New future for Scotland's seas
15 Jul 2008 05:05 PM
A new future for Scotland's seas, balancing conservation and economic growth, was outlined yesterday.
Proposals in Sustainable Seas For All - A Consultation On Scotland's First Marine Bill include:
* Improved conservation to ensure a healthy future for Scotland's unique marine wildlife, including internationally important populations of seabirds
* A new marine planning system and a streamlined licensing system to encourage economic investment in areas such as renewable energy
* Measures to ensure a viable future for Scotland's traditional and new marine industries
* The creation of Marine Scotland combining the efforts of existing bodies to act as a champion for Scotland's seas
Launching the consultation at the Storehouse of Foulis, near Inverness, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
"Scotland's seas are special. In the 21st century, we need to ensure that we have arrangements in place to provide a sustainable future for our marine environment and the many industries that depend on productive and healthy seas.
"Striking the right balance between the long-term viability and growth of all these industries and the enhanced protection of our special marine environment is at the heart of our proposed Bill.
"We need a new relationship with the seas to safeguard this unique and precious resource for future generations. With increasing and competing demands being made on our seas it is time to modernise and streamline the management of our marine environment.
"By introducing Scotland's first Marine Bill we hope to do just that. I would like to encourage everyone in Scotland who has an interest in our seas to give their view on the proposals I have set out today. That will in turn help us produce legislation that will secure and protect our seas for generations to come.
"Our seas are among the most biologically productive in the world, containing over 40,000 species and internationally important populations of marine mammals and sea birds.
"At the same time, the seas are a major asset for Scotland and generate more than £2.2 billion for the Scottish economy. We have huge potential to increase economic growth from our seas but need to do so in a sustainable way.
"We have 25 per cent of Europe's total tidal and offshore wind resource and 10 per cent of its potential in wave power. Scotland is also a top marine tourism destination.
"In addition, many communities around Scotland's coasts depend on fishing and fish farming, which together account for 60 per cent of all food exports from Scotland with a value of £422 million.
"It is also vital that our Bill is as effective as possible and that's why we continue to seek further devolution of powers on marine planning and nature conservation. The Scottish Parliament has united behind Scotland to have more responsibilities over the marine environment, recognising that this will help us safeguard our seas for generations to come."
It is proposed that Marine Scotland will be based on existing organisations that will be brought together. Its creation will streamline the governance of Scotland's seas.