The Community of Arran Seabed Trust [COAST] has set out its own case for the need for Britain to retain its membership of the EU, saying that seabed and fisheries’ recovery depends on international cooperation.
COAST is non-party political and has support from politicians and members of the public representing all political persuasions. It descbes its primary aim as improving the health of the marine environment in the waters around Arran for the benefit of all those dependent on it.
After carefully considering the issue, COAST’s opinion is that a vote to leave would have a detrimental effect on marine management and the long-term health and productivity of the sea around Arran. This is because the UK and Scotland would no longer be a party to, or be able to influence, the Habitats, Bathing, Water or Marine Framework Directives which underpin our own fresh water and marine legislation.
This legislation has enabled the creation of Scotland’s first Marine Protected Area Network, including the South Arran MPA- and protects a wide variety of habitats, some of which are important fish nursery grounds.
COAST says: ‘We are not uncritical of the EU – it is has taken far too long to reform the Common Fisheries Policy and there is still much to do to improve fisheries management – but it at least provides an institution where European waters and fisheries can, in theory, be managed in an ecologically sound fashion with participation from all EU states. For instance, the North Sea has seen significant recovery of cod stocks.
‘COAST’s concern is that by leaving the EU we could undermine all of the above hard won marine legislation, stall progress on fisheries management for years and open the door to a deregulated “free for all” situation with weak environmental legislation. Previous moves to deregulate fisheries in the 1980s resulted in the end of the three mile limit on bottom trawling and the ensuing collapse of white fish stocks in the Clyde. Weaker regulation may bring short-term benefits to a few individuals, but we believe that in the long-term this would not benefit fishers, coastal communities or the marine environment. Therefore, the Community of Arran Seabed Trust is in favour of staying in the EU.’