RSPB: fisheries and peatland

Sunday 29th January 2012
Scotland's marine fisheries plan map

The RSPB Scotland has warned that a new strategy for Scotland's inshore fisheries set out in the two year old National Marine Plan will not help fishing communities, unless it does more to protect our seas and is brought into effect and RSPB is also urging the Scottish Government to honour its manifesto pledge to restore Scotland’s peatlands.

Responding to a new strategy for fishing activity close to shore, ForArgyll reports RSPB Scotland’sSenior Marine Policy Officer Kara Bryson says: ‘The value of inshore fisheries to Scotland’s economy is reliant on healthy seas, therefore the first step in any strategy must be to reduce the impact of fishing on fish stocks and other wildlife.

‘Inshore waters provide spawning and nursery areas for commercially important fish, and feeding areas for Scotland’s speciality – seabirds – which attract tourists from all over the world.

‘This new strategy won’t only affect what happens around the coast, but also how valuable offshore fisheries fare, and how resilient seabird  colonies are to climate change. It’s therefore pleasing to see the strategy commits the Government to improving fisheries science and data, this is vital if we are to gauge success. The national conference on fisheries announced today, must focus on industry, scientists, and groups like RSPB Scotland, working together to improve science.

‘Our coastlines are changing fast, with unprecedented plans for wind and wave technology, fish farms, and now proposals to start up new fisheries, the Marine Protected Areas and National Marine Plan the Government promised us 2 years ago can’t come soon enough.

‘We agree that local fishermen should have a bigger say in fisheries management, but the flip side is that they must adhere to advice from scientists on how to protect the marine environment and therefore their pay packets.

‘Despite great efforts by some Scottish fishermen, discard rates are still shockingly high. All Scots, no matter how far they live from a fishing town, have the right to expect that their seafood has not been caught at the expense of  future generations.’



The peatland call came with the Edinburgh meeting of scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeto develop guidelines on wetland management, including the restoration of peatlands and discussing evidence surrounding the greenhouse gas emissions from damaged peatlands and the savings that can be made by restoring them.

It comes after rules on ‘wetland drainage and rewetting’ were agreed at the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban in December 2011. New rules mean that the green house gas (GHG) savings from peatland restoration can be credited to Scotland when the IPCC agrees the guidelines. 

RSPB Scotland’s Forsinard Flows reserve in Sutherland sits within the Flow Country, the largestblanket bog in the world at 1,500 square miles. It holds some of our rarest and most important wildlife, such as hen harriers, sundew and otters. It is a natural asset with the Flows alone holding 400m tonnes of carbon. Working with Flow Country partners, restoration work has started on over 10,000ha of peatland at this one site.

Jim Densham, Senior Land Use Policy officer at RSPB Scotland, said: ‘We welcome the Minister’s championing of peatland restoration in the fight against climate change. Scotland is an ideal location to hold the IPCC meeting because we have on show some of the biggest and best examples of peat bog habitats on the planet.

“Peatland restoration is essential in the fight against climate change. We have the tools and knowledge to turn damaged bogs which are currently losing carbon into vast protected carbon stores. Restoration techniques will also turn peatlands into havens for wildlife and a source of clean water.

“What we need now is Government to make good its manifesto pledge to restore Scotland’s peatlands. We need a clear statement of intent from Ministers about how they aim to secure this natural resource and the funding to make it happen for the benefit of the climate, water and wildlife.”

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