Environmental groups have expressed reservations about today’s publication of Scotland’s first National Marine Plan. Following several years of consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, the Plan paves the way for a more coordinated approach to developments at sea. A coalition of environmental groups have welcomed the general principles underpinning the Plan, but remain concerned that it supports growth for some sectors which could risk environmental health of the seas.
Calum Duncan, Convenor of Scottish Environment LINK’s marine taskforce and Scotland Programme Manager for Marine Conservation Society: “On the whole we are very supportive of the Plan and its purpose of ensuring the sustainable development and stewardship our seas, but the inclusion of targets to expand salmon farming which have not been fully assessed is cause for concern. For the first time in history, planners, communities and industry alike will have a dependable framework to coordinate activity in our increasingly busy seas. It’s imperative that sound assessments underpin the direction of the Plan to improve our understanding and ability to monitor interactions between the different sectors. For this reason, marine planning must be well-resourced and implemented swiftly.
We are still extremely concerned that this Plan contains high-level targets for greatly expanding salmon farming along the West coast. We have patiently and consistently argued for their removal, until they have been subjected to environmental assessment. The whole purpose of the Plan is to provide overarching coordination, but until these targets are subject to assessment, Scottish Government cannot confidently secure a sustainable salmon farming industry. Multiple and separate environmental assessments undertaken at a regional level will simply not be able to adequately investigate the combined impacts of a major expansion of salmon farming in Scotland.”
[This was a press release published in response to the publication of the National Marine Plan on 27th March 2015].