24 July 2014, Lamlash: Arran islanders and the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) have welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that the south of Arran is now a marine protected area (MPA).
The South Arran MPA is unique in being the only MPA proposed and developed entirely by a local community group, the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST).
The South Arran Nature Conservation MPA was designated today as part of a Scotland-wide network of 30 MPAs including two more in the Clyde. Arran’s MPA aims to protect and restore sea grass and maerl beds as well as many other sensitive habitats and species which have functional importance as fish nurseries and breeding grounds. Like much of the Clyde and Scottish inshore waters, Arran’s marine ecosystems are being severely degraded by destructive fishing practices such as scallop dredging and bottom trawling.
The Scottish Government’s decision to designate an area three nautical miles out around the south of the island of Arran is an important step towards the protection and recovery of sensitive habitats and species in Arran and Clyde Waters. With effective management it can also play a role in recovering the Clyde ecosystem described by Marine Scotland as akin to ‘used agricultural land in need of restoration’.
COAST Manager Andrew Binnie said,“COAST is delighted the Scottish Government has designated the South Arran MPA. This is a real testament to the people of Arran and our supporters and partners further afield. They have shown once again that coastal communities can play a powerful role in regenerating their marine ecosystems. It is encouraging to see the Government beginning to show the sort of leadership the Clyde has long needed. Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage deserve praise for designating the Arran MPA as part of the Scottish MPA network. However, there is still much to be done.
Clyde-wide measures are required to rejuvenate and revive our waters. The management measures envisaged by the government for the South Arran MPA look likely to allow scallop dredging to continue over many fragile habitats within the MPA. This will undermine the MPAs potential to contribute to a healthier more productive Clyde.”
In light of today’s announcement, COAST plans to continue campaigning for rigorous management measures for the entire MPA, not just patchwork areas as currently proposed. Throughout the process COAST and the Arran community have advocated the complete exclusion of scallop dredgers and bottom trawlers from the MPA in favour of more sustainable fishing methods such as scallop diving and creeling.
Properly managed, the South Arran and Clyde MPAs are expected to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits to coastal communities on Arran and around the Clyde.