smoke, presumably burning dead and diseased fish.

When ‘our neighbours’ stop polluting our precious marine environment and realise the harm they are causing and the inevitable community dissonance, then come back to us and we will talk about neighbourliness. Until then we will carry on caring for our children and their children’s future, which is to stand against this dirty industry every step of the way.

Finally, we are sick and tired of being labelled ‘activists’, worse still ‘fabricating’ (Ms Anderson’s words) and scientifically ignorant.

Much of our information is direct from government data via FOI requests. We are simply extremely concerned individuals highlighting the appalling disregard and monopoly of our marine environment by aquaculture, at the expense of our future.
Andrew Holder and Maggie Brotherston, Friends of Loch Creran (Dipintheblue.org)

Questions still need answers

Councillor Colville’s letter (Oban Times, January 13) is rich in platitudes but fails to address any of the questions posed by Oban Community Council (Oban Times letters, 16 December 2021) including:

  • How long will it take the council to develop a Municipal Port
  • Why has the council reversed its previous position that they do not have the necessary expertise to run Oban Harbour
  • Why did the report to the recent Harbour Board meeting not include an estimate of the setup cost for a Municipal Port?

Why did the council fail to provide information in a timely manner to OCHDA when asked?

A Municipal Port would be a satisfactory arrangement for Oban Bay provided it can be established quickly (ideally in 2022, but by 2023 at the latest) and that it is operated by a council renowned for its openness and integrity.
Derek Wilkinson, Connel.

Windfarm cash

Crown Estates Scotland announces it has generated £700 million from the auctions of off-shore sites for wind farms.

Under the CES governance rules most of that money will go to the Scottish Government. How will they spend it? Will they subsidise energy supplies to end users? Will it be used to insulate houses? Will it be used to protect communities from rising sea levels?

That £700 million leasing fee will be used by the end users, thus a large tax on energy bills because of lack of other power sources forcing the UK to import gas and other sources of electricity from overseas.

Deals like this for CES will increase poverty in Scotland while making more demands for the needy on the public purse. This type of deal will also add additional costs to industry and commerce reducing the opportunities for businesses and employment.
James A Mackie, Moray.

The coll road is full of potholes. Photograph: Colin Kennedy.
Is this the worst road in Argyll?

With council elections only round the corner together with budget reductions and council tax increases, dare I suggest Audit Scotland conduct a full audit of the roads department establishing where the money is spent and if best value was ever considered, then funds may be available to fix island roads.

On Coll, a culvert was replaced in 2012 at a cost in excess of £200k, yet those in authority think it is acceptable to have roads in such a state due to lack of budget as it appears islands are simply placed bottom of the list.

Perhaps were I to rename my house ‘Ganavan’ the council would recognise Coll existed, with the above road allocated some hot tar.
Colin N Kennedy, Isle Of Coll.