Scottish Green MSP for the Highlands & Islands, Ariane Burgess, today wrote to Argyll & Bute Council’s planning committee urging them to consider the cumulative impact of sea lice from multiple fish farms when assessing planning applications.
In her letter, MS Burgess stated that “Scotland’s wild salmon are in decline, with numbers at an alarmingly low level.
Recent models from SEPA found that, from the existing 17 salmon farms in the Greater Clyde area, between 10 and 30% of migrating salmon would be at risk of death due to sea lice, and 15% of the smolt’s journeys would expose the young salmon to levels of harm above SEPA’s accepted threshold.”
Ms Burgess had already lodged an objection to Mowi’s proposed salmon farm at North Kilbrannan in East Kintyre.
Since then, the new National Planning Framework has strengthened the intent of aquaculture planning policy:
“To encourage, promote and facilitate aquaculture development and minimise any adverse effects on the environment, including cumulative impacts.”
The framework also states that Local Development Plans “should guide new aquaculture development in line with National and Regional Marine Planning, and will minimise adverse environmental impacts, including cumulative impacts, that arise from other existing and planned aquaculture developments in the area while also reflecting industry needs.”
Commenting, Ms Burgess asked:
“Do we really want to stand back and let this ancient, culturally important migratory species die out in Scotland?
“The Endrick Water salmon are already in decline.
“Allowing more finfish farms will expose the wild salmon to even more sea lice and even greater pressure on their populations.
“Argyll & Bute’s own policies state the need to consider cumulative impacts: and I urge councillors and planning officers to consider the cumulative impacts of sea lice from existing finfish farms in the area plus the proposed new farm, consider SEPA’s modelling, and discuss this with NatureScot before making a decision on this application.”