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]
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]
Members of this campaign are deeply concerned that potential new management measures for Marine Protected Areas – announced this week – risk failing to protect and recover the very sea life which MPAs have been set up to protect. We are now launching a joint campaign urging the people of Scotland to tell the Scottish Government: ‘Don’t take the P out of MPAs.’
The proposals issued by the Scottish Government outline a range of scenarios for 20 inshore MPAs, some of which would allow fishing methods such as scallop-dredging and bottom-trawling to continue to damage seabed habitats. This on-going damage to the seafloor has wider, knock-on impacts for our other marine life such as fish, seabirds and marine mammals, which move around, feeding and breeding in these important areas of our sea. The plans are now the subject of a three month long public consultation, as Scottish Government staff tour coastal communities throughout November and December. Having assessed the consultation options, we are urging people to support stronger protection and support our ACTION: #DontTakeTheP
See below for more reaction from the campaign members: … [Continue Reading]
Campaigners from Scotland and across Europe are currently urging people to sign a petition asking the UK government to consider new regulations to better protect the deep sea in Scottish and UK waters.
To get to grips with what’s at stake, it’s worth first reflecting that our deep sea ecosystems have developed over countless centuries. Some species are extremely slow-growing: scientists estimate that it can take literally thousands of years for complex assemblages of deep-sea corals to develop. These are vital nursery areas for fish and the life-cycles of many other species. … [Continue Reading]
Today, the first ever Marine Conservation Order (MCO) was approved by the Scottish Parliament. The MCO – approved via a short-notice emergency procedure initiated by Marine Scotland, excludes all forms of fishing – and indeed any activity that could damage the seabed – in three areas near to the southern shores of the Isle of Arran. As many will know, North Lamlash Bay is the site of Scotland’s first and only No Take Zone and so this recent event in the Clyde once again marks a significant moment in the long and evolving story of Scotland’s seas.
For the past seven years, WWF has spread the worrying word about climate change by encouraging people around the world to reduce the energy consumption and take practical action for one hour by turning off their lights. Hopefully one day, all diaries, calendars and year-planners on the planet will have Earth Hour inked into the slot on the last Saturday in March, alongside St Patrick’s Day and other worldwide festivals. But as a new, present-day tradition is created, there are probably still a few organisations which are unlikely ever to be able to take part in Earth Hour. One that springs to mind is the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB). I don’t think it would … [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
WDC has handed over a huge 36,736 signatures from members of the public to Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, asking the Scottish Government to include whales and dolphins in Scotland’s new marine protected area network.
The handover of the signatures at the Scottish parliament by WDC’s head of policy in Scotland, Sarah Dolman, leading international minke whale expert, Dr Mike Tetley, and Ruaraigh the inflatable Risso’s dolphin was made just a day before Mr Lochhead made a public announcement regarding the Government’s plans for its marine protected area (MPA) network.
In February, WDC launched its campaign to ensure whales and dolphins are included in the list of species to be protected when the Scottish Government makes its decision on which areas of Scottish seas will be protected. In just a few months, WDC has received nearly 37,000 responses from concerned members of the public (including over 100 Scottish and international marine scientists) demonstrating the extreme level of feeling on the matter.
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of support received from the Scottish and international public on this matter and the sheer numbers speak for themselves. We are very pleased that Mr Lochhead agreed to meet with us to receive the signatures and so acknowledge the passionate public feeling on this matter”, said Sarah Dolman.
“Scotland’s seas are truly outstanding, and the Scottish MPA network is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect and showcase our amazing whales and dolphins along with other nationally important species and habitats.
“We know that the Scottish Government has the scientific data needed to include whales and dolphins in the MPA network – we helped supply it! They now have to choose whether to provide whales and dolphins with protected areas or to continue to neglect some of Scotland’s most iconic and precious marine species.”
The Scottish Government’s report to the Scottish Parliament contains no commitments to set up MPAs for the priority Scottish species identified, including minke whales, Risso’s dolphins, white beaked dolphins and basking sharks.
Plans announced today (14th December 2012) for 33 nature conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been welcomed by a coalition of Scotland’s environmental groups as an important step towards the much-needed recovery of Scotland’s seas.
Scottish Environment LINK’s marine taskforce contends that a network of Marine Protected Areas cannot afford to simply protect what’s left in Scotland’s seas, otherwise the marine environment will continue to decline. The eight organisations who collectively represent 460,000 memberships, believe that a network of MPAs must actively help recover the seabed and the marine life it supports, implementing the ambition of national legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament over two years ago. … [Continue Reading]