HELP NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GET THE LINK BETWEEN POPULATION GROWTH AND FOOD PRODUCTION RIGHT.

By Arthur Sevestre
National Geographic is going to give a lot of attention to “the future of food”. The way they’re going to do it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the link between population growth and food production. This is what they write:

“No matter who we are or where we live, we all need to eat. And by the year 2050, we’ll need to double our crop production to feed everyone. As we think about how to feed nine billion people, join us for an eight-month series to examine the future of food.”

They assume that population growth requires increased food production while in reality the only way the population will grow to nine bilion is IF we FIRST produce enough food to make 9 billion bodies. Food production drives population growth, NOT the other way round.

The way National Geographic will cover this item will be greenwashing further intensification of totalitarian agriculture, genetic modification, and will further strengthen the position of such criminal organisations as Monsanto and Bayer.

I wrote an article about the link between population growth and food production specifically taylored to the campaign against salmon farming I’m working on, but it is perfectly useful for the subject at large: http://www.skyemarineconcern.org/the-immorality-of-increasing-production-in-salmon-farms-and-the-rest-of-the-food-industry-part-1/

Other very good sources of information about this subject are the books written by Daniel Quinn (Ishmael;  The Story of B; My Ishmael; If they give you lined paper, write sideways; etc.). I can’t recommend them enough. If you don’t know them, and are not too familiar with the link between food production and population growth, as well as a good number of other dangerous myths of civilised cultures, please do yourself a favour and get Ishmael.

I want to very seriously ask you to please write to National Geographic en masse to let them know that what they’re doing is based on an idiotic fallacy. And please share this far and wide and ask everyone you know to help out. Let’s swamp them!

Find more info on National Geographic’s campaign here:
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/magazine/ngm-food-anthem?utm_source=NatGeocom&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=inside_20140417&utm_campaign=Content

The Irrelevance of Oil Industry for Matter of Scottish Independence

By Arthur Sevestre
533145_472231976124522_1551294311_nBoth Scottish and English Politicians are currently trying to score points for or against Scottish independence by saying how the oil industry would benefit most from independence or from Scotland remaining part of the UK.

This shows once more that the question of independence is based almost exclusively on money, profit and power for the merger between government and corporations (Benito Mussolini called this merger ‘fascism’). The interests of normal people is almost completely ignored, but not nearly as much as the interest of a living world.

As part of the UK, Scotland is that poor bit in the north where very few people (of influence) live, which can easily be destroyed bit by bit for profit of Westminster and corporatism. As an independent nation, Scotland would need to destroy itself as efficiently as possible to compete with the UK. Either way, those taking the decisions would do all they can to convert what remains of the living landbase that is called Scotland ever faster into ever more dead products for the profit of the fascist power structure (be it UK or Scotland) and into toxic waste. This is not a choice I’m interested in making.

David Camoron has promised £3bn to develop deep sea drilling if Scotland remains part of the UK. I bet Salmond would love to be able to do the same. Both ignore the fact that deep sea drilling comes with so many dangers that the Gulf of Mexico has been converted from a rich biodiverse sea into a toxic body of water because of the BP oil disaster there a few years ago. Both Camoron and Salmond are happy to take that risk with the North Sea if it provides them with power.

That’s not even mentioning the fact that taking oil out of the ground to burn it is not a very good idea, even if you can do it without risking disastrous spills. On one hand Camoron is promising to do all he can to prevent floods and other effects of weather extremes the south of England has seen recently, and on the other he is anxious to squeeze all the oil from the ground to further facilitate the practices which are behind a rapidly changing and disruption of the global climate. What we’ve seen so far is only the very first beginning of severe disruptions, but it has well and truly begun now.

This whole debate about independence or not is useless if it doesn’t benefit the landbase (not just Scotland, but globally), but only corporatism. Let’s get out of that debate and talk about how we can save the planet from this culture’s death wish and death machine!

The people of Scotland ànd the rest of the Community of All Life in Scotland would benefit much more (or rather, they WOULD benefit instead of suffer) from regenerating the landbase. Wild salmon so plentiful that there’s hardly space left in the rivers for water is true life blood for the whole community, whereas salmon farms and industrial overfishing drain that blood away for the profit of foreign corporations. The same principle goes for oil companies, nuclear power companies, forestry companies, supermarkets and other big shop chains selling toxic and/or otherwise destructive ‘foods’ and ‘products’ from far away, etc. All these things are toxic mimics of the real thing. Just like an economy of money is a toxic mimic of an economy of ecology. What the power structure is after is to further empower those toxic mimics and to further destroy the real thing. If it would shift 180 degrees, I’d be all for independence. But it is vital to know what kìnd of independence! Not so much in terms of nation states, countries, rulers and so on, but it would be independence from a ruling system, a way of life based on toxic mimics. And it wouldn’t only be for Scotland, but for much smaller self-sufficient and truly sustainable (not Sustainable™) communities the world over.

For more information about the current nonsense going on in politics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26314009

Call for Comments: Scoping Application for Salmon Farm Uig Bay (Skye)

by Arthur Sevestre

Source: bbb.co.uk

Hjaltland, a salmon farming company based on Shetland, and owned by Norwegian corporation Grieg Seafood, is working hard to make the Isle of Skye its next stronghold. Great problems on Shetland with sea lice and other diseases the last few years might have something to do with that.

Apart from the planning permission application procedure Hjaltland is expected to initiate soon for three new farms in Lochs Slapin and Eishort (South Skye Lochs), there is now a new scoping permission application for 10 x 120m circumference circular cages and an automated feed barge approximately 400M North Of Camas Beag, Uig Bay (Isle of Skye).

There is a chance for interested parties to comment on this planning permission application on the Highland Council website. To find your way to the page where you can do this, go to http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/, and enter “14/00593/SCOP” as search term (they don’t make it too easy to find).

Will it be useful to comment?

Commenting on this application is important. There seems to be an overall trend of more and more people objecting to such applications, be they for a CAR licence, scoping or planning. This will send a signal to the bodies taking the final decisions which will either lead to more and more salmon farms in Scotland, or to halt (and possibly eventually reverse) the rapid expansion of the industry.

But to count on comments achieving that goal is to dream. Don Staniford of Protect Wild Scotland has revealed that out of 74 applications for new farms since 2008, the West Isles Council has approved 73 (almost 99%), and that despite the comments on many of the applications being objections.

