Getting our act together to save our seas

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 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.

Photo credit: George Brown

At the Octopus Centre
The Octopus party
Read all about how hundreds of COAST friends and followers made the Opening of Scotland's first community-led Marine Protected Area Visitor Centre and 10th Anniversary of the No Take Zone a very special day in this great picture story by the Voice of Arran.
Photo credits: David Hogg
Sharks, whales and hungry creatures
Our Octopus Centre visitors are learning all about local sealife. After local sightings of basking sharks we showed a fantastic film about them by Doug Anderson and John Aitchison followed by FAQs and a craft workshop. We also hosted a talk about local marine mammals and a new trail with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. Every Friday we welcome the public to join us at feeding time to find out what anemones eat or what happens when two crabs go for the same meal!
Species of the month
Feeding time for Larry the long-clawed squat lobster
Squat lobsters
The big-eyed, bright orange long-clawed squat lobster likes to sit out "at the entrance to its hole, typically excavated from sand under a boulder or rock ledge. It often sits with claws raised in defence, but ready to retreat if threatened". More about squatties by Sue Scott in Dive Magazine and watch a local one enjoying its meal at the Octopus Centre above.
Coming up soon
Poetry gig "About the Sea"
Arran Poets and COAST invite you to an evening of poetry. Bring your own poem to read, or one by your favourite poet. It could be about fishing, seaweed or sea bathing, rock, sand or tide, boat, ship or ferry or anything else you can think of.
Plastic persists
Recently interviewed by Paddle against Plastic's Cal Major for her new film, at COAST we continue to carry out marine litter surveys. MCS's Great British Beach Clean report has revealed that despite citizen surveyors finding lower amounts of litter compared to last year (16% decrease), the problem isn't going away: "On average, each 100m stretch contained 189 plastic or polystyrene pieces, 38 plastic caps or lids, 21 cotton bud sticks and 16 plastic bottles and cans".
Help COAST this Christmas!
If you are stuck for an idea of what to get a friend for Christmas, or would like to give us a donation to help us with our educational, research and campaign work next year, please click on our yellow donate button just below.
Photo credit: Dawn Watson/Rob Spray

Marine Campaigns
Helped the kelp!
Young Ruaridh (see our previous newsletter), sustainable seaweed harvesters like Ailsa McLellan, Ullapool Sea Savers, SIFT, fishers, divers, eNGOs, scientists, and all who campaigned to protect our kelp forests are celebrating that the Scottish Parliament has passed the new Crown Estates Bill with an amendment that bans any form of mechanical kelp dredging that uproots whole plants. Coastal communities welcome Roseanna Cunningham's announced review of marine licensing, including kelp harvesting, to ensure sustainability going forward.
Photo credit: Dawn Watson/Rob Spray
Community meets regulators and enforcers
SEPA's Terry A'Hearn kicked off, on Arran, a series of meetings with coastal communities to ask them to engage in "a major overhaul" of standards, monitoring and enforcement for fish farms following a shocking report on the long term pesticide residues polluting Scotland's seabeds. Please respond to the consultation; it closes on Christmas Eve. 

Marine Scotland Compliance also met our community at the Octopus Centre this month, explaining how reports of suspected illegal fishing are dealt with, focusing on examples submitted from Arran residents, to elaborate on how we can best provide the information they need. More details on the meeting can be read here.
Marine Policy and Research
MSPs want effective salmon farming control
Although a halt to uncontrolled expansion was the desired outcome, COAST and the Coastal Communities Network (read statement here) are pleased that the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has laid out sixty three recommendations, in a new report, for "urgent and meaningful action..." . The industry and government must follow these if this activity is to continue to operate in Scotland. Alarming and wide ranging environmental and health issues along with embarrassingly inadequate management and cavalier expansion,  under Fergus Ewing's watch, has led MSPs from all parties to agree that "the status quo is not an option".
Monitoring needed ASAP to stop illegal dredging
Read this article from Open Seas about another illegal scallop dredging incident in Loch Gairloch, the vulnerability of our protected areas, and how effective monitoring and compliance is paramount.
Marine Scotland is being asked by the Scottish White Fish Producers' Association and most coastal stakeholders to bring forward the new monitoring systems and "tougher legislation" that would cover the under-12m fleet .
COAST is committed to ensure that buffer zones are placed around MPAs and not just where individual sensitive priority marine features are recorded.
Video of the month
Whiting Bay seagrass
How many species can you identify in this video taken this autumn in Arran's MPA by Andy Jackson?
News from the team
Russ Cheshire is COAST's new Chair
Russ says: "Following Howard in the role of Chair is going to be a challenge; he is responsible for the high regard in which COAST is held by people and organisations all over the world.
But I have inherited a fantastic team of staff, volunteers and trustees; and with their help I look forward to steering COAST to an enduring future of healthy and abundant seas."
Thank you Howard!
Howard Wood is stepping down as COAST Chair after 10 years of successful leadership and will be staying on as a trustee and volunteer. The community of Arran, marine conservationists and coastal communities across Scotland thank him wholeheartedly for inspiring, motivating and selflessly supporting COAST and so many others, here and across the world. A real trailblazer!
Farewell to Debora
Since April this year Debora Milenkova has been a passionate and committed marine programme assistant with COAST, engaging many visitors at the Octopus Centre and assisting the staff and volunteers in so many ways. She has been a great asset for the team, she will be missed, and we wish her all the best in her new ventures.
How Lamlash Bay's No Take Zone came to be
A fantastic case study, Lamlash Bay No Take Zone: A community designation, has been written and published by FFI's Kerri Whiteside. This thorough research provides valuable insight into the establishment of COAST as a leader. It documents all the hard work in the face of concerted resistance, the breakthrough for grassroots activism and marine conservation in Scotland up until the establishment of this first community-led, marine reserve in 2008.
Luke is runner-up for Young Scot Environment award
Our youngest Community Advisory Panel member and passionate marine volunteer, Luke Nelson, was one of three finalists for the Environment category of the Young Scots awards. Watch this video about his work with COAST.
Scotland: A Rewilding Journey
Howard recently attended the launch of "Scotland: A Rewilding Journey". This new book, published by social enterprise Scotland: The Big Picture, will captivate your senses and shock your system. Striking images of Scotland's land and sea lead to powerful stories that reveal what has happened and is still happening to Scottish landscapes and wildlife. COAST's story of community-led marine conservation is one of these. The book also "tries to map out a route to a better future". A precious gift for friends and family, find the review here and purchase online here or pop into the Octopus Centre.
Photo credit: Kerri Whiteside
Order now! COAST new stocking fillers
Who wouldn't love a happy Curly T-shirt for Christmas? We also have a new mug and tote bag, sturdy caps, cards, books and plenty of handmade sea inspired treasures at the Octopus Centre. Come and visit us.
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COAST - Community of Arran Seabed Trust · Old Pavilion · Lamlash · Isle of Arran, North Ayrshire KA27 8LS · United Kingdom