Effective protection

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COAST opinion

The Community of Arran Seabed Trust is delighted to share the news of an amazing discovery in the South Arran Marine Protected Area this year.

Community researchers have discovered an extensive flame shell reef off Arran, which we estimate to be in excess of 10,000m2 (about 30 tennis courts). This is only the second known remaining flame shell bed in the Clyde marine region and is a biodiversity powerhouse.

Most importantly, this discovery is a celebration for folks on Arran as it demonstrates the value of all the work the people here put in to get protection in the seas around the island to help recover marine wildlife. If they hadn’t fought for it, would the bed still be there? This is an unanswerable question, but given the fishing that was happening around the island, there is a distinct possibility that the reef could have been damaged if the MPA wasn’t in place.

The need to recover our natural world has never been greater. In the sea, as on land, Scotland continues to fail to meet biodiversity targets and take meaningful action to halt biodiversity loss.

If we want to pass on a better marine environment – and the social and economic benefits of that – to the next generation, we need decisive action now to recover and protect our inshore waters. This means proper protection and management of our MPAs alongside spatial limits on damaging bottom-towed fishing.

COAST is calling upon the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland to urgently bring in effective protection for Scotland’s seas and to better support communities to survey, monitor, research and manage their coastal waters in line with the recent Edinburgh Declaration, which recognises the vital role that communities have in taking action to address biodiversity loss.

It is time for the protection and management of our inshore waters to be aspirational and fit for purpose to meet the biodiversity and climate change challenges we now face.