Fish-Farm Plan Sparks Fears for Marine Reserve
[Rachel's Introduction: "We cannot take a chance with the health of our children, or the health of our fragile marine environment in this place. 'The precautionary principle should apply here, and this fish farm should be located somewhere more suitable.'"]
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By John Ross
Plans for a large-scale salmon farm off Arran could threaten Scotland's first community marine conservation area, a group of islanders has claimed.

The Scottish Government announced last month that Lamlash Bay in Arran was being given statutory protection in a groundbreaking move following a lengthy local campaign.

Under the proposals, part of the bay will become a marine reserve with a no-take zone (NTZ) where fishing activity will be banned, and the remainder will be a fisheries management area.

But the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (Coast) said the future of the NTZ is being put at risk by a planning application from fish-farm giant Marine Harvest. The proposal will go before North Ayrshire Council on 4 March.

Coast said: "If Marine Harvest's proposed fish farm is given the go- ahead, it will be one of the largest in Scotland, and a huge industrial site measuring 1,000m long and 700m wide, with an average depth of 29m.

"The fish farm would hold up to 800,000 fish, which would be fed over 5,000 tonnes of feed and produce over 1,170 tonnes of excrement during each production cycle.

"At least four types of chemicals, including organophosphates, would be used to control pests and disease within the fish farm."

It is also claimed that the proposed fish farm could pose a threat to children using a new £5 million outdoor centre built by the council on the bay's northern shore.

Don Macneish, the spokesman for Coast, said: "We are not against sustainable fish farming, but this fish farm is being proposed for the wrong location. We cannot take a chance with the health of our children, or the health of our fragile marine environment in this place.

"The precautionary principle should apply here, and this fish farm should be located somewhere more suitable."

Howard Wood, the trust's chairman, said the conservation measures will start to address a dramatic decline of the marine environment by allowing the seabed to regenerate naturally.

"This would increase the popularity of the area as a diving site and tourist destination, and just as importantly improve the long-term sustainability of the local fishing industry and help sustain the livelihoods of those dependent on the bay by bringing money into the local area."

A Marine Harvest spokesman said it had submitted an environmental impact assessment for the salmon farm and had consulted with the community. "We believe there is room for co- existence with Coast, having both a no-take zone and a fish farm in this area of Arran," he added.

The full article contains 438 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.Last Updated: 26 February 2008 10:04 PM Page 1 of 1

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