Greens Gain Backing of Scottish Government to Prohibit the Mechanical Harvesting of Kelp by Dredging

John FinnieLocal MSP John Finnie, Scottish Greens today, 20th of November, raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament of the mechanical dredging of kelp .

The Orkney News has reported on the issue of kelp over several months including the application to commercially dredge for kelp. Could Commercially Harvesting Seaweed Seriously Damage the Marine Ecosystem?

At Topical Question Time John Finnie asked:

“To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the mechanical harvesting of kelp by dredging.”

You can watch John Finnie here at 17:05

John Finnie asked during the exchange, in reference to Marine Scotland, how the promoter of a policy can also be the regulator. He further went on to ask Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, who in the Scottish Government was pressing for this type of development, who was pushing the agenda and who was in charge.

Roseanna Cunningham said:

Roseanna Cunningham“No one is pushing any agenda. We are all trying to ensure that Scotland has new industries and that innovative technologies are considered carefully. That is the basis on which we are working.

“As I indicated, tomorrow I will support amendments to the Scottish Crown Estate Bill that Mark Ruskell has lodged. I am grateful for Mark Ruskell’s engagement with me and for his care and his thinking on aspects of the matter, which raises issues that still need to be resolved.

“I am not sure that the process in which we currently find ourselves is the best way imaginable to consider any new industry.

“The licensing process itself is about bottoming out the environmental issues that require to be considered.

“I hope that all members support the notion that new industries should be considered carefully.”

“I can say that I will be announcing a review of the regulatory regime for all kelp harvesting activity, up to and including farming.”

After the debate John Finnie said:

“I am delighted that the Cabinet Secretary has indicated she will back Green plans to prohibit the mechanical harvesting of kelp by dredging. My constituents on the west coast have engaged in an extremely effective campaign and deserve to be commended for their great efforts in securing this change of heart by the Scottish Government.”

Mark Ruskell MSP, Scottish Greens has an amendment to the Crown Estate Bill, to be debated on 21st of November, which will receive the support of  Roseanna Cunningham.

The Crown Estate Bill is at Stage 3 in its progress through the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Ruskell said:

“Kelp forests are hugely important to our marine environment. They dampen waves, protecting coastal communities from flooding and erosion, act as a habitat for hundreds of species, and store more carbon dioxide than the rainforest.

“Greens have been working extremely hard to ensure that the practice of dredging for kelp is prohibited in legislation, and I am delighted that the Scottish Government will now back my proposals to save Scotland’s kelp forests.”

Related story: Orkney’s Waters to be used to Investigate Blue Carbon


photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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