Huge experiment would see salmon equivalent to 11,000 cows in Loch Linnhe.
A community living on the pristine shores of one of Scotland’s most picturesque lochs have called plans to create Scotland’s largest fish farm a potential “act of unimaginable vandalism.”
Long Live Loch Linnhe is a collective of highly concerned local residents who have united in a bid to defend the Argyll beauty spot from Loch Long Salmon’s proposed industrial fish farm.
The proposal would see the introduction of “semi-closed” fish pens, never tested in the UK, and with a chequered track record internationally.
The eight proposed pens would hold millions of fish – with a total live weight equivalent to 11,000 cows – and unlike conventional fish farms would need a large shoreside installation running 24 hours a day in support.
Based on the developer’s original claims, the amount of raw sewage going into the loch from the farm will be equivalent to solid waste from at least the entire human population of Oban – all at one single location. Since then, new data made available by developers Loch Long Salmon suggests the more likely figure would be six times that amount.
Long Live Loch Linnhe is now in the process of launching a petition with the Scottish Parliament - and will be running an information stand adjacent to Loch Long Salmon’s next community consultation, taking place in Appin Community Hall on 24th October.
Jane Hartnell-Beavis, a volunteer with the group believes the community must fight now, or face losing the unspoilt majesty of a loch that is the lifeblood of the local area.
She said: “Loch Linnhe is a natural wonder. We cannot stand by and let it be destroyed by this huge, unsustainable, reckless experiment.
“The proposal by Loch Long Salmon would introduce a brand-new type of salmon farm, one that has proven highly problematic in the small handful of locations it has so far been trialled.
“Its scale is astonishing – with the equivalent biomass of 11,000 cows. If this was a livestock farm in the US it would be termed a “mega farm”.
“We are so worried by what we feel would be an irreversible act of vandalism, that our group of brilliant volunteers has compiled extensive evidence that refutes the claims being made by Loch Long Salmon.
“We are speaking to everyone who is concerned about the proposals and the future of the loch and surrounding area.”
Similar proposals at Loch Long were thrown out by the National Park Authority but are being reviewed by the Scottish Government, following an appeal by the developers.
The proposed mega-farm’s semi closed pens differ from traditional open net farms in that a giant bag separates the salmon from the sea. Water is pumped from below and the developers claim that they will be able to gather 85% of the solid waste and pipe it ashore.
Jane added: “It’s really worrying because this process has no operational data showing a success rate beyond 13% of solid waste, never mind the fact that all of the urine would go directly into the loch.”
Long Live Loch Linnhe is particularly concerned with reports of the same technology failing abroad. At a Canadian farm, all the fish died in their own urine due to a technical failure. In Norway, two empty pens collapsed as they were being towed to site, with a further two being rejected due to structural defects.
Jane added: “Any failures could have catastrophic impacts on the fragile wild salmon population, on the marine and coastal environment and on the local communities and businesses. Alongside the massive risks, the facility would employ very few on-site workers, meaning remote investors stand to reap the rewards while the community shoulders the burden.
“Of course, we are aware of the current issues the Scottish salmon farming industry is facing but, on every level, this is not a viable or sustainable solution.
“This is an unacceptable experiment with our loch and livelihoods. We will not be their guinea pigs. Loch Linnhe is ours to protect.”