Over 10,000 people have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation in support of plans to set up a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Scottish waters. The 16-week consultation – which ran throughout the summer – closed in mid-November and canvassed views on MPA sites around the Scottish coast as well as feedback about the plans in general. Campaigning by environmental charities in Scotland led to a groundswell of support for the MPAs, but also highlighted that the network needs to fill in the ‘ecological gaps’ by creating sites for seabirds, whales, dolphins and other vulnerable seabed species and habitats currently afforded inadequate protection from a growing range of pressures at sea. You can read coverage of the coalition campaign here. View a BBC Scotland slideshow of marine pictures here
Over 30 events have been held across Scotland since August about government plans to develop a network of MPAs. Peter Cunningham, biologist at the Wester Ross Fisheries Trust – who attended an event in Poolewe – says that local engagement with the proposal is essential…
Around 30 local people attended our local Marine Protected Area (MPA) drop-in event in September. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) staff were on hand to explain the North West Sea Lochs and Summer Isles MPA proposal and offer more information about the underpinning science. It provided a very useful forum to air and discuss emerging views on the proposed MPA. The proposed MPA encompasses … [Continue Reading]
People have a once-in-a-generation chance to shape the management of Scotland’s seas, say the eight members of Scottish Environment LINK. The Save Scottish Seas campaigners have launched an action on this website to help people engage with a major public consultation on a proposed network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The network is vital to secure the environmental recovery of Scotland’s seas and is part of a new marine planning system which will determine the future health of the marine environment and the sustainability of development at sea.
Taking part in this online campaign is a chance to show your support for MPAs and the recovery of our seas. Read coverage of the campaign on the BBC website.
Could interlinked fish and crustacean populations affect the declining health of local seagrass beds? Peter Cunningham of the Wester Ross Fisheries Trust explores the possibility in light of fresh research from across the pond…
Recently I had a snorkel along the shore of Loch Ewe where we tried to re-establish some seagrass in an area where a few years ago a small area of seagrass had disappeared.
Last winter, on the other side of the peninsula by mouth of Loch Gairloch, we found lots of stranded rootlets and fragments of seagrass on the shore at Big Sand; so the idea was to try to see if we could get the cuttings to root along the shore of Loch Ewe. … [Continue Reading]
It was an unlikely venue. In a plush, carpeted function suite of the Radisson Blu hotel in the centre of Scotland’s capital and amidst the countless shows of Edinburgh’s famous Festival, a very different event was being performed by the Scottish Government…
Monday 19th August saw the first of Marine Scotland’s (the Marine Directorate of Scotland’s civil service) national presentations to showcase its consultation ‘Planning Scotland’s Seas.’ It had the informal format of a drop-in session, where anyone could wander in – escape the Festival scrum – and talk directly with marine planners, scientists and policy-makers and then watch a short presentation followed by a Q&A. … [Continue Reading]
Scottish Government proposals announced today have the potential to help reverse hundreds of years of environmental decline in our seas, say a coalition of environmental groups. Plans for a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were launched via public consultation today alongside the National Marine Plan, a new plan for sustainable development at sea. The MPAs have the potential to recover and manage the ecological health of Scotland’s seas that have suffered from centuries of pollution, overfishing and damage to the seabed. … [Continue Reading]
Read why Heriot-Watt researchers need an injection of capital to pioneer some world-leading technology that could transform the way we do nature conservation at sea…
Could robots help to save the world’s fragile and increasingly damaged coral reefs? It’s an astonishing idea conceived and developed by researchers at Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University.
By developing complex, swarm-based algorithms, the researchers hope to build intelligent submersible robots that could recognise underwater coral species and help to rebuild sections of reef. The brainchild of some healthy cross-departmental pollination at the annual “Heriot-Watt Crucible,” the idea is ambitious and potentially transformative. … [Continue Reading]
A parliamentary report highlighting a chronic “lack of clarity” with English marine protection plans sends a strong signal to the Scottish Government about its proposals for a marine protected area network to safeguard Scotland’s marine biodiversity.
