- ECO meeting 14 July 98 - Agenda
- Dounreay - June/July’98
- Brief Items of News
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)
- Protection for Scottish Beaches
- Moronic shooting of seal at Skaill
- Scapa Flow Management Strategy
- Cruelty-free Egg Production
- Present and Ongoing ECO Concerns 97/98
ECO meeting 14 July 98 - Agenda1. Fish Farming
Bring Deeps - proposed site - Scapa Flow
Bay of Furrowend - Shapinsay - Proposed site
Both over 40,000m2, 1600 tonnes production
Applicant Mr.Willie Baxter. Orkney Sea Farms.
- Discussion ensued about the Council’s decision to approve the Bring Deeps site.
- Reasons for ECO’s objection to this large scale development and other developments in a proposed VSA (Very Sensitive Area).
- Letters of objection to be sent to the CEC’s and the Scottish Office.
- Discussion on ECO’s overall views on Fish farming and the approach to a sustainable Aquaculture Policy.
and some residents from Stenness at the Bay of Ireland regarding the best and fastest way forward in stopping raw sewage landing in the Bay of Ireland, below Howe farm and into the Stenness loch. Discussion ensued regarding the possibility of placing a portable package plant until such time as NOSWA has installed a permanent water treatment centre for Stromness.
3. Dounby Show
- Discussion on progress to date regarding prizes and donations for the day.
4. Newsletter draft
- discussed and amended.
Dounreay - June/July’98The Government defends its decision to take nuclear waste from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia to Dounreay. It has been claimed that up to 3 times more material has been taken to Dounreay than was originally disclosed. In April 5 Kg of highly enriched weapons grade Uranium had been taken to the Caithness Plant from Georgia. Its arrival provoked outrage not only from anti-nuclear campaigners but from opposition politicians who demanded proof that the operation was safe. The controversy was compounded days later by a power failure and suspension of all reprocessing work.
In May’98 members of the influential Trade and Industry Select Committee went to see the Dounreay plant for themselves and to listen to the views of the local people. The visit followed a damning report from the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate. Ministers have recently been summoned to appear before the Trade and Industry Select Committee to answer the barrage of criticism.
July’98 As part of the decommissioning of the deceased North Sea oil-storage structure “Brent Spar” 14 tonnes of low level radioactive waste will have to be removed from it.
One of the options is to remove the waste to Dounreay. The SNP has accused Labour of secrecy but Mr. Dewar has stated that “It’s simply that if you put a metal pipe into the sea for a long time,it rusts and in that rust there is a very low level radiation component”.
Brief Items of NewsUNESCO
Prehistoric sites in Orkney should be given World Heritage status according to Kevin Hutchens, the convener of the United Nations Association Committee for Scotland. He is writing to the Secretary General of UNESCO, Fredrico Mayor Zaragoza, to get support for the Orkney bid. (Press & Journal - 4 July 1998)
Evidence from The Scottish Scientist suggesting that lice from farmed salmon infect wild sea trout has fuelled concerns about the way fish farm licences are granted. The Gatty Marine Laboratory has established a genetic link between lice found on samples taken from sea trout migrating through west coast rivers and lice found on samples from farmed salmon in nearby sea lochs. (Press & Journal - 7 Jul 1998)
Infectious Salmon Anaemia
An outbreak of fish disease, Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA), is suspected on two salmon farms in Skye. A further seven sites have been closed down as a precaution. (Scottish Office - 5 Jul 1998) (2 million salmon have been slaughtered)
Bad Weather kills Thousands of Sea Bird Chicks in Shetland
Thousands of sea bird chicks are dying of cold and starvation in Shetland because of recent poor weather conditions. Ornithologists say most of the islands’ colony of kittiwakes and terns have chicks abandoned by parents or dead in the nest. These particular birds feed by skimming the surface of the water for sandeels. Apparently this year not enough sandeels are swimming near the surface. Those birds which can dive to catch sandeels, such as gannets, guillemots, puffins and razorbills, appear to be finding plenty of food for their chicks.
Shetland Fishermen’s Association brokered a pioneering conservation deal with the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage earlier this year, designed to protect the seabirds’ food supplies. Skippers won praise from the Scottish Office by agreeing not to fish for sandeels during June and July, the peak breeding season. However the bad weather this year and the change in the sandeels’ habits appear to have scuppered this breeding season despite these best efforts. (Radio Orkney - 2 Jul 1998)
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)This article compiled by Clive Strutt. Quotations selected from recent literature.
