2017 has been a great year for COAST, with more community members than ever joining us and renovating Arran’s new marine hub on Lamlash Bay. From this centre we explore, research, educate and campaign for sustainable coastal and marine activities in our Marine Protected Area.
Last week we were surprised to see budget cuts for SNH and SEPA, Scotland’s environmental advisers and regulators. Our government needs to put its money where its mouth is; Nicola Sturgeon and her Cabinet Secretaries have committed to EU law, protecting biodiversity and “urgent action” on climate change. “my ambition is to carry through not just the letter of EU environmental law but also the underlying principles of precaution, prevention and rectifying pollution at source, as well as the ‘polluter pays’ principle”. This is vital for Arran, where our livelihood and wellbeing depend on healthy, biodiverse coasts and seas.
So here is what we want for 2018 and we’ll be working hard to make it happen!
#1 A profound reform of Scotland’s open cage salmon industry and inshore fisheries management. Arran is determined to pioneer local, inclusive and fair marine planning and management. Our community’s voice continues to be heard via COAST’s presence in the Salmon Aquaculture Reform Network Scotland (SARNS) and the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership (CMPP).
#2 More coastal community empowerment. We are excited and proud to be part of the Coastal Communities Network; agents of change for marine conservation and management in Scotland, we’ll be sharing our knowledge, experiences and resources. The Islands Bill may give islands more say in the licensing of local marine development but we believe activities like scallop dredging and fish farming need to be included.
#3 Open our community-led marine activity centre in Lamlash by summer 2018, following some final renovation works and purchase of equipment. Our base of local supporters and volunteers keeps growing: local designers, accountants, school children, plumbers, engineers, biologists, lawyers, musicians, swimmers, teachers, artists and divers will continue to help us make a success story of our MPA. We can’t wait to start with new indoor and outdoor activities and learning opportunities for everyone!
#4 Enhanced protection of Scotland’s priority marine features and effective management of our protected areas. We can’t afford any more ‘legal destruction’ like Loch Carron; Roseanna Cunningham introduced an emergency MPA and dredging ban after the event. Management measures in 50% of the designated protected areas have yet to be put in place by the government Marine Scotland Protected Area Management and this continues to be delayed.
#5 More citizen-led science with volunteers and research students. We’ll be working on more participatory research projects where the community can find out the answers to its own questions about fishing effort, water quality, seabed restoration, MPA compliance, and other local issues. We’ll continue to collaborate with universities and key partners in Scotland.
A Happy New Year to you all!