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Here is a post from a year ago today – let’s find out how we’ve progressed (or not) since then. First, however, look at this picture taken today (and weep), and go down and smell the sulphurous odours in St Aubin’s Bay, especially after First Tower.

Here’s the pic, taken by Paul Lakeman – take a minute to work out the scale of the problem! You can just see Paul standing on the sand, near the bottom centre of the pic.

Sea lettuce in St Aubin's Bay Jersey - 17 August 2017 - Paul Lakeman for SOS Jersey
Sea lettuce in St Aubin’s Bay Jersey – 17 August 2017 – by Paul Lakeman

This time last year in summary

The full post we write last year is at the end of this article. The DoI (Department of Infrastructure) used to be TTS (Transport and Technical Services). In brief, this is what happened and where we are up to now.

+ Former TTS Minister Deputy Kevin Lewis had authorised the proposed sea oyster trials that SOSJ had brought to the table on behalf of marine and acquaculture expert Tony Legg.

+ With a change of Minister after the General Election, the project was cancelled (along with some others, but that’s another story for another time).

+ Because DoI would not engage in conversation on the matter, SOSJ went to the media about the levels of nitrates (and ammonia) being discharged into St Aubin’s Bay; we were vilified for using dodgy data… until we said we were using the States’ own data that we’d had to get via a Freedom of Information request.

+ At that stage, DoI admitted that the sea lettuce problem was not all the fault of the French (!), and maybe up to 20% of the problem was home grown. (It’s more, but at least the concession was made.)

+ As a result of the media coverage, DoI Minister Eddie Noel finally agreed to meet with Deputy Jackie Hilton and Tony Legg – SOSJ, although we had been invited by Deputy Hilton, WERE NOT ALLOWED TO ATTEND!

+ They ‘listened’ to an idea to help keep sea lettuce blooms from forming over the next few years while other solutions to the nitrate problem were found.

+ This idea was furrowing – but, as we know, they set up the trial to fail: the furrows were made unnecessarily difficult to plough, and the trial was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Where are we now?

You might well ask! The short answer, is a few millimetres further than last year. Yes, that’s it.

We understand:

+ DoI, Environment and various related civil servants (such as John Rogers and Willie Peggie) are intent on ignoring SOSJ and not even naming us (we are ‘an outside third party’) unless they are being rude about us.

+ They are being disingenuous about not knowing where the problems come from (ie, Bellozanne and other outflows, La Collette altering gyre, etc), because we see a 1970s JEP report answering that very question! Anyway, a bit of knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology can give any school child enough information for them to make accurate conclusions from – so why not the States, along with their expensive consultants’ reports?

Sea lettuce in St Aubins Bay Jersey and Normandy Trader - 17 August 2017 - Paul Lakeman
Sea lettuce in St Aubins Bay Jersey and Normandy Trader – 17 August 2017 – Paul Lakeman

+ Unwilling and unable to carry out a proper furrowing trial, they came up with a wheeze to ship sea lettuce out to sea and dump it there. We have no problems with the trial, though our emails about it go unanswered, but we are not entirely sure what they thought would be achieved? As a solution, it is a no-no; as a pro-tem partial solution (albeit very expensive) along with other strategies, it might be OK… but where are the other strategies? We don’t see them.

+ We see DoI/Environment crowing on the front page of the Jersey Evening Post that the dumping trial was successful; in fact, reading the article carefully, we see that is quite a shiny spin at best. Worse still, a few days later there was a huge sea lettuce bloom (which is still with us)… and they expressed not only dismay, but surprise! To us, this means they understand very little about how sea lettuce blooms work.

+ Many questions are left unanswered. While we know the States are finally beginning to look at working on the sources of the problems, too little is being done as yet.

It’s about time the States step up to the mark, listen to and talk with local experts on all aspects of the environment which feed into this problem, and become more open with their results. Instead of saying, ‘Go away, we’re fine, we’re sorting it, we won’t share data’, etc, why not say, ‘Yes, we have a problem: this is where we are; this is where we need to be; this is what we need to do to attain that’?

We can only live in hope.

In the meantime, you can help by asking questions/complaining to your Deputies and Ministers Steve Luce and Eddie Noel.

Last year’s post in full

TTS MINISTER AUTHORISED SEA LETTUCE SOLUTION…AND THEN…

Deputy Kevin Lewis, the last TTS Minister, revealed today that two years ago he AUTHORISED a trial in St Aubin’s Bay using the Jersey Native (oyster).

Two months later he was ‘removed’ from the Council of Ministers (we know not why) and the project was cancelled. Neither we or the public were told the project had received the green light.

**Had it been implemented, we would today perhaps have already seen an improvement in the sea lettuce blight.**

Tomorrow afternoon, St Helier Deputy Jackie Hilton and aquaculture expert and shellfish farmer Tony Legg are to meet Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel for an informal meeting to discuss our proposals.

WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ATTEND IMPORTANT MEETING

SOS Jersey members had been invited to go by Deputy Hilton; we set aside time to do so and prepared relevant materials…

…but the Minister, for reasons not divulged, will not meet us.

Reluctantly, we have to respect Eddie Noel’s wishes in order to get this process started and the problem hopefully sorted.

We are very disappointed and somewhat taken aback and bewildered to have been ‘shut out’, but will carry on doing what we can.

HERE’S WHAT WILL HAPPEN TOMORROW

Tony Legg is flying in from Ireland and will present his interim solution to prevent the sea lettuce from adhering to ‘grow on’ in the inter-tidal area and then floating off when mature, to gather in mats by the sea wall. The cost would be minimal compared to the huge cost of importing a French sea harvester which would not do that.

We will report progress.

TAKE A LOOK AT THIS!

The picture below illustrates the problem. You can plainly see that the effluent from the Bellozanne outflow is feeding the sea lettuce which grows in huge swathes across the beach there.

SHAFTED! One year on in the sea lettuce saga
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