Marine Scotland Blog
The vast majority of people in Scotland believe offshore wind has a vital role to play in Scotland’s future, according to a recent study.
Of those surveyed as part of the study, 92% thought the renewable sector is important to Scotland in terms of its social value, with 89% believing the sector is important in terms of its economic value.
Jointly commissioned by the Marine Scotland Directorate of the Scottish Government and NatureScot, the study was undertaken to understand public views of offshore wind farm developments in Scotland.
The world’s largest floating offshore wind leasing round, ScotWind, is forecast to deliver investment of around £25 billion across the Scottish supply chain in the coming years, creating thousands of green jobs, transforming local economies as well as the national economy, and accelerating Scotland’s journey to net zero.
Net Zero & Energy Secretary Michael Matheson visited Aberdeen Bay to tour the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre and meet with Swedish power company Vattenfall, who will partner one of 17 ScotWind projects.Mr Matheson said:
“Scotland has the resources, the people and the ambition to become a renewables powerhouse. ScotWind puts us at the forefront of the global development of offshore wind and represents a massive step forward in our net zero transformation.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity which has to be realised, has to be maximised and has to deliver the environmental and economic benefits for all the people of Scotland.
“This study shows that the vast majority of people in Scotland, including our coastal communities who live closest to offshore wind farms, understand and value the diverse benefits that offshore renewable energy presents.
“Already one of the cheapest forms of energy, it is clear that offshore wind has a vital role to play in delivering on our climate obligations, ensuring our energy security and ensuring a fair and just transition to net zero.”
NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said:
“Offshore wind energy will play a major role in Scotland’s pathway to net zero. This important study confirms that most coastal communities and visitors are positive about the sector as we embark on this critical transition.
“This research will help us plan future developments and guide our advice on the ScotWind proposals, as we work to support the growth in offshore wind generation while safeguarding nature and minimising landscape impacts.”Public perceptions of offshore wind farm developments in Scotland
The Public Perceptions of Offshore Wind Farm Developments in Scotland study is available on the Scottish Government website. It explored factors that affect perceptions and experiences, whether these changed at different stages of a development (planning, construction and operational), and whether offshore wind farms influenced decisions relating to leisure and tourism in coastal areas.
The results are an important contribution to the evidence-base on the social impacts of offshore wind farms; highlighting positive opportunities and helping mitigate negative impacts.
The project was taken forward as part of the Scottish Marine Energy Research (ScotMER) programme, identifies and addresses high priority evidence gaps that add risk and uncertainty in the planning and consenting of offshore renewable developments. This ensures the best available science is used when considering the planning and consenting of developments that contribute to our low carbon future, while also protecting Scotland’s unique marine environment and people.
More than 2,000 people were surveyed as part of the study.
Only 4% of those surveyed living near offshore windfarms think windfarms have a negative impact on their quality of life, and around a third of these lived experience individuals said offshore wind farms detract from the traditional image of the coast.
Both national and coastal respondents were broadly unconcerned about visiting or holidaying in areas where there are offshore wind farms, with four in five (81%) saying that if they could see an offshore wind farm while on holiday it would make no difference to their choice of destination.
Broader research, including from the Scottish Household Survey indicates that the people of Scotland increasingly see climate change as an immediate and urgent problem, and are prepared to take action and change behaviours at an individual level to benefit the environment
Blue carbon experts have been successful in their bids for funding up to £10,000 per project, following the launch of the Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge (BCIPC) in April by Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan.
The BCIPC has supported new international partnerships to share knowledge and find ways to move from research to action as they explore how carbon stored in our ocean (blue carbon) can help mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts.
The four project teams selected to receive funding demonstrated innovation in areas of research that can help to realise the potential of blue carbon nature-based solutions for climate, people and biodiversity globally.
Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan said: “We are delighted to support these projects, which bring international partners together to achieve the shared goal of furthering knowledge and understanding of blue carbon to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts. Working collaboratively will have collective benefits for our global environments, economies and communities including accelerating action on the future challenges we all face in delivering on our COP27 blue carbon ambitions.”
