Fair Isle’s seas gain MPA status

Shetland News reports, 26th October 2016: The community of Fair Isle is rejoicing after a campaign lasting around quarter of a century has finally resulted in the waters around the island being designated as a marine protection area (MPA).

Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham made the announcement at the Marine Conservation Society’s annual conference in Edinburgh.

Residents of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS)-owned island, which lies between Shetland and Orkney, have long argued for an MPA to be created so fishermen and the wider community can gain some of the benefits enjoyed by MPAs in New Zealand, Finland and elsewhere.

While there are around 30 MPAs in Scotland already, the Fair Isle one will be different in that it has been a grass roots, community-led initiative.  

Residents in Fair Isle have been campaigning for marine protection area (MPA) status since the early 1990s.

Residents in Fair Isle have been campaigning for marine protection area (MPA) status since the early 1990s.

The Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) was set up in 1995 out of concern at “steady and unremitting damage” to the marine environment. FIMETI has lobbied alongside the island’s bird observatory and the NTS for the creation of an MPA.

Islanders argue that sustainable management of the marine area around Fair Isle will have a positive impact on the environment, tourism, education and research.

Community councillor Fiona Mitchell said that after years of trying, it appeared that the Scottish Government’s “attitude has changed and they’ve realised they do have to have a greater responsibility for the seas around Scotland”.

She also believes the backing of Shetland Fishermen’s Association had a “huge impact” on its success as it “demonstrated we were engaging with people, and fishermen in particular, who said they were willing to support us”.

Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Environment Secretary, said she was pleased to confirm the designation of Fair Isle, along with the Firth of Clyde, as an MPA: “Scotland’s seas have played and continue to play valuable cultural and economic roles,” she said.

Source: Shetland News, 26th October 2016. For the full details, see: www.shetnews.co.uk/news/13507-fair-isle-wins-marine-protected-area-status-at-last


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