Report puts £6.3-£10bn value on potential Scottish MPA network

Research commissioned by Scottish Environment LINK has today [3rd December 2012] reported that creating a network of Scottish marine protected areas (MPAs) could bring benefits to Scotland of between £6.3 and £10 billion – and says it could be more.

Much of Scotland’s marine environment is now recognised to be in a state of decline or concern. The report finds that if such a network was set up to help protect Scotland’s seas, MPAs would help safeguard a range of hidden benefits that are currently under threat.

Mitigation against extreme weather impacts, boosting fisheries and securing Scotland’s tourism appeal are amongst the many economic and social values described in the report.

Coincidentally, the report’s findings come just weeks before MSPs are due to see proposals by the Scottish Government for a network of nature conservation MPAs to help protect and recover Scotland’s seas.

Commissioned by Scottish Environment LINK’s marine taskforce, the detailed study firstly identifies the many economic benefits provided by our seas. It then assesses what would happen if the existing management regime continues and compares that to the impacts of different theoretical MPA network scenarios over the next 20 years.

The study finds that the greatest economic benefits would come from a network that protects a high proportion of habitats and species which are currently threatened or in decline. The findings also highlight that significant benefits arise from stopping activities, such as the use of bottom-towed fishing gear, that currently have a detrimental impact on some marine habitats and their dependent species.

Amongst the benefits it identifies as arising from stopping certain activities,it does not appear to mention any stance on military exercises and operations which impact substantially on the marine environment and on marine species.

Yet one of the sponsors of the report, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, has just called for significant air reconnaissance to check for the presence of whales and dolphins in advance of military operations. These include blowing up armed ordnance lying intact on the sea bed, having missed targets during live firing exercises like the biannual Joint Warriors.

It is now accepted that the latest such operation caused the stranding of 70 pilot whales in the north west of Scotland. The Ministry of Defence has said that measure are now in place for divers to listen for the presence of marine species for a longer time and to increase the range they listen over, before commencing such activity.

One would have expected such major marine environmental interventions to have figured more prominently in any report assessing the value of marine protected areas and of stopping specific activities.

Protection of spawning and nursery grounds for fish is also identified by the researchers as important for achieving the largest economic benefits, indicating that fishermen stand to gain from this increased protection.
The report states that the ‘scenario-based’ values (between £6.3 billion and £10 billion) attributed to a theoretical marine protected area network in Scotland are likely to be minimum estimates, due to a number of important factors being excluded due to a shortage of data and need for further research.

Report sponsors’ responses

Calum Duncan, Scotland Programme Manager of the Marine Conservation Society, says: ‘£10 billion is a large figure, but potentially even then a major under-valuation. The figures do not take into account the huge value in simply having a resource available in the future, what is known as an ‘option-use value’ by economists, nor the economic value of potential overspill from MPAs. What is clear, however, is that for the benefits to flow, marine protected areas must be well-managed and must properly protect ecosystem function. They must not become ‘paper parks’. Once these figures sink in to policy circles, there is only one way forward. A network of well-managed marine protected areas is a vital part of the way we expect our seas to be managed.’

Kara Brydson, RSPB Scotland’s Senior Marine Policy Officer, says: ‘Seabirds bring significant tourism revenue to remote and coastal communities which, in financial terms, makes it all the more concerning that breeding populations of some Scottish seabirds are estimated to have plummeted by over 70% in one human generation. A smart government will protect seabirds and the benefits they provide to Scotland’s economy, and the simplest and best way to do this is to create MPAs for seabird feeding hotspots out at sea.’

Alex Kinninmonth, Living Seas Officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, says: ‘The main purpose of protected areas is the conservation of wildlife and natural systems and the benefits that flow from them. However, the economic value of protected areas has tended to be overlooked. This needs to change: if the economic value of marine protected areas is not recognised, they are unlikely to receive the investment from Government they so urgently need. The biological benefits of well-managed protected areas on land and sea are clear, but figures like these highlight that Scotland’s long term prosperity can be enhanced at the same time – its a win-win.’

