Scottish Environment LINK’s Marine Group recently joined the membership of the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership (CMPP), one of the first Regional Marine Planning Partnerships (RMPPs) in Scotland. The CMPP was formed in February 2016, following establishment of 11 Scottish Marine Regions and will be a new regional tier of governance to take forward marine spatial planning in the Clyde marine area, as delegated by the Scottish Government (see the CMPP constitution and membership). Scottish Environment LINK view marine spatial planning as a vital opportunity to improve the health of our marine area, a perspective which has been outlined in our Living with the Seas report.
This summer, amidst the complexity of Brexit, the European Parliament took action to reduce the damage wrought by one of the most destructive forms of fishing. A regulation on the deep sea bottom-trawling was finally agreed which established a prohibition of the practice of dragging heavily weighted nets along the seafloor below 800 meters in European Union waters (EEZs) of the North Sea and the northeast Atlantic Ocean. It also prohibits bottom-trawling by EU vessels in the international waters of the central Atlantic off west Africa outside of the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands EEZs. About time too.
The pre-history of this Regulation was (as this blog helped document) a long and challenging saga and requiring hard and patient campaigning, but the result has now been hailed as one of the most progressive and bold measures taken by the European Union to halt damaging fishing practices. It is hoped that if effectively enforced, then it will put in place the conditions for environmental recovery. The Regulation will apply to approximately 932,000 square kilometres of Europe’s deep sea. But the most crucial area is the 143,000 km2 of primarily continental slope along the European margin between 800 and 1,500 meters depth (the maximum depth to which trawlers drop bottom-towed nets). This area is recognized to be an area of high diversity of fish species and rich in deep-water bottom habitat-forming species such as cold water reefs, coral gardens, deep-sea sponges and infaunnal sediment ecosystems.
Protecting these ecosystems is a long-term investment in the sustainability of our fishing industry. Our campaign members are also engaging in the future discussion around the crucial fisheries management of Offshore MPAs in Scottish waters – where vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) at depths shallower than 800m will need additional protection: more on this in future newsletters.
A new report has shown that rare species could re-colonise Scotland’s seabed if given a chance to recover. The study – using predictive modelling to understand the distribution of Fan Mussels – reveals the massive potential of Scotland’s Marine Protected Areas to enrich the health and complexity of our seabed.
Fan Mussels (Atrina fragilis) is one of the largest and rarest bivalve molluscs in UK waters and is listed among the most threatened species in the North Atlantic. The authors explain that the “distribution of A. fragilis is known to be negatively affected by benthic fishing practices), as fishing gears can damage the emergent portions of the fragile shell and dislodge the animal. The first pass of benthic fishing gears has the greatest impact … [Continue Reading]
Our new report ‘Living with the seas’ outlines a forward-sighted vision for marine planning to take a lead role in environmental recovery. Launched by Scottish Environment LINK’s Marine Group, the report sets out key recommendations for how Scotland’s marine environment should be managed. At its core, the report argues that the Scottish Government, local authorities and Regional Marine Planning Partnerships should ‘plan for recovery’ by seeking opportunities to enhance our marine environment via the planning system. The authors of the report make clear that regional marine plans must be well-resourced to be effective and that mechanisms for strong, meaningful participation must empower coastal communities and underpin good decision-making. We wrote a press release about it here.
Countless millions of cotton buds are now polluting our seas. In this guest blog, Fidra’s Clare Cavers explains the background to the Cotton Bud Project and what is being done to tackle this plastic problem at source…
Visit the beach and you may well find yourself scanning the tideline for that perfect pebble or shell, only to find a litter of man-made objects amongst the natural debris. In the tangles of seaweed are lots of little plastic sticks, often mistaken for lollipop sticks or straws, but actually the remains of some of the hundreds of thousands of cotton buds flushed down toilets every week in the UK.
Because of their size and shape, plastic cotton bud sticks slip through wastewater … [Continue Reading]
Our Marine Group members took part in a conference dedicated to marine spatial planning, Sea Scotland 2016. The conference, which attracted delegates from across Scotland and beyond, was co-organised by seven organisations, including Scottish Environment LINK. Following a gathering swell of interest from marine planners, community stakeholders, policy-makers, MSPs and representatives of marine industry, the conference welcomed around 100 delegates … [Continue Reading]
The Ministry of Defence is tasked to ‘defend the realm’ – Sarah Dolman, Senior Policy Manager for Whale & Dolphin Conservation explains that do that, it must improve the assessment of its own environmental impacts
Joint Warrior is the largest multi-ship, multinational, multi threat exercise led by the Royal Navy in UK Waters. Taking place bi-annually with activities generally concentrated in the waters West of Scotland or in the Northern North Sea, the waters off East Scotland and at times in the Irish Sea. Exercise Joint Warrior ended this weekend and will continue for 2 weeks again in October.
Exercise Griffin Strike was a one off bi-national, joint service, … [Continue Reading]
Most eyes are on the UK’s EU ‘in-or-out’ referendum, but meanwhile our MEPs are considering important fisheries decisions; namely whether we act now to place urgent limits on deep sea bottom-trawling
Over the next few weeks (or possibly months), European representatives should – after years of negotiation and political delays – decide how best to regulate the damaging effects of deep sea bottom-trawling across European waters and to sustainably manage vulnerable deep-sea fish. Deep sea bottom-trawling is a form of fishing that tows weighted nets across the seafloor at depths … [Continue Reading]
It is being hailed as an innovative step for local marine research: the community of Fair Isle is now setting in motion Scotland’s first Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area….
A few weeks ago, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on a special approach to marine protection – the first of its kind in Scotland. And for the community of Fair Isle it is a huge milestone in a long … [Continue Reading]
FOI requests from Whale & Dolphin Conservation reveal the back-story, but the bigger picture is that we risk missing a chance to coordinate on management
In January the JNCC and Natural Resource Wales launched a consultation on setting up marine sites to protect harbour porpoise in English, Northern Irish and Welsh waters. Unfortunately due to questions about the quality of underpinning evidence, the Scottish Government delayed proposals for … [Continue Reading]