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Recovering Scotland's Marine Environment
06/11/09
source : Jenny Fyall  The Scotsman


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« Previous « PreviousNext » Next »View GalleryPublished Date: 14 October 2009
By Jenny Fyall
PLANNED Scottish marine laws do not go far enough to protect the health of the seas and restore habitats damaged by years of exploitation, says a new report.
The Scottish Association for Marine Science highlights species ranging from cod to maerl – a type of algae – that have been depleted over the past decades due to human activity.

They argue that proposed actions in the Scottish Marine Bill would no
ADVERTISEMENTt go far enough to reverse the damage, serving only to maintain the status quo.

The report, Recovering Scotland's Marine Environment, calls for duties to be placed on Scottish ministers to improve the health of Scotland's seas.

It also calls for ministers to draw up a national marine plan – which would cover activity allowed in all Scottish waters. And it suggests targets be set out to make sure improvements are made to the health of the seas.

The authors said the bill as it stands would "only manage the status quo". They said: "It will not bring about any improvement in the wider seas outside marine protected areas."

The study was prepared for Scottish Environment LINK – the network for Scotland's voluntary-sector environmental organisations.

Calum Duncan, convener of LINK's marine task force, said: "If we want to see sustainable and growing industries based in the seas around Scotland – and to support the future of the communities around our coasts – we have to improve the quality of the marine environment.

"This report contains conclusive evidence that we have been going in the opposite direction for too many years and decades.

"LINK calls for clear assurances, from all political parties, that the central purpose of the Marine Bill before the Scottish Parliament will be to make our seas more healthy and full of life – and therefore more valuable."

The report also highlights some examples of improved marine management, such as ongoing work to reduce fish farm impacts, the use of selective fishing gear, and the adoption of closed areas for juvenile fish.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We welcome this report, particularly the positive response to our proposals on new planning systems and Marine Protected Areas." He said the comments would receive consideration as work continued to deliver a "highly ambitious and historic" bill.

Drastic decline of species native to Scotland's seas

Marine species affected by human activities:

• HERRING: During the late 20th century stocks experienced a catastrophic decline with landings in the North Sea falling from around 650,000 tonnes a year in the 1950s to almost zero in the 1970s.

• COD: Landings in the North Sea have declined from a peak of around 800,000 tonnes in 1980 to near zero.

• SKATES and RAYS: Inshore landings have declined from around 465 tonnes in 1997 to fewer than 150 tonnes in 2008.

• MAERL: A coral-like red algae that are important both as nursery grounds for young scallops and young fish. Scallop dredging has been found to kill over 70 per cent of live maerl, with no discernible recovery over the following four years.

• NATIVE OYSTER: Once widespread in dense beds, these are now rare.






The full article contains 528 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
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Last Updated: 13 October 2009 11:36 PM
Source: The Scotsman
Location: Edinburgh
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