The great spider crab is one species that finds food and shelter in Atlantic Ocean kelp forests. Photo by Nature Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo
In a piece about Scottish highlanders' responses to an industrialization kelp farming, O'Grady profiles Ailsa McLellan, a small-scale wild seaweed harvester and community organizer. The campaign opposing Marine Biopolymers' proposal brought together the youth-led environmental group Ullapool Sea Savers, Fishermen Associations, activists like David Attenborough, scientists and other community members.
Their organizing led to the passage of a 2018 amendment in the Scottish Parliament which bans "any commercial harvest method that would harm the regrowth of individuals—including dredging." This amendment prevented Marine Biopolymers' proposal from going any further. While folks across Scotland have mixed feelings towards the particular order of events and the politics behind it, the impact made by community members is clear - and inspiring for all of us seaweed lovers.
O'Grady ends the article with an acknowledgment of the movement towards a land and intertidal commons in the Highlands:
"In the past few decades, the people of the Scoraig peninsula have steadily reforested the land. Along with the handful of Highlands communities that have bought their land from wealthy landowners and now manage it in community trusts, their vision of Scotland’s natural resources is one of shared ownership and shared benefit."