COAST calls for vision on marine protection

Writing in their recent newsletter, COAST call for the political parties to make stronger commitments to protecting our marine ecosystems:

In the lead up to the elections in May we are asking parties to set out their vision for Scotland’s seas. Alarmingly, our seas have continued to decline over the last decade. As we enter the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration it is clear we have a lot of work to do to recover, restore and conserve our precious marine ecosystems.

COAST is calling for Scotland’s political parties to put forward a truly visionary plan for the recovery of our seas in advance of the elections in May. In particular, we are asking every party to state clearly what, when and how they will reverse the decline and mismanagement of our inshore waters. We are requesting parties to publish their marine manifesto proposals by mid-April for public scrutiny.

A commitment to change is a vital first step if we are to see our seas, and the jobs that depend on healthy productive waters, recover. Currently short-sightedness, and a lack of vision on the part of Fergus Ewing Cabinet Seretary for the Rural Economy, is stultifying progress. To illustrate this a landmark judgement, given by Lady Poole, found that the Scottish Ministers and Marine Scotland acted unlawfully in their actions to block the Isle of Skye Inner Sound Pilot scheme.

“the legitimate expectation I have found to exist is a misuse of the Scottish Ministers’ powers, and that their decision was ‘irrational’.”
– Lady Poole

This initiative, rejected by Scottish Ministers in 2018, would have resulted in a controlled experiment over a designated area of seabed, gathering additional evidence on the benefits of low impact static gear as opposed to destructive mobile bottom gear. Ultimately, this is another missed opportunity by the Scottish Government to build on the overwhelmingly positive environmental and ecosystem benefits data we already have from areas like the South Arran Marine Protected Area.

Deplorably, the Scottish Government’s response, again led by Fergus Ewing, has been to appeal the decision by Lady Poole. This is not good enough – there is an urgent need for real vision and policy change.

COAST looks forward to hearing how Scotland’s parties plan to bring about marine management change that truly benefits the environment and the coastal communities that rely upon it for their livelihoods.

Image Credit: Gus Robson (Leigh Howarth and Howard Wood surveying Lamlash Bay No Take Zone)

To keep up to date with COAST’s work please visit their website and Facebook pages.

Featured image credit: Howard Wood