Will Scotland follow Denmark and Halt the Expansion of Sea based Fish Farms?

John has tabled a Parliamentary Question asking the Scottish Government if it “will examine the example of the Danish Government which has announced it will not approve any new fish farms at sea and curb growth of existing fish farms at sea in Denmark due to environmental concerns.”

Commenting John said:

“The Scottish Green Party recognises the valuable contribution fish farming can make to supplying food and the employment it can create in our fragile rural communities.

“I am a Member of the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee which on 27th November, 2018 published a report on “Salmon Farming in Scotland,” which concluded the status quo was not an option.

“Regrettably, other Committee Members didn’t support my call for the report to call for a moratorium on the expansion of the fish farm industry, pending resolution of the clearly narrated problems.

“I welcome the ongoing work taking place to improve the significant public concerns there are about the industry but we’re not there yet.

“Whilst I see a role for salmon fish farming in delivering a quality, locally reared food to our markets, my support is conditional on the highest standards of husbandry and environmental protection being applied.

“I am keen that the Scottish Government liaises with Danish counterparts to understand the rationale for this significant policy change by the Danish Government which is calling a halt to expansion of the sector and to establish what we can learn from that.

“I still firmly believe we should have a moratorium on expansion until we’ve absolute assurance on the areas giving rise to the Committee’s concerns that, “..the industry (also) creates a number of economic, environmental and social challenges for other businesses which rely on the natural environment.””

Notes: The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee report can be found here;  https://digitalpublications.parliament.scot/Committees/Report/REC/2018/11/27/Salmon-farming-in-Scotland

 

John to retire at next election

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie has today (27th Aug) announced that he will retire at the next Scottish Parliament election.

The Scottish Greens have begun selecting candidates for the election in 2021 and Mr Finnie, who was first elected to represent the Highlands and Islands in 2011 and subsequently re-elected in 2016, has indicated that he will not seek a further term.

Speaking of his decision, Mr Finnie said:

“It is an honour to serve the Highlands and Islands in the Scottish Parliament and I intend continuing to work hard until my last day in office.

“I’ve been involved in representative politics since being elected a Highland Councillor in 2007 and enjoyed helping people, but I feel the time is right to step aside and let others bring their energy and ideas to what is a demanding job.

“Throughout my time in Parliament, I’ve put my home region of the Highlands and Islands and my constituents at the forefront of my work. Driven by my interest in social and environmental justice, I have been pleased to secure a number of concessions and legislative changes to improve the lives of people in the region.

“At this time, I’m focused on working with others to secure the passage of my Member’s Bill giving children equal protection from assault and hope to see it become law in the near future.

“The Climate Emergency our planet is facing means that, more than ever, Green policies are required. I know there are others who can ensure they are promoted, and delivered, for my home, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Meanwhile, I look forward to having more time to spend with my family.”

Let’s make this the last Inglorious 12th!

Let’s make this the last Inglorious 12th!

For over 150 years, moorland has been managed for red grouse-shooting – a Victorian blood sport.

Scotland’s upland landscapes were transformed by the construction of access infrastructure; burning of heather moorland and the extermination of species such as white-tailed eagle and red kite through poisoning, trapping and shooting.

Almost a fifth of Scotland has been made into a grouse moor and the resultant heather moorlands are highly modified habitats managed to encourage high populations of one species, red grouse that can be killed for fun.

Peat moorlands are internationally important resource storing 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon and there’s growing concern about the increasing extent and intensity of burning, especially the effect on deep peat.

Almost any other land use is more productive and creates more jobs. Industry figures show that grouse shooting adds fewer than 3,000 jobs, on an average salary of £11,500 a year – less than the minimum wage, a small economic contribution small compared to forestry and tourism

Other well documented concerns relate to outdoor medication on a massive scale; the culling of 26,000 mountain hares annually; the thousands of miles of tracks in often sensitive upland environments; the electric fencing to exclude wild red deer from the grouse moor and to contain sheep on the moor. The sheep are used as ‘tick-mops’ making many grouse shooting estates eligible for farming subsidies – many should be eligible for substantial subsidies up to over £300,000 a year.

Success of a grouse moor (and its economic value) is measured by the number of grouse shot each season (the bag size) and owners can make a fortune from selling the land.

Scottish Greens call on the Scottish Government to take this opportunity to Revive the moors to benefit local communities, our environment and our wildlife.
http://revive.scot/

 

Cross Party MSPs Launch Landmark Petition to Tackle Drug Death Crisis

Cross Party MSPs Launch Landmark Petition to Tackle Drug Death Crisis

On Thursday 18th July a cross party group of MSPs are launching a landmark petition to push the Scottish and UK Governments to reconsider their approach to drug use and how it is policed in Scotland.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Neil Findlay MSP (Scottish Labour), John Finnie MSP (Scottish Green Party), and Alex Neil MSP (SNP) have collectively launched the petition to push the Scottish Government towards action given the fact Scotland has the EU’s highest rate of drug deaths

The text of the petition reads

Scotland is experiencing what can only be described as a drug death crisis.

We have one of the highest levels of drug deaths in the world – with the situation getting worse each year. 

