December 2014 eNews

Welcome to the latest Partnership e-bulletin, with a selection of news from around the firth.

2014 was a special year, as it was the 21st anniversary of the founding of the Moray Firth Partnership and other local coastal partnerships (LCPs) under the “Focus on Firths” initiative. Scottish Natural Heritage set this up following the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit call for better management of our coasts and seas. There are now seven LCPs around Scotland, working in partnership with government, communities and businesses to make the most of our coastal resources.

Our Spring 2015 Moray Firth Matters newsletter will include a special feature to highlight the changes and advances over the last twenty one years, and to celebrate the contributions made by the many stakeholders that are part of the continuing journey towards “integrated coastal zone management”. We would very much like to hear your views and recollections! What improvements or changes you have seen? What projects or initiatives have made a lasting impression on local resources or activities? What still needs to be done? What work should be top of the agenda as we look forward to the next decade? Maybe you would like to nominate someone in your organisation or community for the work they have done?  Please drop us an and let us know!

Updates from Marine Scotland

Draft National Marine Plan Laid Before Scottish Parliament
The draft national Marine Plan was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 11 December. A new webpage will be hosted on the Scottish Government website to make the wide variety of material available related to marine planning easier to access, and more user friendly. This will be known as “NMP Online” and will bring together and provide links to key documents for the National Marine Plan and other supporting documents.

The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) will be scrutinising the draft plan and will refer to the written responses received by the Scottish Government during its Planning Scotland's Seas, National Marine Plan consultation.

The Committee intends to ask the stakeholders it invites to give oral evidence to either forward on a copy of their original submission to the Scottish Government and /or to provide additional evidence following the publication of the draft plan. The Committee is also happy to accept written submissions from any stakeholders who wish to provide additional evidence on the same basis.

The deadline for any additional written evidence for RACCE Committee’s consideration is 12 noon, Monday 5 January 2015. It should be sent to . The RACCE Committee contact is Alison Wilson, Assistant Clerk, 0131 348 5242, email. You can also follow the work of the RACCE Committee on twitter at SP_RuralClimate.

National Marine Plan interactive (NMPi) On-line interactive mapping to support marine planning
Marine Scotland has developed National Marine Plan interactive, (or NMPi mobile) a web based GIS using GeoServer and Open Layers software, to provide spatial data and make it readily available to stakeholders. All the data from Scotland’s Marine Atlas, which brought together a wealth of spatial information about Scotland’s seas for the first time, are now available amongst over 400 data layers and links to associated web pages for further information. Read more....

Marine Protected Areas
In July 2014, 30 Marine Protected Areas were designated under the Marine (Scotland) Act and the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act. The aim of this network of sites it to provide more protection than is offered by existing protected areas. These will be incorporated into the National Marine Plan and represented in National Marine Plan interactive alongside existing protected areas.

Within the Moray Firth, MPAs are Noss Head, near Wick (horse mussel beds) and East Caithness Cliffs (an area important for black guillemot).  In addition to the MPA network, a number of draft Special Protection Areas (dSPA) were announced under the Birds Directive.  The Moray Firth marine dSPA includes a large section of the inner Moray Firth. Qualifying bird species include:
Annex 1 species: Great northern diver, Red-throated diver and Slavonian grebe.
Migratory species: Scaup, Common eider, Long-tailed duck, Common scoter, Velvet scoter, Common goldeneye, Red-breasted merganser and European shag.

A public consultation on the fisheries management measures for Nature Conservation MPAs and marine SACs started on 11 November 2014 and runs until 02 February 2015. The consultation will cover a mix of 18 marine designated areas (Nature Conservation MPAs and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) spread around north and west Scotland).

Marine Protected Areas (and SAC) Consultation on Management Proposals
Views are being sought on proposed measures to protect some of Scotland’s most important marine sites including large parts of the Inner Moray Firth and the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation. A 12 week public consultation has been launched about the Scottish Government’s new management proposals for 11 recently-designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and nine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in inshore waters. As well as inviting responses on the Scottish Government website, a series of 14 drop-in events are being held around the country as part of the consultation. Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s seas are a vast and vital natural resource and it is our duty to protect and enhance it for future generations. Through our network of MPAs, we have already identified which sites should be protected – now we want to hear views on the new management proposals. Our proposals for these 20 high priority sites have been developed following discussions with the fishing industry, environmental organisations and local authorities and are designed to ensure that the conservation objectives for each site are met, in line with expert advice from Scottish Natural Heritage. This consultation is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in the protection of our seas to express their views about our proposals, and we are keen to hear from as many people as possible.”

