Well, I’ve been having an exciting summer so far! Aside from hours of interview transcription and qualitative data analysis, which I actually secretly, or not so secretly, enjoy, I’ve also been helping out on the Isle of Arran.
I mentioned I was part of this work in a previous post and this time round I was there for 4 days worth of surveying. We were again really lucky with the weather, zooming about around Whiting and Lamlash Bay in the rib provided by the people from COAST. A fantastic NGO working for marine conservation around Arran. COAST stands for the Community of Arran Seabed Trust and works towards protection and restoration of the marine environment, particularly around Arran and the Firth of Clyde. They took a leading role in establishing Scotland’s First No Take Zone.
A No Take Zone (NTZ) (sometimes referred to as a fully protected marine reserve) are a type of marine protected area (MPA) where activities that remove animals and plants from the marine environment (sometimes with the exception of scientific monitoring purposes) are strictly prohibited. The activities that are not allowed to operate within a NTZ can include: fishing, aquaculture, mining, dredging; recreational activities such as swimming, boating and scuba diving are usually allowed.
NTZ are very important in the face of climate change. Healthy intact ecosystems (on land as well as marine systems) are able to adapt and cope with changes much better than degraded ecosystems that are suffering from species loss. This is the idea of resilience. By having NTZs as part of a larger MPA network, these areas of high protection could act as a buffer against climate effects, protecting habitats from other destructive impacts and providing a refuge for species as conditions change.
(A Highland Dancer! Finally got a picture!)
The Scottish MPA Network has now been designed and the advice on the design of the network has been passed to the Scottish Ministers. A total of 33 Scottish Marine Protected Areas have been proposed (see the Scottish Government webpage for details). It is now open for public consultation. This is a great opportunity for the public to have their say on the proposed MPAs. The consultation is open until 13th November 2013.