Tourism industry says ‘Protect marine wildlife to protect our livelihoods’

Some of Scotland’s most prestigious tourism businesses are calling on the Scottish Government to do more to protect and restore Scotland’s seas.

In a joint letter to Fergus Ewing, Minister for Tourism, tourism operators and businesses highlighted the substantial economic benefits provided by the country’s most fragile ecosystems.

The letter, coordinated by Scottish Environment LINK, emphasised that vital jobs, income and opportunities existed in Scotland because of our spectacular wildlife.

With a total of £100 million spent annually by tourists visiting Scotland’s coast, and £63million generated by those specifically enjoying marine wildlife, the industry is vital in creating jobs, income and opportunities for many of Scotland’ s rural communities.

Worryingly, evidence shows that Scotland’s marine environment is damaged and in desperate need of recovery.

The Scottish Government is currently developing a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs); it is vital this network is well managed and ambitious enough to restore our seas to a condition we can be proud of.

Steve Sankey of Orcadian Wildlife says: ‘My business and many others rely on wildlife, so we call upon the Minister to show his support for MPAs and ensure a healthy future for both my family’s livelihood and Scotland’s seas’.

Last month the Minister launched Tourism Intelligence Scotland’s guide on Wildlife Tourism. Here he recognised that Scotland has some of the most fantastic, world-class settings in which to enjoy wildlife, and that the industry has significant scope to expand.

Members of the wildlife tourism industry are now asking him to support them by backing a network of Marine Protected Areas that will properly protect and restore the precious marine environment, including the whales, dolphins and seabirds, which many tourists come to see.

Many local communities are reliant on the beauty of the natural environment, and the wildlife it supports. Susan Phillips, owner of Aurorabearealis, an arts and crafts studio in North Kessock, says her business was heavily dependent on local coastal wildlife.

‘We would be very short of customers if it wasn’t for those who come to see the local wildlife – particularly the dolphins. We, and the wildlife, are heavily dependent on the marine environment. We all need to be seen to be concerned and doing something about the state of Scotland’s seas.’

Rory Crawford from RSPB Scotland, a member of Scottish Environment LINK, says: ‘It is great to see such fantastic support for MPAs from our vibrant wildlife tourism sector here in Scotland, and it should be no surprise.

A healthy marine environment and the future of many businesses are inextricably linked. We need to protect wildlife for its own sake – but there is an increasing recognition that we need to protect it for our own sake too. We hope that the Minister will recognise that through strong support for Marine Protected Areas.’

Note 1: Figures quoted above taken from Scottish Government commissioned report The Economic Impact of Wildlife Tourism in Scotland’ (2010)

Note 2: Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment organisations, with over 30 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society.

Note 3: The Scottish Environment LINK Marine Task Force comprises the following organisations:

  • Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust
  • Marine Conservation Society
  • National Trust for Scotland
  • RSPB Scotland
  • Scottish Wildlife Trust
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
  • WWF Scotland. 
Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Ma.gnolia
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • SphereIt
  • Reddit
  • Slashdot
  • Print

20 Responses to Tourism industry says ‘Protect marine wildlife to protect our livelihoods’

  1. Having recently bought an old VW camper, our first two trips were out west, taking in Crinan, Mull and Skye. We ended up spending a fair bit of cash on the various boat trips, local produce and campsites.

    However, they key thing for me is – I want to go back. Seeing Minke whales, dolphins, puffins, seals, Sea Eagles, mountain goats and deer (amongst others) was simply amazing. All within two hours of home.

    Since then, I have joined the RSPB and have become much more aware of the MPAs, something I strongly support.

    Never mind doing it just because it seems like the right thing, but it really does draw tourists, who will spend more than the odd night. People will be more interested in SCotland for it’s wildlife than they ever will for how we produce energy.

    My big concern, and something that few discuss, let alone understand, is the impact on Marine life of the planned tidal and wave generators. You can’t just put these things in the water without knowing the impact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Wave and tidal generators will have a miniscule impact on marine life compared to current fishing practices which leave the seabed a lifeless desert.

