Scottish Environmental Protection Agency Declares Threat To Clyde SSSIs From Massive Fish Farm Development Of ‘No National Significance’.

Urgent News Update – SEPA approves CAR licenses for Massive Fish Farm Development Submitted by Dawn Fresh Fish Farms to be located at Great Cumbrae ; Wee Cumbrae & South Bute – We need your voices to be heard!

FOFOC are calling on it’s supporters to join the alarm call from the Combined Clyde Coastal Community Councils and Scottish Coastal Communities Network by urging Scottish Ministers to call in the decision CAR/L/1178035 – Little Cumbrae Marine Pen Fish Farm, CAR/L/1178037 Cumbrae Marine Pen Fish Farm and CAR/L/1178014 South Bute Marine Pen Fish Farm.

Strong and emphatic objection to the proposals has been mounted by the combined forces of the Clyde Coastal Community Councils along with the highly regarded Aquaculture Group of the Scottish Coastal Communities Network – Scotland. Their objections centre on a wealth of evidence about the impact of fish farming on the long-term health of the marine environment, including destruction of the seabed surrounding fish pens; marine water contamination due to the release of controlled substances and medicines into the coastal waters; the proliferation of lice and escapes of farmed fish destroying native populations of wild Trout & Salmon and degradation of the health and safety of marine mammals.

The SEPA CAR decision marks a significant step in the process that the fish farming company Dawn Fresh is required to progress through to gain the necessary permissions to establish three vast fish farms on the shores of Little Cumbrae, Great Cumbrae and South Bute. Further stages require them to gain planning consent from North Ayrshire Council (NAC) & Marine Scotland (MS) for the management of waste products and control of marine mammals, including seals, dolphins & porpoise that inhabit the surrounding waters.

The objections to fish farms are well known in terms of animal welfare and threats to native fish stocks from disease, lice infestations and escapes of farmed fish into wild Salmon & Sea Trout populations. Perhaps less well publicised is the impact of the massive amounts of chemicals and medicines that are regularly added added to the fish pens – described innocuously as ‘Baths’, to control the disease and lice that proliferate in the cramped conditions of fish pens. In addition, the waste from the pens that falls onto the seabed below destroys the marine habitat and the impacts are well known to travel far beyond the immediate area of the fish pens. The 2019 licensing framework developed by SEPA allows the degradation of an area of seabed around the fish farm known as a ‘mixing zone’ which is equivalent to the area of the cages plus 100m in all directions.

Below is a map that shows the three proposed sites for the new fish farms – each site with a minimum of 10 pens of 120m in diameter will be more than 1 km long or equivalent to the size of 10 football pitches. As can be seen, the locations of the fish farms will effectively cut off the the entrance to the upper waters of the Firth of Clyde, creating overlapping zones of waste, chemical pollution and installation of marine mammal deterrents.

The green areas show the location of public beaches and the three affected Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of Kames Bay, Ballochmartin Bay and, the largest green area to the south east of Cumbrae, Southannan Sands.

Map showing location of proposed 1km long fish farms in orange

On May 20th 2021 Buteiful Coasts held an open meeting supported by the Scottish Coastal Communities Network with several expert presenters analysing the different areas of impact from the proposed farms. An animated version of the diagrams DawnFresh Farms put forward indicating where the chemicals they are planning to use in treating the fish shows that many shorelines across the Clyde would affected. Watch the animation here >>>.

Shockingly, the letter of notification from SEPA to the Combined Clyde Community Councils states that they have no concerns regarding risks to the three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Priority Marine Features (PMF) that fall within the area of the fish farms. They state:

” In the case of the proposed Cumbrae fish farm, SEPA has concluded, that while there will be some impact to PMFs within proximity to it, the impact of the fish farm is not likely to be significant. This is because, although there are PMFs within the likely footprint of the farm, including seaweed communities and seagrass beds, the quantity and/or quality of the PMFs in the area is not substantial and even if they were lost by the impact of the fish farm, it would not represent a nationally significant issue. Furthermore, several of the PMFs are mobile species which will be able to avoid the location of the fish farm if the conditions in the vicinity of the farm are unfavourable to them”.

When FOFOC fought for an EIA of oil rig decommissioning proposals for Hunterston, it was SEPA that were the first to run a coach and horses through environmental protection of Sounthannan Sands SSSI by issuing a licence for massive amounts of toxic waste to be managed on the shores of Southannan Sands SSSI.

Once again SEPA, which is a non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government, is leading the way towards legalising destruction of the marine environment of the Firth of Clyde by awarding CAR licences for these three massive and sensitively located Dawn Fresh fish farm applications.

Having announced their CAR decision, SEPA provides unequivocal evidence of their disregard for the marine environment and local communities that hides behind the facade of their green washed regulatory strategy ‘One Planet Prosperity’.

Despite Glasgow currently hosting the COP 26, we are confronted with the clearest evidence yet that SEPA are at best a hamstrung by a regulatory straight jacket or at worst willing to write off large swathes of the marine environment in order the ensure that “Scottish businesses will gain strengths in resource efficiency and environmental innovation that will become increasingly valuable in global markets”.

We need you to make your voice heard please contact your MSP and local councillors to have your objections heard.

Buteiful Coasts have prepared an excellent ‘How to Object’ page that walks you through how you can object to the granting of licenses – you can find more information by clicking here >>>

Buteiful Coasts Petition “Stop Proposed Cumbrae Fish Farms Going Ahead”

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