Help Us Save the Recovery of our ‘Maerl’ Marine Protected Area from Fish Farm Expansions

If you care about the future of coastal communities, wild fish and habitat recovery then please read our letter to Ministers asking them to veto the CAR licence which the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) gave to Scottish Sea Farms so they can create a new salmon farm at Horse Island in the Summer Isles – WITHIN the Wester Ross Marine Protected Area (MPA). This is relevant because MOWI are also expanding in the MPA.

Wester Ross Marine Protected Area has the lions share of Maerl in the UK (a fragile pink seaweed). Maerl is Scotland’s equivalent of the great barrier reef and is as old as the ice age – supporting the whole web of life in the seas. We believe if Wester Ross MPA could restore its once magnificently rich seas  –  it could be like Scotland’s  Yellowstone National Park of the seas. The continued restoration of this partly wild ecosystem is vital for the whole of Scotland and the world. But tragically  much is ground to dust or lost.

Let us not do more damage.

OUR APPEAL explains why this community thinktank believes fish farms in Marine Protected Areas – particularly Wester Ross – is not in the public interest. Indeed the policy favours Norwegian multinationals profit over the restoration of Marine Protected Areas and the communities,  jobs and other species which depend upon this restoration  Appeal to Ministers to veto CAR:L:1188421 HORSE ISLAND, SUMMER ISLES June 16th 2022 *

The Ministers declined to veto the CAR Licence  and passed the hot potato back to SEPA who have now GREEN LIGHTED it.

BACK IN 2020 WE SENT SEPA A DETAILED & EMPHATIC OBJECTION. We spent years working to understand the holistic ecosystem  impacts and exploring the global and local reasons why expansion within Marine Protected Areas is not in the long term community, national or global interest. We sent our summary to SEPA and SNH after checking our facts with independent scientists and getting their endorsement that our take was true, factual and honest. Back in 2018 we even made  a short film showing the habitat beneath the farm (google Horse Island & The Pink Seaweed (out of date but relevent still). For those  objectors wanting detail this is our summary of our findings.

  •  2018 Socio-Economic report on Horse Island sent to the Parliamentary Enquiry on Salmon Farming
  • Sea bed Surveys documenting a  living maerl bed very close to the Horse Island site.
  • Science from the leading experts on maerl.   Wild fish and other fisheries.

Seachange Wester Ross_Objection-SSF CAR Licence_Horse Island – Sea Change Wester Ross

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION when facing a climate emergency  is – is this TRULY sustainable? We need to feed ourselves and create jobs whilst reducing biodiversity loss and avoiding the further  unravelling of our ecosystems – or we imperil ourselves. Truth not fantasy is required. Our answer is no it is emphatically not sustainable.

A SCIENTIST, ECOLOGIST and brilliant data cruncher, and original member of Sea Change decided to explore the industry’s greenwash and ‘facts’. His finding is salmon farming – as an industrialised and intensive farming practice – uses 50 calories  to produce  1 calorie of food.  This is a simple mathematic equation which reveals an inconvenient truth. Policy makers need to listen.

INDUSTRIAL SCALE SALMON FARMING IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. Add to the carbon and energy costs of salmon farming outlined above – the damage to the ecosystem and other fisheries, then it makes no sense in a world facing an ecological emergency to encourage expansion of salmon farming. And the fish suffer so much too.

The True Energy Cost of Salmon Farming – Sea Change Wester Ross

Salmon farms are shooting us all in the foot.

AN ALTERNATIVE GREENER BLUER ECONOMY is needed – built around the restoration of ecosystems and respect for Nature. Plus PINKER for maerl too. That needs a change in socio-economic consciousness.

Multinational profits and jobs will not buy us out of ecological trouble or help the next generation survive crisis. Facing reality now is urgent.

Wester Ross Marine Protected Area is one of the ONLY areas in Scotland officially protected from dredging. Depending on how the figures are calculated there is between 2.5 and 4.75 percent of our seas protected from sea bed damage. Wester Ross MPA represents part of that tiny percentage which has a chance of restoration.

HELP US DEFEND THE RESTORATION  of our Marine Protected Area. The Coastal Community Network will be producing a petition to sign soon.

Email for more info, or to join SEA CHANGE.



PLANS TO BUILD A SALMON FARM AT HORSE ISLAND  was announced shortly after we had celebrated the creation of Wester Ross Marine Protected Area (MPA).  On the  day in 2016 (or 2017)  that Scottish Sea Farms hosted a community event to present  their plans –  tonnes of dead salmon were shipped off their existing farm in the Marine Protected Area, leaving a nasty slime trail around the harbour.  At this time two Norwegian multinationals (MOWI and SCOTTISH SEA FARMS)  expressed their plans  to expand in the MPA. A heated Coigach community council meeting was held and Scottish Sea  farm managers heard the objections from Sea Change, other community members, anglers and most heatedly the local creel  fishermen. Both Sea Change and SCFF and anglers concerned about  spreading lice,  disease and damaging wild fish genetics and the wider ecological impacts wrote to Ministers in 2016 and 2017  appealing  to Scottish Natural Heritage and SEPA to protect the Marine Protected Area’s recovery….but the policy intention to double fish farm production meant our appeals fell on deaf ears.