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Salmon firm fails to crack Eigg

30 December 2019, at 7:00am

Residents of the Scottish island of Eigg have overwhelmingly voted against a proposal by Mowi to site a salmon farm off its shores.

Eighty-seven percent of the residents of Eigg voted against the proposal, which was for sixteen 160 metre circumference pens.

The island of Eigg as seen from Mowi's Muck farm
The island of Eigg as seen from Mowi's Muck farm

Despite the success of the Muck farm - which has been welcomed by the residents of the island as a means of creating jobs and sustaining a viable population - Eigg voted decisively against a similar farm being established.

Although Eigg had voted against two previous proposals for salmon farms, Mowi hoped that chances for the latest proposal might be bolstered by the widespread community support for recently established salmon farms off Eigg’s neighbouring islands, Muck and Rum – which had both backed aquaculture as a means of sustaining their fragile communities.

However, with a 92 percent turnout of those eligilble to vote from the 109 population the people of Eigg clearly felt strongly against the proposal and the vote took place following a meeting between the residents and Mowi after which Mowi wrote to assure the local Residents’ Association that if the community were not behind the proposed development, the company’s Lease Option Agreement would not be pursued.

The vote against fish farm development was welcomed by the Eigg Environmental Action Group (EEAG), who are concerned about the cumulative impact of more fish farms in the area.

In a statement EEAG noted: “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”.