Scottish seas are worth their weight in gold to economy and public well-being says new report

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 16 July 2013

Scottish seas are worth their weight in gold to economy and public well-being says new report Monetary and emotional value of protecting our seas cannot be ignored, says MCS For the first time a study of divers and anglers has revealed that the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in UK seas will not only benefit habitats and wildlife, but will also bring considerable economic benefits and have a positive effect on the well-being of sea and coastal users.

Scottish seas are worth their weight in gold to economy and public well-being says new report Monetary and emotional value of protecting our seas cannot be ignored, says MCS For the first time a study of divers and anglers has revealed that the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in UK seas will not only benefit habitats and wildlife, but will also bring considerable economic benefits and have a positive effect on the well-being of sea and coastal users. MCS welcomes the report and says it shines a light on some of the wider benefits that a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around Scotland might bring to the public purse. MCS recommends that this report be taken into account by Scottish Government in its forthcoming consultation on a network of MPAs to improve the fortunes of Scotland’s seas. “This groundbreaking study has revealed that diving and angling in 20 proposed MPAs in Scotland is worth between ú67 million and ú117 million to the economy each year. In addition, recreational divers and anglers questioned said they would make a one-off payment collectively worth between ú142- ú255 million to see these sites protected and damaging activities stopped.” says MCS Scotland Programme Manager, Calum Duncan. “People questioned were willing to pay more if they felt that sites would be well managed to prevent harm to species and habitats. This research only questioned divers and anglers, which means the figures don’t provide a full account of the value of our seas. Other large sea user groups like sailors and tourists are also likely to attach value to the enjoyment and protection of the sea - and these values have yet to be measured.” The study titled, ‘The value of Marine Protected Areas in the UK to divers and anglers’ was jointly published today by the Universities of Aberdeen, De Montfort, Aberystwyth and Birmingham City, has been welcomed by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) and the Angling Trust, who say it shows that the benefits of marine protection will far outweigh the costs. But it’s not all about the cash. The study also explored the deeper held values that divers and anglers attach to the sea. Some of the most important benefits turn out to be the value people put on being in or by the sea and coast, where they can engage with the environment on many different levels. Jasper Kenter from the University of Aberdeen, who led on this study, says: “Increasingly we are able to assess the economic value of nature conservation. But it is also tremendously important to look at the deep emotional connection divers, anglers and others feel for the places that they visit. “When we talk about the value of recreation, we can recognise excitement that people feel when they see a creature they’ve never seen before, the bond that people develop when they go out together or the peacefulness that someone feels when they are alone with the immensity of the sea. It is because of these kinds of feelings that divers and anglers want to protect these places, and much of this report is about showing the significance of these values.” Calum Duncan says the headline findings are a real wake-up call to the Scottish Government: “This is compelling evidence of the benefits of MPAs. Memorable experiences and social bonding are among the positive ways that people reflect on marine areas. Following last years report on the value of a theoretical Scottish MPA network, for the first time the true value of actual marine protection proposals can be seen holistically and that must make the Scottish Government sit up and take notice.” BSAC Chief Executive Mary Tetley said it was time the full value of our marine environment was taken into account. “As divers, our relationship with and experience of the marine environment is intrinsic to our sport. Our members dive regularly around the UK and the wide and varied benefits that this activity brings must be taken into account when considering the protection of key marine sites. The personal, emotional and non-monetary value of our marine environment cannot be ignored.” David Mitchell, Marine Campaigns Manager for the Angling Trust said, “This report provides the best available evidence that anglers place huge value on protecting the marine environment. Both the monetary and non monetary values recorded from sea anglers stretch into billions of pounds. This has the potential to increase further by hundreds of millions of pounds if restrictions on other activities, such as commercial fishing, were included. It is also clear that, for sites with significant numbers of visiting anglers, the cultural ecosystem service benefits of angling, such as health, wellbeing and a sense of community, would decrease if access restrictions were placed on anglers”. The report will be accessible via the ‘Resources’ tab on the UK NEA website: http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/Resources/tabid/82/Default.aspx -ends-

Actions you can take

  1. Browse Marine Protected Areas
  2. Report your wildlife sightings

Did you know?…

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

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’

Scotland’s Parliament: Ambitions for Scotland announced - MCS comment

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out a big Programme for Government in Scotland’s Parliament.

Read comment from MCS

Join us today

Help protect our seas, shores and wildlife

Join now