1) “Ever since the genetic revolution began, biotechnologists have attacked the activists who challenged their work for knowing next to nothing about science, and yet presuming to warn of its consequences. Now it is surely time for the activists to attack some of these biotechnologists for knowing next to nothing about society or the environment, and yet presuming to dismiss social and environmental concerns as irrelevant or misguided” (G. Monbiot -“The gene debate”)1
2. “The fundamental requirements of all food and agricultural production are seed, livestock, sunlight and water. Clearly patent control of soil, sunlight and water is neither feasible nor desirable. Is, therefore, patent control of seed and livestock legitimate or ethical?” (Editorial Introduction) 2
3.“The essence of a cult is to offer: (1) A deeper meaning in life, (2) in ways calculated to enhance the position of cult leaders, (3) Whilst damaging alternative ways of a person becoming themselves, (4) with predatory effect that life’s goodness is degraded.
I contend that varying degrees of biotechnology, exercised, as it most often is, as an endeavour of capitalism in free global markets, fulfil all these criteria.” (Alistair McIntosh - “The cult of technology”.) 1
4. “although Dr. Hayter supports the idea of labelling to enable consumers choices, he admits that in “five years time it will be impossible to say whether food contains a GMO,“as ingredients will come from all over the world in a processed product.” (Laura Davis, editor -“Solving Growers’ Pains”) 2 - Pub’ 94
5) “beyond Bio-Piracy: at some point there has to be a challenge to the greed (and irresponsibility) which drives the current corporate agenda for patenting all that lives.It is unlikely to be led by politicians or parliaments.In the industrial world,it may arise from consumer movements exercising the right not to buy. It will almost certainly find itself the target of ethical activists who will challenge the animal suffering and exploitation that research will be based on.” (Alan Simpson MP -“Soul Ownership”) 1
“The US is the worst culprit in having gone down the road of patenting anything at all: animals, plants, micro-organisms, parts of the human body, the brain coding of the human being.They have broken all bounds;and they want to universalise their patent regimes across the world. Theirs is the real pressure under GATT.We are saying that not only should the present Indian patent system stay, which doesn’t allow the patenting of life, but the patenting of life anywhere in any country is a violation of ethical and ecological principles, and should not be allowed.” (Dr. Vandana Shiva -“Seed Satyagraha”) 2
7.“Beyond the health and ecological concerns about GE lies another area of argument for genetic resistance: justice. What riles the more radical campaigners most is the world’s largest corporations are trying to control the minutiae of life.The NO PATENT ON LIFE CAMPAIGN in particular has alerted activists to the thundering juggernaut of globalisation.” (Jim Thomas - “Genetic Resistance”)
1 “Resurgence” No 188 (May/June 1998)
2 “New Farmer and Grower” No.43 (Summer 1994)
Protection for Scottish BeachesFriends of the Earth is calling on the Government to put popular beaches in Scotland on a European Union list to ensure greater protection against pollution. Scotland has only 23 bathing beaches which receive full protection by European Law. Other countries have many more … Denmark 1000-plus with full EU protection and Italy 5,400 plus. Now is the time for Scots to collect evidence that will be needed to get the correct beaches included and to free up resources needed to monitor and clean up the water. Anyone interested should write to Friends of the Earth, 72 Newhaven Road, Edinburgh EH6 5QG, or phone 0131 554 9977 for the information pack.
Moronic shooting of seal at SkaillAn animal rescue volunteer from Orkney Seal Rescue in South Ronaldsay, yesterday described her horror as saw a fisherman shoot a seal that was playing in the Bay of Skaill. Lesley Carrie said the adult grey seal had swum alongside her as she walked along the shore. Miss Carrie said she saw two men get into a fishing boat anchored in the bay. Being curious the seal had swum towards the boat. Before I knew it, one of them had taken out a gun and shot the seal… The seal was simply swimming around the boat-it’s unbelievable that such an unnecessary shooting should take place”.
