The south Arran MPA – more than hatchings on a map

by Stephen Brown, Kildonan

I have been a supporter of COAST for a number of years as a holidaymaker to the island. Having moved to the island recently the Marine Protected Area (MPA) moved from being an abstract concept with some intangible environmental objective, to the practical application of zoning fisheries activities to protect habitats like seagrass or maerl beds, where juvenile fish flourish on a bit of coastal line which is now my home. This cross over is where the challenge comes in. The abstract allowed me to read monthly newsletters, send the odd donation and write to my MSP on pertinent issues but the application of the abstract was in the hands of others. Now I am involved, I feel duty bound, obligated even, to play a part in protecting the area and in fact I am keen to add my practical support in the enforcement and defence of the hard won South Arran MPA.

Recently I have witnessed two incursions into the MPA near Pladda. One by a small commercial fishing boat, probably a trawling or dredging vessel. The other by a small rowing boat which rowed out from the shore and dropped pots in the protected no creel zone between Kildonan and Pladda.

From the website I was able to pick up the name and home port of the fishing vessel. This is a local mainland boat which I reported to COAST who in turn reported to Marine Scotland Compliance (MSC). The latter was a matter of wandering along to the beach to speak to the owner of the rowing boat about creeling within the no creel zone, which they were obviously unaware of, so I suggested they contact COAST or look up their website for details of the MPA and for the map which clearly showed the protected area and zones where creeling is prohibited. Within a short period of time they removed their pots and then dropped them outwith the no creel zone. The best outcome that could be hoped for.

Hopefully there will be contact by MSC with the commercial fishing boat sufficient to ensure no further breach of the MPA.

We can take possession of our MPA and by small actions help protect our marine environment and inform those who are not aware. I would recommend to anyone with similar sightings or experiences to contact COAST or go straight to the MSC web page and fill out an online form to report suspicious fishing activities. For more information download COAST´s KIPPER guide. Who knows, for every small input perhaps there just might be another worthwhile outcome.

Follow this link to the KIPPER guide to the MPA.