See all stories
6 Jan 2020

Surf and turf: uniting our actions on land with saving our seas

View of Burg from across the sea. Snow is on the mountain tops in the distance.
Our marine policy is published as the Year of Coasts & Waters gets underway.

The policy – Turning the Tide: A Policy for the Protection and Use of the Marine and Coastal Environment sets out a range of challenges and solutions prompted by the climate and biodiversity crises. It follows on from our charity’s objections to massive salmon farms proposed for waters off the isles of Arran and Canna that may damage the marine environment.

In the document, the Trust calls for restrictions on the most damaging practices such as scallop dredging in biodiverse areas of the seabed, and for further consideration of re-instating the ban on mobile gear within 3 nautical miles of the coast.

The areas for action referenced in the new policy include:

  • Mitigation of climate change effects, such as reducing the impact of non-native species entering Scottish waters and minimising habitat loss;
  • Lobbying for safe limits and controls to be placed on fishing and fish-farming and to ensure Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other safeguards are maintained, irrespective of the outcomes of Brexit – as well as direct intervention where the threat is highest, such as with Arran and Canna, and promotion of sustainable practices;
  • Advising on the siting of offshore renewable energy schemes so that disturbance and harm to marine life is minimised;
  • Applying and putting forward examples of best practice in tourism management that enables public access to rivers, coasts and islands without harming the very habitats and settings that visitors want to experience;
  • Contributing to a review of Scotland’s Marine Litter Strategy in order to stiffen action on preventing and clearing up littering and pollution;
  • Working with communities to balance their needs with the wellbeing of the environment.
A company of northern gannets in the air. Their white wings are spread wide, revealing the black tips.
“The Scottish Government’s decision to designate 2020 as the Year of Coasts & Waters rightly recognises the importance of these areas to our natural environment, as well as the people who live by or make a living from them.”
Stuart Brooks, Head of Conservation and Policy

Stuart continues: ‘But climate change is already a reality and impacting on our marine wildlife such as seabirds. Pollution, over-fishing and disturbance are adding to their plight.

‘Long-term conservation and recovery of our marine environment will benefit people: coastal communities thrive alongside a healthy sea but history tells us that exploitation for short-term economic gain is disastrous.’

Chief Executive, Simon Skinner said: ‘Because our charity cares for coasts, islands, rivers and the land, we are able to help mitigate climate challenges through a variety of different means. This includes planting trees, restoring peatland and – as our policy explains – taking better care of our seas and rivers.

‘Although this policy specifically addresses the marine environment, it’s part of a suite of interventions and actions that are just as interconnected as the eco-system is. Everyone can contribute to saving our planet in a small way by individual actions – we are lucky enough to have the scope and opportunity to act across a wide front.

‘And we will act: we have raised our voice about what we see as an unacceptable proposal for a salmon farm off Canna and we will do so again if other places we care for are similarly threatened.

‘As an independent charity with no political axe to grind, we will draw attention to wider policy deficiencies or commercial activities that may harm Scotland’s abundant marine environment.’

The National Trust for Scotland works every day to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we protect all of this for the Love of Scotland.

In Our Strategy for Protecting Scotland’s Heritage 2018–23, we set out how we’re planning to work towards our vision that Scotland’s heritage is valued by everyone and protected now, and for future generations.