CAOLAS is part of a network of other Scottish community coastal groups interested in protecting and preserving our special marine environment. One of the Coastal Communities Network members has been in the news again, with COAST (based in Arran), alongside Network associates Open Seas, exposing the low number of fisheries infringements taken forward by Marine Scotland Compliance. The article highlights allegations of illegal trawling within the South Arran Marine Protected Area and calls of sustained poor enforcement - despite the actions of vigilant coastal communities.
This comes alongside a report last week that Scottish creel fishermen say they are frustrated at slow progress over proposals for a major industry overhaul. The Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation (SCFF) commissioned a report into the potential benefits of banning trawlers from inshore waters. Its findings suggested 400 new boats could join the fleet if a ban covered the first three miles from the shore. The SCFF says “little progress” has been made since the report was presented to ministers in May 2017.
It certainly seems that the time is right for change - please do keep adding your voices to the debate in any way possible, including responding to the currently open Government Consultations relating to the environment.
Click the button below to visit the Coastal Communities Network website.
The Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura MPA came into force in 2016 to protect our resident population of common (or flapper) skate, the world’s largest skate species. The Government in the form of Marine Scotland currently has very limited resources to monitor our inshore waters, so our friends in the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) put together a short guide to reporting illegal fishing in the MPA and this is being reproduced by other coastal community groups. It is called it the K.I.P.P.E.R. guide.
K- Know your MPA zoning
I- Identify and describe vessel and activity
P- Place on a map
E- Exact time and date
R- Report to Marine Scotland
As yet we do not have a KIPPER guide specific to the two principle MPAs in our area. So, to help you in this important role, we are putting links to the 'South Arran KIPPER Guide' and also a 'Suspicious Activity Reporting Form' at the bottom of this blog entry.
Please do take the time to become familiar with the boundaries of the MPAs around us and also to become familiar with what to look out for and how to report it properly. There is anecdotal (and often stronger) evidence that some skippers are openly flaunting the MPA boundaries (not necessarily in our region) and are being allowed to get away with it. It is only through persistent and accurate reporting of such incidents that we can ever hope to change the attitudes of ministers as well as the skippers themselves.
CAOLAS looks to respond to any consultations which impact on our coastal and marine environment. One such consultation exercise is from Marine Scotland and the deadline was 24thAugust.
Marine Scotland is looking for views on the proposed large scale harvesting of wild seaweed on the West Coast of Scotland. CAOLAS along with other groups which form the Coastal Communities Network has submitted a response as we are deeply concerned with aspects of the proposal to mechanically harvest up to 30,000 tonnes of kelp a year over a 20km2 area, with the use of specially built or re-purposed vessels. Kelp forests are among the most biologically diverse and valuable marine habitats on the planet, and are recognised as a Priority Marine Feature habitat within Scotland’s seas. We believe that the proposal to mechanically harvest wild kelp on the West Coast of Scotland will result in a significant negative impact to this habitat, and to the wider ecosystems of the West Coast.
Scotland holds a significant proportion of the UK records of kelp beds and therefore the habitat is considered to be nationally important. The benefits that kelp beds bring to the marine ecosystem are multi-fold:
CAOLAS, as a member of the Coastal Communities Network, Scotland, is calling for this operation not to be taken forward in its current form, and for investment to instead be directed into the development of sustainable seaweed farming methods as a viable alternative.
Please click the button below to follow through the 'Change.org' website and sign the petition against Mechanical Kelp Dredging before it is too late!
If you want to read more and keep updated with new, visit their Facebook page.
Many of the CAOLAS trustees are involved with the first Sunart Water Festival being held on Sunday 16th September 2016. Full details are below the poster for the event.
Andy Jackson will be there in his coastguard capacity and giving a safety talk as well as supporting the safety cover of the Highland Open Water Swim (a swim suitable for novices and first-timers and supported by safety sea kayakers as well as the coastguard).
Annabel Lawrence will be leading two 'Try Snorkelling' snorkel safaris and will be bringing all equipment with her. If you have your own wetsuit, please bring it. If not, the Abernethy Trust have very kindly agreed to loan us some of theirs. You never know, you may just see one of the three Marine Protected Features (MPFs) in Loch Sunart...
Laura Harvey will be offering land based sessions aimed at children and families to help them discover more about what the MPFs of Loch Sunart are like, how they live and why they need to be protected in an MPA.
Karl Bungey will be giving you the opportunity to try Sea Kayaking in 1.5 hour guided trips on Loch Sunart where you may well see some of the local wildlife from new perspectives and learn about the MPFs of Loch Sunart.