Fact of the matter is that the Scottish Government has set itself a hard target of expanding the salmon farming industry by 50% by 2020. Even if there is too much resistance in some areas (and in 99% of the mentioned cases, resistance clearly was not a limiting factor), that is not supposed to reduce the government’s target; the industry will simply apply elsewhere. In short, even if those opposing salmon farming manage to prevent a few farms from being built, the proposed number will still be achieved, albeit elsewhere, where resistance is not prohibitive.

So firstly we are faced with authorities which don’t listen to our objections. Perhaps they offer the possibility of objecting merely so that we can have our say and feel so good about that achievement that we won’t even bother to really resist once our objections are simply archived (in the kind of archive which only serves as a bin which is never emptied). So far, they have been proven right.

Secondly, focusing on individual proposals for specific localities, we tend to forget that a growing salmon farming industry doesn’t only have impacts on local levels, but on national, international and global levels, making even a rare local victory on the side of the opposition meaningless on higher levels, because the damage will be exactly the same there.

Please do very seriously consider sending in a comment, but never count on it being enough. If we want to halt the expansion on a higher than local level, we will have to do much more, and the commenting stage is only the very first beginning. It is no more than the clarification of standpoints before the real process to achieve the different goals starts.

On Totalitarian Agriculture, Whether on Land or in the Water

DGR_Agriculture

Increasing food production is not vital for feeding a growing population; it causes the growth of the population and, apart from feeding the pockets of the great corporate food producers, feeds only the problems caused by overpopulation.

For more info on this: http://www.skyemarineconcern.org/the-immorality-of-increasing-production-in-salmon-farms-and-the-rest-of-the-food-industry-part-1/

Scottish Salmon Company withdraws licence application for Portree Bay

The Scottish Salmon Company (owned by Swiss and Norwegian banks and investors) applied for a licence to allow them to affect the water, seabed and the wild life in the more or less direct surroundings of their proposed expansions in Portree Bay. It is SEPA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which provides these so-called CAR (Controlled Activities Regulations) Licences, which supposedly serve to protect Scotland’s water environment.

Today SEPA wrote in a letter to those who sent in a public comment that:

.. the Scottish Salmon Company has withdrawn their application for the above new site and Sepa has returned the application to the operator.”

No information was given about the reason for the withdrawal.

When an application is withdrawn before SEPA has decided on whether or not to grant the licence, a few interesting conclusions can be drawn. One is that the procedure has already cost a significant amount of money, part of it coming from taxpayers. Two is that the already submitted public comments become worthless, and if a new application is filed, all those people will have to submit a letter again if they want their voices to be heard. Are they hoping that we will get tired of writing, and that in a few months time the number of objections will be smaller?

The statistics of planning permission applications given the go-ahead.

The statistics of planning permission applications given the go-ahead.

It is impossible to say if public comments had anything to do with the withdrawal. Despite many people sacrificing a lot of their time to writing objections to CAR Licence applications, out of 585 applications filed since 2006, only one (!) has been rejected by SEPA (see image).

Political decisions are no longer based on what is right and what is wrong, but on what makes maximum profit and what doesn´t.

Political decisions are no longer based on what is right and what is wrong, but on what makes maximum profit and what doesn´t.

If you think that writing objections against planning permission (the stage that usually follows a successful CAR Licence application) is likely to have a big effect, then think again. The image also shows that the vast majority of planning permissions is granted, despite often overwhelming objections. This clearly is not a democratic process. We are allowed to object, which tends to make us feel empowered and listened to; it makes us feel good and as if we’ve done something valuable. But then, while we still bask in good feelings, our objections are put away deep in the archives, and conveniently ignored.

Recent examples of this are Loch Kanaird (near Ullapool) where the Highland Council granted planning permission despite 100% out 47 public comments being objections against the proposal, and Loch Kishorn where the council decided not to grant planning permission, only to have the government overrule that decision and grant permission after all. For more on this, read this previous post.

Sea Lice and Diseases in Salmon Farming: Solutions to a Problem

By Arthur Sevestre

Diseases and parasites, generally speaking and in intensive farming specifically, are usually seen as problems. In reality, from the perspective of the health of life on earth, they are the opposite: they avoid or remedy problems. What does that say about the practice of intensive farming, where chemical warfare against parasites and diseases is ever escalating?

Chemical storage for or after use on salmon farm.

Chemical storage for or after use on salmon farm.

From the perspective of the fish farming industry, sea lice and diseases such as Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD) and Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) are absolute disasters. In 2006, the costs of sea lice control in the United Kingdom was estimated at more than 33 million Euros. That seems to be the costs excluding those for salmon lost to sea lice, their disposal and the resulting losses in profit. And that is just about sea lice. In February 2013 Rob Edwards reported that:

“The number of salmon killed by diseases at Scottish fish farms leapt to over 8.5 million [13,627 tonnes] last year, sparking fresh doubts about the sustainability of the £1 billion industry.

“New figures released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) reveal that losses from all salmon farms have reached nearly ten per cent of their production.

Despite more new farms and increased size of some existing ones, The Guardian reports that “Scottish salmon production is expected to fall by 10,000 tonnes this year [...], the largest annual fall in nearly a decade, after being hit by a series of disease outbreaks“.

Because diseases and parasites are seen as problems, the industry looks for solutions. Unfortunately, like Eric Sevareid said, “the chief cause of problems is solutions”. Especially if problems and solutions are incorrectly defined.

Contrary to popular belief, parasites and diseases are not problems; they are solutions to problems. The problem in the case of salmon farming is unnaturally high numbers of salmon held under unnatural circumstances in unnaturally high densities for unnaturally long periods of time, fed unnatural food and forced to behave unnaturally, all leading to stress of the salmon and the area and community where they are held. In such a case, it is not a question of whether or not parasites and diseases will hit, but a question of how soon and how bad it will be. Their appearance is the clearest possible sign that you’re doing something wrong, and not a signal that it is time to declare chemical warfare. Parasites and diseases are part of the natural immune system of the Community of All Life (ecosystem if you will), moving in to avoid or remedy the problem before the whole area is damaged, and ‘treating’ diseases with chemicals is the suppressing of that immune system. If successful, the treatment will leave the community immunocompromised, after which things will truly spiral out of control. Usually, however, the parasites and diseases can adapt to the ‘treatment’ faster than vice versa, which means that the immune system becomes overactive and overeffective, after which things will also truly spiral out of control. Sea lice, for example, are notoriously good at developing resistance against chemical treatments more quickly than new treatments can be developed.