Closing date for responses is 02 February 2015. Click here for more information.

Marine Special Protection Areas
The importance of the marine environment for birds which spend all or part of their lives around Scotland’s coast, has been the focus of a great deal of scientific work in recent years. Identifying specific areas at sea which may require special protection has had many challenges - but much progress has been made over the last 15 years. The identification of sites that lie in inshore waters (within 12 nautical miles of the coast) is the responsibility of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), with scientific input from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Beyond these waters, in the offshore zone, JNCC leads on the selection of sites. The image above shows the proposed marine SPA boundaries for the Moray Firth.

The work cumulated in SNH & JNCC making a recommendation to Scottish Government for a draft suite of an additional 14 marine SPAs for marine birds. These additions will be subject to formal public consultation before any decision will be made on their inclusion in the SPA network. Most of inshore MF has been designated….consultation due 2015.

There are four types of marine Special Protection Area (SPA):

1. Marine extensions to breeding seabird colonies
Scottish Ministers classified 31 marine extensions to existing seabird breeding colony SPAs around the coast in late 2009. These are the first marine areas in Scotland to be protected for seabirds under the Birds Directive.

2. Inshore aggregations of non-breeding waterfowl
These are areas at sea, within inshore waters, where groups of marine birds gather together outside the breeding season. They may be important feeding and moulting areas, or staging posts where non-breeding waterfowl gather together while on migration. Scotland currently has no marine SPAs classified to protect these aggregations at sea. The draft marine SPA suite includes nine inshore aggregation sites.

3. Aggregations of seabirds
JNCC has been analysing survey data on aggregations of seabirds in the open sea to identify important hotspots for seabirds. These concentrations of birds can occur anywhere unconnected with the coast, including inshore waters, from the coast out to 200 nautical miles.

4. Other types of marine SPA
Some important areas for seabirds may not be captured by the other three categories and will be considered individually. In Scotland marine areas used by red-throated divers, terns and shags during the breeding season are included in the draft marine SPA suite.

Further information on the process of developing the draft marine SPA suite in Scotland is available on the SNH website.

Scottish Inshore Fisheries Conference Report

The final report from the 2014 Scottish Inshore Fisheries Conference has now been published. Please click here to view the full report, as well as a four page summary.

Marine Strategy Framework Directive
The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (transposed into UK legislation in 2010) requires Member States to prepare national strategies to manage their seas to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020.  Two key requirements of the Directive; an assessment of the current state of UK seas and a detailed description of what GES means for UK waters, with a set of associated targets and indicators, were published in the Marine Strategy Part 1 on 20th December 2012. The Marine Strategy Part Two was published on 5th August 2014 and this provides a description of the UK’s MSFD marine monitoring programmes.  A future consultation will be held to cover proposals for the UK programmes of measures for achieving GES early 2015.

The Government response to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) consultation on proposals for the UK monitoring programmes has now been published. You can find it here. This joint consultation between Defra, the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government, held between 8 January and 2 April 2014 is now closed, but can be viewed via this link.

MFP Project News

The MFP secured funding from the Highland, Moray and Aberdeenshire FLAGs to develop a seafood project that will raise awareness and availability of locally landed seafood. We have a range of activities and events planned, and are developing an interactive website so that locals and tourists will be able to pinpoint where they can source local fish, whether from fishmongers, fish vans or restaurants etc. We will be working with people across all sectors and helping reduce the food miles “from net to plate”. Our project focuses on the area from Cape Wrath along the north coast, Moray Firth and Grampian coasts to St Cyrus and the border with Angus.

Good Highland Food were appointed as project facilitators to deliver the various work packages and assist with marketing and promotion. Telephone 07803 123457 or for more info. The project had a seafood stand and demos at a number of events including the Highlands & Moray Food and Drink Festival in Inverness (19 July 14 and 22 Nov 14), Fraserburgh Super Saturday (13 Sep 14), Elgin Food Festival (20 Sep 14) and representation and the Highland Tourism Conference (26 Nov 14).

We’ll be holding various events and classes over the next six months, so if you are interested in one for your area, do get in touch. A new website is being created which will have interactive maps with links to local providers, news on seasonal seafood, recipes, etc. If you have a seafood business and wish to consider being listed, please get in touch. Lists are being accumulated for potential businesses, fish vans, suppliers, markets, etc., and we will contact businesses directly once the website is nearer completion.

