Scotland can demonstrate responsible marine management
In what is a busy and interesting year for Scotland and the UK, it would be easy to miss a potentially significant change in the approach of Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government to the way our seas are managed. While partly driven by EU legislation, there also now appears to be a realisation that the Scottish people and electorate (!) are the main stakeholders in a well-managed marine environment rather than any particular vested interest. In part due to the work of COAST in the Clyde and other pro sustainable-fishing groups, the public are now far more aware of the damage that has been done to marine life and our fisheries and the need for serious reform. It is therefore encouraging to see the Government and Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead beginning to respond to this through parliamentary debates, the proposed network of Marine Protected Areas and the Clyde 2020 summit scheduled later this month.
However, there is still a lot more to be done before COAST and the wider public will be fully convinced. A necessary first step must be designated and properly managed MPAs. Sadly, at present, Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage are under a lot of pressure from the mobile fishing sector to limit management to 'relic' sites, and create 'paper parks' (a common feature in less developed countries). An announcement on designation areas should be made this summer with decisions on specific management options coming at a later date. MPAs have to be designated this year and well managed by the end of 2016 so this delay is not ideal. As always the devil will be in the detail, but for now letâ€™s give the Government and Marine Scotland the benefit of the doubt. COAST encourages them to follow through on the progress they have made to date. Coastal communities around Scotland want to feel proud of their marine life and see it managed responsibly.
Photo above and below: COAST outside Holyrood for Clyde debate initiated by Kenneth Gibson, MSP