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Fish Farms in Coigach

Tanera Mor
[58.010103, -5.405827]
Siobhan Beatson
Ullapool Museum

The farming of fish, although controversial in its own right, was developed as a way to address the issue of overfishing on the wild fish stocks. As populations grew, the demand for fresh food grew with it, and fish were high on the priority list. The commercial fisheries developed new methods which allowed more fish…

The farming of fish, although controversial in its own right, was developed as a way to address the issue of overfishing on the wild fish stocks. As populations grew, the demand for fresh food grew with it, and fish were high on the priority list. The commercial fisheries developed new methods which allowed more fish to be caught at a time, resulting in the inevitable depletion of the fish stocks, as they were being caught quicker than they could reproduce. Fish farms initially enabled the establishment of fish colonies, that were well fed, and protected from predators, allowing a high turn around and high yield, that wasn’t possible with wild stocks. 

In the 1980s Iain Thompson, hailed the Salmon farms on Tanera Mor, a revitalisation of the community, due to it bringing new families to the area. He deemed the injection of new blood and industry to the summer isle as a breath of fresh air, and spoke with optimism about the possibilities that the salmon farm could bring the the Summer Islands. Upon speaking the the nephew of the last Tanera crofter, Murdo MacLeod, he asked if Fish farms were the industry of the future?, Murdo simply responded by saying that “Well, fortunately, I cannot see the cages from here”, indicating that MacLeod did not share Thompsons optimism for the new fish farms.

In recent years the proposal to place a salmon farm in the Summer Isles at Horse Island has been met with stern opposition from a number of community and environmental groups. The Ullapool Sea Savers have been particularly vocal about the encroachment on the Wester Ross MPA and petitioned the Scottish Government and news agencies. Several issues were raised by the application including a worry about the rise in waste sediment that would be produced by the farm and the use of certain chemicals in the farming process. They also highlighted that if this application were to be successful it may act as a precedent for further fish farms to encroach on Marine Protected Areas in future, thus undermining the MPA. 

Scottish Sea Farms, advocate for the plans as they will bring new jobs to the area and add to the local economy, a similar argument that Thomspon made in the 1980s. They also suggest that Fish Farms offer a low carbon footprint when compared to similar industries and offer a sustainable approach to the commercial fishing industry.

Fish Farms have already existed in MPAs as several are already situated in Loch Broom and at Tanera and the Summer Isles, however the question that this event poses is how far should commercialised fishing be allowed to go in protected waters, and can the risk of pollution, and disease that the fish farm pose ever be outweighed by the sustainability and economic growth they provide?

Fish Farm Proposal – STV News

Audio:

Tobhar an Dualchais: John MacLeod (1940- ) Prògram Choinnich Interviewed by Kenneth MacIver, 1998,

Summary

John MacLeod talks about a disease that is killing farmed salmon.

Salmon in fish farms are being killed by a disease, according to John MacLeod. He is involved in salmon farming and describes the disease as a cause of anaemia to the fish. The authorities are destroying all salmon on farms affected by this contagious disease. John is worried about how the future of the industry will be affected.

https://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/track/40632?l=en

Acknowledgements

Images:

Summer-isles-Tanear-Mor-The-Anchorage from Website https://scotislands.com/tanera-mor-summer-isles/ Copyright Allan Rankin

Fada Fish Farm: from website http://seachangewesterross.co.uk/request-refusal-scottish-sea-farms-application-fish-farm-horse-island/  Copyright Sea Change Wester Ross