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Moray Firth SAC Management Scheme Revision 2

Background
The SAC Management Scheme for bottlenose dolphins was developed during 1998-2001 as part of the Moray Firth LIFE Project. The MFP secured the funds for the Project Officer that coordinated this work and additional costs of consulting and publishing the scheme. We have since used the Scheme as an example of good practice in involving stakeholders and environmental management.

Since the LIFE project, sandbanks have been added to the SAC and the Management Scheme and Revision 1 was produced in 2003. The SAC Management Group have continued to implement and monitor progress on the Scheme and in 2006, acknowledged the need for a further revision of the actions and a much simpler Scheme. The Management Scheme no longer has a project officer and the MFP provide the administration of SAC Management Group meetings. Jim McKie, Fisheries Research Services Marine Lab, is the present Chair.

Following a period of fundraising by the MFP and the Management Group, funding was secured from Reach Petroleum, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, The Highland Council and Fisheries Research Services to undertake Revision 2.

The aims of the Project are to review the “Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation Management Scheme” Revision 1, 2003 in order to ensure that an effective management scheme is in place for the Moray Firth SAC. Following the review, this will be entitled the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation Management Scheme, Revision 2, 2009.

The Process
The first step in the process to review the Action Plan was a lively full day workshop held at the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency offices in Dingwall for the SAC management group at the end of October 2007.

The workshop started with an evaluation of the current Management Scheme process and the lessons learned to be applied to the new scheme. The main focus was on reviewing the actions within the current plan, including agreement to remove actions which are complete, redundant or achieved by other means, an initial prioritisation exercise, and proposals for new actions required.

A first draft of the action plan was ready in February 2008 for consideration by the Management Group at a meeting hosted by the Highland Council. There then followed another period of considerable debate amongst the management group with input from the Regulatory Authorities to update the relevant legislative information and other supporting information in the management scheme document.

The final wording and format of the new action plan and management scheme document was agreed by the management group at a pre-consultation meeting in June 2008.

Thanks go to Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, The Highland Council and Fisheries Research Services for providing the venue and catering for these pre-consultation meetings.

Public Consultation
We invited comments on Revision 2 as part of a public consultation that ran for 12 weeks from July to October 2008. An invitation to take part in the consultation was issued electronically and was also be posted on the home page of the MFP website. News releases were issued to all the local papers around the Firth to ensure as wide a coverage as possible.

Many thanks to the 132 respondents who participated in the consultation exercise. The comments recieved have been used by the Management Group to inform and enhance the Scheme. In the period following the consultation the Management Group have taken on board the comments and suggestions made with a sub group set up to in January 2009 to review the key responses. A meeting of the full Management Group took place on March 3rd to agree incorporation of responses into the Revised Scheme.  Formal replies have been sent to all the respondents and a Consultation Report is being produced.

Revision 2 Publications