Writing from the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon this week, Scottish Blue Carbon Forum (SBCF) chair Professor Bill Austin (University of St Andrews) commented “I am delighted to see the successful Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge awards announced today by the Scottish Government, particularly timely as we build a strong and connected network through the new UN Decade Programme for Ocean Science (GO-BC) that will focus on Blue Carbon and aims to deliver “the science we need for the ocean we want”. I am delighted that Scotland will lead by example in building strong international partnerships to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and particularly its support for UN SDG number 14 (life below water).”
All projects will conclude in October 2022, with outputs contributing to Scottish Government activity for COP27 – supporting a continued focus on ocean-climate action.
Further details of the successful projects and partners can be found below:Maximising the co-benefits of blue carbon restoration – for nature, blue economy, and communities
Partners from Scotland: James Hutton Institute and University of St Andrews, Norway: Norwegian Geological Survey, and Ireland: University College Dublin will review current blue carbon habitat protection, restoration and creation approaches and consider opportunities for blue carbon restoration. A workshop to gather national and international perspectives on policy and research implications will be also be conducted.Blue forests – how macroalgae farming can be used in a net-zero policy framework
Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) from Scotland and KTH Royal Institute of Technology from Sweden will bring together a network of international experts across marine science, industry and non-government organisations for a two-day workshop in the developing area of macroalgae (kelp) farming to highlight knowledge gaps where evidence is not sufficient.Assessment of the potential for blue carbon partnerships between Scotland and international partners
Partners from Scotland: University of St Andrews and the USA: Conservation International (CI) will seek to initiate a network of partners with fjord (sea loch) expertise to develop and promote a greater understanding of blue carbon in mid-to-high latitude areas. The Scottish Government worked with the lead partner previously to progress the Chile-Scotland Memorandum of Understanding, signed at COP26.Blue carbon ocean literacy: Communicating blue carbon research and evidence to diverse stakeholder communities
This project team aims to develop and improve blue carbon awareness. By identifying distinct target audiences the team will develop plain English guides to be translated into different languages, a community engagement video, and a Swahili translation of the citizen science Seagrass Spotter App to help African communities conserve seagrass.
Project partners from Scotland: Edinburgh Napier University, the Association for Coast Ecosystem Services (ACES) and Project Seagrass; Kenya: Vanga Blue Forest and USA/Philippines: Mangrove Action Project.
- BCIPC funding announcement – Progressing Scotland’s leadership on blue carbon
- Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge (BCIPC)– further information
- Cabinet Secretary announces new blue carbon initiative at international conference– BCIPC announcement during COP26
- Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge– news release published 11 November 2021
- The Scottish Blue Carbon Forum was set up by the Scottish Government in 2018.
- Dronetastic – Mapping Scotland’s seagrass habitats – Marine Scotland (blogs.gov.scot)
- New study into significance of Scottish saltmarsh – Marine Scotland (blogs.gov.scot)
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We have published a new independent report, providing insights on the real life experiences, challenges and opportunities of women working in the Scottish fishing industry.
The Women in Scottish Fisheries review was carried out by PhD student, Katja Hržić in 2021 during a three-month internship in the Scottish Government’s Marine Analytical Unit, and draws from a wide body of research literature.
This review was delivered as part of Scotland’s Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030, which has a key outcome to promote fishing as an attractive and safe career of choice, supporting new entrants into the sector, and equal treatment regardless of national origin or gender. It also has the potential to shape policy outcomes which contribute to better outcomes for women working in the sector.
The review centres around three questions:
- what are the perceived and lived challenges for women in Scottish fisheries?
- what opportunities have supported women in fishing communities in Scotland and beyond?
- women are not all the same, therefore, how do other factors contribute to the experiences of women in fisheries?
We spoke to Katja about her placement experience and her research project.
What is the stand out finding / findings for you?
