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By Colin Smeeton
A leading environmental group has secured funding of £200,000 to take their marine research to the next level.
The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) is one of the first recipients of the Scottish government’s new Nature Restoration Fund and will use the windfall to help purchase a boat that will be used for surveys, education and scientific research.
The funding award announced by NatureScot is the first part of two rounds of awards that will total £10 million for projects across Scotland that will restore nature, safeguard wildlife and tackle the causes of climate change.
The boat, which is already under construction in Great Yarmouth, is a nine metre catamaran with a number of specialised features, including a platform for a ROV and the ability to use drop-down cameras, which will make the vessel ideal for research, citizen science, diving and education.
Howard Wood, COAST co-founder said: ‘Investigation and consultation into a potential research and education boat has been ongoing by COAST since 2013. These conversations, coupled with information gathered from an online survey last year, highlighted the urgent requirement for such a vessel to fulfil not just a vital need for COAST but for the wider community as well.’
COAST intend on using the boat for their own scientific monitoring and local citizen science, along with collaborating with local and international universities, to monitor the recovery of the marine ecosystem around Arran and the Firth of Clyde.
In addition to its research and monitoring role, COAST will also use the boat for educational and outreach purposes to add to the work it already does with schools, tourism and hospitality organisations, and with the Arran Outdoor Education Centre in Lamlash.
Howard reinforced this by saying: ‘The boat’s primary function is to support marine restoration activities, and promote a healthy marine environment; it will also provide job opportunities on the island. Besides its primary use as a research boat, we are determined that it will enable both local school children and those attending the Arran Outdoor Education Centre the opportunity to get out on the water and be involved in their own citizen science projects.’
COAST’s executive director, Andrew Binnie, expressed his gratitude to NatureScot via the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, the Island Communities Fund and Fauna and Flora International Arcadia, for helping to make the £200,000 investment which will help to advance COAST’s aims for community-based marine conservation.
The use of this vessel will add to, and expand on, the accomplishments and abilities of COAST who have over the last 25 years achieved a number of environmental success stories, including the establishment of a No Take Zone and the 280 km2 Marine Protected Area, as well as playing a large part in scientific study, conservation and education.
The boat which is being constructed by Phantom Marine in Great Yarmouth is expected to be delivered in spring next year.
The fund was first proposed by the Scottish Greens and secured through their budget negotiations with the Scottish Government in January of this year.
Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland, added: ‘Greater support for community organisations like COAST is exactly the kind of impact the Scottish Greens wanted to have when we decided to enter government. I’m delighted that Arran is benefiting from that impact just a few short weeks after our ministers took office.’
The new COAST vessel will look similar to its sister vessel which is being built by Phantom Marine. No_B50COAST01
The two hulls of the COAST boat that will form the catamaran. No_B50COAST02