Scottish Environment LINK, the umbrella body for over 40 environmental organisations, warned candidates for the SNP leadership not to scrap plans for Highly Protected Marine Areas if elected First Minister.
Existing measures for marine conservation in Scotland will not enable the scale of ecosystem recovery needed to meet Scottish Government targets to halt the decline of nature at sea. HPMAs if done well will support ocean recovery and deliver benefits for all.
LINK has been running a campaign – Create Ocean Recovery Zones – to encourage the public to support Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), which the Scottish Government is consulting on. To date, over 1,500 people have taken the action.
Calum Duncan, Head of Conservation Scotland at the Marine Conservation Society and convenor of Scottish Environment LINK’s Marine Group said:
“We all rely upon a healthy ocean, coastal communities most of all. We’re in the midst of an ocean emergency and all governments of the UK have failed to halt the decline of nature at sea, with declining seabed conditions and plummeting seabird populations of particular concern.
“Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) are a simple measure, proven worldwide to support ocean recovery, doubling sealife within their boundaries, overspilling into surrounding waters to benefit local fishers. Sustainable wildlife watching, education, research and enjoyment can also take place within such zones. Failing to implement HPMAs would be a massive backwards step. If we are to reverse the alarming decline of nature at sea, we must boost ocean recovery and support coastal communities long into the future.”
Earlier this month, members of Scottish Environment LINK signed a joint letter with members of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, calling on the leadership candidates to commit to strong action on nature and climate. To date only one of the candidates has responded.
Ocean Recovery action: https://scotlink.eaction.online/oceanrecovery
Letter to candidates from SCCS/LINK: https://www.stopclimatechaos.scot/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/SCCS-and-LINK-letter-to-SNP-leadership-candidates-3rd-March-2023.pdf