December 2015 eNews Bulletin

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

from the Moray Firth Partnership Staff and Directors

Chanonry Point Car Park Improvements

The Chanonry Point Advisory Group has recently been working up proposals to upgrade the car park at Chanonry Point (near Fortrose), which is a mecca for dolphin watchers. The aim is to improve the visitor experience through upgrading the site’s general appearance, improving surfaces, providing disabled parking, seating and a clear pedestrian route to the dolphin viewing area at the Point. New information and interpretation panels will encourage visitors to stay in the Black Isle and explore other interesting sites, such as the Fairy Glen and Fortrose Cathedral and to use local shops and services.  Physical constraints have prevented any additional parking, but introducing marked parking bays should encourage more effective parking, with strategies are also in place to prevent parking on the verges, which regularly causes congestion and disruption. The work programme has been set to avoid the busy tourist season with the site and the access road closing to all vehicular traffic (except resident and contractor access) between the 4th January and 24th March. The Point itself will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists.  Read more....

Cromarty Firth based firm wins major contract for world's first floating wind farm!

Isleburn Limited (part of the Global Energy Group) has been awarded the contract to provide the suction anchors for the world’s first floating wind farm: The Hywind pilot park offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. Developed by Norwegian company Statoil, Hywind is a unique floating wind park and marks an important step forward for offshore wind technology, potentially opening new markets for renewable energy production worldwide. The fabrication of the suction anchors will take place in Isleburn’s facilities at Nigg Energy Park, starting in Q1 2016 with delivery in Q1 2017. Statoil will install a 30 MW wind turbine farm on floating structures at Buchan Deep, 25 km offshore Peterhead, harnessing Scottish wind resources to provide renewable energy to the mainland. The wind farm will power around 20,000 households. Production start is expected in late 2017. Read more….

More images of Hywind can be viewed on Flickr.

‘Capturing Our Coast’ Project “CO-Coast”

A new HLF funded project (£1.7m) is underway across the UK, providing a Marine Citizen Science programme that involves 13 partner organisations including NGOs, research institutions and universities. This large-scale project will be the largest marine citizen science project undertaken in the UK, training and supporting thousands of people to survey their local coastline and provided unprecedented widespread data on intertidal species distribution and ecology. Scotland has one area partnership, supported by project officer Dr Hannah Grist from Scottish Association of Marine Science. If you are interested in knowing more about or being involved in the Capturing our Coast project in Scotland, please get in touch with Hannah email.  Read more….

The MFP along with Highland Council and members of the Highland Seashore Project Team met with the CO-Coast officer in December to discuss the kinds of events and opportunities that would be of benefit to the area. The MFP is keen to support training events and future volunteer activities that will help gather information about the Moray Firth (and other areas) to start delivering information for a “state of the coast” report.

Firths and Fjords: a Coastal History Conference

Firths and Fjords is a major international conference exploring the pasts of communities living near or along adjacent coastlines and will take place in Dornoch from 31 March to 2 April 2016. Speakers will include Professor John Gillis, author of ‘The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History, Professor TC Smout, co-author of ‘The Firth of Forth: An Environmental History’ and Professor Martin Carver, specialist in archaeological practice and protohistoric Europe, who led the team which discovered and excavated the first monastery of the Picts at Portmahomack.

In addition, Dr Kathryn Pearce, a Visiting Lecturer and Honorary Research Associate at Greenwich Maritime Institute, University of Greenwich, will be presenting 'Charity, Philanthropy, and Scottish Coastal Communities: The Role of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society, 1839-1914'. You can read a feature on Dr Pearce covering her Alaskan background and her route into maritime and coastal history here.  The conference programme, poster and booking form can be viewed and downloaded here.  The conference also has a Facebook page.  Bookings close on 31st January 2016.

Seashore Exploration Workshop, Saturday 21 November

The Moray Firth Partnership organised a special workshop with the Highland Seashore Project titled 'The animals of sandy and muddy seashores'. The workshop was led by marine biologist Mike Kendall and provided a fascinating insight to the creatures that live in our sand and mud! The Fish Veterinary Lab generously hosted the event, providing a meeting room, microscope facilities and refreshments. The twelve participants were given a short talk about the shore life then viewed the significant variety of worms, shrimps, bivalves etc. in the sediment samples brought in from Clachnaharry and Nairn shores. As the weather did not allow for a visit to the shore, we are planning a follow up event in the Spring to get out and do some training on practical and scientifically robust sampling techniques on the seashore. Here are a couple of pictures taken by diver George Brown. If you would like to see more, we have invited George to give a picture show of his underwater images at the MFP AGM in March.

Cullen Skink World Championships - 22 November 2015

The 4th World Championship Cullen Skink championship was held at the Cullen Bay Hotel on Sunday 22 November 2015. There were two competitions run on the day, the morning was for the Traditional Cullen Skink, with the afternoon Cullen Skink with a twist. Ian Watson of the Cullen Bay Hotel beat all contenders to lift the Traditional Cullen Skink World Championship, adding this to his With A Twist victory in 2014. Alex Grahame of Hornblower’s Seafood Restaurant, Gourdon, managed to wrest the With a Twist title away from him, with his 'Bon Accord’ Cullen Skink recipe.  Read more....

Inshore Fisheries Conference Proceedings

The third Scottish Inshore Fisheries Conference was held on Friday 9 October 2015 at Eden Court in Inverness and a summary of the proceedings of the event is now available.

Cabinet Secretary Announcement on Fisheries Management for MPAs

A suite of fisheries management measures to protect sensitive marine habitats and species within Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas and marine SACs was announced on 18 December. Read more....

And Finally…..

This year the University of Aberdeen has been celebrating 25 years of research and teaching at their Lighthouse Field Station in Cromarty. Although probably best known for its work on the Moray Firth’s bottlenose dolphin population, the Field Station has provided a base for a wide variety of marine biology research and teaching activities, both locally and overseas.

To mark the occasion, the University has produced a new booklet which highlights how its work in the Moray Firth has developed over this period. This can be downloaded from the Lighthouse Field Station website and their activities followed on Facebook. For more information go to the website or call 01381 600548 or send an email.

The Moray Firth Partnership wishes to thank the many volunteers, and its key core sponsors and donors, who enable us to complete a wide range of work:-