Greens progress seaweed dredging ban at Holyrood

A ban on the dredging of seaweed around Scotland’s coastline has become more likely after a Holyrood committee today voted in favour of a Green MSP’s amendment to the Scottish Crown Estate Bill.

The amendment from Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Greens’ environment spokesperson, will outlaw any form of kelp harvesting which prevents the plant from re-growing, if voted on at Stage 3.

Marine Biopolymers, based in Ayr, is bidding to dredge for wild seaweed off the west coast by using what they call Norwegian “harvesting vessels” that will then travel to a processing plant in Mallaig.

Mark Ruskell says his amendment will stop dredging and prevent a “devastating impact” on many species of fish that live in kelp forests.

Ruskell, a Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, said:

“This amendment is an important step forward in protecting our unique and fragile seaweed off the west coast of Scotland. We want to give communities the assurances they need while fully supporting existing, sustainable seaweed harvesting arrangements.

“Kelp forests provide a precious habitat for young fish and shellfish species – removing these on mass will have a devastating impact on many of these populations and a knock on effect of Scotland’s other fishing sectors.

“The forests also act as an important buffer for our island and coastal communities, protecting them from the more damaging effects of waves and coastal erosion.

“Members of the environment committee have received a wealth of submissions in recent weeks in support of a ban. There’s now plenty of time to consider these in even more depth before we vote on the final bill in the coming months.”