Naturally this principle doesn’t only go for farmed salmon, but for all species. That certainly includes humans, as a list of infestations of diseases which have periodically significantly reduced human populations proves.

Similar to what is happening with almost all major intensive farming methods, be it on land or in the water, the escalating chemical warfare the salmon farming industry wages on ever more prevalent and resistent parasites and diseases affecting their overpopulated and unbalanced salmon has not been able to avoid production losses, even though the industry is working hard to increase production, and the chosen approach is doing great damage to Scottish waters and sealife.

There is no right way to do the wrong thing. This kind of aquaculture is wrong. It cannot be done right. At best it can be done slightly less wrong.

There is a solution; a truly sustainable alternative. It’s not large scale closed containment, although that is potentially a lot less wrong than the currently accepted method. It would not only benefit people and local human communities, but also the land and water and all that lives. It would not benefit big business. The answer is ages old. I will try to post an article about this within two weeks.

The pros and cons of MPAs

By Arthur Sevestre

Setting up a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scotland is heralded as a way to save the most valuable and vulnerable parts of Scottish seas. But protecting only part of the whole against a great number of inherently unsustainable and destructive practices is useful only if it is merely a first step to protect the most vulnerable areas from acute danger, followed  immediately by halting the chronic and ever more intense attack on all the planet’s seas for good. On its own, MPAs might do more harm than good. As it stands, no further steps have been formulated.

2010_ASP7616Bellaweb

Puffin breeding on the Isle of Canna, within the MPA network.

There is a war going on against the Community of All Life on this planet. Like on land, the world’s seas are attacked daily by a host of diverse practices such as overfishing with lines as long as 62 miles and nets bigger than three football stadiums; pollution with plastics, (petro)chemicals and radioactive waste, much of the latter from the ongoing and worsening nuclear disaster in Fukushima, etc.  Due to all this, there is currently more plastic in oceans than phytoplankton, and roughly since the 1960s, fish stocks in the oceans have crashed by more than 90% and phytoplankton has been reduced by more than 40%. The Gulf of Mexico is still being killed by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill which started in 2010 and the Pacific Ocean has only just started being killed by radioactive water leaking from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The collapse is ongoing, global, and it’s speeding up.

Although this worldwide onslaught comes in many forms, they can all be brought back to what industrial civilisation, monetary economy and politics thrive on and indeed can’t do without: converting the living world into dead products for profit for the wealthy few and into omnicidal toxic waste, and in speeding up this process as fast as possible (this is misleadingly called Growth and is generally deemed a Very Good Idea).

In the face of such a totalitarian war on the world’s oceans, the Scottish Government is inviting reactions to the proposal of setting up a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Scottish seas. The deadline is 13 November. You can download the relevant form here: MPA_Response

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has a page with arguments in favour of an MPA network. In short, this quote explains why they think it is important::

“MPAs are an important mechanism for protecting Scotland’s seas.  They are one way of helping us to achieve the Government’s vision of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. Scotland has international commitments to establish an ecologically coherent network of MPAs under OSPAR and the World Summit on Sustainable Development external site . Together with existing Natura sites, the new MPA power will help Scotland to meet these commitments. A network of well-managed MPAs will, alongside other management measures, underpin our future use of the seas around Scotland.”

This sounds very logical. Protect valuable and vulnerable areas when they are threatened by “Growth”, or you will lose them forever. The great problem with deciding which area is valuable and vulnerable enough to protect, is that all other areas are officially declared unprotected. It could be said that rather than protecting some areas, the MPA network would throw all other areas -by far most of all oceans- to the wolves.

Having faith in protecting only a small part of the world’s oceans in the face of ongoing wholesale destruction is much like having someone attack you with a knife, who goes on and on slashing with the goal of killing you, but instead of doing all you can to stop the attack you only passively put a band aid on the worst cuts and protect your head with a crash helmet. The attacker may not focus on your head any more, but will go for slightly less vulnerable parts, like the belly, the groin, the heart.. The only result you should expect is that you will bleed out, no matter how much you protect the most valuable and vulnerable parts of your body.

In the same way, the complex interconnected oceans of the earth will still bleed out if only a few small parts of it are protected against an ongoing attack. If nothing is done about the war itself, the attacks will indeed lessen in the protected areas, but they will concentrate all the more in those areas which implicitly are not protected, and the whole body of oceans will collapse in the end. Including the protected areas.

Designating the greatest part of the oceans as unprotected comes with one other great danger. In the words of Leslie Marmon Silko:

No part of the earth is expendable; the earth is a whole that cannot be fragmented, as it has been by the destroyers’ mentality of the industrial age. […] [O]nce any part is deemed expendable, others can easily be redefined to fit the category of expendable. […] Even among the conservation groups there is an unfortunate value system in place that writes off or sacrifices some locations because they are no longer “virgin.””
~Leslie Marmon Silko

Figure 1. Active fish farms in 2011.

Figure 1. Active fish farms in 2011. See here for more recent map.

Take for example the planned expansion of the salmon farming industry in Scotland. Figure 1 shows where the existing farms are located and Figure 2 shows the proposed network of MPAs. Now keep in mind that, under pressure from the Scottish Government, the salmon farming industry has to increase production by 50% by 2020 for trade with the Chinese. That comes down to the equivalent of about 70 new average farms. Imagine having to find space for 70 more dots without infringing upon the MPAs. It wouldn’t be an easy job. But even if it could be done, industry and economy always have to grow to be

Figure 2. Proposed network of MPAs.

profitable. Without that growth, they bleed out. And so, after 2020, the industry will almost certainly seek to expand again. And again. And again. In the current political and economical climate, only few people would expect that the industry would not be allowed to expand again, even if it would mean reducing the MPAs. And that goes for all big industries which could make lots of money. If either industry or MPAs will have to give, you can count on it that the MPAs will lose ground. And then the whole circus will start again. We may be allowed to decide which areas within the MPA network are most valuable and vulnerable, and the rest will be opened up for industry.

What it all comes down to is that we are trying to protect the world against the threat civilised humans have become. We are trying to protect the world, ourselves included, against ourselves without doing anything about the things we do which make us a threat. It is an absurd and impossible thing to do.

The positive note to end on is that once we manage to no longer be a threat to the world, protecting it would become completely unnecessary and the world and all life would have the chance to recover to a healthy dynamic balance.

Government throws democracy entirely overboard and pushes through expansion for Scottish Sea Farms, despite Highland Council decision.

