As the light flashes on the very precise figures for Scotland to reach its climate change obligations – and the companies needing to be divested away from immediately, focus turns also to the disastrous state of our lochs rivers and seas. Never mind the tragi-comic ‘War on Plastics’ (see also ‘War on Drugs’ for previous success stories in this series) the state of our marine life has come sharply into view.
The story, as Ecocide tends to be, is both global and local.
The Ferret have recently highlighted a full length version of this video of lice infested salmon in a Scottish fish farm, and been told that the Scottish Government confirmed officials would inspect it “immanently”. A video shot underwater on 27 August 2018 inside a cage at Vacasay fish farm in Loch Roag showed hundreds of sea lice feeding on salmon with open wounds and damaged tails and fins.
Whilst the issues is being presented as an animal rights and cruelty issue (which it surely is) it also raises significant questions about first; the ‘Good Food Nation’ and the constant cheerleading about salmon as the champion export of finest Scottish produce; and second the rights of coastal communities to have their own marine habitats protected from these rapacious and damaging companies. If a company abused animals on land like this with a significant damaging impact on the wider countryside local communities would be rightly up in arms.
Who will win out – the natural environment and local communities who benefit little from these dire practices – or the handful of big companies leaching off the pretence that Scotland has high quality food standards?
But as the UN announces it is taking its first significant steps towards legally protecting the high seas another new exploitation closer to home is emerging.
Marine Biopolymers has submitted a scoping report to Marine Scotland outlining plans to dredge for the kelp Laminaria hyperborea over a huge area of Scotland’s West Coast.
Here is a map of Marine Biopolymers target points.
It’s perhaps stating the obvious but:
“Kelps as primary producers and habitat providers play a key role in the maintenance of fish stocks and ecosystem structure, sustaining regional fisheries and the coastal communities they support.”
[‘The role of kelp species as biogenic habitat formers in coastal marine ecosystems’].
As Ailsa McLellan told Bella Caledonia:
“Marine Biopolymers want to tow a large-toothed dredge in strips through kelp beds ripping the entire plant up by the holdfast (killing it), then throw the holdfast over the side to ‘facilitate survival’ of invertebrates.
Assuming any invertebrates survive this treatment, where are they meant to go when chucked back over the side? Their habitat is gone, the other invertebrates are not going to ‘budge up’ and make room for them, that’s not how biology works.
Kelp is long-lived and the holdfast and stipe are a vital part of the habitat, supporting other seaweeds, and hundreds of species of invertebrate that feed fish, including cod, seatrout, and wrasse, lobster, crab, otters, birds, seals, and us.
So much employment of coastal Scotland is reliant upon a healthy coastal ecosystem: fisheries and eco-tourism would all be jeopardised by the destruction of kelp beds. We can’t peddle Scotland to tourists as a beautiful pristine environment, whilst committing ecocide under the waves at the same time.
Moreover, climate change is happening. Its effects, such as increasing acidity and rougher seas are already being measured in our oceans. Kelp sequesters significant amounts of carbon, Kelp sequesters significant amounts of carbon, buffers acidity, and acts as a storm barrier for coasts.”
“Kelp dredging is currently NOT allowed in Scotland. Marine Biopolymers seek to change that and have submitted a scoping report to Marine Scotland with plans to dredge for kelp over a huge area of Scotlands West Coast. Kelp is one of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet, it protects coasts from erosion, absorbs carbon, buffers rising ocean acidity. We need it. Please call on MPs and MSPs to ensure that NO kelp dredging licenses are granted.”
Precisely because the marine world is ‘beneath’ or out to sea it is more vulnerable and need our protection. It is inconceivable to continue to promote our land and coast as tourist destinations for their beauty and natural wonder and allow this level of exploitation, or to conceive of ourselves as a Good Food Nation with lice-infested lochs.
“Environmental policies need to be allied to – and connected with the wider aim of a rupture from consumer society and the reality that the production-consumption cycle is what fuels the climate crisis. Rather than a spurious ‘Ocean Optimism’ we should have a radical realism, face up to what is happening and demand change at a level that has meaning.”