    Regulating the fishing industry and making it adopt sustainable practices is the big key to marine conservation and regeneration.

    I also sometimes wonder what effect the constant harrassment of marine creatures by noisy high speed boatloads of ‘marine tourists’ has on their wellbeing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • The fishing industry has been forced to adopt more sustainable practices. However, it has fought tooth and nail against their introduction – against the quota system, changes in net size or indeed anything else that might reduce its profits.

        Sadly practices such as bottom trawling and scallop dredging are still reducing large areas of seabed to a lifeless desert.

        Public pressure from media figures such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearley Whittingstall have now resulted in such public disquiet over the current (ludicrous) discard system – so much so that it may now be on the way out – but like other changes in industry practice this will largely have been achieved in spite of the fishing industry rather than because of it.

        I do realise that there are exceptions. Indeed, most of the fishing here on Seil is creel fishing, a sustainable and environmentally friendly method. However, with a few exceptions I am afraid that I do not by and large see fishermen as environmental champions. The recent exposure of the massive Peterhead ‘black fish’ scam rather tends to back this negative view.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • What uttter bullshit, you are sadly lacking in knowledge on the innovations the industry has developed to stop discarding, which by the way was imposed on the industry by the discredited CFP.
          Discard or face a maximum penalty of £50k.
          What would your choice be if faced with that SR?
          If creel fishing is so enviromentally friendly why was MCS accredication withdrawn from Loch Torridon creel fishery?
          Please do a little research before pontificating on a subject you know little about.
          The blackfish scam was a decade ago and the culprits were rightly caught and punished, they fully deserved the penalties imposed.
          Sadly the confiscations and fines were only a working, probably tax deductible expense,
          to those already millionaires involved.
          Because one drunk driver is caught breaking the law that does not mean all drivers are guilty of the same offence.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • ‘One drunk driver’???

            Three large fish factories and 27 skippers pled guilty to schemes to breach EU fishing quotas.
            They landed 170,000 tonnes above their EU quota of mackerel and herring between 2002 and 2005.

            One drunk driver?

            The Loch Torridon creel fishery lost its MCS accreditation because it was unable (or unwilling) to control the number of extra boats attracted to the area. This is no reflection on the fishing method. Responsibly practised creel fishing causes less damage to the marine environment than (eg) trawling or dredging.

            And perhaps you could consider posting a little less agressively – you seem to think that my criticisms of the fishing industry are directed personally at you. Guilty conscience?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Scots Renewables – your post proves I have something to worry about.

    So. just for arguments sake, because Plockton has an airfield, does that mean they can extend it to let commercial airlines operate and the impacts on people/environment will be the same? Not quite apples for apples is it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Sorry, I haven’t a clue what you are on about. How exactly have I ‘proved’ you have ‘something to worry about’ ?

      And . . . what on earth does Plockton airfield have to do with it? Not much of a market for commercial flights to Plockton!

      Dr. McKenzie’s links show that there is in fact a great deal of research being done into the potential effects of renewable energy devices on the marine environment. When they are eventually deployed at scale they will be one of the most envvironmentally researched and validated resources mankind has ever deployed.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Was what quoted?

          A lot of nonsense was spoken about nuclear power, including ‘too cheap to meter’.

          Practical research on the effects of a nuclear generation programme – particularly in the days before computer modelling – was practically impossible, so if people did say any such thing then they were speaking rubbish.

          Putting a single mechanical device or a small group of such devices in the water and observing the effects on the marine environment is childs play by comparison. I will be surprised if there are any surprises.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • SR is correct in that marine renewables are likely to have minimal impact on marine life – at least in comparison with other technologies currently in use. This doesn’t mean we should be complacent – site selection still has to be rigorous and appropriate impact surveys made, however, a degree of balance is worthwhile.

            Impacts of marine renewables are likely to be limited to short term sea bed disturbances caused by foundations and moorings. In operation, wave devices are unlikely to have much impact though entanglement of cetaceans in large arrays might be an issue.