By Arthur Sevestre

In May 2013 the Highland Council denied Scottish Sea Farms (SSF) planning permission for expansion of operations in Loch Kishorn. The Scottish Government, which has a great interest in increasing production of Scottish Salmon™, overruled that decision, ignored the opinion of the people it is supposed to represent, and granted SSF planning permission after all.

In 2012 the Scottish government promised the Chinese government to increase production of Scottish Salmon™ by about 50% by 2020. China started boycotting Norwegian farmed salmon after the Nobel Peace Prize, originating in Norway, was awarded to a Chinese dissident. First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond suggested the Chinese might develop a taste for Scottish Salmon™ instead, and so now there is the ridiculous situation where both the Scottish and Chinese government pathetically pretend they don’t know that by far most Scottish Salmon™  is produced by Norwegian (owned) corporations.

The Scottish Government clearly has a very large interest in seeing production of Scottish Salmon™ increased, perhaps even to the point where they had to push the (mostly Norwegian) industry to step up their efforts. Fortunately for the government it probably didn’t require a very hard push to get a corporation, which always has as first duty to increase profit for its shareholders, to work on increasing profit for its shareholders.

And so the west of Scotland is now bombarded with new applications for new salmon farms. In theory this should be at least a somewhat democratic process where people have the right to object to the applications for planning permission that the companies file with the Highland Council. After that, the Highland Council is supposedly supposed to reach a decision based not only on public opinion, but also on Environmental Impact Assessments; recommendations from relevant environmental institutions; considerations of social and economical impacts, etc. In a way it’s perhaps even logical that it’s not entirely a democratic process, because the Highland Council is meant to protect environmental values even if most people want to sacrifice it for jobs and profit. But at least public opinion should be considered, and although I’m biased, I’d say that should especially be the case if people object to expansion of corporate industries, because if a majority does not want something to happen because they feel it will be to the detriment of themselves, their loved ones and the land, air, water and life around them, that should outweigh that some other people do want it to happen for added freedom, wealth and prosperity, especially if those could be achieved in other ways which will do less harm as well.

Unfortunately there are numerous examples of decisions taken by Highland Council which do not reflect much or any consideration for either environmental values or public opinion.

On 23 October 2013 news came that the Highland Council granted planning permission for expansion of Wester Ross Fisheries’ farm in Loch Kanaird near Ullapool. What about the environmental impacts that would likely have? Well, until now “sea-bed pollution reports for the salmon farm operated by Wester Ross Fisheries (Wester Ross Salmon) in Loch Kanaird had been “unsatisfactory” for 11 years.” Not so good then, and in itself the opposite of a reason to allow them to expand. What about the public opinion? There were 47 comments from the public as well as from relevant wild salmon groups. 100% of them, all of them, were objections against the expansion, and most of them were objections to the existing farm as well. And yet the Highland Council gave green light. Something is very very wrong! But not hardly as wrong as the next example shows.

On 24 May 2013 the Press and Journal reported about Scottish Sea Farms (owned by Salmar AS and the Leroy Seafood Group, both from Norway) adding a third salmon site in Loch Kishorn. The article is mostly about the usual fake positive points such as jobs and economy. One short paragraph, however, is dedicated to this bit of news, only to then quickly return to explaining how wonderfully responsibly the company operates:

“Highland Council turned down the planning application for the new site, but the project was approved by the Scottish Government following an appeal by SSF”

In other words, the government is pushing salmon farming companies to expand enough to be able to produce the amount of farmed salmon the government has promised to the Chinese. The Highland Council, which apparently sometimes does keep in mind the environmental implications and public opinion, then decided to not grant this specific planning permission. Scottish Sea Farms then went running to Alex Salmond’s government -supposedly the people chosen to represent The People to the best of their abilities without self-interest- to complain that the nasty people wouldn’t allow them to do what Alex Salmond told them to do. And of course there was only one thing the government could do: choosing for what would benefit itself instead of for what would be best for most people and life in the sea lochs. And so the government overruled all the objections, both on environmental and social grounds, ignored the voice of the people it is honour-bound to represent, and made sure that SSF got their planning permission after all. Profit trumps everything!

What went wrong with democracy? In school I always lcorporationearned that we live in a democracy. And I also learned that in a democracy the government represents the people and that by casting votes, the government would change along with the people’s opinion so that it will always represent the people optimally.

But even if that was ever anything but a pacifying fairy tale, it certainly is far from the truth now. Nowadays the government doesn’t represent the people; it has merged with corporations to the point where corporations decide what decisions are taken in politics to benefit the corporations (see diagram). Benito Mussolini came up with a word for the merger between state and corporations: fascism. Working with that definition, we are literally up against a fascist power structure.

The interest of the people is irrelevant in such a system. And of course so are their written objections against planning permission applications. The interest of the living planet is, if possible, even less relevant. The reason why the living planet is of any interest is because it is the basis for industrialised civilisation, which depends entirely on ever faster (there must be growth!) converting the living planet into dead products for the profit of a few, and into toxic waste. Ordinary people are still important, but only because they are the ones who do the converting (jobs to have an income, which is taxed), and the consuming (the income is supposed to be used to buy what has been converted into products by the people, and the outgoings are taxed, all to make the rich richer).

I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites. Billy Connolly said: “Don’t vote, it encourages them,” and, “The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever being one”… I don’t vote because to me it seems like a tacit act of compliance; I know, I know my grandparents fought in two world wars (and one World Cup) so that I’d have the right to vote. Well, they were conned.In a system which works like that, what are our chances to prevent the expansion of salmon farming, or any other destructive practices for that matter, from taking place? Can we vote for a government which will do better? Well, we can try, but so far it hasn’t been proven successful; quite the contrary, because the converting of life into profit has only speeded up. Even despite the countless conservation initiatives that have sprung up over the past decades, despite all the environmental laws passed, it has not only not slowed down the destruction at all; it hasn’t even slowed down the speed with which the destruction increases.

If we want to prevent that soon all Scottish sea lochs will be filled to overflowing with salmon farms and if we want there to be even a shadow of a chance that there will still be wild salmon and, more broadly speaking, an inhabitable planet a few decades from now, we will need to face the fact that the law is rigged to work against us ordinary people and against life in general, all for the profit and pleasure of the wealthy few. And in those ever more rare occasions when people manage to use the law to protect against the conversion of life into profit, those laws can, will and have been changed to close such loopholes. By adhering to those laws, we can count on one thing: our efforts will be entirely in vain.

