Following a meeting in October with MOWI Scotland – the fish farming company who have obtained a Lease Option Agreement for a proposed site at the north end of Eigg – the Isle of Eigg Residents Association held a ballot in November to ask if islanders were supportive of fish farm development off the island’s coast.
87% of residents voted against. The turnout was 92%.
Prior to the meeting with MOWI, concerned residents had undertaken research into the potential impact of fish farms on biodiversity, wildlife, waters and coastline around the island. Eigg Environmental Action group said:
“A farm of the size proposed (16 x 160m cages) could have been devastating to our marine environment. Negative impacts on tourism and the ‘green’ businesses which are vital to our economy and community, were a further concern.”
A wide range of questions about the environmental, economic and social impact were put to MOWI at the meeting, after which MOWI wrote to assure the Isle of Eigg Residents’ Association that if the community were not behind the proposed development, the company’s Lease Option Agreement would not be pursued. The subsequent community vote has ensured Eigg’s view on MOWI’s and any future proposed fish farms is clear.
The community’s response to MOWI and their decisive vote against fish farm development were welcomed by the Eigg Environmental Action Group, who are concerned about the cumulative impact of more fish farms in the area.
“The Small Isles are amongst the very few islands in Scotland given National Scenic Area status and form one of the most environmentally protected areas of sea in Scotland. It is vital that the cumulative impact of fish farm expansion in the Small Isles and North West coast is taken into account if Eigg is to successfully protect our island’s unique coastal landscapes and its precious marine environment. We hope to work together with other island and coastal communities around Scotland who are being targeted by industrialised fish farm developments and are looking for alternative small scale, sustainable solutions”.
Eigg Environmental Action Group