COAST News: Continued salmon farm expansion in Arran’s MPA


Following the recent withdrawal by the Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) of their application to expand their farm within our Marine Protected Area at Lamlash Bay, the Jersey-registered, banker-owned, Oslo-traded company, have almost immediately announced that they will be reapplying to expand the farm further and put in place newer and larger open cage pens. Back in Norway the problems of infection and sea lice infestation through open cage fish farming has been widely recognised and there is now a general move to closed-containment farming to protect Norwegian waters and wild salmon. However, Scottish waters are still fair game for salmon farm companies to continue to introduce and expand open cages in vulnerable inshore areas, which are working hard to regenerate their health and biodiversity.

SSC state that ‘Lamlash remains a strong production area for us and the site, and the wider Arran area, is an area where we wish to strengthen and increase our operations.’. There is a clear message here that SSC are looking to put in further applications for fish farms in Arran’s coastal areas irrespective of whether the local community oppose their presence. It has been clear over the last two years of fighting the previous application that Arran does not wish them to be here polluting and infecting our seas but they continue to ignore this message.

It is a key pillar of COAST’s approach that we and the community work to ensure the regeneration of the wider Clyde area as a healthy mixed fishery and our South Arran MPA is a toehold which will help to enable this to happen over time. Our active community plus thousands of visitors use Lamlash Bay for swimming, triathlon events, diving, snorkelling, kayaking, rowing, sailing, angling and wildlife watching all the year round. The presence of a fish farm which intends to ‘increase the biomass and treatment amounts at the site’ and continue with open cage farming is incompatible with the recreational use of our Bay and the economic benefit that these activities bring to our local economy.

COAST will therefore continue to stand against any open cage salmon farming around Arran and the Clyde area, which continue to allow excrement and pesticides to impact on the quality of our water, wild salmon and vulnerable ecosystem. If the SSC is serious about installing new gear in their current farm then this is a great opportunity for them to move to closed-containment pens to restrict any further damage to Lamlash Bay.

Our current policy is to stand against all open cage farming in inshore areas, that all farms move to closed containment as gear is renewed, and to be moved onshore and nearer to market. We understand that the SSC employs on average 8 people per site up the West Coast (480 people over 60 sites) and c.5 local people on Arran. We do not want these people to be unemployed and in fact we would like our inshore fishing industry to sustain more jobs as our seas regenerate through a management system that works. For example, the 5 or so local jobs that the current SSC farm supports in Lamlash Bay could transition to local shellfish farming whereby our waters are filtered clean by the farms and a sustainable living is made by their harvesting.

The statement received from SSC follows:

I am writing in reference to the Scottish Salmon Company fish farm at Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran.

SSC submitted an application to SEPA under the CAR regulations in August 2015 to vary the CAR licence at the site, and this has been in the process of being determined since then.  SEPA stated that they intended to grant the variation, however the application was ‘called-in’ by Scottish Ministers in December 2016 and a hearing was scheduled for September 2017, when the case would be determined by a Scottish Government appointed Reporter.  The process of preparing for the Hearing underlined the limited environmental impact of the site and, as a result, SSC have since withdrawn that CAR application and now intends to submit a revised variation application both under the Town and Country Planning Act (1997) and the Controlled Activity Regulations (2011).  Lamlash remains a strong production area for us and the site, and the wider Arran area, is an area where we wish to strengthen and increase our operations. 

The original application was to change the nets from 10m to 12m nets – all other cage and grid equipment was to stay the same.  However, SSC has since taken the opportunity to review the development options at the site and intends to apply to upgrade and modernise the equipment, and increase the biomass and treatment amounts at the site. 

I am writing to briefly outline our intention to submit an application proposal, as we intend to submit a screening/ scoping request in 4 – 6 weeks.  The site is currently comprised of 14x 80m circumference circular pens, held in a 50m grid in two groups and there is currently a C-Cap feed barge on site.  SSC proposes to modify and upgrade the site equipment – the exact configuration is yet to be decided, however the options we are currently considering are; 14x 100m circumference circular pens in two groups, or 10x 120m circumference circular pens in two groups.  Other options may also be considered.  Whichever option is chosen to proceed with, the proposed equipment would be sited in a similar location to the current site.  The proposed biomass consent will be in the region of 2000T – 2500T.