Seas worth their weight in gold to economy and public

Misty cliffs around Pettico Wick in the St Abbs Head Nature Reserve.
Misty cliffs around Pettico Wick in the St Abbs Head Nature Reserve.

For the first time a study of divers and anglers has revealed that the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) will not only benefit habitats and wildlife, but will also bring considerable economic benefits and have a positive effect on the well-being of sea and coastal users.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) welcomes the report and says it shines a light on some of the wider benefits that a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around Scotland might bring to the public purse. MCS recommends that this report be taken into account by Scottish Government in its forthcoming consultation on a network of MPAs to improve the fortunes of Scotland’s seas.

“This groundbreaking study has revealed that diving and angling in 25 proposed MPAs in Scotland is worth between £67 million and £117 million to the economy each year. In addition, recreational divers and anglers questioned said they would make a one-off payment collectively worth between £142-£255 million to see these sites protected and damaging activities stopped.” says MCS Scotland Programme Manager, Calum Duncan.

The study titled, ‘The value of Marine Protected Areas in the UK to divers and anglers’ was jointly published today by the Universities of Aberdeen, De Montfort, Aberystwyth and Birmingham City, has been welcomed by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) and the Angling Trust, who say it shows the benefits of marine protection will far outweigh the costs.

But it’s not all about the cash. The study also explored the deeper held values that divers and anglers attach to the sea. Some of the most important benefits turn out to be the value people put on being in or by the sea and coast, where they can engage with the environment on many different levels.

The Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site is a European designated special area of conservation (SPA). It has been designated because it has six features of European importance. They are rocky reefs, sea caves, muddy and sandy shores, large inlets and bays, seals and birds.