Getting our act together to save our seas – news from COAST

A round-up of news from COAST, who report on some great successes for coastal community campaigns at the end of 2018 and leave us with a positive message to take forward into the new year.

Coastal stakeholders succeed with three major breakthroughs for healthier Scottish seas

If you care about people and the planet then Trump’s recent denial of scientists’ assessment of climate change impacts, as well as the uncertainty of where Scottish environmental regulations and funding will stand post-BREXIT, may be getting to you.

But don’t be discouraged, we have some good news. Scottish communities are proving that when we campaign together, fishers from all sectors, shellfish associations, seafood exporters, business interests, scientists, environmental groups…people will listen. When we present the facts and also the stories behind these, we attract the support of the public, respected scientists and local constituents, and we can get our politicians to take action.

This is how communities have achieved three very important outcomes. The first being the Scottish Parliament’s ban on mechanical kelp dredging. The second is the recommendations of the REC Committee to urgently tighten current “light touch” regulations before further salmon farming development.The third is the introduction of a more effective and comprehensive vessel monitoring system, co-funded by the EU, to protect important habitats from illegal dredging, improve traceability and provide more reliable data for decision making.

In their discourse, our government is all for applying the precautionary principle, using ecosystem-based management and promoting blue carbon and local sustainable economies. But in reality they are dragging their feet when it comes to reforming a dysfunctional framework of marine management and governance, where Marine Scotland are expected to increase profits from marine activities whilst apparently safeguarding our seas. This governance needs a major overhaul, it is just not good enough to meet the challenges and pressure our seas are facing.

This major reform can include specific measures such as a 3 mile limit (the re-introduction of the zone where trawlers or dredgers cannot fish) and Sustainable Six. It should embrace inclusive, bottom-up marine spatial management plans that set out achievable goals to guarantee the health of our marine ecosystem and sustainable livelihoods. To this end, we will continue to support and be actively involved in the Clyde Marine Plan and continue to attract resources to our community-led MPA Management Plan Project to ensure effective marine protected area management.

There will be no resting on our laurels until our government gets a grip and limits short-sighted and damaging marine extractive activities, and instead supports and encourages existing and new sustainable and local marine enterprises, within a robustly administered legal framework to protect our extraordinary seas.