This leaves us with a tough nut to crack. When injustice becomes law, what can good people do? The only options left within the law are those which are ineffective; otherwise they would not be legal. The inescapable answer seems to be that good people will have to break the law. The law can be broken in countless ways. Some will be right, some will be wrong. Some will be productive and some will only exacerbate matters. Whatever ways we choose as individuals, as individual communities and as a species, we better start making decisions and getting ready to stand up.

The wild animals, including humans, and all other wild life are fighting for their very survival already, and have been for many years. It’s time we join them.

lawresistance

Community Information-Discussion in Ardvasar and Portree this November

COMBINED POSTER

 

Dr. James Merryweather will present a talk about open-cage fish-farming in Ardvasar Community Hall at 7.30pm on Monday 4th November, and in Tigh na Sgire in Portree at 7.30pm on Wednesday 6th November. All are welcome.

In the face of at least three big developments planned around Skye (three new farms planned by Hjaltland in Lochs Slapin and Eishort; a large expansion planned by the Scottish Salmon Company in Portree Bay and off the Isle of Raasay; a new farm planned by Kames Fish Farming in Loch Pooltiel), the timing is exactly right for this event so the public can form a more informed opinion on the issue that is fish farming in Scotland.

Public comment 13/02838/FUL, for the application of Kames Fish Farming Limited for a new fish farm in Loch Pooltiel (Isle of Skye, Scotland)

(much of this copied from the previous objection against the CAR Licence application from the Scottish Salmon Company for expanding in Portree Bay)

And here we are, offered yet another chance to sacrifice time to voice our opinions on the suitability of a certain sea loch for a fish farm. And my opinion is that I oppose Kames Fish Farming Limited occupying Loch Pooltiel in the strongest possible terms.

In a way it is good that the people are allowed a voice, but in another way this supposed freedom and gift of power is a sham. The government promised China a great leap forward in farmed fish production, meaning that they will push the fish farming industry (as far as it is necessary to push a corporate industry with as primary goal to maximise profit for shareholders) to increase the number of farms in Scotland, as well as the size of the farms, until the required production increase is achieved. So if it’s up to government and industry, the increase in numbers and size of individual intrusions into the sea lochs of a corporate industry which, by its very nature is inherently destructive and therefore completely unsuitable for any location anywhere, will come. And of course they are most likely to come where resistance is least. And, as an added bonus, of course having to sacrifice time for every single application means that people might run out of steam at some point so that resistance slowly dies out. At best, then, the chance to comment on individual applications to tell why a certain loch is not suitable instead of telling that an inherently destructive industry cannot be suitable anywhere, gives the government and industry a good idea of where the most suitable locations are in terms of least resistance.

In fairness, that is not all. There may be genuine intention to find out which lochs are least unsuitable for fish farming, in that they are least vulnerable and/or least valuable. To that end, if I’m correct, SEPA is still working on a map which will show, based on various factors, which sea lochs are most vulnerable and valuable, and which should not be used for fish farming. This grading is quite a common strategy in conservation. It is also one of the great pitfalls in conservation, as Leslie Marmon Silko explains:

“It is dangerous to designate some places sacred when all are sacred. Such compromises imply that there is a hierarchy of value, with some places and some living beings not as important as others. No part of the earth is expendable; the earth is a whole that cannot be fragmented, as it has been by the destroyers’ mentality of the industrial age. […] [O]nce any part is deemed expendable, others can easily be redefined to fit the category of expendable. […] Even among the conservation groups there is an unfortunate value system in place that writes off or sacrifices some locations because they are no longer “virgin.””

Imagine some people in suits knocking on the door of the Scottish Children Protection Agency, telling them that they want to use a number of children to exploit for profit, which will unfortunately mean dousing them with dangerous toxins, will expose them to terrible parasites and diseases, and may just kill them. No way, say the agency people with one voice. Ah, say the suits, but that’s where you’re wrong. The government backs our plans, we have an awful lot of money at our disposal for propaganda, manufacturing consent and rendering resistance non-credible (not a little of it coming from taxpayers like you), and even the law states that we can do this, so do this we will. And besides, you want your country’s economy to do well, don’t you? Oh, ok, say the agency people, give us some time and we will decide which children are least valuable and which ones are least likely to get severely damaged by what you propose to do. Good choice, the suits say with a benevolent smile, that time we will graciously grant you.

Really? Wouldn’t SCPA physically kick the suits off their doorstep and then do everything and anything they could to prevent the suits from finding children to exploit, poison and kill for their personal profit elsewhere? Ever again? Whatever it takes? Without having to first ask Scottish people for their opinion, albeit their opinion limited to specific children and why they are or aren’t suitable for being killed? If not, they should be called SCEFA (Scottish Children Exploitation Facilitator Agency) from then on.

SEPA’s map could be said to protect Scotland’s most valuable and vulnerable sea lochs against fish farming, while in reality it is at best like trying to limit the destructiveness of the inherently destructive war waged against Scottish sea lochs without actually trying at all to stop the war. But the Scottish Environment Protection Agency is hardly protecting the scottish environment by doing this. At best they are limiting damage, which is a very different thing. Limiting damage is extremely important and valuable, but in the end it is only important and valuable if it is a precursor to halting and then reversing the damage. If not, then maximum damage will merely take a little bit longer to accumulate, but the end result will be the same: dead, toxic sea lochs.

And why is that the likely outcome of an attempt to save the most valuable and vulnerable locations? Experience in many similar cases around the world teaches that once the least valuable places have been sacrificed to a certain kind of ‘development’ (an odd term for a practice which destroys a complex living world into dead products for profit and into toxic waste), the developing industry will want, nay need, to grow more and so, helped by the fact that there is a precedent, a new map will willingly be made by some or other environmental group to determine which of the remaining areas are most valuable and vulnerable, sacrificing some of those which fitted into that category during the first selection, but not any more this time. This process can continue for a while, depending on how many areas you start out with and how hungry for profit and destruction the corporate industry in question is, but eventually there will be no more areas left to sacrifice and all will have been ‘developed’ into gigantic dead zones.

To me, salmon farming and the Precautionary Principle (if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action) have always seemed like impossible bedfellows. I haven’t had direct dealings with Kames Fish Farming Limited yet, but have had plenty of interactions with people from Marine Harvest, Hjaltland, Loch Duart and the Scottish Salmon Company. The Environment Manager of the Scottish Salmon Company, Rebecca Dean, managed to emphasise several reasons for my ideas on the inevitable clash between fish farming and the Precautionary Principle during two public events the company organised on Raasay and in Portree earlier this year to inform locals of their current plans for dramatically expanding (more than 400%) in Portree Bay, and I think they are very relevant for fish farming as a whole.

