COAST publishes regular newsletters highlighting issues relating to the marine environment of Arran the Clyde, Scottish and international, coastal waters.
Prawn trawl lobby tries to undermine Scottish Government MPAs
Coastal communities bombarded with scare stories and spin
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designed to protect marine species and habitats (many of which are also fish nursery grounds), while at the same time allowing nearly all of the marine activities which already occur in these areas to continue. They are not No Take Zones. The Arran MPA will still allow bottom trawling in 36% of the area and in 51% of the Upper Loch Fyne MPA for instance. MPAs will encourage well-managed creeling and trawling, scallop diving, wildlife tourism and eventually, if managed effectively, a return of sea angling - all activities which used to support a far greater diversity and number of jobs around the Clyde than exist now.
Howard Wood, COAST Chair and a Clyde diver with 40 years experience, puts it this way: 'The Clyde belongs to us all and must be managed in the public interest, as Marine Scotland is attempting to do. The South Arran MPA trawling restrictions on vulnerable habitats such as seagrass meadows, burrowed mud and maerl beds equal less than 5% of Clyde waters. Big compromises have been made by the Government and communities like COAST, yet incredibly the mobile fishing lobby continues to make alarmist and unsubstantiated claims that these modest MPAs will 'decimate' communities. Ironically, it was bottom trawling which our predecessors (mainly fishermen) fought hard to get banned in the 1890s - to preserve the viability of fishing communities! They were wise. Since bans on bottom trawling in the Clyde were lifted in the 1960s and 80s our white fish stocks have declined to the point of being commercially unviable and sea anglers now go to Norway instead of coming to the Clyde. Poor leadership and a lack of management has cost the Clyde hundreds of jobs and deprived Scotland of an affordable food source. MPAs can play an important part in redressing this situation and Marine Scotland needs our continued support as they finalise management for the MPA network'.
Nicola Sturgeon, who's Government must be congratulated on progressing a well-balanced MPA network for Scotland, said at the World Forum on Natural Capital held last month: 'Economic growth cannot be sustained if it comes at a continuing and unsustainable cost to our natural resources...We should not reduce natural capital for our own temporary benefit, at the expense of future generations'.
How disappointing then that the well-healed mobile prawn lobby is doing everything in its power to undermine the Scottish Government's proposals for effective MPA management and is prepared to mislead coastal communities with scaremongering to achieve its ends. Please contact your MSP to let them know Scotland's 30 designated MPAs need immediate and effective management.
Read the full newsletter here.
It is not hard to see the benefits of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - for the marine environment itself, and also for all of us who depend on it for food, leisure and jobs - so it was disappointing when leaders of the mobile fishing lobby launched a well-funded campaign against the Scottish Government’s MPA management proposals this summer. Many alarmist and socially divisive claims are being made by this campaign which bear no relation to the scope and impact of the Government’s draft Marine Conservation Orders (MCOs).
Under pressure, the Rural Affairs Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) was obliged to hear additional submissions from some fisheries stakeholders (no one else was invited), a process which has delayed MCOs by at least three months. COAST, therefore, welcomes RACCE's letter to Richard Lochhead following its consideration of the MPA network, and its insistence that ‘full implementation of MPAs is brought into effect as soon as possible’ and no later than by the end of this parliamentary session (March 2016). This is especially important since the Scottish Government has a legal duty under Scottish, UK and EU legislation to have a well-managed network of MPAs in place by 2016. Time is running out fast.
To the credit of the Scottish Government, Marine Scotland and SNH thirty MPAs were designated last July in the seas around Scotland as a first step towards full MPA implementation.
To put things in perspective inshore MPAs will constitute just 3.5% of Scottish inshore waters. Management measures under the MCOs are expected to impact less than 3% of mobile fishing turnover (this is a worst case scenario which assumes no displacement of fishing effort to other fishing grounds). The locations of MPAs were carefully chosen to maximize conservation objectives and minimize the impact on current fishing activity. Even so, MPAs are expected to have a positive spill-over effect on fisheries by protecting complex seabed areas which serve as spawning and nursery grounds for our wider seas. They will also reduce gear conflict between the mobile and static sectors and boost the diversity and resilience of local economies by encouraging sustainable fishing and bolstering marine tourism and leisure industries. These all thrive upon a vibrant marine environment so it makes common sense to look after our marine life.
In extensive MPA consultations conducted by Marine Scotland the Scottish public has been very supportive of MPA designations and the sustainable management of our seas, which are a vital and extremely valuable public resource. As Richard Lochhead said at the recent Inshore Fisheries Conference: ‘Scotland's seas are not owned by any one individual or vested interest’. COAST believes it is time for balanced and enlightened self-interest for the benefit of future fishers and all marine stakeholders. MPAs are an important step forwards. Let’s get on with the job and be proud of them.
For more information please contact:
COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust)
Tel: 01770 600656
Scottish charity No. SC042088
Photo: Nudibranch photographed by Angus Robson, taken in the South Arran Marine Protected Area. See http://www.arransealife.co.uk/
COAST urges the Rural Affairs, Climate Change & Environment Committee (RACCE) to give Richard Lochhead and the Scottish Government its full support
Despite considerable pressure from the mobile fishing lobby, who seem intent on ruining the Scottish Government's best efforts to create a well-managed network of MPAs, Richard Lochhead is determined Scotland will have a credible MPA network. At the recent Inshore Fisheries Conference he said 'Scotland's seas are not owned by any one individual or vested interest '. This is important not just for the South Arran MPA but also for the MPA network and Scotland's future as a productive, maritime society. He is correct to point out that representatives from a particular sector have no right to turn public policy on its head. In fact at the outset MPAs were delineated by Marine Scotland in a way that minimized impact on mobile fishers. And already, Arran has been asked to accept trawling in 36% of its MPA; Upper Loch Fyne will, sadly, nearly all be open to trawlers. Many compromises are already built into the network which can only succeed in creating a healthier marine environment if it offers real protection within the small areas designated. Further watering down and delays will turn MPAs into paper parks rather than a source of pride.
Coastal communities need healthy biodiverse seas that support a diversity of marine jobs, not vulnerable monocultures benefiting only a few. MPAs have a critical part to play in marine recovery and in creating jobs for young and old. We therefore encourage the RACCE committee to give Richard Lochhead its full support in passing his MPA Marine Conservation Orders into law without further delay. Marine Scotland has held over 100 consultations since 2011. Our descendants will not thank us if, we once again, cave-in to narrow interests who care little about a shared marine future.
Read Richard Lochhead's response to RACCE and mobile special pleading here.
Read the full October 2015 Newsletter
Scotland's coastal communities deserve ambition, not scare stories
The Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Richard Lochhead, has a public duty to be 'ambitious' for Scotland's coastal communities and marine environment. Yet interests promoting the controversial practices of scallop dredging and bottom trawling are attacking him for using this word in relation to what are actually very modest Marine Protected Area (MPA) management proposals.
Read the full newsletter here
Dredger ban for South Arran Marine Protected Area and other west coast MPAs: COAST congratulates Richard Lochhead on listening to coastal communities, marine scientists and economists.
In a broadly welcome statement Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, announced yesterday that a Marine Conservation Order (MCO) will be put before parliament this week setting out conservation measures including banning the highly destructive practice of scallop dredging within the South Arran Marine Protected Area and other west coast MPAs. COAST has campaigned hard to end this damaging activity in Arran’s MPA which was designated in 2014 and we congratulate the Minister on listening to coastal communities, marine scientists and economists on this issue.