A Whale In The Room: Sea Change Wester Ross

Ocean heatwaves, whale, plastic, sea change

Written by Sea Change Wester Ross

There’s a whale in the room during this election – it’s the “Missing Marine Debate”. The debate which the party leaders who are standing for election in Scotland would have been having, if the media and politicians were making the marine environment a priority.  As Attenborough’s films and Netflix’s Seaspiracy show, the management of the sea, and the industrialisation of it, is perhaps the key issue facing current generations – but it has been the whale in the room for decades.

We’re avoiding the challenges. The destruction of the seabed and nursery and breeding grounds through dredge and trawl, open cage salmon farming and its pollution of sea lochs, illegal dredging and trawling of Marine Protected Areas ( often just ‘Paper Parks’ anyway) the impacts of climate change, acidification, invasive species and marine plastics, multiple ways sea mammals are harmed amongst them pollutants that make sea mammals toxic and infertile – and the big one, the industrial scale of fishing).

We have even failed to hold Fergus Ewing, ( the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy ) as well as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to account for their real track record in the sea… Indeed we need to hear more from all parties about what their policies are to address this tragically neglected ‘whale’ – crying  for recognition as we approach a potential 6th great extinction – all human made. No asteroids this time, just us.

Plastic, whale, sea change, election

Despite the shocking marine plastic art above  – it’s not just marine plastic and it’s not just whales that suffer. If truth be told it will be future generations who suffer most, but we are the problem and the solution. Protecting the sea may be the quickest way to save our planet but as Jung once said “the world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of mankind.”

If it is true we get the media and politicians we deserve, if we don’t ask more of them during elections then we might get the results we least want.  Whilst focusing on hope and what we can all do to help, we must encourage the media to scrutinise the Government’s track record because things have got WORSE in the last decade as habitats and species have been lost.

An assessment by the Government of its own track record, in a leaked report, “Scottish Overall Assessment 2020” reveals the reality gap. A decade of policies overlooking the destruction of fragile species by scallop dredge, trawl and open cage salmon farms  have unravelled our seas, not restored them. This is an extract from The Ferret’s article on the Scottish Overall Assessment 2020.

The report reveals that “priority” seabed habitats meant to be protected around the coast have declined in five large areas since 2011. Seagrass, flame shells, seaweed beds and tubeworm reefs have been destroyed by the fishing industry and pollution, it says. Campaigners warn that these habitats – vital for fish and as a store for carbon – are now “perilously close” to being wiped out after a “decade of decline”. They accuse ministers of breaking promises made a decade ago to prevent the marine environment from being harmed.

 The sad thing is this is a policy choice of Ministers,  it can’t be blamed on anyone else. For a decade the Government’s response has been the long grass: i.e “we are working towards”, “in the process of ” or  “looking at” an assessment whilst opportunities for significant change are quietly buried.

Read the full blog post There’s A Whale In The Room during Election 2021 by Sea Change Wester Ross.

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