Please check out our Facebook page and add us to your list of likes! This has only just been developed, so we’ll be putting out regular updates.  You can also follow us on Twitter.


Inshore Fisheries Groups

We are now providing secretariat services for three Inshore Fisheries Groups - the Moray Firth and North Coast, North West and East Coast. 2014 has been a roller-coaster year for Scottish inshore fisheries with major work ongoing to implement new legislation such as the discards ban, as well as to determine the effects on fisheries of other legislation such as the new suite of Marine Protected Areas announced in August. The MFP has prepared the next IFG newsletter which will be issued early January 2015.

Promoting best practice for inshore fisheries: a consultation on measures to tackle gear conflict in Scottish inshore waters
Gear conflict is not an endemic issue in Scottish waters but as the intensity of use of the marine environment has increased, locally significant occurrences have increasingly come to the attention of Marine Scotland. Gear conflict can occur both within and between fleet sectors and is not conducive to the aim of ensuring fisheries are well managed. This consultation is an open discussion on proposals that could be introduced to tackle the issue of gear conflict in Scottish inshore waters. Closing date for responses is 06 February 2015.

Biodiversity News

Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Report to Parliament 2011 – 2013 now published
The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy Report to Parliament 2011 – 2013 was published in August and contains details of the progress being made in taking forward the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, information on the trends demonstrated by a series of biodiversity state and people engagement indicators. Click here to read the document.  Any queries can be directed to Linda Gately or Lorraine Gormley.

Marine Biodiversity: North East Scotland Marine Biodiversity
The North East Scotland Local Biodiversity Partnership brings organisations together to help protect and enhance local biodiversity through the delivery of a Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP). Recently the Partnership held a workshop to help determine local priority species with Ian Hay from the East Grampian Coastal Partnership and Clare Greathead from Marine Scotland representing the marine species and habitats. The workshop aimed to identify any species on the national at risk list for discussion as potential Local Priorities, and to identify other species that are not listed, but should be discussed. For all the latest news and information check out their Facebook page.

Marine Biodiversity: Highland Seashore Project
Highland Seashore is a multi - agency funded marine biodiversity project running for 3 years from 2013 that organises events and activities around the coast to celebrate the heritage and nature of the shores; to reach out and educate the public; and to enthuse young and old alike! So, why do we need the Highland Seashore Project? Firstly, we don’t have good information on the biodiversity of the coast outside of aquaculture sites. Without this we can’t assess the impacts of pollution or disturbance or climate change. Also, the public are disconnected from the coast and its heritage and need a good reason to get into the open air to enjoy the blue-gym!!  For the latest information on training, community events and seashore based activities around the Highlands, see the Highland Seashore Facebook page!

The draft Highland Biodiversity Action Plan (2015-2020) as drawn up by the Highland Environment Forum went out to public consultation on 3rd November.  The draft Plan, consultation questions and a summary table of the 49 proposed actions can be viewed on the Highland Biodiversity website.  Paper copies are available from the Council Biodiversity Officers Jonathan Willet and Janet Bromham, tel 01463 702274 or .  The closing date for comments is 24 December 2014.


Coastal Rowing - afloat in the Moray Firth
What began as a project for the Scottish Fisheries Museum in 2009, has perhaps become the fastest growing sport in Scotland, reviving a tradition that was once central to Scottish fishing communities – skiff building! The project www.scottishcoastalrowing.org involves 11 communities around the Moray Firth with Wick, Helmsdale, Avoch, Ardersier and Portsoy having their skiffs in the water. Wick and Portsoy already have second boats either in build or on the water! A new community ‘skiff-builds’ is taking place in Findhorn, with interest surfacing in Cromarty, Fortrose, Burghead, Findochty and Banff.  Read more....

Inner Moray Firth Water Taxi
Jon Palmer of the Cromarty Cheese Company has been investigating the potential for a water taxi service for the communities around the Moray Firth and his discussions with local residents and visitors alike have generated great interest in the idea.  Read more...


For more information about any of the Partnership’s work, please contact:-
Kathryn Logan, Manager
Moray Firth Partnership, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, INVERNESS IV3 8NW
Tel: 01463 725028  Email

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Please note, the views expressed by contributors to this newsletter are not necessarily shared by the Moray Firth Partnership.