Dean described the seabed underneath the current Portree farm as ‘healthy farming environment’. When asked what that means, she said that most of the natural biodiversity is gone and has been replaced by a few species of marine manure worms. She was even surprised to hear of claims from fishermen and -women, as well as from some salmon farmers, that it’s good fishing right underneath salmon farms, because as far as she was aware there usually isn’t much to catch there, and what’s there is not eating very healthily and would therefore not be very healthy eating. But, she assured us, such a pile of toxin-laden muck would be back to most of its former biodiversity within two years, and back to pristine within five. However, when asked if she could send us peer-reviewed reports supporting this claim, she said that she wasn’t aware of such research ever having been done.

In the meantime a study in Canada by Inka Milewski (http://www.southcoasttoday.ca/content/sea-bottom-still-toxic-shelburne-says-marine-scientist) has found that the seabed under a removed salmon farm was still toxic after a year and that marine life hadn’t recovered. A recovery within another year to a situation where most biodiversity has returned seems rather unlikely in that case. And really, this should not be surprising. In comparison, if an old-growth forest is felled and then left to regrow on its own, it literally takes centuries for it to return to a state where all the functions of a healthy forest are performed again by all the forms of life that a real forest requires. It is not just about there being trees and a few deer and some birds, so replanting the area with Sitka Spruce to be clearcut again in a few decades is only going to make things worse. That practice turns the area into one from which vast quantities of nutrients and life is constantly extracted, not just in the shape of trees, but also in eroding and washed-away soil, leaving the former forest devoid of nutrients within three rotations, after which forests will never grow there again within a meaningful timeframe. A real and healthy forest, in contrast, is a place where nutrients are accumulated, where soil is built up instead of broken down, and where carbon is sequestered. In a real forest, apart from trees and some enigmatic macrofauna, it’s at least as much about all the soil fungi, bacteria, worms, etc. Even healthy farm soil (on land, obviously not underneath salmon farms), “may contain up to a billion assorted microbes, a mile or more of fungal filaments plus scores of various macrofauna creatures such as nematodes and arthropods” (http://www.mycorrhizae.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Oct12_Amaranthusetal.pdf) . In a very real way these small organisms are often more important for the whole than the larger ones. We don’t know nearly enough about them to understand even a tiny bit of the extremely complex role they play in the fabric of the community of life, but we know enough to realise that without them the land can never be healthy and will waste away. It is the same with marine environments. Salmon farming not merely pushes away a few seals, large fish and some lobsters; it pushes away or kills the whole diversity of life, including the small beings in the seabed and the water column; the basis of all life in that area. For that to fully recover will take a lot longer than five years.

Salmon farming changes the seabed and water so dramatically in chemical terms and in terms of nutrients (or rather, eutrophication) that it is not unthinkable that the changes will be irreversible and will permanently change the nature of the area by pushing it from one dynamic equilibrium firmly into another. But even if it’s true that it takes five years for a site to recover to a pristine state (whatever that means in a world in ecological collapse) after a farm is removed, what is the relevance of that knowledge if we know that the industry’s and government’s plan is the opposite of removing farms? They want to add more and bigger ones, after all. The intention is, indirectly but inseparably, to damage more of the total seabed and water and all that lives there and to damage it more severely, and to do it permanently, which means an increased chance of the changes being permanent as well. Where is the good news even if it would take only five years for an area to revert to pristineness again if there is no intention to allow that to happen? Even if the farms are left fallow for a year, Inka Milewski’s research shows that the seabed is unlikely to recover even a bit, and even if farms move position every now and then, it will just mean that the harm is spread out more.

On these still very general grounds I find myself feeling as if I should be able to rest my case and finish this document right now. How much more obvious does it have to be made that this particular proposal; the whole expansion and the industry as a whole are an abomination and should be dismantled right now? But sadly of course I do realise that there is a perspective from which all this is acceptable: the perspective of corporate profit. From that perspective it is totally acceptable and even necessary to sacrifice the complex living planet to convert it into dead products for profit and into toxic waste. From any other perspective it’s absolute insanity. Certainly from the perspective of true SEPI (Scottish Environment Protection Initiatives). Alas, this excludes ever more ‘environmental organisations’ which buy into and/or become dependent on the merger between government and corporatism (incidentally, Benito Mussoline called this merger fascism). Some people are keeping score with accountability in mind.

Another own goal made by Rebecca Dean came when we talked about how badly salmon farms were placed a number of years ago, their location in shallow water with little tidal movement guaranteeing harmful build-up of excrement and chemicals as well as infestations of parasites and diseases. Dean said that “we now wonder why farms were placed where they were 20 years ago, but twenty years onwards we will wonder why they were placed where they are now.”

Such unguarded expressions painfully reveal the level of uncertainty present even in people working in the industry while they are at public meetings to try and tell people, whom they realise full well vehemently oppose their plans, how beneficial and safe salmon farming is, and how much better it can get with more experience and technological developments. To use the words “much better” is a clever trick, until people see through it. In reality the phrase should be “potentially slightly less disastrous”. It was truly horrible 20 years ago, so much so that the industry itself admits it now (I’m assuming that they didn’t admit it back then), but things have now progressed to, at very best, merely very horrible now (and this time I know for sure that the industry doesn’t admit that). Does that count as a real improvement? One that should be at the basis of a decision to spectacularly increase salmon farming? Of course not. Not unless the Precautionary Principle has been dumped into toxic muck while being eaten by marine manure worms.

The locations may indeed be better (less bad) now than they were before, but research by SEPA revealed that if that is the case, it is not reflected in the build-up of organic matter and other pollution underneath and around farms (finding this out was yet more reason to be dumbfounded by the fact that SEPA is still included in the chain which facilitates salmon farming and its expansion):

“Occasionally the mask slips, as it has with the disclosure under freedom of information rules of official figures showing that sea bed pollution is “unsatisfactory” at 16%-20% of all active Scottish salmon farms and “borderline” at 10%-12% more. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has accepted that the figures published by the Salmon and Trout Association’s lawyers are correct and that “unsatisfactory” farms are killing all forms of life, other than marine manure worms, underneath the fish cages and sometimes far into the sea lochs where they are tethered.

