26th September 2016
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Orcas threatened by oil transfer plans, says MSP Finnie

orcas big-K2000Shetland’s migratory killer whales have made their annual trip into the Moray Firth, where they could be put at risk if controversial plans to allow ship-to-ship oil transfers are given the go-ahead.

That is the view of Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie, who has been campaigning to stop the proposal and has pressed the Scottish government for details of the dangers posed by the oil transfers.

The pod of six orcas, including a new-born calf, is known as the Northern Isles community. The family migrates between Iceland and the Moray Firth each year, and would be vulnerable to any oil spill in the firth resulting from ship-to-ship transfer operations.

Mr Finnie urged the new minister for environment, climate change and land reform, Roseanna Cunningham, to make the Scottish government’s position clear.

Cromarty Firth Port Authority has applied for a licence for the risky ship-to-ship procedure, in which oil is transferred between vessels in the open sea rather than secured in a harbour. The application is presently being considered by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Mr Finnie said the Scottish Greens had a strong track record in protecting coastal communities from ship-to-ship plans.

A three-year campaign by Green MSPs to halt similar plans in the Firth of Forth ended in victory when Forth Ports PLC dropped their proposal in 2008.

Mr Finnie launched the Save Our Dolphins campaign in response to the Moray Firth plan in January this year, his petition receiving over 3,700 signatures.

He said: “The orcas are a highlight of Shetland’s spectacular marine life. They help bring visitors to the islands, and joy to the islanders.

“It’s terrible to think of these extraordinary animals being put in danger for the sake of unnecessary ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Moray Firth.

“Oil transfers are already carried out safely in the relative shelter of Nigg harbour; there’s no need to take chances with risky ship-to-ship operations in the open sea.

“I’m trying to find out whether the Scottish government understands the threat to Shetland’s orcas, and to the wider marine environment.

“If it does, I hope new environment minister Roseanna Cunningham will break the silence that her predecessor inexplicably maintained on the issue, and join the opposition to the proposal.

“Green MSPs have beaten ship-to-ship plans once before, in the Firth of Forth. With your help we can do it again: please sign the petition at http://bit.ly/SaveOurDolphins.”

AboutJim Tait

Jim Tait is news editor at The Shetland Times.

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2 comments

  1. Donnie Morrison

    So, our ‘green’ MSP John Finnie is now concerned about the threat to Moray Firth orcas by oil transfer plans. As a windfarm supporter it’s a shame he didn’t think about the destruction of their habitat by offshore windfarms. Wind turbines emit low frequency noise including dangerous infrasound – whales and dolphins are ‘blinded’ by this masking.
    MSP Finnie sounds selectively ‘green’.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      With dozens of whales beaching in close proximity to windfarms at numerous locations throughout the north sea a few months back you would think the greens would be raising hell. I guess whales don’t pay as much as the EU and NGOs.

      Reply

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