Community led SACs? Barra workshop

UntitledOn the 22nd July 2014 we took part in a workshop in Castlebay, Barra, organised by the local group Voluntary Action Barra and Vatersay.

The workshop was to discuss the potential for community management of the Sound of Barra marine SAC (a European protected area). As of yet, there are no community led SAC management schemes in the whole of Europe, so the Sound of Barra could potentially become the first scheme of its type, leading the way for other local communities who are keen to play an active role in protecting their local marine environment.

The materials created for the workshop have been added to the resources page of our Ecologies and Identities workshop. They cover the legal basis of European Marine Sites (such as SACs and SPAs) and can be used by any local community group interested in the potential of community management.

Scottish MPAs announced

On 24th July 2014 the Scottish Government announced the designation of 30 new MPAs.

The new Scottish MPAs

Compared to England, where only a small fraction of potential MCZs have yet been designated, this Scottish network is pleasingly large, with almost all the 33 proposed MPAs now designated. Of the 33 proposed Scottish MPAs, some represented alternatives, which means the Scottish Government have effectively designated their entire proposed network.

The designation process in Scotland can be seen in many ways as an improvement on that in England, where as yet only 27 of a potential 127 are in force, although more are hoped to be designated by the end of 2015.

However, a large question mark still hangs over management in Scotland. Although Scotland has outlapped England when it comes to Designation, the Southern state may have the edge when it comes to monitoring and enforcement of their new protected areas.

On top of the national management agency the MMO, England has a number of local IFCAs (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities) with their own boats and enforcement capabilities to monitor and police their local inshore protected areas. Scotland’s network however relies on the more limited capacities of the national enforcement arm of Marine Scotland, which has only two vessels for the entire Scottish coastline.

The Scottish Government should be congratulated on the MPA designation process, which the UK Government could learn much from.

Lets hope the same can be said of MPA management, and that this admirable network does not amount to a series of paper parks.

More on Scotland’s new MPAs on the Scottish Government website.

Update on English designations from the UK government (PDF).