Marine Conservation Society says local support is key if Sound of Barra to be successful Special Area of Conservation

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 19 July 2013

Marine Conservation Society says local support is key if Sound of Barra to be successful Special Area of Conservation Charity welcome Scottish Government announcement of Western Isles site The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says the announcement that the Sound of Barra will become a marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the European Habitats Directive after the scientific case for protection was accepted by the Scottish Government is good news for marine life in the area.

Marine Conservation Society says local support is key if Sound of Barra to be successful Special Area of Conservation Charity welcome Scottish Government announcement of Western Isles site The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says the announcement that the Sound of Barra will become a marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the European Habitats Directive after the scientific case for protection was accepted by the Scottish Government is good news for marine life in the area. Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland Programme Manager says he welcomes Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse’s statement that the SAC will be managed using a community led approach and local knowledge. “It’s good news that the Scottish Government recognises that community support is vital in the designation of this site. This needs to be backed up by Government resources.” There are 19 different types of reef habitat in the Sound of Barra and the sandbanks support fragile and important features such as seagrass beds and probably the UK’s largest maerl beds. Maerl, a fragile coral-like seaweed that forms beds on the seafloor, provides important nursery grounds for commercial species such as scallops, cod and whiting, but is susceptible to damage from some human activities like heavy towed fishing gears such as scallop dredges. “Site protection need not affect the many important economic activities compatible with the conservation of the precious marine habitats, such as creeling, pelagic fishing and hand-diving for scallops, provided they are managed to ensure they are within sustainable limits.” Effectively protecting this site would help Scotland meet commitments under European law and make a vital contribution to the Scottish Government’s duty to deliver a coherent network of marine protected areas in Scottish waters. “SACs’ are an essential tool, along with others, to help regenerate our seas. Careful management and protection of such sites will also help secure a sustainable future for the fragile coastal communities that rely upon them.”

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