Responding to a question submitted by Sally Poncet, MLA Teslyn Barkman confirmed at the public meeting last week that there was no draft legislation to ban open pen large-scale salmon farming.
Reading out the a response from Director of Natural Resources Dr Andrea Clausen she noted: “ExCo requested that options on how such a ban for salmon and other nonnative species could be delivered; however, given other priorities and the fact that there is no aquaculture source for this work it has not been progressed. There is however a clear policy decision regarding this matter.”
Ms Poncet also asked if officers had reported back to Exco on the options for implementing an aquaculture policy that would, “protect our pristine inshore marine waters from open-pen large-scale fish farming,” and the response was “no, see above”.
Dr Clausen’s response had also said MMA policy work was ongoing with the Environment Dept, and “this will provide a mechanism for further protection of our inshore waters.”
Dr Clausen’s response said while there was no report: “The outstanding task of strengthening our existing legislative framework for any fish farming activities (which could include making provision to ban species) is on the legislative timetable for 2024/25.”
MLA Birmingham added: “Even if we put in legislation to ban open water fish farming at any scale, subsequent assemblies could quite easily if there was a majority view, overturn that ban. So you can't ban something in perpetuity.”
MLA Barkman noted: “And certainly the marine management areas work would do a great deal to protect the in-shore from commercial activities.”
MLA Biggs said: “Personally, I would like to see legislation clarifying that situation. I think our policy decision was beyond any doubt, but I would like to see it done quicker - but at the moment that is the current schedule…”
He also noted in response to MLA Birmingham “Any legislation can be overturned but that doesn’t stop us making rules does it?”
A member of the public also pointed out, “that’s quite important isn’t it because otherwise you arrive at the next election with ‘it's just a matter of policy’. It’s much easier to reverse a policy than it is to reverse legislation…”
MLA Gavin Short said speaking as “devil’s advocate… if we ever see a huge downturn in the economy here and people’s living standards slip of course our minds may alter.”
On legislative priorities he said “something I wouldn't like to see bumped off [the list] is something like the workers protection which has been waited for, for a good many years more. (Penguin News)