We cannot continue as we are.

We, the undersigned, demand immediate action to address the levels of addiction, overdose and deaths associated with drugs use in Scotland.

We call on the Scottish and UK Governments to address this major public health crisis by taking an evidence led approach to policy that examines all options, including decriminalisation. 

This unprecedented step calls for the governments of Scotland and the UK to take an evidence based approach to what is now a public health crisis, including the radical step of considering decriminalisation of certain drugs.

Portugal decriminalised personal possession of drugs in 2001 and implemented a major harm reduction and public health programme. Drug deaths subsequently fell from more than 1,000 a year to around 50 per year.

The Cross Party Group of MSPs said:

“We cannot arrest our way to a drug-free society. We have to deal with this crisis as a public health problem, rather than pretend it will go away with tougher sentences and a harsher regime for those caught in possession. This is fanciful and delusional thinking.

“The governments in Edinburgh and London have to rethink their approach and start to realise that record numbers of people are dying on our streets. This is avoidable and we have a responsibility to recognise that the current model is not working.

“As a cross party group of MSPs we are calling on both governments to change course, before it is too late.”

You can sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/the-scottish-government-end-scotland-s-drug-crisis

Continuing As We Are Is Not Acceptable- Rise in Scotland’s Drug Death Rates

Today it’s been announced there have been a record number of drug deaths in Scotland in the past year, 1,187. This number has doubled in five years. Including 67 deaths in the Highlands and Islands, up from 37 last year.

It is shocking to see Scotland with the one of the worst drug death rates in the world.

From tackling heroin and the AIDS threat in the 1990s to minimum unit pricing on alcohol, Scotland has a track record in harm reduction, which prioritises the health and safety of our people over moral judgement.

It’s needed now more than ever.

We have seen London take an interest in Scotland’s approach to knife crime. Hopefully now the UK Government will take notice of progressive thinking on drugs policy, but I have my doubts.

Drug harm is a national emergency. Sadly, the UK Government, who continue to hold all the legislative strings, appear to have little interest in Scotland’s public health crisis. Currently they are obsessed with Brexit and who will be the next prime minister.

What could Scotland do as an independent country though?

When it comes to drugs, criminalisation has caused more harm than it can claim to have prevented. The ‘war on drugs’ approach has self-evidently failed.

Addiction is better tackled by trained medical professionals, not with the strong arm of the law, and dangerous substances need to be taken out of the hands of gangsters.

Drug deaths in Scotland are now around three times that of the UK as a whole. Sadly, the stigma surrounding drug use as a criminal activity means there is not enough public outcry at these deaths.

I am proud that the Greens don’t care about looking tough. We must look at the evidence and save people’s lives, preventing harm and tackling addiction.

John pledges to fight MS during MS Awareness Week

John pledges to fight MS during MS Awareness Week

 

This Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week (22-28 April), MS Society Scotland were in the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the important role research plays in the lives of people affected by MS.

 

MS affects more than 11,000 people in Scotland and can cause problems with how we walk, move, see, think and feel. But the MS Society is driving research into more – and better – treatments.

The charity currently funds 10 research projects in Scotland with the studies receiving over £3.56million over their lifetimes.

MSPs from across the country attended a reception at Holyrood to hear from some of the leading names in MS research and people living with the condition.

John pledged his support for the crucial research being done in Scotland to stop MS.

 

John  said: “I’m pleased to be able to show my support for this important campaign. MS affects many of my constituents and everyone should be able to get the treatment, services and support they need. I will continue to work with my constituents, fellow MSPs and organisations to drive this campaign forward. As I know first-hand from my work in previous years as a Director of the MS Therapy Centre in Inverness, MS is a condition that affects hundreds of people in my region, both those diagnosed with the condition as well their families and friends.”

 

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland said: “This MS Awareness Week we are highlighting the importance of MS research.

 

“For more than 11,000 people in Scotland, living with MS is a daily reality. This is why the MS Society is driving cutting-edge research into more – and better treatments to ultimately stop MS.

“By contributing and joining a global group of fundraisers people can help us find new treatments for people living with the often painful and exhausting condition.”

MS is an unpredictable condition that is different for everyone. It affects how a person thinks, feels and moves. For support and information, please contact the helpline on 0808 800 8000.

You can read John’s Speech in the Parliament marking MS Awareness Week here- http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12053&i=109069

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Announced as Beaver Species Champion

John Finnie was announced this week as the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s new champion for the Eurasian beaver and as first order of business welcomed the new legal protections for the species, despite Tory attempts to block progress.

The Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee this week agreed to add the beaver to a list of European protected species, which will mean they can only be culled under licence and after other management steps have failed.

John said the decision to give legal protection was ‘vital’ and blasted the Tories for seeking to continue a free-for-all on indiscriminate culls.

Commenting further John said:

“The beaver is a keystone species because of the multiple benefits it can have on biodiversity and Scotland has already benefited from their reintroduction – but sadly they have been targeted for indiscriminate killing, including of pregnant mums and their young.

“That’s why Greens have pushed consistently for these vital legal protections – but the Tories should hang their heads in shame for trying to roll back the clock instead of boosting Scotland’s precious biodiversity.”