Historic summer to save Scotland's seas
Historic summer to save Scotland’s seas The heat is on for the public show of support for marine protection for Scotland’s fabulous seas MCS in Scotland says today’s launch (25th July 2013) of a public consultation on a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), both around the coast and further offshore, could be the turning point in reversing the decline of Scottish seas - so vital to the economy of the country.
Historic summer to save Scotland’s seas The heat is on for the public show of support for marine protection for Scotland’s fabulous seas MCS in Scotland says today’s launch (25th July 2013) of a public consultation on a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), both around the coast and further offshore, could be the turning point in reversing the decline of Scottish seas - so vital to the economy of the country. 33 proposed Scottish MPAs are being consulted on, giving the public an opportunity to have their say over the next few months. MCS was among a number of organisations providing scientific evidence for the sites to the Scottish Government. Calum Duncan, Scotland Programme Manager for the Marine Conservation Society says the seas around Scotland are in turmoil, with widespread concern and decline in seabed health, alarming decreases in common seals, sharks, skates & rays and seabirds, ongoing concerns with fish stocks in many areas and a changing climate. “A network of MPAs is vital to improve the fortunes of Scotland’s seas and the consultation is the first step. These new MPAs must not become ‘paper parks’ - protected areas in name only - but must actually help our ailing seas recover. We’re not advocating ‘no-go’ areas, rather sites at sea where sustainable human use can continue and, in places, be encouraged, but where damaging activities must be controlled,” says Calum, who is also Convenor of Scottish Environment LINK’s Save Scottish Seas campaign. Healthy seabeds and marine life are the cornerstone to help coastal communities thrive, whilst creating healthy seas for visitors to enjoy whether from the shore or under the waves. If managed well, MCS says this MPA network can help secure a brighter future for what is possibly Scotland’s greatest cultural and natural resource, the sea. However Calum warns that this is just the first step and there is still a long way to go before we breathe easier about the future of Scottish seas: “This is a work in progress. Further sites will be needed for other habitats and species, including basking shark and common skate, and the science of marine protection is still in its infancy. We won’t be able to say for some years whether we have a properly connected network of protected sites at sea - but it’s an important start.” MCS says now is the time for as many members of the public as possible to respond to the consultation in favour of a comprehensive MPA network that will help Scottish seas recover. You can respond to the consultation at www.mcsuk.org/mpa/scotland/consultation
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Did you know?…
To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’
An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed
Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’