            In one’s mind’s eye, tidal generators might be visualised as giant mincers reducing pelagic marine species to chopped sushi but in fact the blades will revolve quite slowly and most species will be able to easily avoid them. Larger species (such as cetaceans, large sharks or seals) in danger of becoming stuck in the turbine’s orifice can be deflected by having appropriate mesh screens over the turbine. Noise is unlikely to be much of an issue – and certainly nothing compared with surface vessels (as any diver knows, large powered vessels make a tremendous racket under the water).

            Offshore wind turbines aren’t likely to have any significant effects beyond the foundations.

            SR is also correct in that fishing has a much larger and detrimental effect on marine biota. He is exaggerating a bit with his description of scallop dredging creating lifeless deserts but dredging activities are indeed the most harmful activity and I am surprised dredging hasn’t been more restricted given there are alternative and more environmentally friendly methods available.

            Drilling for oil and gas is pretty harmful to the marine environment – though much less than it was in the early days when huge piles of drill cuttings would be allowed to develop under each rig smothering all the life under the rigs. That said, you do see unexpected effects. Platforms often harbour large populations of fish safe from fishing and the disturbance of the drilling sometimes encourages specialist species to colonise the area. But the overall impact is one of species loss in the vicinity of the platforms.

            Nuclear stations (and some large coal fired stations) use sea water for cooling and these can cause localised thermal pollution. Ironically marine life tends to be more of a threat to nuclear stations than vice versa: jellyfish in particular can block the cooling water inlets forcing the plant to shut down.

            I could go on but the long and the short of it is that all human activities impact on our oceans but renewables are likely to be at the bottom of the scale of impact rather than near the top.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • SR – You are assuming the impact is miniscule before anyone has proven it. So basically, lets go ahead and hope it’ll be okay, and if it isn’t, well, too late.

        Plockton? Just giving a comparison. Currently planes fly in and out. Not many, and very small (like tourist boat trips). Change that to a full scale commercial enterprise, and the picture is very different .

        I.e. start installing huge numbers of wavetide generators and the impact is potentially huge.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • What is a ‘wavetide’ generator? Really, do you understand anythiong at all about the mechanics of tidal or wave power generation (two very different technologies).

          Are you aware that Marine Current Turbines have operated a full scale (1.2MW) tidal generator in Strangford narrows for four years now with no apparent adverse effects on the marine environment? SeaGen has been licensed to operate over a period of 5 years, during which a comprehensive environmental monitoring program to determine the precise impact on the marine environment is running.

          Meanwhile at EMEC in Orkney many different types of tidaland wave generator have been running for years. The technology is being thoroughly assessed and the environmental effects monitored.
          As for offshore wind – there are thousands of offshore wind turbines operating round the world, and not a hint of any damage to the marine environment.

          No marine energy technologies can be deployed without a thorough environmental assessment, usually runnign to years and more comprehensive than any similar assessment ever carried out on previous technologies.

          You have created a bogeyman in your mind. There are plenty of genuine threats to the ocean, including overfishing, chemical pollution, plastic litter, acidification, temperature rise, accoustic pollution from shipping – to name just a few.

          Marine energy generation devices however have so far been demonstrated to be an almost completely benign technology. They are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • I think I’ve touched a nerve. My initial post was about my concerns. I’m absolutely entitled to have them, and so far, you’ve basically scoffed, rather than try and gently educate me.
            Forgive my typo – wavetide = wave/tide.
            So far you have been unable to point to a single piece of conclusive evidence that shows categorically what the risks of these types of power generation are and what risks are not actually risks.
            I am sorry, but do not believe for a single moment that underwater power generation will not have an effect on any creatures living there. How many whales, porpoises, seals and dolphins may be killed by equipment? What types of fish will not go near these things?
            Your attitude of ‘we’ve done it a couple of times, therefore it’s fine’ is not helping your cause.
            Just as the Scottish GOvernment are hell bent on ruining the beauty swathes of Scottish countyside, your attitude seems sometimes that you don’t really care too much if the rare marine life we have is killed off – after all you’re saving the world by ‘clean’ energy.
            I’m not against using the sea to generate energy, but I like to know the risks.
            You actually remind me of the SNP party attitude to risks of independence, which goes something like ‘ Risks with independence? There are none, you’re creating bogey men in your mind.’

