COAST secures boat for Arran’s MPA

An update from COAST’s winter newsletter:

Next spring COAST is due to take delivery of our very own custom-made vessel. The boat, which is being built by Phantom Marine in Great Yarmouth, will be a 9m catamaran with an array of special additions to enable research, citizen science, diving and education. The projected benefits to the Arran community, COAST and marine conservation are many.

Having our own boat will facilitate the advancement of marine scientific research in collaboration with leading Universities both nationally and internationally, to monitor the recovery of the marine ecosystem around Arran and the Firth of Clyde. We also aim to expand our own scientific monitoring and local citizen science, as the vessel will provide a suitable platform for full utilisation of remotely operated vehicles and drop-down pole cameras. But the boat’s business plan goes further than scientific research and citizen science; education and outreach are vital to inspire people to protect what they cannot see, and COAST recognise that the boat very much has a role to play in connecting with schools, locals and tourists to achieve this.

“The boats primary function is to support marine restoration activities, and promote a healthy marine environment; but it will also provide job opportunities on the island. Besides its primary use as a research boat, we are determined that it will enable both local school children and those attending the Arran Outdoor Education Centre the opportunity to get out on the water and be involved in their own citizen science projects.”
– Howard Wood, COAST co-founder

With 25 years of community-based experience, COAST knows that communities in action can effect real change and this has been highlighted by the progress of many of our colleagues in the marine conservation world this year. From Arran’s Love Millstone Point campaign success in fighting off an unwelcome fish farm, to seagrass restoration in Craignish, to our young friends at Sunnyside Primary being recognised as Nature Champions of the Decade – communities in action make a difference. We are pleased to say that the Scottish Government is slowly waking up to this, listening to voices in local coastal areas and realising that these are the people who will help Scotland recover its marine biodiversity and combat climate change.

COAST’s Executive Director, Andrew Binnie concludes: “this is an exciting two hundred thousand pound investment for COAST and underpins Arran’s reputation as a front runner in community-based marine conservation. We are looking forward to working with all of our stakeholders including North Ayrshire Council to realise the full benefits of this initiative. It was made possible through generous grants from NatureScot via the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, the Island Communities Fund and Fauna and Flora International Arcadia, to whom we extend our gratitude. We very much look forward to taking possession of the boat in the Spring of next year.”

Featured image photo: Sister vessel to COAST’s boat, being built by Phantom Marine in Great Yarmouth.