Sarah Dolman, Head of Policy, Scotland for Whale and Dolphin Conservation, says: ‘Whale and dolphin watching around Scotland’s coastlines generates millions of pounds and valuable jobs. For example, whale watching in western Scotland is worth about £7.8 million a year, supporting over 60 boat operators. Dolphin watching in the Moray Firth alone was recently found to be worth more than £4 million and generating more than 200 equivalent time jobs.’

Notes: Scottish Environment LINK’s Marine Taskforce comprises of eight organisations: Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust, Marine Conservation Society, National Trust for Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, Scottish Wildlife Trust, WWF Scotland, Whale & Dolphin Conservation.

The report (Valuing the Benefits of Designating a Scottish Network of MPAs in Territorial and Offshore Waters) was commissioned by Scottish Environment LINK and undertaken by researchers at the Institute of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning (INDUROT), Universidad de Oviedo and peer-reviewed by Dr Salman Hussain at the newly-established Scottish Rural & Urban College (formerly the Scottish Agricultural College).
The report deploys a methodology developed for Defra by the Scottish Agricultural College and University of Liverpool used for estimating the total economic value of marine biodiversity. (Marine biodiversity: An economic valuation. Final Report to Defra – see link below)

Ecosystem services such as the sea’s capacity to remove pollutants, and ensure ecosystem resistance against threats such as disease were left out of the final valuation. Other values such as the cultural heritage of the sea or the economic value of off-site benefits were also not factored in to the report, due to a shortage of economic data and need for further research.

In December, the Scottish Government is due to recommend potentially upwards of 30 nature conservation Marine Protected Areas, as part of Scotland’s emerging network of MPAs. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, Richard Lochhead, will then provide an update to the Scottish Parliament based on these recommendations. This update will be publicly available. The MPAs have been searched for in Scotland’s territorial and offshore waters and identified using a range of species and habitats on a ‘MPA search features’ list. They will protect a wider range of species and habitats on a ‘MPA Protected Features’ list. In addition to examples of representative habitats that need protecting, threatened and declining habitats and species on the ‘MPA search feature’ list include: burrowed mud, flameshell beds, horsemussel beds and common skate.
Potential sites for designation will then be aired via a public consultation in summer 2013.

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11 Responses to Report puts £6.3-£10bn value on potential Scottish MPA network

  1. On behalf of Tiree’s internationally important Basking Shark breeding area>

    It will be interesting to see if the SG accept all of the rongoing 3rd party recommendations that, the area of the proposed Tiree aka Argyll Array is deemed to be in need of accreditation/protection…will the SG finally bite the “commercial” bullet and protect once and for all the waters of the inner Hebrides from industrialisation ?

    It is also of interest to note :

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/protecting-scotland-s-seas-could-be-worth-10bn-claims-report-1-2671812

    ” “A smart government will protect seabirds and the benefits they provide to Scotland’s economy, and the simplest and best way to do this is to create MPAs for seabird feeding hotspots out at sea.”

    Eg: Great Northern Diver, Black Guillemot,Gannet, Kittywake etc..etc..etc..

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    • Karl!

      I was beginning to wonder if you’d disappeared.

      Now that you’re back, I’d like to ask you to answer the questions I left you here:
      http://forargyll.com/2012/10/no-tiree-array-nails-latest-scottish-power-renewables-manoeuvre-on-the-argyll-array/

      In particular, how many members do NTA have? How many of those are Tiree residents?

      I’m not really expecting an answer. Bare facts don’t seem to interest NTA and every time I’ve challenged you, you’ve just stopped going on this website. Still, perhaps you’ll manage. If not, I guess we can go on without your insightful comments for another month or 2.

      People are pretty quick on this website to badmouth groups that purport to represent communities without revealing their membership. I wonder if you’ll manage to find a suitable excuse.

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      • Hi,
        “Bare facts don’t seem to interest NTA” ? what a nice way to start the day…

        Firstly,in reference to my disappearance… I have a life and a job outside of my token comments on FA…and anti Tiree array stance. Note I say “anti-Tiree Array stance’…the bare fact is I am not anti-”community up” renewables or renewables in general. I am anti industrial scale wind enegy that causes irreversible large scale and un necessary environmental damage simbly and basically for the sake of fiscal rather than true global benifit..