“For me, it is the need to tackle sustainability and safety issues, and how improvements in these areas might have a direct impact on improving equality in the industry. This is already included in Scotland’s Fisheries Management Strategy, but looking at the literature and existing reports made me realise how challenging this work is.
“Views on equality and fair employment in fishing communities are complex and not uniform, with many women taking on significant but informal or unpaid roles within fishing communities. A third of the Scottish seafood processing sector identified as female last year.
“Women often face a range of practical, socio-economic and cultural challenges. It can be something as broad as difficulty in accessing training or the disproportionate effects of the coronavirus pandemic on caring responsibilities, to something as basic as inappropriate clothing or safety mitigations which are suited more towards men.
“Throughout the report, gender-specific language was avoided, opting for ‘fisher’ rather than ‘fisherman’. It’s a small transition that quietly asks for more inclusivity within the industry.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
“Despite the logistical challenges of the coronavirus pandemic I really enjoyed the time I spent in the Marine Scotland Directorate. I was working remotely, so it took a few weeks to get used to internal IT systems, and to feel fully integrated in the team. It really helped that everyone was very welcoming and I had a great time. Another challenge was getting the tone right in my writing but with the help and guidance from my colleagues and supervisor I learned how to structure my findings.”
What was your biggest personal take away?
“I wanted to gain a better understanding of the work of the Marine Scotland Directorate, Scottish fisheries policies, and experience in applying research to policy. I now have an understanding of fisheries-related policy, especially aspects related to equality and fair employment which is something I can apply to my own research. I also gained a lot from collaborating with others and working on varied day-to-day tasks which is very different from an independent research project; I realised that this type of work really suits me, so I am considering another SG internship later in my PhD.
“Being invited to present at the Marine Social Science Network seminar was an exciting experience with an opportunity to discuss the findings with other researchers and experts on the topic.”
- The views and opinions of the report are that of the author and do not constitute government policy
- The image at the top of this blog is copyright of Seafish: www.seafish.org
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The Marine Scotland directorate of the Scottish Government currently has two consultations open as part of the 10-year Future Fisheries Management Strategy to deliver on sustainable fisheries management in Scotland.
Stakeholders have until 7 June 2022 to share their views on fishing activities and electronic monitoring activity in Scotland’s waters through the respective Future Catching Policy (FCP) consultation and Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) consultation.
The FCP consultation outlines proposals to Ensure that fishing vessels operating in Scottish waters are undertaking sustainable fishing practices. and aims to address long-standing issues around bycatch (unintentional catching of specific fish and other marine species) to minimise environmental and ecological damage.
We will work in partnership with industry, scientists and environmental groups to co-develop management measures to tackle discarding, and to reduce catches of unwanted fish and avoid bycatch of sensitive marine species, such as seabirds, seals and dolphins, preserving them for future generations. The FCP consultation also seeks views on additional management measures for creels, gillnet and longline fisheries.
The REM consultation outlines proposals on the use of imagery, sensors and GPS to monitor fishing activity.
The consultation for certain fishing vessels (scallop dredge and pelagic) seeks views on the implementation of an enhanced and independent level of monitoring on board . This consultation also seeks views on options for further rollout to other parts of the fleet.
REM will ensure that there will be increased transparency and accountability of fishing activity, but also that Scotland’s seafood products are of the highest quality and fished sustainably.
Rural Affairs Secretary, Mairi Gougeon, said:
“The Scottish Government is committed to being a world-leader in fisheries management. We take our role as guardian of Scotland’s natural marine environment seriously.
“The Future Catching Policy will build on our current approach, signalling a step change in the way in which unsustainable fishing practices are tackled.
“Remote electronic monitoring will provide us with enhanced technology in order to monitor fishing activity for certain parts of the fishing fleet, adding to our rich scientific base and delivering confidence and accountability for the consumer.
“We are demonstrating Scotland’s leadership in fisheries management; cementing our credentials as responsible and sustainable fisheries managers, and signalling to all fishing vessels operating in Scottish waters that we can and must do better in order to protect and enhance our fantastic marine environment, for now and the future.”
