Basically there are various strands to what’s going on; there is more detail but, in essence:
- We have an expert, Tony Legg, who cares about Jersey’s environment and who has been willing to give much advice pro bono.
- We have the Société, who hosted a talk about seagrass/eelgrass, and other environmental bods, who are fearful of the trials. They are, however, being kept in the loop by DoI (formerly TTS) and Environment
- We have Willie Peggie, Eddie Noel and Steve Luce who either cannot understand science, or have been misinformed, or who choose not to take on board what has been said (or a mix of these)
- Based on States’ data, Tony made a recommendation that we start a trial in St Aubin’s Bay, near St Aubin’s Fort, using native oysters, the idea being they would extract enough nitrates from the water that the tipping point would not be reaching, thus staving off blooms
- Eddie Noel, Minister for TTS/DoI, and speaking for many, blamed the whole situation on the French; by last autumn, he was admitting to 20% of the nitrate levels being home grown.
- SOSJ were invited to a talk about the sea lettuce situation. It was run by ‘professionals’ (and thus cost a bit) and was as simplified as the last report I wrote; ie, something children would understand/come up with; it was an insult to anyone with a higher level of knowledge/intellectual rigour.
- Kevin Lewis, then Minister for TTS/DoI gave the OK to the project (but we did not know this until he told us, last summer); this OK was /revoked axed when Eddie took over the position. Tony’s request to use the
- The TTS/Cascade data were flawed (Tony: was this the study where they only used one line at one depth on one day?), and in light of new, better data, Tony revised his plans; DoI said publicly that Tony had ‘changed his mind because he now thinks his project idea would not work’. In fact, Tony had recommended more oysters towards Grouville – see below.
- The initial request to a one off trial of the development of seed in a redundant seawater pond at La Collette was declined – see below.
- After we raised a brouhaha last summer, DoI finally agreed to talk on the sea lettuce/nitrate matters with Tony; SOSJ were not allowed into the meetings.
- Based on local data and on findings from studies involving furrowing, Tony suggested a plan to trial furrowing in St Aubin’s Bay in order that sea lettuce sporelings would not gain a foothold, and taking some nutrients out of reach of the sea lettuce, thus hopefully preventing blooms. At the same time, a better environment (ie, raised, drier beds with a lower layer of anoxic sand) for seagrass growth.
- In addition, the nitrate-rich water would properly enter the bay’s gyre and move around to the east, thus providing nutrients for oysters; nitrates would be extracted and the oyster industry would grow
- The furrowing is such that seagrass beds would benefit (and not be damaged as much as they are with tractor trawling and sea lettuce smothering), and beach erosion would not happen (as feared by some)
- This trial would be just that: a trial. To have a chance of working, the trial should have been started around early April AND in the vicinity of the Bellozanne outfall. In fact, the trail is being started too late and in the wrong place.
- In the meantime, and remembering the initial request to a one off trial of the development of seed in a redundant seawater pond at La Collette was declined, Tony has been involved in some high-profile and successful projects looking at taking nitrates out of water, including the two shown below these points.
- We have an expert in our midst, but (and maybe because he is not charging the States huge fees) his findings and recommendations are not being acted upon in the way he laid them out, and so we are missing a huge opportunity.
- At the same time, anything SOSJ say is generally dismissed or vilified. (Last summer, we were accused of using dodgy data; the data we showed the media were, of course, States’ figures.)
- We also have these problems regarding nitrates: The current sewage treatment works, which is not fit for use; the new STW will help when it is finally up and running, but it will not have specific nitrate-removing facilities (cost and space?); we do not have a population policy; there is not yet enough emphasis on (and help with) organic methods of farming which have been shown to decrease the need for NPK fertilisers and to increase the amount of water held in the soil); the States departments operate in a silo fashion, so there is little joining up of data and resources between departments and initiatives.
In essence, DoI and Environment have messed up and the ecosystem, Islanders, businesses and tourists will suffer as a result.