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SR is correct in that marine renewables are …

Comment posted Tourism industry says ‘Protect marine wildlife to protect our livelihoods’ by Dr Douglas McKenzie.

SR is correct in that marine renewables are likely to have minimal impact on marine life – at least in comparison with other technologies currently in use. This doesn’t mean we should be complacent – site selection still has to be rigorous and appropriate impact surveys made, however, a degree of balance is worthwhile.

Impacts of marine renewables are likely to be limited to short term sea bed disturbances caused by foundations and moorings. In operation, wave devices are unlikely to have much impact though entanglement of cetaceans in large arrays might be an issue.

In one’s mind’s eye, tidal generators might be visualised as giant mincers reducing pelagic marine species to chopped sushi but in fact the blades will revolve quite slowly and most species will be able to easily avoid them. Larger species (such as cetaceans, large sharks or seals) in danger of becoming stuck in the turbine’s orifice can be deflected by having appropriate mesh screens over the turbine. Noise is unlikely to be much of an issue – and certainly nothing compared with surface vessels (as any diver knows, large powered vessels make a tremendous racket under the water).

Offshore wind turbines aren’t likely to have any significant effects beyond the foundations.

SR is also correct in that fishing has a much larger and detrimental effect on marine biota. He is exaggerating a bit with his description of scallop dredging creating lifeless deserts but dredging activities are indeed the most harmful activity and I am surprised dredging hasn’t been more restricted given there are alternative and more environmentally friendly methods available.

Drilling for oil and gas is pretty harmful to the marine environment – though much less than it was in the early days when huge piles of drill cuttings would be allowed to develop under each rig smothering all the life under the rigs. That said, you do see unexpected effects. Platforms often harbour large populations of fish safe from fishing and the disturbance of the drilling sometimes encourages specialist species to colonise the area. But the overall impact is one of species loss in the vicinity of the platforms.

Nuclear stations (and some large coal fired stations) use sea water for cooling and these can cause localised thermal pollution. Ironically marine life tends to be more of a threat to nuclear stations than vice versa: jellyfish in particular can block the cooling water inlets forcing the plant to shut down.

I could go on but the long and the short of it is that all human activities impact on our oceans but renewables are likely to be at the bottom of the scale of impact rather than near the top.

Dr Douglas McKenzie also commented

  • There is quite a lot of research going on concerning this subject, eg:

    http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=34833

    http://www.smru.st-and.ac.uk/newsItem.aspx?ni=323

    http://www.smru.st-and.ac.uk/newsItem.aspx?ni=203

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120710132853.htm

Recent comments by Dr Douglas McKenzie

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    More utter rubbish from Lynda Henderson. Have you actually spoken to Bob Allen? Whoever told you the story sold you a pup and in your arrogance you cannot admit to be wrong so you make up this story that he was persuaded not to resign.

    Your position is completely untenable.

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    I’m afraid you condemn yourself by your own words. I don’t think that anyone reading what you have written here and the language you have used would conclude anything other than that you have a deep dislike for Mr Russell and that dislike is leading you to basically lose all sense of either proportion or impartiality. It doesn’t matter how well (or otherwise) you know Mr Russell you are clearly exercised by your interpretation of his actions and it is leading you well beyond the pale in what I would consider fair comment.

    This vendetta against Mr Russell and the SNP is destroying FA’s credibility and I have to confess that I’m seriously considering whether or not to continue reading FA (which will cheer Malcolm up if nothing else). I for one am becoming increasingly disenchanted by the constant negativity and sheer nastiness that has crept into this blog. I say that with a lot more sorrow than anger because I think that FA could have been great and indeed still could but there has to be a degree of balance, civility and indeed humour. All we are getting here is bile and it is causing me heartburn.

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