Wild seaweed harvesting: strategic environmental assessment - environmental report

Investigates the sustainability and potential environmental impacts of wild seaweed and seagrass harvesting, maerl extraction and removal of beach-cast seaweed.

10. Reasonable Alternatives

10.1. Introduction

10.1.1. The Act requires the assessment of reasonable alternatives. This section is a discussion of the four reasonable alternatives listed at paragraph 2.4.

10.2. Do-nothing scenario

10.2.1. The "do nothing" option is to continue with the existing licensing/leasing arrangements as detailed in paragraph 3.14 Current regulation of wild harvesting. The roles of the Scottish Government licensing regime, the land owner (including the Crown Estate) and Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) are described. Note that in this context, the seabed is included as land.

10.3. All wild harvesting activities to require consent through marine licensing

10.3.1. Managing all harvesting activities through marine licensing is not considered proportionate, given that existing small-scale artisanal practices are already being undertaken sustainably. However, the SEA has identified that unmanaged large-scale wild harvesting will result in significant environmental effects. As such large-scale harvesting will require a vessel, and will remove seaweed from the seabed, the marine licensing should be able to ensure that such harvesting is conducted sustainably.

10.4. Use a combination of existing permissions and marine licensing

10.4.1. Another alternative is to introduce thresholds into the consenting process, such that harvesting by artisanal harvesters should require a marine licence if volumes harvested exceed a set amount. However, at this early stage in the review of the industry, it would be difficult to identify an appropriate threshold. In addition, thresholds would need to be species-specific and, possibly, directed to particular locations. The views of stakeholders are sought on this alternative.

10.5. Stop all harvesting activities

10.5.1. Based on the outcomes of the SEA, stopping all harvesting activities is not a reasonable alternative, as there is no evidence that existing harvesting is resulting in significant adverse environmental effects. Such a ban would result in the collapse of the existing industry and prohibit sustainable large-scale harvesting. This would have associated socio-economic consequences ( e.g. loss of income for coastal communities).


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