        Secondly, drop the pseudonym and I will always answer any Q & A that I can…but note again…I am at work and I do not have current paid-upmembership numbers.

        Thirdly, why the fixation with membership numbers or their geographical location ? Surely there are bigger issues than who supports or who does not support the Argyll Array proposal ?

        NTA have never had to worry about membership numbers…the last time I looked ( May ?) it contained 3 zero’s…anyhow, numbers are irrelevant now, the entire issue self generates membership. (maybe ask NTA base on Tiree ?) As our membership has increased the % of membership of Tiree residents has decreased (though the number of Tiree members also continues to increased) which is obviously going to happen given the international interest in the inappropriate location and reasoning behind the proposal.

        I wish personally to focus on the matters at hand ie: the damage the Argyll Array will do to a “least damaged most natural environment” that is currently AGAIN up for both SPA and MPA status… not on who supports/who does not support the proposal…the reasons to not support are legion.

        If the planning process is open and honest and also takes the environmental damage consequences into consideration without bias to fiscal gain for either the multi-national company concerned or Holyrood …the final outcome in a morally correct world “will” now be favourable….the Argyll Array will be the Red Herring/White Elephant it has always been and will finally be dropped.

        FYI…my personal intention is now only to comment on constructive discussion, so AB do not expect me to be at your beckon call…

        FYI…you might want to check the latest reduction in size…SPR state this is because of the internationally important Basking Shark breeding area…codswallop! check the depths in the area dropped, check the swell in the area dropped, SPR are using Basking Sharks to gift wrap theoretical deployment problems…the Basking shark counts/research/survey has not been completed so again their basis for reducing the area is a blatant untruth…

        FYI…they have still to even scratch the surface of the Great Northern Diver issues, research into spawning grounds for Cod, Brill…etc…the investegations into seabed marine life etc.. flight path to the airport…the microclimate change we can expect on Tiree…the light polution etc…etc…etc..

        Rgds
        Karl

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  2. As I’ve stated before, I am remaining anonymous as the points I’ve raised, I have discussed with several people and I have done my best to keep any comments as neutral as possible.  (I admit this has been difficult.)  I don’t see how is has any relevance when discussing these topics on a public forum – there’s no hidden agenda in my comments. I genuinely want an open debate. 
     
    You’ve written there that there are 3 zeros in your membership numbers – should we understand from this that means NTA have upwards of 1000 ‘paid-up’ members, as of May this year?  Please state if this is the case.  I would be both impressed and fantastically surprised.  That is to say, I find it hard to believe.  I’d be amazed if you had more than 20 paid up Tiree residents, for a start.  The reason I push on this is that you claim to represent Tirisdeach views, yet to my knowledge you’ve never held a public meeting (please correct me if this is wrong) and you refuse to state who actually agrees with your view (numbers, no need to state names). 
     
    SPR state in their information day info that the reason for dropping the area is great northern divers, and this is would avoid the area for basking sharks, rather than basking sharks being the driver.  They also state they’ve done 2 years of ornithology and marine mammal surveys.  This stacks up. 
     
    You say it is because of the seabed conditions, but they say they haven’t done a geophysical survey yet (to establish seabed conditions).  I can’t see why they would drop an area for engineering reasons, without having done a survey, while simultaneously ignoring 2 years of environmental survey they have done.  To me, this implies that it is your ‘blatant untruth’, rather than theirs.
     
    I don’t know if I have to keep saying this…  Please focus your efforts on fights worth fighting and not on claiming they are lying when, demonstrably, they are not.  It discredits you.
     
    I can assure you that I don’t expect you at my beck and  call.  However, I don’t understand why you would wish not to respond to my point above – surely it would benefit your cause and I don’t think I’ve asked anything unreasonable.  Unless, of course, you’ve been talking codswallop.

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    • “I am remaining anonymous”… therefore contact NTA directly.

      The debate is about the Argyll aka Tiree Array not about membership numbers…if we are going down this path of debate SPR must be pretty desparate…

      If the planning process is open and honest and also takes the environmental damage consequences into consideration without bias to fiscal gain for either the multi-national company concerned or Holyrood …the final outcome in a morally correct world “will” now be favourable….the Argyll Array will be the Red Herring/White Elephant it has always been and will finally be dropped.

