Clyde marine station threatened with closure

“The Marine Biological Station at Millport, based on the isle of Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde, is a world class research and educational centre which must be saved from closure” says Andrew Binnie, The Community of Arran Seabed Trust’s (COAST) Marine Project Officer. Andrew is one of many former Millport students appalled by the withdrawal of funding. Millport MBS have prepared a petition to the Scottish Government to save Millport Marine Biology Station from closure. For more information see Millport’s Facebook page.

Millport students

Millport students

COAST report: “Despite assertions by the First Minister, Alex Salmon, to the contrary the Station is heavily relied upon by Scottish Universities and used by over 1000 Scottish, English and International students every year.

“The live-in courses offer students the opportunity to see at first hand the marvellous diversity of marine life in the Firth of Clyde. Students also conduct research while at the Station, which is closely linked with early research into planktonplankton Plankton is a generic term for a wide variety of the smallest yet most important organisms form that drift in our oceans. They can exist in larger forms of more than 20cm as the larval forms of jellyfish, squid, starfish, sea urchins, etc. and can be algae, bacterial or even viral down to as small as 0.2µm. They are nutrient and light dependent, and form the essential foodchain baseline for larger dependent aquatic lifeforms. Fish species rely on the density and distribution of zooplankton to coincide with first-feeding larvae for good survival of their larvae, which can otherwise starve. Man-made impacts such as dredging, dams on rivers, waste dumping, etc can severely affect zooplankton density and distribution, which can in turn strongly affect larval survival and thus breeding success and stock strength of fish species and the entire ecosystem. They also form the essential basis of CO2 take up in our seas ecosystem, hence Global Warming., the state of Clyde fisheries and most recently the fate of plastics in marine organisms.

“COAST condemns the University of London’s decision to close the facility following the withdrawal of core funds. It is vital to keep this important facility open and academic institutions must work closely with the Scottish Government to find a way forward. This should be to develop and invest in the station in a way which underpins the government’s commitments under the Marine Scotland Act 2010 and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Above all the Station should not be allowed to fall victim to cross border indifference, scaling down or asset stripping.

“The proposed establishment of the Firth of Clyde as one of 12 Scottish Marine Regions and the establishment of a national network of Marine Protected Areas means the Station offers an obvious base for the study of the Clyde marine ecosystem and its sustainable management. With the establishment of a No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay COAST has been able to demonstrate, not only that the seabed and biodiversitybiodiversity Biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals. are showing signs of improvement but also that research activity and economic activity on Arran has been boosted by its creation.

“A similar effect is expected when MPAs are designated for the whole of the Clyde. With four MPAs proposed and the Station at Millport already identified as an economic driver by the Ayrshire Economic Partnership it is clear the Station has a key role to play. It also provides much needed local employment (39 jobs). The Station should continue to be used as a facility to better understand the Clyde ecosystem and drive science-based sustainable management. The station’s recent work on plastics contamination is a case in point.

Howard Wood, one of COAST’s founders and current Chair states: “At a time when the Clyde has perhaps the best prospects in a generation of being managed in an innovative and sustainable way which will allow it to recover some of its former health, it is crucial that this facility remains open and is revitalised as a public, academic and vital research resource. It is simply unacceptable for Millport Marine Station to close.”

Source: COAST Newsletter, February 2013

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