Marine Scotland is drawing up plans for Scotland’s seas and is visiting over 50 Scottish ports this summer - including Eyemouth.
There are five strands to their plans which have to balance protecting the marine environment while at the same time ensuring that those making a living from the sea and the country’s coastline, can continue to do so.
Scotland’s integrated plan for its seas includes: a national marine plan; creating Marine Protected Areas; the emergence of offshore renewable energy; priority marine features; and integration with land-based planning.
Berwickshire’s coastal communities, and in particular local fishermen, are most likely to be affected by plans to create a marine protected area on the south east coast of Scotland.
That will be the main topic at the Eyemouth drop-in event, due to take place at the Fishermen’s Mission on September 11, from 1-8pm.
Marine Scotland has already laid out the activities in Scottish waters that in their view could affect protected areas - demersal seine net fishing (minimal activity), otter trawling, mechanised dredging, scallop dredging, creeling and potting; licensed activities such as renewable energy offshore wind farms; and Ministry of Defence Seabed, sea surface and sub-surface activity.
Marine experts have already accepted that the level of creeling and potting - the livelihood of a number of the smaller Berwickshire fishing boats - is not likely to impact greatly on protected areas and aren’t proposing any additional management measures.
Activities considered unlikely to impact the sea’s most sensitive areas include pelagic trawling (prawn fishing, which is the mainstay of the bulk of Eyemouth’s fleet), purse seining and commercial shipping.
Scotland already had 152 protected areas within its seas and Berwickshire can boast the country’s first voluntary marine reserve at St Abbs; the aims of the reserve being exactly what Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government are now trying to achieve nationwide: to conserve the biodiversity of the coastal water and promote responsible recreational use alongside a sustainable fishery to the mutual benefit of all.
Discussions with fishermen, tourism operators and others with a vested interest in Scotland’s waters start next week and continue until October. Where it is decided that fisheries management measures should be introduced, if Scottish Ministers do not have the legal powers to put them in place then an application will be made through the EU Common Fisheries Policy.