      TTFN

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  3. I’m not sure whether Karl means members or supporters, but either way there seems no reason to impose the notion of ‘paid up membership’ nor any reason to assess the support from only the folk on Tiree. The project is so enormous, every Scottish resident should be concerned and aware of its possible impact and consequences.

    I am delighted to learn that there are more than 1,000 folk interested enough to be seen as a member.

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  4. How would me contacting NTA directly assist in a public discussion about this project?  Nothing I have said to this point is driven by a personal agenda.
     
    Lowry, Karl mentions paid up membership himself so brought that into contention.  Unless rules have changed recently, I believe you can only be a member of NTA if you have donated, therefore it is reasonable to assume that Karl is referring to this figure.  You have personally criticised Eilean Easdale for not producing membership figures while claiming to represent a community.  Why should NTA be different?
     
    Karl, this is why I think the membership discussion is important:
    1.       You and NTA regularly claim to represent the view of Tirisdeachs and Argyll residents
    2.       NTA have NEVER held any form of public meeting to canvas views – I asked you to confirm this or otherwise above so assume your failure to do so is confirmation that it’s true
    3.       I don’t believe that communities affected by this project (Tiree, Argyll, Scotland) are against it in anything resembling the strength of numbers or opinion claimed by NTA.  It is within NTA’s gift to prove this or otherwise.  Failure to do so presumably confirms it isn’t the case.
     
    The last time you wrote on this website Karl (my link above) you claimed SPR were guilty of “misinformation, question dodging and secrecy”.  I’m yet to see a single occurrence of any of these from SPR (examples would be welcome) yet the comments on this page alone are riddled with examples of each of them from NTA.
     
    I’m yet to make up my mind on the Argyll Array.  If, when more information comes to light, I oppose the project, I will certainly not be adding my support to NTA, and will be forced to find an alternative means voicing my opinion.  What a shame that people who think like me will be tarred with your brush, when you could have so easily run a positive, honest campaign that would doubtless have swayed more people. 
     

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    • I could be wrong, but from what I can see NTA is not a charity and neither does it plan to build large developments in a conservation area, with charitable funds, which would have a significant impact on the resident community and the majority of residents have said they doesn’t want.

      Eilean Eisdeal regularly applies for, and receives, funding for projects which to date amounts to around
      £1 million. The only thing to show for it, in my opinion, is a hall that is used as an arts venue, a museum for tourists and a harbour that is still being neglected along with an area of land that the council and Scottish Government Reporter have deemed unfit for development. A previous article has shown how Eilean Eisdeal are currently allowing the local builder to use the land to be used as a dump and burial ground for waste materials. It appears that the charity has little respect for both the environment and island residents and seems to be operating outwith its original constitution.

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  5. AB, please, you are acting like a troll. The issue here is not ‘membership’ numbers, and yet you persist.

    This may amaze you – I live in Inverclyde and am against this industrial development. I don’t need to live next door to it to know it’s not good for Scotland, the environment or wildlife. How many non-Tiree, non-Argyll feel the same way?

    “when you could have so easily run a positive, honest campaign that would doubtless have swayed more people” – this sounds like a familiar line….

