St Abbs leads the way

St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve has been very successful in balancing conservation of marine life with economic growth for the past 24 years and now the rest of Scotland looks set to catch up with the publication of the Scottish Government’s plans for the country’s first Marine Bill.

Described as a new future for Scotland’s seas, the Marine Bill will create a new body, Marine Scotland, bringing together existing bodies to: improve conservation to ensure a healthy future for Scotland’s unique marine wildlife; introduce a new marine planning system and a streamlined licensing system to encourage economic investment in areas such as renewable energy; and introduce measures to ensure a viable future for Scotland’s traditional and new marine industries.

St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve became Scotland’s first, and remains the country’s only, marine protected area in 1984, aiming to conserve the marine wildlife, raise awareness and promote responsible recreation ranger, and ranger Liza Cole, said: “There are lots of different agencies who have control over what happens and it’s all a bit ad-hoc at the moment.

“There are agencies for fishing, extraction of oil and gas, and conservation, and what they are trying to get is a system of getting all these activities together and have one over-seeing all the different interests. And that’s included in the Marine Bill.

“We are really keen to see this Bill happen” added Liza. “It’s important for us to make sure that marine conservation is given enough emphasis within the Marine Bill.

“It has a knock-on effect for the area – 35,000 divers come to Berwickshire each year adding