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • I am sorry, but do not believe for a single moment that underwater power generation will not have an effect on any creatures living there. How many whales, porpoises, seals and dolphins may be killed by equipment

            You are obviously someone who makes their mind up on an issue with no evidence whatsoever and refuses to listen to those who actually know something about it. I am sorry, but it is not a question of belief, it is a question of facts.

            The scale of commercial deployment of wave and tide devices is glacial and any issues that have not been uncovered in the long pre-commercial testing of these devices will become apparent long before widespread deployment on the scale you seem to be imagining occurs.

            Dr. McKenzie has already pointed out that these are slow-moving devices and there is no reason to suspect they present any special hazard to marine life. Meanwhile, any site is subject to meticulous scoping and environmental investigation.

            Why not worry about something real, like the increasing acidification of the oceans, about overfishing, about coral bleaching, about the effect of propellor noise on marine mammals?

            These are all real, but instead you prefer to manufacture a technological demon and ignore the real problems our seas are facing.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. SR,
    I have a clear consience and to imply otherwise is insulting.
    I have never said that fishing along with other food production methods I may add, does not have an enviromental impact.
    I will argue that you class all fishermen by the Black Fish stereotypes you quote, black fish fraudsters is my description and stated so above, I fully agree it was a massive fraud of gigantic proportion, but it happened as far back as 10 years ago, the culprits were caught and dealt with, it will be a brave and foolish man who even contemplates breaking the law again.
    Independent audits of the progress made by the UK Fishing Industry over the last decade in areas of compliance, overcapacity, collaberation with fishery scientists, discard reduction go largely unreported by the media, it is not sensationalist enough, but it is, my opinion, an Industry striving to meet changing social demands on the conditions under which fish are put on the table of the consumer

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • John,

      I most emphatically do NOT stereotype all fishermen. As I already said, I have no problem at all with the local creel fishery,and know several people who work in it. I also realise that very recently the industry has taken some large steps towards greater sustainability.

      Demonising any particular industry is futile and counterproductive. It is essential that fishermen have an input and a stake in the establishment of MCZs – but for this to happen it has to be acknowledged that sometimes fishing is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Bottom trawling and dredging are still damaging large swathes of seabed in some areas.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. almost lost track of the original theme of this discussion.
    Scallop dredging is the most invasive practise of all when considering fish stocks for their future generation as well as for humans. I suggest you all have a look at the COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) work in Lamlash Bay, which is a very small experimental No Take Zone (NTZ)
    It is being monitored in great detail by SNH. A film also appeared on Panorama, showing the utter devastation of seabed which was formerly a protective habitat for young fish. I have actually talked to a number of very knowledgable ex. fishermen, you don’t need to be a Scientist to know that overfishing by an overpopulated world is the beginning of the end. I said to someone once that human population if exponentially increasing. They told me to think again, and I instantly realised that destruction of our environment will stop the theoretical exponential increase in population for good.
    And as the article sets out to tell us, and it’s a great pity that we have to be motivated by tourism, marine biodiversity must be protected at all costs, even if the few remaining fishermen lose their jobs. There are many other highly qualified individuals now on benefits because their former livlihoods have been crushed by big tax avoiding businesses,including oil, gas and electricity dealers. I’m one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Jenny,
    A little information regarding the No Take Zone, it was set up with the full co-operation of the Clyde Fishermen’s Association who were instrumental in persuading Marine Scotland to support Mr Howard Wood’s aspirations in a NTZ,
    The fishermen’s representives, The Chairman and Sec of the CFA, were in invited to the opening ceremony and when interviewed by BBC Scotland News, Mr Howard Wood could not praise them enough for their understanding and support.
    As for the other points you make about overpopulation, or could it be construed as overcopulation, and benefit claiments, I am afraid I am not qualified to comment on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

All the latest comments (including yours) straight to your mailbox, everyday! Click here to subscribe.