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Community Campaign for No Take Zones Gains Momentum

Aug 29,2006 SACN


FORWARD PLANNING NOTICE

On behalf of: The Community of Arran Seabed Trust

Released: Tuesday 29 August 2006 -for immediate use • images available

COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN FOR MARINE ‘NO TAKE ZONE’ GAINS MOMENTUM AS PARLIAMENT COMMITTEE VISITS ARRAN

Members of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment and Rural Development (E&RD) Committee (1) will visit the Island of Arran on Thursday 31 August 2006 (this week) to meet with representatives from the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) who are campaigning to establish a small ‘No Take Zone’ for fish and shellfish fisheries in Lamlash Bay.

While on the island, the Committee members will attend a presentation by the COAST campaigners and visit the site of the proposed ‘No Take Zone’ by boat.
 
COAST represents around 1600 members of the Community of the Island of Arran • around 20% of the island’s population.

The COAST campaigners claim that a small ‘No Take Zone’ for fish and shellfish fisheries will return the seabed in the area to its ‘natural state’ and so assist marine regeneration in Lamlash Bay, while protecting sensitive seabed living creatures and fragile maerl (2) beds.
 
The campaigners further argue that minimising human impact on the marine environment in the area will help address the dramatic decline in marine life around their shores.

As a result of any ‘No Take Zone’ they expect an increase in the popularity of Lamlash Bay as a sport diving site and tourist destination, which would help sustain the livelihoods of those in the area who are dependent on fishing and tourism for their livelihoods.

The move would also help educate future generations on the need for marine conservation.
 
The visit to Arran by the E&RD Committee follows several years of intensive campaigning by the COAST campaigners.

In December 2004, the campaigners lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.

The petition made such an impact with the Committee that it was passed to the E&RD Committee and will now be formally discussed at its next meeting.
 
The E&RD Committee’s visit to Arran marks a major step forward in the COAST campaign, which has had to fight in recent years to be heard by Ministers and civil servants.

In June this year, the COAST campaigners publicly accused Environment Minister, Ross Finnie MSP, and civil servants from the Scottish Executive’s Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) of ‘ignorance and intransigence’, claiming that they and their representative MSPs were being ignored and treated with disrespect.
 
While, the COAST campaigners had waited more than a year for a written response from the Minister (which had been promised at a face-to-face meeting in May 2005), several supportive MSPs were forced to complain to Parliament regarding the lack of response and action by civil servants after waiting months for responses to their own enquiries.
 
Don Macneish, one of the COAST campaigners, said, “This visit by the E&RD Committee is a major opportunity for our community campaign and we’d like to thank the Committee members for coming here to see Lamlash Bay first-hand.

The Committee has the power to make the Minister and his civil servants engage with us properly, openly and reasonably, and we hope we can make a compelling enough case that they will do just that.”
 
The campaigners believe there are strong ecological and economic arguments for restricting fishing activity in a small area of Lamlash Bay, while retaining the status quo elsewhere.
 
Don Macneish continued, “We are only asking for a very small area to be protected for just ten years, as a ‘trial’ to see how much of a positive effect it has.

It is within the remit of the Minister and his civil servants to establish the ‘No Take Zone’, and we have overwhelming community and political support for it.

We hope that the E&RD Committee will help us apply pressure on the Minister and his civil servants to let our community-led campaign protect its local environment and ensure the future health and wealth of our local seas.”
 
There is growing evidence that marine protected areas, such as ‘No Take Zones’, work.

One study, which looked at eighty-nine such areas around the globe, discovered that fish, lobsters and invertebrate species within protected areas were on average twice as abundant, a third larger, had a three-fold biomass increase, and showed a thirty-three per cent increase in diversity compared to unprotected areas.
 
COAST’s campaign enjoys the support of a number of high-profile and key politicians, including Scotland’s First Minister, Jack McConnell MSP, who is a native of the Isle of Arran, Local MSP (and former Deputy Environment Minister) Allan Wilson, Local North Ayrshire Councillor, Margie Currie, and most of the West of Scotland Regional list MSPs.
 
COAST is funded by: Scottish Natural Heritage, the Esmee Fairbairn Trust, and Director General, Fish at the European Union in Brussels. More information on COAST is available at: www.arrancoast.co.uk

- ends -

Images:

High quality images and footage of Lamlash Bay and the marine species found there are available on request.
 
Media Contacts:

- Don Macneish, COAST:  (h) 01770 600538  (m) 07855 929922
- Tom Vella Boyle, COAST:  (h) 01770 600552  (m) 07816 605183
- Howard Wood, COAST:  (h) 01770 700466  (m) 07979 954764
- Stan Blackley, Portable PR:  (m) 07770 742449  (e) stan@portablepr.com
 
Editors Notes:

1. Scottish Parliament Environment and Rural Development Committee
The Scottish Parliament Environment and Rural Development Committee is comprised of the following members: Sarah Boyack MSP (Convener), Eleanor Scott MSP (Deputy Convener), Ted Brocklebank MSP,  Rob Gibson MSP,  Richard Lochhead MSP, Maureen Macmillan MSP, Mr Alasdair Morrison MSP, Nora Radcliffe MSP and Elaine Smith MSP. More information about the Committee and its work can be found at: www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/environment/index.htm

2. Maerl
The term maerl covers several species of free-living, red and pink seaweeds that are capable of incorporating calcium carbonate (chalk) into their skeletal structure • giving them a hard feel. Maerl grows as unattached, twig-like nodules on the seabed and can form fragile, slow-growing beds that are several metres deep. Maerl beds are a protected habitat and are important for a wide variety of marine animal and plants, including scallops and juvenile commercial fish, such as cod. More information on maerl can be found at:
www.snh.org.uk/publications/on-line/livinglandscapes/sea_lochs/maerl.asp
www.english-nature.org/uk-marine/reports/pdfs/maerl.pdf

--------------------------------------------------------
From the press office of Portable PR
On behalf of COAST

B B C Report



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