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Scotland boasts over 16,000 km of coastline including 800 islands, carved out by glaciers during the last ice age.

With the exception of its southern border with England, Scotland is entirely surrounded by the sea – the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea meet off its coast, and the mixing of cold and warm water currents in these different bodies of water create ideal conditions for marine life to thrive.

8,500 animal and plant species can be found in Scotland’s waters, ranging from tiny barnacles and elegant anemones to the mighty basking shark – the world’s second-largest fish.

As one of the largest sea fishing nations in Europe, Scotland’s productive seas have supported a large and diverse fishing industry for hundreds of years. Around two thirds of the total fish caught in the UK are landed by Scottish vessels.

In many areas however, evidence has shown steep declines in (and in some cases the near total collapse of) commercial fish stocks, including species such as cod and haddock.

In Scotland you are never more than 65 km from the sea, so it is perhaps little wonder that many communities around the country have begun launching conservation initiatives to ensure the sustainable management of their seas – for the economic, social and cultural benefit of generations to come.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is offering technical and practical support to these groups, helping them join forces for the benefit of Scotland’s seas.

Our work in Scotland

Reducing plastic pollution on the Scottish coast

Puffin. © Steve Garvie.

Designated as a special protected area, the Firth of Forth on Scotland’s east coast supports a wealth of marine life and complex natural habitats. It is also a highly industrialised area, however, and has become a hotspot for ‘nurdles’ – small pellets of plastic that are melted together to form almost all plastic products. Produced in their millions, these nurdles are easily spilled and often end up in our rivers and seas where they can harm wild animals, which often mistake them for food. Today, thousands of pellets are caught in the Forth estuary’s vegetation; to tackle this serious threat, FFI has partnered with local charity Fidra to launch ‘The Great Nurdle Hunt’ which aims to improve business practices and reduce nurdle spillage through a combination of public awareness, citizen science and corporate engagement.

Helping Scottish communities join forces for their seas

Working together for Scottish seas. Credit: Community of Arran Seabed Trust.

Fauna & Flora International is coordinating an initiative that will provide technical and practical support and best practice guidance to those coastal communities around Scotland who want to conserve their local marine areas. This builds on our existing partnership with the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST), a community based organisation on the isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland that has been uniquely successful in gaining protection for its local coastal area and has learnt important lessons that could prove invaluable to other communities. Ultimately the project hopes to create a network of communities, allowing them to work together to share their experiences and benefit from a louder voice in the debate around the future of Scotland’s seas.

Supporting the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT)

Colourful feather star bed. Credit: L. M. Howarth/University of York.

As part of our work in the Firth of Clyde, we are supporting the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Trust (SIFT) to develop their capacity for fundraising and project development. This work supports a project that focuses on finding an alternative, sustainable model for fisheries within the Firth of Clyde. SIFT’s project aims to find alternative management solutions, which could provide the opportunity for ecological recovery in the Firth of Clyde while maintaining economic returns. Possible solutions might include looking for a more sustainable balance of prawn trawling, scallop dredging and other fishing practices (through zoning or other measures). As a result of FFI’s support, SIFT now has the required structures and funding in place to start planning and lobbying for alternative fisheries models on the Clyde. SIFT’s work is helping to demonstrate how pragmatic approaches can result in timely conservation gains and can complement broader planning processes conducted at the national level.

Supporting the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) in Scotland

Lamlash Bay MPA. Credit: L. M. Howarth/University of York.

As part of our work in the Firth of Clyde, we are providing support to a local community organisation to help them deliver and advance effective marine conservation. The ‘Community of Arran Seabed Trust’ (or COAST) successfully campaigned for the establishment of Scotland’s first ‘No Take Zone’ (an area closed to fishing) in Lamlash Bay, and are now involved in the active enforcement of this site. FFI has supported COAST to develop their organisational strategy and governance structures and is working in partnership with COAST to share their experience and knowledge with other coastal communities seeking a voice in the future management of their seas. FFI will continue to work with COAST to help document and share their lessons and experiences of establishing a No Take Zone with other communities, so that this approach can be replicated.

Take a closer look

A community taking control of marine conservation in Scotland

Lamlash Bay marine protected area. Credit: L. M. Howarth/University of York.

On the Scottish island of Arran, situated off the west coast of Scotland, a community has been campaigning to protect its seas for almost 20 years. It all began in 1995, when two Arran divers, Howard Wood and Don McNeish, set up the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) with the aim of reversing the decline of the island’s marine habitats, which had largely been caused by the 1984 removal of the ban on bottom trawling within three miles of…

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Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is a company limited by guarantee, incorporated in England and Wales, Registered Company Number 2677068. Registered Charity Number 1011102
Fauna & Flora International Australia (Ltd) is a company limited by guarantee, and recognised as a Charitable Institution (ABN 75 132 715 783, ACN 132715783)
Fauna & Flora International USA Inc is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Delaware with federal tax identification number 81-3967095. 501(c)(3) status for Fauna & Flora International USA Inc currently is pending IRS approval.
Fauna & Flora International Singapore is a public company limited by guarantee, Registration Number 201133836K. Registered charity under the Singapore Charities Act