- Future Fisheries Management (FFM) Strategy
- Discards are described as fish, often dead or dying, that are returned to the sea during commercial fishing operations. As part of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) catches of quota fish may no longer be discarded. Instead, all of the catch must be landed and counted against quota. The FCP builds on the approach established under the CFP and ensures that we can maintaining and enhance the standards that are already in place
- Both consultations close on 7 June. We will then carry out analysis of the responses and seek to publish a consultation report outlining next steps within 12 weeks of the end of the consultation
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Invasive non-native species (INNS) are plants and animals that have been introduced by humans, either deliberately or accidentally, from an area outside of their native range.
Once introduced, they can out-compete local species, creating an imbalance in the ecosystem and threatening native biodiversity. The Global Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) identifies invasive non-native species as one of the main direct drivers of biodiversity loss worldwide. The economic cost of INNS to the UK economy is calculated to be £1.7 billion annually.
Many cases of non-native species do not cause significant problems in their new environment. However, they have the potential to live and breed without the same dangers of predators, pests or diseases that have evolved to limit the native population. This means that they may be able to survive better than the local species, using food resources and habitats and impacting populations of local species, while multiplying rapidly themselves, thereby becoming invasive. This can have a major impact on an area’s ecosystem and biodiversity.Major impact on ecosystem and biodiversity
In the marine environment, INNS can spread through a variety of pathways; in ballast water, through hull fouling (marine growth) on vessels, by aquaculture stock movements and by accidental or intentional releases. Some INNS we are particularly vigilant for in Scotland include: carpet sea squirt, American lobster, Asian shore crab, slipper limpet, signal crayfish and pink salmon (links to more information about each can be found below).Scottish Government action
In Scotland we have been dealing with outbreaks of Didemnum vexillum or carpet sea squirt as it is also known, which is present in Scottish waters specifically in the Firth of Clyde and Loch Creran on the west coast of Scotland.
Loch Creran is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to the presence of reefs produced by living organisms. A SAC is a special habitat and/or species as listed in the Habitats Directive, a legal framework on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. Because of this protection, the Scottish Government actively engages with local marine users to help control the spread of carpet sea squirt and ensure the environmental integrity of the reef.
The Loch Creran Community Biosecurity Action Plan was produced by Marine Scotland in partnership with the community to help advise marine users on the best ways to manage and prevent further spread of carpet sea squirt. A similar Community Biosecurity Action Plan was commissioned for Loch Fyne, located close to the Firth of Clyde, where carpet sea squirt is also known to be present. Whilst both plans are focussed on the carpet sea squirt, the actions listed are useful and practical against many other types of marine invasive species.Survey and Monitoring Work
Scottish Government scientists carry out annual surveys at hotspot locations for carpet sea squirt and other INNS, to assess where further action may be required. There is also a lot of work underway with the British-Irish Council about introducing a voluntary protocol for the aquaculture industry to help manage biosecurity risks involved with stock movements and prevent INNS, which could be very costly to this sector.
We are also actively monitoring for American lobster, signal crayfish and pink salmon, working with UK administrations and statutory organisations such as: NatureScot and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to ensure high levels of biosecurity to prevent further outbreaks, or control spread where required.Shetland and Orkney Islands
In Shetland, the University of the Highlands and Islands has been monitoring the presence of marine INNS for the last decade. The Shetland Islands Regional Marine Plan (SIRMP) has been developed with financial support from Marine Scotland and the Shetland Islands Council to identify areas most at risk of non-native species. This was used in the development of a biosecurity plan for the Shetland Islands and to guide where monitoring occurs.