The impact of Scotland’s £500m aquaculture industry […] is revealed in the results of sea bed surveys released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

The surveys, carried out over the past three years, cover more than 250 fish farms run by 23 companies. Some farms have been surveyed more than once. Sepa classed 137 of the surveys (44%) as unsatisfactory, indicating high levels of organic matter, such as fish faeces and uneaten food, on the sea bed.

Such waste can disrupt biodiversity by killing off flora and fauna. A further 64 (21%) of surveys were deemed borderline — defined as close to having an unsustainable impact on the environment — and 106 (34%) were satisfactory.”
http://bantryblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/dirty-secrets-down-on-the-salmon-farm-salmon-farms-turn-sea-bed-into-graveyard/

What on earth, if it is so clear that it is impossible to farm salmon without such high percentages of farms having such big problems, is the use of trying to determine if yet another farm is a good idea? Now, if things were likely to get better and better, there might be some reason for optimism about fish farms truly doing less and less damage, but as developments go, the opposite is true.

Let me illustrate that with the matter of sea lice and diseases, directly linked to the use of toxic chemicals. The problem of sea lice and diseases is only getting worse despite less bad locations for the farms. There are at least three important reasons for that:

  • Lice and diseases are developing resistance against chemical treatments. This process has literally been optimised by the industry having started out in the most favourable possible places for sea lice to progressively more challenging ones. In the beginning they had the best possible circumstances to develop their resistance against ever more chemicals in the fastest possible way, preparing them for ever tougher circumstances. But even without this help, parasites and diseases are very good at keeping up and outpacing developments in treatments against them (more about that later). In this way the influence of moving to ever better (less bad) locations can be more than countered by an increased resistance against treatment, meaning that greater amounts of more harmful chemicals have to be used despite the move.

  • Rising temperatures of the sea water as a result of global climate disruption makes outbreaks of parasites and diseases more likely and more likely to be serious, and this again means that farmers will have to use more and ever heavier treatments.

  • Increasing density of fish in a farm (because farms are becoming ever larger) and increasing density of farms in Scottish waters makes rapid spread of infestations locally and between farms (not to mention wild salmon and trout populations) much easier. Fish farms are ever less primarily fish feedlots and ever more like sea lice feedlots where fish are kept to feed the lice (sometimes to the point where the salmon have to be slaughtered because the sea lice have affected them too much, like is happening in Norway right now: Salmon farms rushing to slaughter 8,000 tonne of fish due to high lice levels (http://bantryblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/undercurrent-news-2-oct-2013-salmon-farms-rushing-to-slaughter-8000-tonne-of-fish-due-to-high-lice-levels/) ). After all, they offer gigantic amounts of food and breeding opportunities for the lice, unlike anything they would ever find under natural circumstances, and they are even becoming more and more conveniently spaced so that sea lice never have to go far to find a convenient site to set off yet another infestation. Allowing Kames Fish Farming Limited to occupy Loch Pooltiel would close yet another gap between farms and bring sea lice outbreaks close to yet another few previously relatively unaffected rivers. And so sea lice have no trouble to maximise their reach, their numbers and their effects, leading of course to farmers using ever more and ever heavier chemical treatments.

 These reasons should make clear that problems linked to chemical use and more direct effects of diseases and parasites are only going to get out of hand more and more. Think accountability. This will be held against those who participate in this exacerbation in the end. Refusing to be part of this circus any longer will earn you some very serious credit, though, although not from corporatism and government of course. Alas, what an unfair way.. we have no money to offer you for doing the right thing!

Now let’s look at infestations of sea lice and diseases in a somewhat unusual way. From the perspective of salmon farmers, they obviously are a problem. Because of the way salmon farmers have reacted to them, and only because of that, they have also become a directly lethal problem for wild salmon and trout, and indirectly they have become a problem for whole areas and all that lives there because of the heavy and increasing overload of toxins and nutrients (eutrophication). Fundamentally and ecologically speaking, however, parasites and diseases are not problems, but solutions to problems. They can only become problems for salmon farmers because the practice of salmon farming has caused an ecological problem first. This problem is unnaturally high numbers of salmon confined in one unnatural location for an unnaturally long period of time. Essentially salmon farming introduces a situation of extended and dramatic overpopulation with all the problems and threats of disaster that come with that. The response to these threats and problems from the Community of All Life (ecosystem) is the activation of its incredibly complex, strong, adaptable and resourceful immune system, in this case in the shape of sea lice and diseases which affect salmon.

The life cycle of wild salmon is such that this problem does not occur under natural circumstances. They are always on the move and, apart from spawning time, occur in fairly low densities. If or when they wouldn’t, diseases and parasites would start rectifying the unhealthy concentrations of salmon by killing them off very rapidly until balance has been restored. If this natural immune system would not kick in, the salmon would start damaging the place where they are ever more, to the point where the balance is irreversibly lost (although balance will always return, but it may just be one with continuous algal blooms and not much else living in the oxygen-deprived toxic water).

It has to be clear that sea lice and diseases that salmon farmers are dealing with by using toxic chemicals in fact fulfil an incredibly important function in the circle of life, and it should also be clear that salmon farms, like any kind of intensive farming, are absolutely guaranteed to to lead to infestations, and that these infestations will get ever more insistent and effective the longer their vital function is thwarted, even in the face of full-blown chemical warfare. They have evolved to be fast adapting and very, very persistent, because the health of the whole community depends on their actions. Treating the ‘problem’ in salmon farms the way salmon farmers do equals waging a war against the immune system of the sea, just like terrestrial intensive farming is constantly waging a war against the immune system of the land. This is a fight which the farmers can only ever truly win by destroying the web of life where they are farming, which will of course lead to the very quick demise of their undertaking as well. It would be the ultimate dead end.

And this war has one more very important effect. Diseases and parasites, despite working in extremely complex and beautifully adapted ways, cannot distinguish between farmed or wild salmon and trout. They never had to, until fish farms brought about this abominable anomaly. If fish farms create a problem of overpopulation somewhere, then wild salmon and trout nearby, even if their numbers are very far under the level where the immune system would be triggered, will be affected roughly as hard by that immune system when it’s kickstarted by the salmon farm as the farmed fish. This is what is going on around a great percentage of operating fish farms the world over, despite the claims coming from the Marine Institute in Ireland to the contrary. Fortunately many groups and individuals in the know have completely debunked the Marine Institute’s conclusions (http://www.rafts.org.uk/asfb-statement-on-sea-lice/).

