A WWF UK report proposes 30% of Scottish waters to be assigned as Marine Protected Areas
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK has proposed that 30% of Scottish waters be turned over for use as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
In a report called “A Nature Recovery Plan – 11 transformative actions for nature in Scotland”, the non-governmental group has called for the establishments of MPAs to “promote recovery of critical habitats that support fish and shellfish” with at least 10% of the MPAs becoming highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) by 2030.
In their report they say that MPAs benefit other non-protected areas as the biomass and density of fish and shellfish increase within a protected area, the individuals, eggs and larvae can ‘spill over’ to support thriving commercial fisheries.
The Scottish MPA network currently covers 22% of the Scottish marine area but the WWF UK believe that there needs to be an increase in the area along with better administration.
The report records that “many sites do not have management plans in place, and those MPAs with management plans still allow damaging industrial activity to continue, offering neither protection nor recovery. The current network does not provide enough protection for features that play critical roles in supporting biodiversity or climate mitigation and adaptation which, in light of the climate and biodiversity emergencies, is a fundamental issue.”
Open Seas has welcomed the report also calling for 10% of the MPAs to be assigned HPMAs and said:
“”Steps to support implementation include
- a) restriction of bottom towed fishing through a significant part of Scotland’s inshore
- b) wholesale reform of licensing system
- c) Robust vessel tracking on all Scottish fishing boats
On their website post on the 19 August called “A Blue Recovery” they wrote:
“Our marine area represents a huge national and natural resource, and yet we are mismanaging it… badly. Even before the covid-19 crisis, the Government’s management of our inshore seas perform poorly across: overall value of fish landings fell £26million between 2018 and 2019; numbers of fishing jobs have declined by 316 since 2010; and the health of the marine environment has fallen drastically, even for supposedly protected habitats – we have lost many tens of hectares of flame shell beds and much more seagrass meadow since 2010.
“Government attempts to reverse the economic declines such as the deregulation of electro-fishing for razorclams or setting fishing quota beyond sustainable limits, have backfired entirely and only served to further weaken economic performance and environmental health.”
The full report can be read here.