RENEWABLE energy is the biggest missed opportunity in the Falklands according to respondents to the recent Environment Strategy stakeholder engagement report.


This week the FIG Environment Department released a report detailing the results of the consultation and engagement work that took place earlier this year, in support of the new Environment Strategy for the Islands. They ran a public consultation in March that asked for people’s views on issues and opportunities for the natural environment in the Islands including workshops at Goose Green, Fox Bay and Stanley.


8% of the adult population responded to the survey, which was a “good representation by location across the Islands…”


There were a considerable number of responses in every section with one person commenting that the environment should be considered with “EVERY decision not as an add-on at the end; whether its fishing, climate change mitigation, native flora, agriculture, developments, etc. I hope I will see a community and Government that actively speaks out for and cares for its nature.”


People said they hoped not to see:


“Fishing waste – such as nets & buoys around coastlines.”
“No projects that will bring a short-term financial gain at the expense of the environment such as commercial salmon farming.”
“Less single use plastic items being sold, i.e. plastic water bottles/ straws/ sandwich bags.”
“Large areas of erosion due to a combination of poor ground cover and drying climate”
Under the ‘hoping to stay the same’ category they asked for:
“Untouched Tussac islands and other native habitats”
“Biological diversity and almost pristine environment”
“The Falklands currently has many unique ecosystems this needs to stay the same and be protected better”
“No oil extraction occurring”
“The clean pollution free air & beaches”
“Still plenty of green, open spaces and easy access for the public to enjoy these areas”
Under the ‘Hoped to see change’ category they listed:
“Improved fisheries management”
“Vastly improved use of sustainable energy”
“Peoples attitude toward the value of the natural environment and increased respect for nature”


Missed
opportunities


Respondents identified 30 different areas they believe were missed opportunities with renewable energy in the top spot followed by sustainable tourism and better land management. Carbon offsetting came next followed by education and habitat restoration and sustainable practices.


65% of respondents felt there was not enough environmental regulation in the Falklands.

When asked which listed issues were important for waste management in the Falkland Islands, all respondents identified at least one of the following listed issues as being important: Managing household waste; Increasing recycling; Encouraging use of products that are biodegradable; Reducing/removing single use plastics; Increasing sewage treatment; Managing industrial/commercial waste. Most of those who answered the relevant questions thought that there should be waste management targets and agreed that they would be willing to pay higher service charges if levels of recycling could be increased.


The majority of respondents thought the Falkland Islands should set targets in relation to pollution control. Respondents were particularly concerned about commercial pollution, pollution on land and freshwater and pollution in the ocean.


The majority of respondents also thought the Falkland Islands should set targets in relation to wildlife and nature. They were given a list of focal areas to respond to which respondents identified all as important.


Survey respondents identified all of the listed focal areas related to minerals and energy as being important for the Falkland Islands, though comparatively fewer respondents identified the issues ‘extraction and use of non-renewable resources onshore’, ‘continued generation and use of nonrenewable energy sources’ and ‘extraction and use of non-renewable resources offshore’ as being important


Global climate change was viewed as important for the Falkland Islands by those who undertook the survey, including issues such as changes to soil moisture conditions and energy production along with natural hazards from climate change such as increased fire risk.

THREE things in particular struck me about the gathering at the Salmon Free Falklands movie screening last Thursday.
First of all the surprisingly large attendance – bearing in mind I had been one of only two people at the last public meeting, the large crowd at this gathering was something of a surprise – but that clearly says something about sentiment.


Secondly the calm and balanced approach of the presentation. Pete Biggs made no attempt to whip the crowd into an anti-industry frenzy but quietly explained there were pros to salmon farming in terms of potential excellent income for the Islands economy but in his opinion the cons outweighed that. In fact any ‘aggression’ if it could be termed that came entirely from the floor – and I can be quite precise here – from a number of Islanders.


Why would I mention the latter point? Because whenever people feel the need to undermine valid concerns about environmental issues in the Falkland Islands the ‘go to’ claim is that ‘it’s just a bunch of incomers complaining’. And those in favour of salmon farming are already trying that one on for size and hoping it will stick. They’re bound for disappointment Falklands residents – those who have been here for many generations and those who have been for just one or two – really care.


The movie shown by the group certainly added to my deep concerns for the environmental impact – the dead sea floor underneath and the horrifying piles of rotten algae on the beaches.


We were also reminded that escapes are guaranteed – and it was explained to me only yesterday that the inshore waters are crucial for the early life stages of many of our commercial species, not only loligo. Salmon are voracious predators so there is a high risk that escapees would predate on those commercial species.


Thirdly, prior to the meeting I had no idea of the sheer numbers of potential sites planned by the company and how large the nets can be – it would literally transform the coast of East Falklands – something I had not envisioned.
In my mind the industry would be something we wouldn’t really see, when the truth it would be highly visible, possibly running down much of the coast of Falklands Sound on East Falklands and fill much of Adventure Sound and Choiseul Sound.

ARGENTINA has taken the wise decision to ban salmon farming! It seems our neighbours didn’t need piles of paper and reassurance from outside to tell them salmon farming is environmentally destructive therefore an undesirable prospect. How vexing to be shown up by a country we regularly rebuke for their attitude to fisheries conservation.

Chair of the Legislative Assembly, MLA Mark Pollard and Deputy Chair MLA Leona Roberts have arrived in New York in order to attend the main session of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24). 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of C-24, which meets annually in June to review and consider the state of affairs in ‘Non-Self-Governing Territories’ and then make recommendations in the form of draft resolutions to the United Nations General Assembly. The committee also hears the views of representatives from these territories, as well as member states; MLA Pollard and MLA Roberts will deliver speeches to the committee on Thursday.

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