Flodigarry Isle of Skye

Flodigarry on the Isle of Skye, where a proposed salmon farm sparked a storm over the potential impact on the local sea sprites.
AS complaints about fish farms go some might say those responsible are away with the fairies.

But a group has claimed that the protection of the magical aquatic creatures was a valid reason for opposing plans for a new fish farm on the Isle of Skye. And Highland Council planners have now blocked the 12 cage Organic Sea Harvest salmon farm.

A group calling themselves the Flodigarry Fairies warned the Asrai - which they say have been in the waters off the Isle of Skye, Scotland for over 1,000 years - could die.

They say the sprites are in "fear for their lives" claiming the cages could draw the fairies to the surface and they would melt, in opposing the farm off Skye's north coast.

And they even warned that workers could be put in danger as the mischievous water spirits "lure them with promises of gold and jewels into the deepest part of the ocean".

According to folklore the asrai is a type of aquatic fairy that lives in seas, lakes and lochs and is similar to the mermaid and nixie. They are sometimes described as timid and shy, standing between two and four feet tall, or may be depicted as tall and lithe.

Their oldest known appearance in print was the poem The Asrai by the Scottish poet, novelist and dramatist. Robert Williams Buchanan, first published in April 1872, and followed by a sequel A Changeling: A Legend of the Moonlight. Buchanan described them as nature-loving spirits who could not bear sunlight and must stay underwater.

Signed "on behalf of the Flodigarry Fairies" by Friends of the Eilean Fhlòdaigearraidh Faeries, the letter said the Ashrai have been there for more than 1,000 years and begged Highland Council to refuse plans.

The letter said: "Ashrai live for hundreds of years and will come up to the surface of the water once each century to bathe in the moonlight which they use to help them grow.

"It is proven that the steel of the fish farm cages draws many Ashrai to the surface, with only one result: They melt."

It also warns that male fishermen working on the farm may be in danger as the fairies "will attempt to lure him with promises of gold and jewels into the deepest part of the ocean to drown or simply to trick him."

The letter also claims that seals which are living on the island are actually roanes, water elementals or mermen who take the form of seals - which could be in danger of being shot by salmon farmers.

Also mentioned are "magical misty" Skye's links, including its Fairy Pools, Dunvegan Castle's Fairy Flag and the Fairy Bridge.
Fairy Glen Isle of Skye
© Getty Images
Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye
Meanwhile, they also claim water spirits - called the Blue Men of the Minch - and water birds called broobries may also be in danger.

They also believe that the Blue Men of the Minch "will protect their gentler Flodigarry neighbours against any fish farm as they were there already in the beginning of time and they have always done so".

It goes on: "The Blue Men of the Minch have predicted that there could be some severe stormy weather in the future but declined to explain further at this stage."

But the objection has not been taken too seriously by Highland Council with some observers believing it is all just one big fairy story.
fish farm proposal isle of sky
A council source said: "The fairies are not mentioned in the motion. Not mentioned as part of the debate. Not listed as an objector or mentioned in the report."

On a more serious note, complaints were lodged on the impact on local fishing and the fact that it could destroy the local area.

A joint objection from the Scottish Fishermen Federation, Scottish White Fish Producers Association and the Mallaig and North West Fishermen's Association said the worry remains for the "safety" of local fishermen. They also raised concerns about chemicals used in the salmon farming industry.

"Fishermen lose more and more grounds to fish farms," the group say. Fishermen can no longer fish these areas, which leads to more dangerous situations as they cannot take shelter in these safe spots anymore.

"Smaller vessels are often family-businesses. Being forced out of another area will cause loss of income and possibly fishermen going out of business."

Scottish National Heritage, meanwhile, said that the farm would have an impact on the coast nearby but it was for the council to decide whether any environmental effect would impact on local policies.Councillors on Highland Council refused the controversial proposals after a six hour debate.

Organic Sea Harvest were approached for comment.