SEPA’s own results show that salmon farmers are not winning this war, because the infestations are increasing and increasingly hard to fight despite and even because of the use of ever more and ever heavier treatments (weapons). And once again, it’s a damned good thing they aren’t winning, because the result would be an immunocompromised ocean. The prudent thing to do would be to realise the nature of the infestations, their reasons, and let that lead to a solution. The reason for the outbreaks being salmon farms, the solution should be to not only not expand fish farming, but to take every last farm out of the water. Yesterday.

In relation to toxic chemicals specifically, in May 2013 SEPA reported that 18 out of 24 sampled farms showed detectable levels of toxins, and 12 of those breached SEPA’s environmental standards (http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/environment/pesticides-from-salmon-farms-poison-scotlands-lochs.20994497). Clearly, when 80% of sampled farms shows toxins being present and 50% of sampled farms exceeds poisoning lochs is not an exception in the salmon farming industry, but a rule. Shocking though this may be, the ultimate point of this is that these harmful build-ups took place while the farmers were adhering to regulations and didn’t use more of the chemicals than they were allowed to. The logical conclusion is that neither the salmon farming industry nor SEPA has a clue about how much of a chemical can be used in a certain area to avoid these harmful build-ups which do long-lasting damage to the Community of All life in that area. For all the claims often made by salmon farmers on the Skye Marine Concern Facebook page (www.facebook.com/skyemarineconcern) that salmon farms in Scotland are heavily regulated, it should be clear that when the regulations are nothing more than almost arbitrary guestimates of what might and what might not lead to poisoning of lochs, and it is then found that they do lead to the poisoning of 50-80% of sampled lochs, these regulations are an utter farce. And this doesn’t only go for the amounts of chemicals allowed, but also for the levels of toxins in the water and seabed SEPA deems allowable. These levels, too, are pretty arbitrarily chosen with only the most rudimentary understanding of the long-term effects of these chemical on the complex Community of Life and the processes which take place within it. SEPA can relax, though, because there is a foolproof solution when actual levels of something, anything, start to systematically break through the official allowable levels: raising the official allowable levels! For example, it was done for radioactivity levels in the United States shortly after the start of the ongoing and ever worsening Fukushima disaster. We’ll be keeping an eye on the allowable levels of toxins around salmon farming to see if the trick is applied here as well.

There are countless other reasons why fish farming in general and the proposal for Loch Pooltiel in particular are ideas that need to be abandoned immediately, and I’m happy to see that many other objections have covered most of those points already. My emphasis is clearly on ‘environmental’ grounds, but I have a few more social points as well.

One of the often heard arguments in favour of fish farming, as I have seen repeatedly in the already submitted comments, is that the industry directly and indirectly supports other industries and the local community (suppliers, shops, schools, etc.). This argument always makes me laugh, because it seems to assume that this is something unique to salmon farming, and that those in conventional fishing (many of who have been in that business for generations and are in fact part of the very fabric of local communities), the tourist industry, or anyone else who will move away once fish farming takes hold of an area, all educate their children at home, get their food and other necessities from the glens and hills instead of from local shops, etc.

I would like to add one more view, directly relevant to that point, coming from Neil Robertson, the Elected Non-affiliated Fishermen’s Spokesperson for the Scottish Government’s North West Inshore Fisheries Group (NW IFG):

The rather dubious claims of employment opportunities offered by these multi-nationals seldom come to fruition. Past experience proves labour-saving technologies are rampantly introduced to cut production costs and increase shareholder dividends. Additional inducements to communities can be initially attractive (such as pier/jetty upgrades, play areas for local school-children etc.), but once the aquaculture interests have ‘moved on’ these facilities are left for the local communities to maintain, sometimes at considerable cost. Communities must be encouraged to think ‘longer term’ as to the ‘benefits’ of these inducements.

 Bluntly, if there is no substantial socio-economic advantage to local communities why countenance the proposed development?

Also of concern to commercial fishing interests are the proposed ‘foot-prints’ of aquaculture developments. Seldom does their planning application match reality as anchor chains and ‘safety exclusion’ marker-buoys eat up more precious fishing grounds. Added to this commercial fishing interests are further infringed upon by having to allow very frequent passage for the flotillas of large fish-farm service vessels (well-boats) needed to ‘feed’ these sites. From a safety perspective these added impacts are real and growing – vessels frequently encounter fouled propellers and fishing gear from poorly managed sites – with little immediate prospect of compensation for damage and loss of earnings.

Recent experiences within the commercial fishing sector has bred a growing scepticism towards the aquaculture sector’s development generally.”

I don’t feel the need to add much to those observations coming from the more conventional commercial fishing angle, but for the point about the “additional inducements to communities”. I think that Robertson uses very friendly wording there. I would rather call many of those inducements the manufacturing of consent, or bribing.

The West Highland Free Press has run a good number of feel-good stories lately which reek of those despicable practices. For example, the Scottish Salmon Company have organised a sporting challenge for the benefit of local charities. They called the event “Salmon Run”. Oh, the irony! A recent peer-reviewed report by Inland Fisheries Ireland found that, on average, sea lice spreading from salmon farms reduce numbers of wild salmon returning to their river to spawn by 34%. In other words, Scottish Salmon Company is part of the reason why more than one third of wild salmon runs is killed off. For the Scottish Salmon Company to organise an event called “Salmon Run” is like the tobacco industry organising an event called “Clean Lungs”.

One more example from the West Highland Free Press was the news about Scottish Sea Farms, owned by Salmar AS and the Leroy Seafood Group of Norway (good for a total turnover of almost ₤1,000,000,000), got a very nice bit of much needed publicity by spending no more than 0,0004% of their turnover on an outboard motor they donated to a local sailing club. Now that is good value for money! They must hope that the gracious gift of 4 out of every one million pounds of turnover has won over a few more souls who now believe that salmon farming is a benevolent force for the community and will defend it despite whatever negative environmental and social impacts salmon farming might have. And this is exactly what it is: shameless attempts at bribing and buying consent at a cost negligible to the company, and then blowing their own trumpet about it. And this is all the more true if we keep in mind the intended doubling of production of farmed salmon in Scotland by 2020. A negligible loss of profit now helps to ensure gigantic increases in profit within a few years.

I conclude by emphasising once more that we have to get to the stage where the question is not which loch is least unsuitable for a fish farm, but whether or not fish farming is a suitable industry at all. We have to get to that stage with government, regulatory bodies and the industry, òr without them. And then we answer that last question with a resounding ‘NO’!

Arthur Sevestre
Biologist
Skye Marine Concern
www.skyemarineconcern.org