Concerns have been raised following a proposal to start kelp dredging.
Southampton-based Marine Biopolymers Ltd (MBL) have submitted a preliminary marine licence request to the Licensing Operations Team (LOT) of Marine Scotland, the Scottish Government agency responsible for the management of Scotland’s seas.
Marine Scotland has asked for responses from interested parties by tomorrow (Friday August 25), but are promising further consultation when a marine licence application and supporting environmental report are submitted.
MBL have submitted a preliminary scoping report to Marine Scotland which describes the harvesting method as sustainable, and explains in detail the processes by which they would ensure potential regeneration of the kelp forest. A specially designed dredge would ‘bounce’ along the seabed, pulling kelp plants up in strips and leaving the bare strip to regenerate.
Kelp is used to produce a substance called alginate, which is used in cosmetics and cleaning products as well as foodstuffs. MBL say the new process would create 32 jobs at a processing plant at Mallaig and a further 10 jobs on board the harvesting vessels.
However, concerns have been raised about the kelp dredging. Fiona Gillies posted on the Isle of Raasay Facebook page, describing the benefits of kelp: "From otters to little fish it provides protection, homes and food to many species. I for one will be heartbroken to look out to sea from the island I love, watching a boat absolutely devastate the sea floor.
"It has really given me a boost to see how many people DO care. We must try and protect what we can, one small change can make a huge difference."
You can find the campaign page Stop Mechanical Kelp Dredging at https://www.facebook.com/nokelpdredging/.
The full scoping report can be found here.