Orkney Harbour Authority conducts annual surveys of natural and artificial marine habitats using a variety of methods to collect samples and measurements at each site. This data helps to monitor the local environmental conditions because any changes over time could affect how likely new marine INNS are to spread to the region. To date, 21 marine INNS have been recorded by this monitoring programme including: Japanese skeleton shrimp, red seaweed, Bonnemaison’s hook weed and orange ripple bryozoan.Five steps to help prevent the spread
- if you find a suspected INNS, these can be recorded on the UK-wide database iRecord. A photograph, location and detailed description would be especially helpful for any reports submitted. The Non-Native Species Secretariat website has a wealth of resources, including over 60 identification sheets for various species and additional apps that can be used to record specific INNS
- whenever you leave the water remember the guidance to ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ as some invasive plants and animals can survive for over two weeks in damp conditions
- don’t let any garden, pond or aquarium plants enter the wild – check the guidance for how to ‘Be Plant Wise’
- take care of your pets and never release them or let them escape into the wild; it could have a major impact on other wildlife
- be aware of species alerts for the UK and if you see them, report them
- there are lots of volunteering opportunities throughout the year – if you are interested, check for local action groups in your area and get involved
- video highlighting the invasive species to look out for in Scotland
- Marine Scotland blog post – The smothering impact of didemnum vexillum (carpet sea squirt)
- Marine Scotland blog post – Retain and report American lobster
- identification sheet for – Asian shore crab and brush clawed crab
- identification sheet for – slipper limpetinvasive species to look out for in Scotland
- Fisheries Management Scotland guidance for pink salmon in Scotland
- identification sheet for – signal crayfish
A locally-led fisheries management pilot for the Outer Hebrides is reporting positive impacts on fishing businesses and the environment in its first year, a new report reveals.
The Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot is co-managed by the Regional Inshore Fisheries Group (RIFG) and the Marine Scotland Directorate of the Scottish Government. The Pilot limits the number of creels that commercial fishing vessels may deploy in the waters around the isles. The aim of this is to improve the management of shellfish stocks in area, enabling future generations to benefit from a resource that remains of vital importance to this island community.
The Pilot is also testing one possible approach to a low-cost vessel tracking solution for small inshore fishing vessels. This is being trialled aboard 40 vessels and builds on the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Integrated Data System (SIFIDS) project led by the University of St Andrews.
Fishers in the Outer Hebrides continue to express strong support for the Pilot and are observing positive impacts on their fishing businesses.Donald MacLennan, a Skipper for the Valhalla based in Harris said:
“It’s been a challenging time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit and the Ukraine conflict, and the rising cost of fuel, creel and nephrops catches are particular concerns.
“However, in spite of these challenges, the first year of the Pilot has worked fewer creels and reduced time at sea, leading to a significant improvement in our gross income.
“I believe the Pilot proves that with creel fishing, less can be more.”Duncan MacInnes, Secretary of the Western Isles Fisherman’s Association (WIFA), said:
“The Pilot has brought a sense of stability to the fleet, especially in relation to uncontrolled creel fishing.
“The initial success has been encouraging to the members of WIFA and we would like to see an extension of the initiative to cover a much larger area of the Western Isles.”
The Pilot will continue with vessel tracking until October 2022. An evaluation and qualitative assessment of the Pilot project will be conducted throughout 2022 to assess the social and economic impacts of the Pilot, and provide insights and recommendations into future projects.Further information:
- The RIFG network offers a national forum to inshore fishers, allowing them to lead the way in proposing management projects for the fisheries on which they rely, and providing a strong voice in the shared marine space.
- Outer Hebrides Inshore Fisheries Pilot – Year One Report – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
- Inshore fishing extends from the coast out to 12 nautical miles, with three quarters of the approximately 2,000 active Scottish boats fishing primarily in these waters. Typically these are smaller boats – 8-10 meters in length.
- Shellfish, such as crab, lobster and Nephrops are the main target species.
- Marine Scotland Launch of inshore fisheries pilot – Marine Scotland (blogs.gov.scot)
- Marine Scotland Supporting a new approach to fisheries management – Marine Scotland (blogs.gov.scot)
- Future Fisheries Management Strategy
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The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has agreed to adopt a new Scottish-designed fishing technology as the new international standard for co-ordinated demersal fish population surveys in the North Sea.
