As part of SOS Jersey (or SOSJ, formerly Save Our Shoreline Jersey), I seem to have been saying ‘sea lettuce: what will happen this year?’ for too many years running.
I say this more with an incredulous laugh rather than any proper humour, but we are where we are and need to act accordingly.
With the weather as it is (virtually unremitting grey and many gales), it may be hard to imagine swathes of green arriving… but that is what will happen if we don’t do anything about it.
Last year SOSJ reached a major milestone in that DfI (formerly TTS) and Environment finally admitted that maybe the sea lettuce problem wasn’t the fault of the French! It’s been a long battle even to get that fact recognised, and there is a way to go yet.
For a few years we asked that aquaculture expert Tony Legg’s idea with regard to using native oysters to help alleviate the problem be at least trialled. We thought we had been stonewalled at every opportunity, but have found out since that the idea had been okayed by the then TTS Minister Kevin Lewis.
Unfortunately, we never got to hear of it, and with a new Minister in charge after the last elections, the scheme was unceremoniously scrapped. Equally unfortunately, for Jersey at least, Tony has been asked to be the expert elsewhere, in the UK, Eire and further afield… and the schemes are seeing considerable success.
Last year we asked furrowing trials be undertaken: the trials undertaken were a travesty. Back in my teaching days, if a GCSE student had come to me with that plan, I’d have requested they take it back to the drawing board. Nonetheless, the public were then assured the furrows ‘would not work’ and that was that.
The cost of these two projects? A few hundred pounds. The cost of not sorting out the problem? Hundreds of thousands of pounds in hard cash, nasty conditions for locals and businesses in the area and a great embarrassment tourism-wise, and the loss of a great amenity.
The projects were ways in which to help mitigate the sea lettuce blooms; the source of problem needs to be tackled – nitrates and more in runoff – and that is a post for another time.
On Friday, I’ll be talking to the WI in St Peter’s about sea lettuce, and next week SOSJ will be convening to start the ‘Let’s see if we can get some movement on this’ conversation again.
Maybe this year will be different. We can only hope.
You can help by contacting your Deputies and the key players like Steve Luce, Eddie Noel, Willie Peggie, and asking them exactly what they are doing now and why/why not?
Blog posts showing the background of the sea lettuce saga are here (most recent, first): http://sosjersey.co.uk/category/concern/pollution/sea-lettuce/
Our sea lettuce reports (in PDF format) are here: http://sosjersey.co.uk/sea-lettuce/