Campaigners Challenge Proposals for 4 New Fish Farms on The Firth of Clyde

Elaine Allen has started a campaign against the the proposal to build 4 new fish farms on the Clyde. AFF (Against Fish Farming On The Firth of Clyde) has raised a petition to stop this proposal which is now at planning stage.

Dawn Fresh, who have 4 farm sites on Loch Etive and two more on freshwater sites on Loch Earn amd Loch Awe, aim to double production of rainbow trout to 14,000 tonnes per annum with their proposed farms.

They are looking to site farms at Ardentinny on Loch Long, on the Isle of Bute and on Little and Great Cumbrae. Elane rightly points out that the locations on Bute, Little and Great Cumbrae are on a "choke point" on the Clyde Esturary. Fish running through these points to the Leven, Loch Lomond and the river Endrick as well as the resurgent runs of fish on the Clyde, Avon and Kelvin are under threat from the proposal.

The waters of Loch Long are of high quailty supporting a wide range of aquatic life which would be put at risk from pollution both organic and chemical from the fish farm.

Waste from the intensive farming of fish in cages goes right into the enviroment untreated. It is a fact that for every tonne of fish farmed 2 tonnes of faeces are produced. That would mean 14,000 tonnes of untreated faeces, dead fish and uneaten food going into the waters around the proposed locations, additional to the 14,000 tonnes already going into Loch Etive.

Have a look at this screen shot from Google Satellite view of Loch Etive:

Screen Shot fish cages on Loch Etive

The flow of water out to sea as the tide goes out is from left to right as you view the shot. You can clearly sea that there is a significant anomaly down stream of the group of fish cages. I invite you to speculate on what that anomaly could be.

These "anomalies" in Loch Etive could occur at the locations chosen for the new fish farms. Loch Etive has a powerful tidal flow which could serve to remove detritus from the vicinity of fish farm cages, but it does not remove it from the environment.

Because of the decline in salmon stocks the Scottish Government has introduced a system of categories for rivers in Scotland. Cat 1 means the fishery stocks are sustainable, Cat 2 sustainable with management. Cat 3 fisheries are at an unsustainable level i.e. not enough fish enter the river to spawn and maintain a viable population.

After strenuous effort to promote catch and release, control poaching and deal with pollution the Leven and Endrick have moved from Cat 3 to 2 but the Clyde has slipped from 1 to 2 and the Avon remains a Cat 3.

The Google Satellite screen shot below is from Loch Etive. The flow in this case is from right to left as you view it passing 2 groups of cages with significant distortions showing down stream.

Screen Shot fish cages above Taynuilt pier, Loch Etive

An expanded Google Satellite screen shot below shows the relationship between theses cages and the mouth of the river Awe.

ScreenshoLoch Etive Taynuilt, river Awe

The line of detritus goes right into the mouth of the Awe. The once prolific river Awe is presently a Category 3 river while the river Etive is a Category 2.

Clearly they all need help and support to achieve Category 1 status. The last thing the Clyde fisheries need is a string of fish farms across the migration routes.

It also has to be note from their Predation Mitigation Plan that they will install Acoustic Deterrent Devices to scare off seals. When in use it is likely that fish too will be scared off. Incidentally if the scare tactics fail "persistent seals may be humanely dispatched by shooting".

The fish farming industry counters agruements against fish farming with the contribution it makes to the Scottish economy and to the resultant jobs.

Angling tourism is also important to the Scottish economy and equally importantly angling gives exercise, relaxation and pleasure to thousands upon thousands of anglers. Wildlife tourism does the same.

It is time that balance was found between the needs of both parties. Fish farming has destroyed salmon and sea trout stocks in the Western Ilses. There are alternative production methods either moving farms out into open seas or into totally self contained units at sea or on shore where waste is recovered and processed into a reusable commodity.

SEPA in there most recent report states:

Overall, the proposals will combine to encourage operators to site and operate their fish farms in environmentally less sensitive waters and use improved practices and technologies to reduce environmental impact.

In practice, we anticipate this will lead to fewer fish farms in shallower, slow-flowing waters and more fish farms in deeper and faster-flowing waters.  We also anticipate it will encourage the adoption of new technologies such as partial and full containment to capture organic waste and any remaining medical residues. SEPA has seen some industry operators successfully developing new approaches such as non-chemical ways of managing fish health. Our new regime will support these encouraging developments.

I cannot see that the Dawn Fresh proposal complies with the above from SEPA. I do hope the use of the word "encourage" is not a "Get Out of Jail Free Card" for aquaculture. Let's hope that seeing this planning application turned down will be the pivotal point in this long, sorry and sad saga.

To support the campaign please sign the; petition, just follow this link:

AFF Petition on 38 Degrees

Go to the AFF Web site on this link:

AFF Web Site

On a final note, people say it is amazing that you can see the Great Wall of China from space. Isn't it disturbing that you can see fish farm excrement too?