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]
Placing proportionate limits on bottom-towed fishing could help boost long-term jobs in fragile rural communities, as well as protect the environment, contend a coalition of Scottish charities. The Scottish Government is due to announce measures for managing fishing in several Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) later this month. Scottish Environment LINK’s Marine Taskforce has written to the Scottish Parliament with the findings of an economic review which highlights the benefits that protection of seabed habitats could provide.
Drawing on the report, the environmental groups say that if the Scottish Government … [Continue Reading]
How we manage our deep seas and offshore fisheries are vital questions for Scotland’s future. And yet democratic opportunities for public feedback are few and far between. Our blog explores the problem and suggests a few solutions…
Within 12 nautical miles of Scotland’s coastline are Scotland’s territorial waters, our inshore. But our Scottish Government also has executively devolved responsibility for the management of our offshore waters, from 12nm-200nm. This is a vast area, covering 371,859 square kilometres, around three times our land mass and a volume of sea that is difficult to conceive. It is also brimming with natural assets that we still don’t know that much about yet. What we do know is that many areas of deep sea are fragile, rich, slow-growing habitats which sustain incredible … [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]
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.
In August, Glasgow hosted the International Marine Conservation Congress. This was a big deal. Over an intense week, the world’s most creative and motivated minds in marine science gathered together to discuss solutions to the urgent problems facing our shared ocean. It was also – in domestic terms – very timely. Here in Scotland, we have just put in place 30 new Marine Protected Areas; countries all across the globe are beginning to develop MPAs. The eyes of the world’s marine conservation and planning community were on Scotland’s contribution to the debate. So what did they think? The opinion-soup of social media is an imperfect tool for monitoring such things, but well… so are feedback forms, so here’s … [Continue Reading]
This summer, the Scottish Government will set up as many as 33 new nature conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scotland’s seas. This is a watershed moment for our seas, which have been damaged by decades of unsustainable use. Over 10,000 people voiced their support for MPAs during the Scottish consultation in 2013. The politicians are now deciding what MPAs to designate – so this is a crucial time to remember why we need MPAs.
For the months of June and July we will be highlighting each of the proposed MPAs with a few vital facts about each MPA – an online summer study in marine conservation! If you support MPAs, share this around via Facebook and Twitter. … [Continue Reading]
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]
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 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