Hello, and welcome to the April edition of the Voice!

March has been a month of beginnings – technically the start of spring (Brrr!), we have seen the launch of the refurbished Co-op in Brodick, and of course the first sail of the Caledonian Isles into the new pier. To mark this event, we have a slideshow for you that chart’s the history of its construction, from the very first foundations laid, to the gleaming walkway that takes us onto the ferry now.

In this edition we also have news from local community groups, including Arran Youth Foundations, ACLI and Eco Savvy, as well as reports on marine matters from further afield. One report comes from Greenpeace, which published its research on microplastics in Scottish seas at the beginning of March. Another one to spotlight here is the report on the Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming, from the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee at Holyrood. Both reports highlight pressing global, political and environmental issues, to which Arran is closely linked in many ways.

In her article Isla Blair shows us the plastic that can be collected in a half hour beach walk in Brodick, while community groups and residents continue to fight against the proposals of the Scottish Salmon Company to expand its production in Lamlash Bay. The urgency of the problem of salmon farming in Arran (and west Scotland more generally) is reflected in the number of written submissions of evidence to the Committee from many individuals and organisations based on Arran, including one from COAST (and also one from the Scottish Salmon Company). Perhaps for us here the issue is even more acute with the location of the farm in the newly designated MPA in the south and right next to the NTZ.

Graeme Dey MSP and convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, writes “Scotland is at a critical point in considering how salmon farming develops in a sustainable way in relation to the environment. The planned expansion of the industry over the next 10-15 years will place huge pressures on the environment. Industry growth targets of 300,000 – 400,000 tonnes by 2030 do not take into account the capacity of the environment to farm that quantity of salmon. If the current issues are not addressed this expansion will be unsustainable and may cause irrecoverable damage to the environment.”

To read the Committee’s full report go here.

The report has now been sent to Edward Mountain MSP, who is convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity committee which will consider it as part of a wider review on Aquaculture in Scotland. He has made a call for contributions on the issue, to be sent in by 27th April.

Let’s hope the government will now take far-reaching and decisive action on both issues – reforms to the production of plastic, packaging usage and systems of recycling, and an environmentally sensitive and sustainable method of salmon farming.