In 2010 the Norwegian Government, citing devastation caused by sea lice from salmon farms to the marine ecosystem and the communities whose livelihoods depend on it, slammed on the brakes to further salmon farm expansion.  Unfortunately the Scottish Government, behind the curve in this respect, has its foot still glued to the accelerator.  Some days ago the following written question was put to the First Minister, hoping to alert him to the terrible cost of sea cage salmon farming :


'Staffa, Iona, and the Treshnish Isles comprise world-class cultural, historical, wildlife and wild land values which have been canvassed as Unesco World Heritage Sites. Argyll and Bute council are considering plans for massive new salmon farms at Gometra in Loch Staffa and Ardmeanach in Loch Scridain.


Salmon farming has been described as an environmental tragedy, given its degradation of the marine environment and of salmon, sea trout, seal and cetacean populations (e.g. Costello (2009), Ford et al. (2008), Booth (2010)). By Scottish Government figures (Annual Production Surveys, 2000 & 2010) over 900 people Scotland-wide are directly employed full time, and no jobs have been created since 1986, in sea cage salmon production. By way of comparison, the number directly employed in Scottish tourism is over 200,000. Does the First Minister agree that the salmon industry’s ambitious expansion plans threaten the flow of tourism’s ‘green gold’ to fragile and remote rural areas dependent on the pristine marine environment, causing a net loss of employment we cannot afford, above all in these interesting times.'


Roc Sandford