COAST call for a Marine Rebellion

Having fought off the expansion of the fish farm in Lamlash Bay last year, the proposal for a new one off the north east of Arran was never going to be met with much community support. The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) who are proposing the new mega farm, are trying to make contact with the Arran community and organised, what they termed a public consultation, at the beginning of last month in Lochranza. They clearly had very different expectations for the event than the local people of Arran, many of whom came along to find out more.

They were met with a tightly presented PR event and no opportunity to have their collective concerns aired. Perhaps because of this, and the obvious unpopularity of their proposal, SSC have said there will be another public meeting in Brodick in May, which will hopefully this time be more along the lines the islanders had in mind for the April event – a collective question and answer discussion, where the points of concern can be meaningfully debated and residents’ opinions be heard.

The press release from COAST after the event in Lochranza follows:

Isle of Arran community and COAST were accused of ‘rabble rousing’ yesterday by a Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) spokesman as 160 islanders entered a public consultation event requesting that their questions about a proposed marine open cage, salmon mega-farm be answered openly, jointly and transparently.

In the last week Sir David Attenborough has come out against fish farming and accused the controversial fish farm industry of threatening the survival of wild salmon.

When Craig Anderson (SSC CEO) and Marc Browne (SSC Head of Site Development) refused the request from the community for an open Q&A session Mr Robert Cumming (local resident) stood on a chair and asked for a mass walkout, so as not to legitimise the event, now considered a box ticking exercise. The disappointed throng, who had come from all over the island, then booed and left the building and many recorded their opinion on an exit poll.

Paul Chandler (COAST Executive Director) said:
“The COAST exit poll had 89% against, 10% undecided and 1% in favour of the new salmon farm; an overwhelming majority opposing the farm.’ He went on to say that ‘There was a clear lack of leadership from Craig Anderson and no understanding of the collective communication that was required. I told him and Marc Browne that this was not good enough as a ‘community consultation’.”

However another public meeting is most likely not going to be enough to address the environmental problems at stake and COAST has issued a call for a Marine Rebellion, directed at the Scottish government to now take control of the situation, and also put the affected communities at the heart of the decision making on these matters. This is not just about the proposals for a new fish farm off Arran, there are more fish farms being proposed near Bute, Cumbrae and Jura (see below). It is about environmental, political and social justice.

Echoing the climate protest group Extinction Rebellion, COAST has three demands:

“We have three demands to solve the problem of unsustainable aquaculture, in sync with those of Extinction Rebellion protesters:

1. Tell the truth about salmon farming, stand up to corporate interests and follow ECCLR and RECC parliamentary group’s advice in the matter: “The status quo is not an option”.

2. Commit to sustainably managed land-based aquaculture and introduce a moratorium on any new or enlarged open pen salmon farms.

3. Open the aquaculture planning, regulation and decision-making processes to community groups, independent non governmental experts and environmental NGOs.”

COAST urge everyone to sign the petition to help fight the mega farm in north Arran, and also the petitions against the proposals for fish farms off Bute, Cumbrae and Jura. They also urge people to show their opposition by writing to SSC, MSPs and councillors. See the links below for all these campaigns:

Halt salmon industry expansion around Arran!

Stop Proposed Fish farm on West coast of Jura!

Stop proposed Cumbrae fish farms going ahead!

Keep our BUTEiful coasts