The Marine Scotland Directorate of the Scottish Government co-operated with international partners – the International Bottom Trawl Survey Working Group (IBTSWG) – to successfully develop this innovation, which assists in calculating accurate fish stock data, and feeds into the ICES fisheries monitoring and management process and supports the sustainable management of our seas.
The new fishing technology incorporates advances in net design and fishing technology gained over the decades.
Key design changes compared to the old system are:
- reduction in net mesh sizes (from 200mm to 100mm), and
- new light ground gear.
Overall it provides a robust package which is more efficient, resilient and cost effective, as well as delivering consistent catches and better fish population estimates.
The new fish survey trawl package will replace the Grand Opening Vertical (GOV) survey model used since 1980, after it was recognised as no longer fit for purpose. A road map has been agreed to enable a smooth transition to the new technology, making sure there is no impact on surveyance of yearly fish stocks. It is hoped this transition will be completed within three years.
- Demersal fish are also known as ground fish and live on or near the bottom of the sea / lakes (the demersal zone). Examples include: Atlantic cod, herring, plaice and turbot.
- ICES is an intergovernmental marine science organisation which meets to provide impartial evidence on marine research, and advise member nation governments and international regulatory commissions on the health of fish stocks and the sustainable use of the world’s seas and oceans.
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The Scottish Government has launched the Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge (BCIPC) today (21 April 2022), with awards of up to £10,000 available for five successful projects that will establish blueprints for domestic and international climate action to support the marine ecosystem. Applications are open until 19 May 2022.
The challenge, which will run until the start of October 2022, aims to bring together private, public and third sector organisations from across the globe to increase our collective knowledge of blue carbon habitats, which play an important role in capturing and storing carbon, as well as for climate adaptation and biodiversity.
Each project will address a key question for blue carbon policy, helping to identify the opportunities and barriers to scale up ocean action, in Scotland and internationally.
While Scotland is leading the UK on blue carbon research and our developing expertise is internationally recognised, more research is needed to inform our approach to protecting and restoring these important habitats, which include saltmarshes, seagrasses, kelp beds, biogenic reefs and more.
The Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge aims to fill gaps in our knowledge of blue carbon and provides a vital link between COP26 and COP27.Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan said:
“International collaborations, such as those that will be developed through the Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge, have a critical role to play in bringing people together to work towards a common goal, enabling exchange of knowledge and best practise and helping to accelerate action”
“We welcome applications from organisations around the world to enhance our shared understanding of blue carbon, tackle the challenges we are facing together and deliver on our COP27 blue carbon ambitions both in Scotland and beyond.”Chair of the Scottish Blue Carbon Forum, Professor William Austin (University of St Andrews) said:
“I would like to commend the Minister and the Scottish Government on their post-COP26 commitments to blue carbon and particularly the support for international partnership working that has been announced today. The challenges to our oceans are global in nature and I am delighted that Scotland’s progress in developing a forward-looking blue carbon research and policy agenda can now be extended through this new initiative – we have much to learn and much to offer through such international partnership working.”
“This announcement will echo across the international community, many of whom joined us in Scotland during COP26. The announcement highlights our shared commitment to blue carbon nature-based solutions that can deliver for climate, people and biodiversity.”
Further guidance on how to apply, including eligibility criteria, can be found on the Scottish Blue Carbon Forum website
- Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge (BCIPC) – further information
- Cabinet Secretary announces new blue carbon initiative at international conference – BCIPC announcement during COP26
- Blue Carbon International Policy Challenge – news release published 11 November 2021
- The Scottish Blue Carbon Forum was set up by the Scottish Government in 2018.
- Dronetastic – Mapping Scotland’s seagrass habitats – Marine Scotland (blogs.gov.scot)
- New study into significance of Scottish saltmarsh – Marine Scotland (blogs.gov.scot)
Feature image: Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan. Crown copyright.