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Victory for campaigners as fishing is banned in Arran's 'Garden of Eden' bay

The view across Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran, towards Holy Island. Fishing is to be banned in part of the bay following years of petitioning
The view across Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran, towards Holy Island. Fishing is to be banned in part of the bay following years of petitioning
FOR years they were dismissed as "crazy" a devoted band of islanders petitioning for a fishing ban and conservation zone in the waters off Arran.
Yesterday, those campaigners were celebrating the news that the UK's first community marine conservation area is to be created just off the island.

Richard Lochhead, Scotland's environment secretary, yesterday travelled to Arran to announce that fishing would be banned in part of Lamlash Bay, where a fisheries management zone, designed to promote scallops, will also be established.

The Community of Arran Seabed Trust (Coast) hopes the scheme will help pave the way for a network of protected areas around Scotland's coasts called for by environmental groups and The Scotsman by demonstrating its value and overcoming resistance from fishermen and other interested parties.

As well as helping preserve marine life, the conservation area is expected to boost tourism and increase the numbers of commercially valuable scallops outside the no-take zone. It is the first time a marine conservation area has been created as a result of a local campaign.

Don Macneish, a founding member of Coast, said having very concentrated areas of scallops would help the breeding process, as sperm and eggs are simply released into the water.

He said: "If you have an area totally dense with scallops you are going to have massive fecundity. That's what we want areas that are completely jam-packed, populating the surrounding areas so they can be fished. If you have an area like that, you are getting back towards the Garden of Eden."

Mr Macneish, a former commercial diver, said he hoped their campaign which began 12 years ago would help officials draw up the Scottish Marine Bill expected this year.

"In the beginning when we were talking about no-take zones, people would just shake their heads and say 'These are crazy people', but it's really come up through the agenda," he said.

"The things that are being discussed just now are about making provision for the future.

"The desire to maximise profits by taking everything immediately doesn't really bode well for the marine environment. You cannot do that or you can, but it has massive repercussions.

"What we would hope is this particular project will be something that informs the marine legislation Scotland is thinking about."

He said it had been important to win fishermen's support.

Kenneth MacNab, chairman of the Clyde Fishermen's Association, said: "The association is pleased that, after a lengthy process, a satisfactory outcome has been reached. We are ready to play our role in the management of the bay."

A 4.5 million Outdoor Education Centre has recently been finished at nearby Clauchlands and visiting pupils and students will be able to study the wildlife in the protected area.

Calum Duncan, convener of umbrella group Scottish Environment LINK's marine task force, said the announcement was "ground-breaking".

"This is an exciting day for marine conservation in Scotland and the whole UK," he said. "The trust are to be particularly commended for their tireless work."

Mr Lochhead said: "We will look at any future proposals for similar schemes on a case-by-case basis. The Lamlash Bay proposals are a first for Scotland and we will monitor their progress and success closely."


TWO marine protected areas set up on the Isle of Man have had a significant effect on sealife there, according to a study by York University.

The areas, one measuring two kilometres square and the other one kilometre square, were closed to fishing by trawlers and dredgers in 1989 and 2003 resp

The researchers found that the reproductive biomass of scallops was 33 times greater in the first zone than the surrounding waters.

Scallop catches increased by between 50 and 100 per cent on several nearby fishing grounds between 1989 and 2003.

The newer area, which was seeded with 50,000 juvenile scallops, also saw "dramatic increases" in the density of crabs, starfish, urchins and other such species, with general improvements in overall biodiversity.

The researchers said: "A combination of protected areas and stock enhancement has provided significant benefits to both marine conservation and the scallop fisheries of the Isle of Man.

"Given the success of these schemes and the need to balance the economic importance of UK scallop fisheries with their environmental impact, further use of protected areas to manage scallop fisheries should be greatly encouraged."

The full article contains 748 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 22 January 2008 C THE SCOTSMAN.


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