is an evolving entity that emerged urgently during October 2012 in Sleat (pron. Slate), the peninsula at the south end of the Isle of Skye, in response to a sequence of four aggressive planning permission applications submitted The Highland Council by Norwegian aquaculture companies Marine Harvest and Hjaltland Seafarms Ltd (Grieg Seafood ASA) who would like to install industrial scale net-cage salmon farms in Lochs Slapin and Eishort (pron. Eshort).
HERE is how it all happened.
OUR GOAL is not the end of aquaculture, which if conducted sensibly ought to be a very good idea. What we want to see is radical change in salmon farming methodology: tanks to replace those filthy, leaky nets in which salmon are currently raised, polluting Scotland's wonderful sea lochs and threatening wild fish populations with extinction.
We recommend a complete changeover to CLOSED CONTAINMENT, a single mitigation measure which would eliminate all the problems associated with net-cage salmon farming. HERE'S HOW. That would leave only one other problem to contend with: the wild fish component of fish feed (which needs to be tackled whether nets or tanks are used).
THINK: TANKS! As the Scottish Salmon Think-Tank evolves, we will be pressing ever more vociferously for this no-brainer solution to all objections to net-cage salmon farming, encouraging conversion to CLOSED CONTAINMENT.
OUR CASE is objection to the structure of the fish pens that consist of unfit-for-purpose nets full of HOLES through which fish excrement, excess feed, excess chemical therapeutants, pests and diseases are exchanged freely with the marine ecosystem where they can (and do) cause significant ecological harm. How?
Nets are useless for certain applications.
OUR METHOD is to provide straight information, opinion-free (as best we can - of course we have opinions), with reference to scientific literature, so that people can make up their own minds about the controversial fish farms issue.
The fewer people who say to us, as they so often do, "I had absolutely no idea that was going on", the better. Mind you, once they've said that, they've realised, and without any need for coercion, have begun to adopt the Scottish Salmon Think-Tank approach to aquaculture.
“This year [2000, since when the industry has been expanding], salmon farms will produce 7,500 tons of nitrogen, equivalent to the annual sewage from 3.2 million people, and 1,240 tons of phosphorus, comparable to sewage from 9.4 million people. The ecological result is effectively greater than the sewage produced by Scotland’s 5.1 million humans.” – Malcolm MacGarvin
“The salmon farming industry pays nothing for waste disposal. Fish faeces go directly into the ocean. Our environment and wild marine species pay the price that secures the industry’s profits.” – Living Oceans
“We have become predators on the biosphere – full of arrogant entitlement, always taking and never giving back. And so, we are now a danger to ourselves and the other beings with whom we share the planet.” – Carl Sagan
“Ever since we arrived on this planet as a species, we've cut them down, dug them up, burnt them and poisoned them. Today we're doing so on a greater scale than ever.” – David Attenborough
“You show me pollution and I will show you people who are not paying their own way, people who are stealing from the public, people who are getting the public to pay their costs of production. All environmental pollution is a subsidy.” - Robert Kennedy Jnr.
“Business leaders, politicians and officials in Scotland have conspired to perpetuate the myth that salmon farming has no impact on the environment. The reality about salmon farming’s impact on the environment is rather different.” - Charles Clover
“Conserving Scotland’s marine environment is not just desirable – it is essential to ensure our seas remain healthy and productive into the future.” – Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Joint Nature Conservation Committee
OUR LEARNING CURVE After over four years of laborious investigation, fast learning, wearisome representation and time-wasting negotiation, this small group of Skye & Lochalsh locals has gained a wealth of experience in this previously (to us) unfamiliar corporate big business that carelessly threatens marine biodiversity (by organic pollution) and wild salmonid fish populations (by sea lice, diseases and genetic contamination).
“We have to grasp, as Marx and Adam Smith did, that corporations are not concerned with the common good. They exploit, pollute, impoverish, repress, kill, and lie to make money. They throw poor people out of homes, let the uninsured die, wage useless wars for profit, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the [U.S.] Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. They worship money and power.” – Chris Hedges in: The Death of the Liberal Class
Scottish Salmon Think-Tank's FACTS ONLY approach
“I try to show both sides but—I freely admit—I have a point of view
deriving from my assessment of the weight of the evidence.” – Carl Sagan
The Scottish Salmon Think-Tank consciously avoids dogmatic argument, dissemination of misinformation, knee-jerk reactions, insult trading and (please note well) we will not use eco-warrior tactics. Only facts inform our case, which is not anti-aquaculture, but does oppose farming salmon in nets. If the facts change, so will our minds. [caveat]
"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?" - John Maynard Keynes
"Convince us we're wrong about net-cage salmon farming and we'll stop complaining."
- Scottish Salmon Think-Tank
We are open-minded: informed by evidence and constrained by the scientific way of thinking. Until and unless proved wrong, The Scottish Salmon Think-Tank considers that net-cage salmon production in sea lochs, for a suite of well established factual reasons (summary), is hazardous, outmoded, ill-advised and completely unnecessary.
We strongly recommend - no, we insist - that aquaculture companies should make radical changes to their way of farming salmon: from nets to closed-containment tank systems, the practical, safe and, frankly, obvious alternative. If they kick up a fuss about the expense of conversion, we may justifiably draw their attention to their massive savings during the many years they have been disposing of fish farm waste absolutely free of charge (~800-900 tonnes, per fish farm, per year).
"Make HOLES History. Farm in tanks and we'll stop complaining." - The Scottish Salmon Think-Tank
"Think: Tanks" - The Scottish Salmon Think-Tank
It is our aim to link The Scottish Salmon Think-Tank with other like-minded communities so that we may share information and experience. Together, hopefully having convinced and engaged support from the Scottish Government, we will try to persuade the aquaculture industry to clean up or get out.
SALMON THE TANK ENGINE (Swindon & Cricklade Railway)
Wikimedia Commons Photo by BazzaDaRambler
THE KNOWLEDGE OF SALMON
Fionn MacCumhail (Finn MacCool) and the Salmon of Knowledge
PICTISH CARVED STONE
Depicting the lower half of what might once have been an eagle and a whole Atlantic Salmon
Gairloch Heritage Museum