Marine Spatial Planning – The Friend of Sea-Angling ?

David Adams McGilp – Regional Director & Marine Tourism Lead – VisitScotland

david mcgilpScotland’s Marine Plan upholds the interests of marine tourism, leisure and recreation without compromising environmental or commercial interests. Recreational Sea-Angling, being a seafaring activity is one such interest, and an activity that supports growing numbers of participants and businesses to meet their needs.

Until quite recently, Marine Spatial Planning was not necessarily well understood, but Scotland’s Marine Plan makes very clever use of the discipline to understand what sort of activities take place in territorial waters and along the coastline, forecast and manage potential competition for space or conflict of interests.

The National Marine Planning Interactive is a GIS tool that maps the places where all sorts of maritime activities take place, and the recently completed Marine Tourism Scotland activity survey will add more data to this resource.

Recreational Sea-Angling has its hotspots: The Solway Firth, The Clyde, Orkney, but there is also room for growth. The success of Shark Tagging events in Argyll, for example, has demonstrated participant enthusiasm and commitment from host communities.

Marine Spatial planning is capable of capturing information to prepare for growth – the extent and frequency of particular types of angling, infrastructure audits and any impacts on other marine and coastal activities.

In Scotland we manage different types of activity at sea very well. So far we have not been forced to create zones; nor have we relied on legislation or enforcement. The creation of Marine Protected Areas should have a negligible impact on tourism, leisure and recreational activity in the marine environment.

This is good news for a variety of sectors, but Recreational Sea-Angling has led the field in environmental sensitivity since the sport predominantly adopted best practice including catch-and-release. Indeed species tagging exercises provide valuable environmental data by tracking and logging stocks and movements, and there are a number of locations up and down the coast that would like to provide better facilities to support these types of events.

I would urge Local Authorities, Destination Organisations and business communities to look at their own shorelines and seascapes as areas of economic growth. There are bound to be assets that could be re-utilised to accommodate Recreational Sea-Angling, encouraging greater participation and increasing local economic benefit.

A refurbished slipway here and a larger car park there will generate business for local retailers, accommodation providers and encourage business people to think about ways to improve or diversify the experience for this market and other consumers.

It needn’t take much in the way of capital, and the opportunities for community-led initiatives are limitless.

Port and harbour authorities are already being encouraged to adopt the principle of shared infrastructure, so that the greatest number of users and sectors can benefit from improvements, expansion and investment. The greater the number of users and the more diverse the activity, the more successful any destination will be.

The Marine Tourism Development Group is dedicated to growth and fully supports Recreational Sea-Angling as a significant and strategic sector.

Think of Oban Bay transit facility, marina developments at Lochmaddy, Portavadie, Stranraer, Bowmore, Lochaline; and how simple access arrangements could be incorporated into proposals for developments at Harris, Corpach, Greenock and St Andrews. We are surrounded by coast and sea, and we have a Marine Plan that supports growth. Let’s make the most of it.

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