There must be some good news stories about salmon farming but to come across one is like finding a unicorn. The following is much more typical of the reports that are coming out of this ever-expanding industry. So it’s not surprising that many coastal communities are on high alert when fish farm companies come calling with plans to establish new farms. When the Scottish Salmon Company invited locals to a consultation event about their plans for a new open-cage mega-sized salmon farm off Arran, 160 islanders turned up. And then promptly walked out. A lesson in how not to conduct a public consultation.
Isle of Arran community and COAST were accused of ‘rabble rousing’ yesterday by a Scottish Salmon Company (SSC) spokesman as 160 islanders entered a public consultation event requesting that their questions about a proposed marine open cage, salmon mega-farm be answered openly, jointly and transparently.
In the last week Sir David Attenborough has come out against fish farming and accused the controversial fish farm industry of threatening the survival of wild salmon.
When Craig Anderson (SSC CEO) and Marc Browne (SSC Head of Site Development) refused the request from the community for an open Q&A session Mr Robert Cumming (local resident) stood on a chair and asked for a mass walkout, so as not to legitimise the event, now considered a box ticking exercise. The disappointed throng, who had come from all over the island, then booed and left the building and many recorded their opinion on an exit poll.
Paul Chandler (COAST Executive Director) said:
“The COAST exit poll had 89% against, 10% undecided and 1% in favour of the new salmon farm; an overwhelming majority opposing the farm.’ He went on to say that ‘There was a clear lack of leadership from Craig Anderson and no understanding of the collective communication that was required. I told him and Marc Browne that this was not good enough as a ‘community consultation’.”
Some of the social media comment by members of the coastal community reflected the disgust at the lack of backbone shown by the senior company representatives present:
“Walked out of their meeting today on Arran. About 100 people attended but they would not speak to us collectively or allow a question and answer session. Glad they were booed by the local residents.”
“I’ve just got home from an open consultation meeting arranged by this company on a new proposed salmon farm off Arran, where they refused to take any questions from the large crowd assembled… so walked out in disgust!”
Scottish Communtiy Alliance. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.scottishcommunityalliance.org.uk/articles/2926/