According to Ross Flett from Orkney Seal Rescue under the Conservation of Seals act a fisherman can shoot a seal if it is causing damage to his gear. “This seal was not anywhere near any fishing gear”said Mr. Flett..“I am asking police to take this very seriously. Seals are protected by law and we can’t just have wildlife shot for no reason at all”. (Press & Journal - 13 Jul 1998)
Scapa Flow Management StrategyThe Orkney Islands Council has within the last few weeks received a draft copy of the report they commissioned in the Autumn of 1997 from ICIT, entitled “Scapa Flow Management Strategy”. This study seeks to consider the often conflicting demands placed on coastal resources. It is a very comprehensive study and could form the basis of a sustainable aquaculture policy for Scapa Flow initially.The OIC need to move quickly to establish a policy which looks effectively at Orkney as a whole.
It was ironic that this report was being considered by Councillors at the same time that Mr.Willie Baxter from Orkney SEA Farms applied for a works licence for a large scale fish farm site in the Bring Head area of Scapa Flow, a proposed VSA (Very Sensitive Area). Despite the recommendations of this ICIT report which advised against further developments of this kind in Scapa Flow, the Transportation Committee approved this application without seeing the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) which the committee had asked for on Mr Baxter’s first application attempt. This story will run for a while yet…
Interesting footnote the CEC (Crown Estates Commission) made a record 113.2 million pounds profit last year…!-lease of the sea bed!
Cruelty-free Egg ProductionLet’s hope in the new Millennium that - … ‘Batteries not included’ means cruelty free egg production. Everyone by now is aware of the cruelty of battery cage farming. Numerous documentaries have shown the horrific reality for battery hens crammed in cages less than an A4 size sheet of paper and never seeing the light of day or allowed to go about their natural roaming and scratching activities in the open air.
With clear labelling on egg cartons, stipulating exactly how the hens were farmed, people can make an informed choice.- ‘Country Fresh’,‘Barn Fresh’ carton labels are misleading and often still refer to intensive battery cage farming methods! The only true natural production of eggs is free range.
Rather than rewarding good animal husbandry which offers good quality of life for animals in small scale farms, the Government has until recently chosen to reward the huge intensive farm operators who make a tidy profit for production - but at what cost …? Will the Labour Government fulfil its promises in this respect?
By expressing our concerns to the store managers, by purchasing only ‘free range’ eggs, asking for the free range eggs to be placed in an accessible position and by writing to your MP demanding accurate labels on our egg cartons - hopefully the Government might realise that industrial / intensive farming methods are at best a health risk but more importantly the majority of the public, if properly informed, through accurate labelling on cartons, would not wish to be associated with the cruelty and lack of quality of life which animals endure under battery cage conditions. In Safeway on the “Freedom food RSPCA Monitored” cartons it states that: “These eggs have been laid by hens kept in accordance with the RSPCA Freedom Food Scheme.This aims to ensure that animals have Freedom from:
- Fear and Distress
- Hunger and Thirst
- Freedom to express Normal Behaviour.
Another RSPCA council member, Dr Mike Baxter, said leaving beaks untrimmed would increase hens’ mortality by 20 percent in farmyard conditions. When Freedom Food was introduced, many of the RSPCA’s 20,000 members were dismayed at the apparent abnegation of the society’s traditional watchdog role. A third of the ruling council’s 24 members either voted against it or abstained, and four remain implacably opposed.
Some grassroots members also feel uneasy, fearing the society has gone soft on an industry whose shortcomings it was once so effective in highlighting. Others, however, are enthusiastic about an initiative which they claim gives the society probably the best opportunity it has ever had of improving the welfare of farm animals.
They say that the standards the society insists on fulfils its remit of helping end undue pain and distress for animals. They add that, while the three practices that have attracted criticism are regrettable, no viable alternative animal husbandry techniques at present exist, although they are being sought.
Producers trim hens’ beaks to prevent the birds pecking one another’s feathers, and occasionally killing and eating them. The society is concerned about the effects of the operation, but says all its producers trim the tip of the upper bill because of the consequences of not doing so. Before the meeting, Dr Potter said: “We have to accept that if we didn’t allow beak-trimming, we would have a more serious welfare problem. I was in the Netherlands two weeks ago and was shown a film about an organic farm where beaks were not trimmed. Birds were completely bald, and some had been pecked to death. I found it more distressing than a film about illegal cock fighting.” However, the argument does not impress the RSPCA’s critics. Joyce D’Silva, of Compassion in World Farming, said last week that the hens would not pluck each other’s feathers if their intensive living conditions were improved. Ruth Harrison an author who exposed the horrors of factory farming in 1964, went further. They are going against scientific evidence on the basis of commercial expediency,” she said.
