As North Atlantic coral populations are under threat from climate change, mountains beneath the sea, or “seamounts”, could hold the key to maintaining ecological links between them…. Read our guest blog by researcher Alan Fox delving into the deep and explaining why MPA networks need to account for a changing climate.
Growing up to 10m long, and often seen ‘basking’ with their huge mouths open at the surface, basking sharks cruise Scottish waters each summer. This gentle giant, the second largest fish in the world, was once fished commercially around Scotland for the oil in their huge livers. The commercial fishery for basking sharks severely depleted their numbers. A once common but now rare sight, it is thought basking shark populations have decreased by 80% since the 1950s.
… [Continue Reading]
Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth, its biological diversity. Healthy habitats form the foundations of healthy and biologically diverse ecosystems that provide many ecological benefits. There is growing recognition among scientists that ecosystems with high levels of biodiversity are more stable and resilient to change, such as those caused by coastal and offshore development, fishing activity and those predicted with climate change. While unhealthy ecosystems can have negative knock-on effects through society, healthy marine ecosystems can result in greater long-term benefits to society, such as food provision, minerals, storm and flood protection, and they can also store carbon … [Continue Reading]
What a year 2016 has been. From demonstrations to consultations, there have been ups and downs this year but we’ve seen great strides for marine conservation, including the first round of Marine Conservation Orders and Inshore Fishing Orders to protect our most vulnerable inshore sites coming into force, the UK’s first and Europe’s largest harbour porpoise Special Area of Conservation and designation of the first demonstration and research MPA around Fair Isle. We’d like to thank you for your support and for taking part in helping get Scotland’s seas on course to an ecologically richer future.
Before we get caught up in all that 2017 has in store, here’s a quick look back at some of the key events in Scotland’s seas this year. … [Continue Reading]
Scotland’s offshore waters are far out, but we don’t want them to be out of mind. They are home to ancient, vulnerable deepwater coral reefs and sponges, ghostly fields of tall sea pen, unusual methane-seeps, aggregations of ocean quahog – among the oldest living things on the planet. They provide habitat for keystone species such as sandeels – small shoaling fish that are an essential food source for diving birds, such as puffins, seals, porpoises, and bigger fish, including many commercial species. … [Continue Reading]
Scottish Water proposals to downgrade the sewage treatment system in Gairloch could have far-reaching implications for the health of local waters and the communities that rely upon them…
Scottish Water is pushing ahead with controversial plans to downgrade a water treatment works at one of the most popular beaches in the Highlands. The sewage treatment plant at Fasaich discharges less than 1500m away from the beach at Sands, Loch Gairloch. Concerned members of the local community fear that the proposed discharge of effluent would start failing standards required for a public bathing water, … [Continue Reading]
There are a lot of heads swimming right now, as Brexit puts the proverbial shark amongst the mackerel. ‘Leaving the EU’ (whatever that actually ends up meaning in the evolving, devolving politics of the UK) does in theory have very significant implications for the management of our seas. Perhaps more than any other policy sphere or industry, managing our sea area demands deep cooperation across national borders. Ocean currents and energy sources flow across our territorial boundaries and so do a lot of other things: fish, pollutants, boats, whales and people. What happens in one part of the sea often affects everyone else – we are all connected. It’s a simple fact, with complicated political consequences.
Brexit presents a challenge. Over the last 40+ years, our politicians have engaged … [Continue Reading]
Two years ago, the Scottish Government made the historic announcement designating 30 new, and much needed, nature conservation marine protected areas in Scotland’s seas. It was the 24th July 2014 and on the same day, the Scottish Government also announced their intentions to progress 4 further nature conservation MPAs for the protection of some of Scotland’s most iconic species, such as basking sharks, minke whales and the unusual Risso’s dolphin, and 14 long-awaited Special Protection Areas for threatened seabird species. … [Continue Reading]
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.