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  6. AB this is the last time I will personally reply to your posts…so listen up !:
    “1.You and NTA regularly claim to represent the view of Tirisdeachs and Argyll residents.” We claim to represent the views of those who agree that the placing of this Array is inappropriate…we represent the views of people locally, nationally and internationally.We have subscribers as well as paid up members.
    2.”NTA have NEVER held any form of public meeting to canvas views – I asked you to confirm this or otherwise above so assume your failure to do so is confirmation that it’s true” WRONG we held an event on Tiree that was well attended…we post bi-weekly in An Tirisdeach (as do SPR) we have held regular meetings on Tiree and on Tiree for subscribers and paid up members…As popular opinion is against the array we have found thus far, no need to canvas for “votes”…we have also attended (at the request of both the SG and Brussels meetings in Edingburgh, Brussels etc…
    3. “I don’t believe that communities affected by this project (Tiree, Argyll, Scotland) are against it in anything resembling the strength of numbers or opinion claimed by NTA. It is within NTA’s gift to prove this or otherwise. Failure to do so presumably confirms it isn’t the case.” I have gone past caring what you believe…and refer you to my comment :”If the planning process is open and honest and also takes the environmental damage consequences into consideration without bias to fiscal gain for either the multi-national company concerned or Holyrood …the final outcome in a morally correct world “will” now be favourable….the Argyll Array will be the Red Herring/White Elephant it has always been and will finally be dropped.”
    It’s interesting from my own point of view that I have started to recieve maybe half a dozen emails and posts per week that come from anon type folk like you that “always” refuse to give a name or details, yet expect answers and my time…these folk always have an aura of negativity towards NTA but never involve themselves in the real core debate ie: The Tiree Arrays effect on the waters around Tiree (and further afield) and the onshore affects.

    And on behalf of life forms that are not signed up members of NTA but have equal rights as inhabitants of the same planet read on….

    Great Britain’s largest winter population of Great Northern Divers is threatened with destruction and they live on the Skerryvore Reef.
    The facts are now in the public domain, which is just as well as Scottish National Heritage an advisor to Marine Scotland and the Scottish government have failed to highlight the following:
    ‘If Scottish Power Renewables (Iberdrola) build the Argyll aka Tiree Array within the proposed Crown Estates lease area, they will cause irreversible damage to a proposed Special Protection Area an SSSI…the area used by over 42% of Great Britain’s wintering Great Northern Divers’.(this is out with the recommendation that the area should also be accredited with MPA status in regards to it’s globally important Basking Shark breeding area)
    A government report has warned that Britain’s coastlines are in danger from offshore wind farms, In a review of European Union regulations to protect birds and animals, DEFRA found that the UK is not imposing sufficiently strong protections around the coast.
    What is a Special Protection Area (SPA)?
    In the case of our Great Northern Divers, a SPA is the area that has been identified as being of international importance for feeding, wintering and migration of a rare and vulnerable species of bird that is found within a European Union country. An SPA is a European designated site, classified under the ‘Birds Directive 1979’ which provides enhanced protection given by the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status that all SPAs also hold…
    What is the process for designating Special Protection Areas (SPAs)?
    The Birds Directive provides no formal criteria for selecting SPAs, so the JNCC, on behalf of the statutory country conservation agencies and government, published SPA selection guidelines for use in the UK. These criteria are: If the area is used regularly by 1% or more of the Great Britain population of a species listed in Annex 1 of the Directive/ If the area is used regularly by 1% or more of the biogeographical population of a regularly occurring migratory species (other than those listed in Annex 1) in any season. SPAs are also automatically designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
    The JNCC Fact
    The Joint Nature Conservation Committee completed an in depth survey of the bird life to be found around Tiree (3 & 5 winters: 2003/04 &2007/08) and has recommended in its report No#416 (08/09) full SPA status. The threshold for SPA recommendation is 1% of the GB population…Tiree holds at least 42% of the GB population. On the basis of the UK SPA Selection Guidelines the waters around both Coll and Tiree and specifically the proposed area of the Argyll aka Tiree Array qualify as a SPA just on their Great Northern Diver populations alone.
    What is the Birds Directive?
    It came into force in April 1979. It covers the protection of all species of naturally occurring wild birds in the European territory of member states. It gives special protection to areas for the rare or vulnerable species listed in Annex 1 of the Directive and for regularly occurring migratory species…the Tiree Great Northern Divers fall’s squarely into this category.
    Would selection of the waters around Tiree as an SPA ever affect our islands fishing fleet? The simple answer is ‘NO’, neither the type of fishing or density of our fleet has ever affected our Great Northern Divers numbers…it is self mitigating by its small size. Big question is does: Tiree or indeed does Scotland support this destruction ? legislation is in place to build marine wind farms…surely legislation is in place to move them too…?

    Bye !

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  7. An excellent answer, Karl. However, I fear that the SNP has a tendency to ignore legislation – just look at the Trump fiasco and the destruction of an extremely valuable (in environmental terms) SSSI.

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