Other critics claim recent research suggests the pain caused is greater than previously assumed, and is comparable with the recurring pain in a stump after the amputation of a limb. Dr Potter said producers would continue trimming beaks until animal scientists found a way of curbing the aggressive streak in hens. He used a similar argument to defend the use of farrowing crates for sows about to give birth. These are metal crates where the sow is penned in by metal bars, making it difficult to lie down quickly and reducing the number of piglets she might accidentally squash.
Recent experiments in Cambridge, and on the Continent, show a workable alternative may not be far away. Dr Potter said that, although the crates are contrary to the society’s principles and no Freedom Food producer used them, the RSPCA would not forbid their use until a workable replacement is found. The same principle applied to the docking of pigs’ tails, an operation carried out by some producers -- although not Freedom Food ones -- to prevent infection caused by pigs biting one another. The RSPCA makes it clear in its standards that tail-docking is against its principles. But it accepts it can be done to alleviate the pain of the piglets.
The refusal to ban the practice has angered welfare groups. But Mike Sharpe, marketing manager for Freedom Food, said last week: “We could have been black and white about this, but it could have caused extra animal welfare problems. This has been blown up out of all proportion by people who are being deliberately mischievous. It is not allowed systematically, and there is an awful lot that needs to be done before it can be carried out.” (Animal Rights Resource Site - ARRS)
How does one find out if FREE RANGE actually means FREE RANGE here in Orkney? Or …
- ‘freedom food?’
- “quality assured”?
- “premium quality”?
Present and Ongoing ECO Concerns 97/98This year ECO has been involved with a number of local concerns. Here are some of them:
(a) The Kirkwall Sewerage Scheme - the multi million pound Kirkwall sewerage scheme started by the O.I.C. and subsequently was taken over by NOSWA the North of Scotland Water Authority which still in 1999 leaves raw untreated sewage to wash up on the frontage at Kirkwall.
(b) Fish Farming - the apparent unbridled proliferation of fish farms around the Orkney coastline, with specific concerns regarding any introduction to industrial sized fish farming operations with the associated controversy surrounding sea lice infestation and Infectious Salmon Anaemia.
(c) Planning Legislation - illegal sand extraction and the ongoing erosion of the Orkney coastline.
(d) Dounreay - The Caithness plant with its controversial safety record and its reprocessing of other countries’ nuclear waste.
ECO has been in regular communication with the authorities concerned in all these issues and progress is being made slowly. By facing up to our concerns now, we can try to protect ourselves, the environment and wildlife for future generations.
More positive developments to date:
(a) The sewerage scheme water treatment centre has not yet been built but NOSWA have agreed, in the interim, to install a long sea outfall which will stop raw sewage coming back on shore through dilution in the String. ECO are also in communication with NOSWA with regard to placing a portable package plant to deal with sewage coming in to the Bay of Ireland, around the shore below Howe in Stromness and into Stenness loch.
(b) With reference to both the sand extraction and the fish farming issues, Orkney Islands Council are actively and currently looking to provide a sustainable policy in both these areas.
(c) Dounreay, however, is an ongoing concern, since the proposed closing down of the plant does little to remove the worrying safety aspects of the plant at present and indeed for a long way into the next millennium.
Bag the Bruck 1998
One of our biggest projects to date has been our ‘BAG THE BRUCK ’ weekend held in April every year for last 5 years. You may or may not have heard of ‘ BAG THE BRUCK but around 500 volunteers last year took part in our massive cleanup. Amazingly, 700 volunteers turned out again this year, spread over almost every Mainland and Island parish and bagged over 2,500 bags of rubbish from Orkney’s beaches, lochsides and road verges ! This was a massive 30 tonnes of discarded plastics, glass, fish netting and packaging systematically removed from our countryside. Our “Bag The Bruck” project in 1996 was awarded British Telecom’s special National Award in which they said “..an outstanding project which is of benefit to the whole community of Orkney.” This was recognition for the effort made by the people of Orkney, the volunteers and supporters. ECO hope to spread the ‘Bag the Bruck’ net even wider in 1999 and that it will become an established and valued part of the Orkney calendar.
With Orkney’s special and unique culture, its beauty and outstanding significance in terms of flora and fauna, our members feel, possibly as you do, that it is a privilege and a pleasure to live and work here in Orkney.
We all need to learn and keep talking about these local issues and, by raising awareness and keeping dialogue open, ECO hopes this will make for a healthier approach in dealing with concerns which affect us all in Orkney.