The report by the cross-party UK Science and Technology Committee describes the “frustration” and “anxiety” for industry and other stakeholders caused during efforts to create Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in England. The consultation is being viewed by many Scottish stakeholders as a stark lesson about the potential pitfalls for Scotland’s Marine Protected Area project if not implemented robustly and … [Continue Reading]
The future of Scotland’s sealife depends on a planning system for the sea, according to a committee of MSPs. In a letter sent to Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change on Monday, MSPs on the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee stressed the importance of a coordinated National Marine Plan to ensure the sustainability of offshore development.
The comments on the Scottish Government’s biodiversity strategy, have been welcomed by the members of Scottish Environment LINK, who warn that Scotland’s marine life is under increasing pressure from a range of threats, such as climate change and industrial activities at sea. Scotland’s Marine Atlas, a compendium of scientific knowledge about Scottish seas, documents the worrying declines of many marine species and habitats. … [Continue Reading]
The people of Fair Isle are calling for better protection of their local marine environment. Nick Riddiford, chair of the Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative explains why a Marine Protected Area would help safeguard their sea, and their community.
For the last 24 years the Fair Isle community, concerned at steady and unremitting damage to its marine environment, has been active in trying to reverse the process.
This has culminated in a proposal to the Scottish Government for a Marine Protected Area for Fair Isle waters, submitted to the Government’s Marine Scotland in December 2011. The proposal has the backing of every person on the isle, as a healthy marine environment underpins the social and economic well-being of the isle.
The isle has been occupied continuously for at least 2000 years and archaeological investigations have demonstrated that there were people living here 5000 years ago. Fair Isle is 42 kilometres (28 miles) from the nearest land in any direction. A community would not have survived without using its resources in a sustainable manner. It was not in a position to use up its resources, then go and exploit resources elsewhere. That remains the situation today.
The seas around Fair Isle have always played an essential part in community life and continue to do so. We recognise that safeguarding the resource also safeguards the future of our island. That resource now includes the public, drawn to the isle by its marvellous wildlife, scenery and maritime culture. We owe it to them. We owe it to our children.
In 1995 the community formalised its efforts through the Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI), an initiative led by the islanders in partnership with Fair Isle Bird Observatory and the National Trust for Scotland.
FIMETI, perceiving no action from other bodies, set out to provide a catalyst for urgent progress towards proper, sustainable management of the Fair Isle marine resource. It has engaged in a plethora of activities, including an international sustainable resource management project, the production of a policy report Safeguarding Our Heritage – the Fair Isle Marine Resource, participation in the Scottish Government’s Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (SSMEI Shetland pilot study) and much more. But it is yet to achieve its primary aim of bringing a sustainable management programme to a resource which the community sees as crucial to its long-term development and well-being.
Despite this lack of achievement, the community identifies a new opportunity with the prospect of a network of Marine Protected Areas in Scottish waters. Fair Isle’s seas remain rich, despite a marine environment subject to continued enormous pressure. In addition, the isle has a series of facilities which would make it an ideal site for a Demonstration and Research MPA. In this way it could act as a pilot site for testing appropriate management measures and provide a model for coastal communities throughout Scotland.
An MPA would also meet the Scottish Government’s obligation within the Council of Europe. Fair Isle has held the Council of Europe Diploma since 1985, one of just two sites in Scotland. In 2010 a condition was signed by the Council’s Committee of Ministers – representing all 47 participating countries – that the Scottish and UK Government’s should use their powers to establish a protected marine area for Fair Isle. If this is not done, Fair Isle will lose its Diploma and Scotland one of its only two sites.
FIMETI remains the community’s voice on the issue. Just about everyone, from school children upwards have been involved in FIMETI activities over the years, including the preparation of the MPA proposal. This is clearly demonstrated in a series of newsletters entitled Making Waves. The latest Making Waves (Issue 10) has just been published. It has been described as “a good read” but also displays the range of maritime activities, and qualities, which makes Fair Isle such a special place. We invite you to read it here