In celebration of Wester Ross MPA’s first Birthday on 23rd March 2017, Sea Change have made three films which share appreciation of the MPA and encourage support for its protection and recovery. The second film explains why Wester Ross Marine Protected Area is so special and why it needs protecting. The footage shows how the parts of the MPA which are still intact have stunning underwater scenery which is rich in marine life and contains vital habitats such a maerl. Maerl is a pink slow growing and fragile coral-like seaweed which forms a living community that provides shelter for many marine creatures, the protection of such a habitat aids the recovery of the whole ecosystem. By valuing and protecting the MPA we help to sustain commercially important activities such as scallop diving, creel fishing and marine tourism.
Please note: The text referring to the percentage of the sea protected as an MPA by 2017 refers to the percentage of the sea completely closed to mobile gear within the tranche of MPAs create in the 2015-2016 period of designations.
In recent years, in recognition of their ecological importance, 20% of Scottish coastal waters have been designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). But for the species and habitats impacted by dredging, this is protection on paper only, with less than 5% of the seabed in Scotland’s inshore waters actually protected from destructive scallop dredging and 4% protected from bottom- trawling.
The footage for all three films came from the dive survey tests in August 2016, the start of a much more ambitious survey project we hope will help map the whole MPA. The initial survey and resulting films were made possible by the collective efforts of Sea Change members, combined with the help and participation of people from the wider local community and beyond.
A very special thank you goes to the dedicated cameraman Andy Jackson from SubSea TV and Ali Hughson (Keltic Seafare & Scottish Creel Fishermen Federation) for his generosity in providing the boat and back up divers. Thanks also to Donald Rice for funding Andy’ Jackson’s trip to Wester Ross and helping with the preparation of these films. And a huge thank you to WRASFB (Wester Ross Area Salmon Fishery Board) who funded Tom Nicholl who kindly edited these films. The survey was also supported by Ken Walton who helped Ali as a support skipper and Bill Wilder who offered his boat and himself as a skipper for two days. This generous help was given in support of the MPA and it allows Sea Change to explore possibilities for shared journeys of discovery and recovery within the MPA. Success truly is a collective effort. Thank you to everyone who played a part big and small! Please feel free to support our next survey, or join us if you agree with our aims, all are welcome.