There is also a treasure hunt, raft race, food, live music and all manner of other events based outside the Strontian Hotel and along the shoreline to the community owned jetty.
Put the date in your diary and join us in one (or more) of the events on offer. Do book in advance as spaces are strictly limited.
UPDATE: The weather forecasts for Sunday are not looking great, so a final decision will be made on Thursday evening (13th September). Keep an eye on their Facebook page for announcements.
CAOLAS is hosting another illustrated talk, this time given by Alison Lomax, Director of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT).
The talk is entitled "Protecting our whales, dolphins, sharks and porpoise: The Evidence for Change" and is sure to be a thought provoking opportunity to update yourself on the latest information from the research gained by HWDT over the past decade.
You'll also discover how this information is being used to protect marine life, especially in our Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) of Loch Sunart and also Loch Sunart to Sound of Jura (including the Sound of Mull).
This is being hosted at Lochailne School on Wednesday 18th July and will start at 19:00. Entry is £3 per person.
Maritime Archaeology and the Submerged Cultural Heritage in the Sound of Mull.
Annabel Williams, COALAS committee member, UHI lecturer and Maritime Archaeologist, is giving a series of talks across the region over the coming months.
This is an opportunity to hear about, and see images of, the fascinating maritime structures that adorn the bed of the Sound of Mull - some of which are protected while at others visitors are welcomed with trails.
The first of these talks will be at Kilchoan Learning Centre on May 23rd at 19:00. Please help us promote this to visitors to the area as they are welcome as much as residents are.
The second talk is to be held on September 27th in Strontian at the Sunart Centre. This will be from 7pm to, approximately, 9pm and is to be held in the Community Room.
Admission is £3 per adult and £1 per child.
Further dates for repeating the talk in Loch Aline will be announced in the near future.
CAOLAS are supporting as many of the local community beach clean ups as possible and will promote any others that we are made aware of - so please let us know details of any your area is planning this Spring and we will help promote it.
And well as being an opportunity to smarten up your area, it will also help prevent all manner of 'rubbish' - much of it plastic that is not biodegradable - from remaining in the waters around our homes and polluting a vital habitat and Marine Protected Area (MPA).
It is also a great opportunity to meet with and talk to some of your 'village neighbours'!
This year we are pleased to say that the Highland Council are supporting our efforts by supplying refuse bags and gloves for us to use and are also arranging to collect whatever rubbish we collect.
As far as we know, there are beach clean ups on the following dates in 2018:
Please send us your photos from your beach clean up and any notes on the type of rubbish you collect as we can use this data to map any problem areas around the peninsulas.
Hope to meet you at one of the beach clean ups this Spring.
Why should we care?
Global production of plastics is rising.
192 coastal countries like the UK, generated 275 million metric tons of plastic waste and between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of it ended up in the seas.
It is estimated that if we don’t do something about this by 2025 the plastic waste entering the seas from land will increase to such an extent that there will be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish.
There is concern not only about plastic bags and packaging, fishing nets and plastic bottles but also the micro plastics found in products like toothpaste, skin cleansers, shampoos and fibres from synthetic fabrics.
Plastics will be affecting the marine eco-sytems around Loch Sunart, the Sound of Mull and the seas surrounding the Small Isles. Many marine species have been reported to ingest and/or become entangled by plastic. The effects can be fatal but also affect their ability to catch and digest food, escape from predators, maintain body condition and migrate. Plastics contain chemicals and toxins which accumulate at all levels of the food chain.
Everyone can do a little to help by getting involved in organised beach clean ups and by reducing the amount of products they buy that are wrapped in plastic.
We would love to see you on one of the beach cleans and to invite you to join CAOLAS as a member.
Now is our chance to protect our part of the ‘Blue Planet’ so beautifully captured by Sir David Attenborough in the recent BBC television series.
A good place to begin is by collecting plastic rubbish on our beaches and shorelines. If you want to join with others, then look out for a programme of beach cleans scheduled for March and April including:
KILCHOAN: Saturday 31st March 11am (meet by the shop /Ferry Stores)
STRONTIAN: Sunday 25th March - to be confirmed. Check Sunart Community Council Facebook page
GLENBORRODALE: Sunday 18th March – time to be confirmed
CAOLAS, which means ‘’a narrow neck of water’ in Gaelic, is the acronym for Loch Sunart and the Sound of Mull ‘Community Association of Lochs and Sounds’. We are now formally constituted as a Scottish Incorporated Charitable Organisation (SCIO) and have received financial support from the Big Lottery via the West Highland Coastal Trust.
We have launched our own website and have already begun delivering a programme of activities.
We always welcome new supporters and members. Membership is free. If you would like to join us and receive news or take part in activities, email us.