Sea Change Wester Ross Constitution

Sea Change Wester Ross Constitution

  • SEA CHANGE CONSTITUTION  Friday 29th May 2015.

The name of the Group will be SEA CHANGE Wester Ross.

The AIMS of the group will be to:

  • RESTORE the marine environment & protect the seabed for public benefit.
  • RECOVER biodiversity across the marine ecosystem and increase the numbers of mature breeding adults to improve stocks.
  • REGENERATE coastal communities by supporting the socio-economic recovery of the area.
  • SUPPORT sustainable low impact fishing vital to the social fabric of the community.
  • ENCOURAGE scientists, fishermen and community members to share knowledge and work together to create a world class model of sustainable local Marine Protected Area (MPA) management.
  • EDUCATE by engaging with the community in an inclusive way and promote greater public awareness through factual education.
  • ADVOCATE for better fisheries’ management based on the best available evidence to support sustainable fishing.
  • BAN scallop dredging and other seabed damaging practices from inshore waters in order to protect fish nurseries and spawning grounds.
  • RETAIN an independent voice and promote the public as the key stakeholder in management of the marine environment.
  • BUILD relationships between fishermen, scientists, environmental groups and fisheries’ managers to work for best practice which fits local needs – serving the general public and future generations.
  • JOIN with like minded groups such as COAST of Arran and others to promote a united voice for a thriving sea.


Sea Change is a local community marine group based around the coastline of Wester Ross on the west coast of Scotland.  It was set up to encourage more local say in the management of our inshore waters, with a focus on the Wester Ross MPA.  Sea Change includes ordinary members of the public united by a shared love of the sea and a desire to restore it for the next generation. Our vision is to celebrate a living, healthy sea and to re-imagine thriving coastal communities around intact ecosystems.  Providing a local voice for the importance of biodiversity (species of no direct commercial value) and its role in the interconnectedness between species.  All who share our aims are welcome to join the group.


  • Stage 1: Demand an immediate ban on scallop dredging and the reintroduction of inshore boundary limits.  The latter is the simplest spatial measure to deal with the urgent need to protect inshore waters which have been in declining health since the three mile limit was lifted in 1984.  MPA proposals are currently inadequate.
  • Stage 2: As a long term objective in a phased and managed process over time we want all mobile gear excluded from the MPA. However it is agreed that at Stage 1 (May 2015) our public focus is upon banning dredgers.
  • Our focus is the whole ecosystem but species of particular local interest are: recovery of Maerl beds as a keystone habitat within the area which provides nurseries for juvenile fish and spawning areas for many key commercial species. The restoration of the fin fish fisheries which have been in rapid decline since the 3 mile limit was lifted in 1984.  Restoration of herring, as a keystone species within Wester Ross which has spawning and nursery grounds within the area and upon which the food chain depends including sea mammals (iconic species of interest to nature tourism such as whales, dolphins, porpoise). Recovery of important seaweed habitats such as Seagrass, and endangered or threatened species of interest to sea anglers such as skate and sea trout which have been in rapid decline.


In order to achieve its aim the group may:

  1. Raise money (via grants/campaign crowd funding/private donations).
  2. Open bank accounts.  If accounts are opened, all money is accounted for in a transparent manner.
  3. Sea Change will work with like minded groups along the west coast with similar objectives to help promote our shared aims. Independence of mission and objectives will be maintained as accountability is to the management committee.
  4. Do anything that is lawful which will help to fulfil its aim, this includes peaceful protest if necessary.

Not considered current objectives as of May 2015 tbc in future:

  1. Acquire and run buildings.
  2. Take out insurance.
  3. Employ staff.
  4. Organise courses and events.


We begin with the principal of equality, democracy, inclusiveness and listening. The group is modelled upon the idea of a quaker meeting, think tank or grazing committee where shaping policy and planning is a collective process with everyone invited to participate.  The group agrees to listen to all its members respectfully and take into account different opinions in an attempt to come to well thought out conclusions. A large committee operating like a think tank reflects the large geographic area / ecosystem within which we work and the need to draw upon diverse expertise and experience from different sectors and areas.

Membership of the group will be open to any individual over sixteen without regards to disability, political or religious affiliation, race, sex or sexual orientation who is:

– interested in helping the group achieve its aim.

– willing to abide by the rules of the Group and agree with the mission statement.

The group is a voluntary organisation and has no subscription or membership fee.


Every member of the Wester Ross community who shares the group’s aims and agrees with the mission statement objectives, who physically attends a group meeting, and wishes to become a member, automatically joins the management committee and has voting rights. Therefore the existing management committee is made up of all those who have attended meetings who wish to exercise their right to vote.  It is democratic and inclusive with one person one vote.


Each appointment is made on the caveat that all appointments work to serve the aims of the whole group directed by the management committee. Those appointed agree to be honest, open and transparent in their communications and serve what is decided, directed, endorsed by the wider group.


There is no officer e.g. chairman or committee secretary invested with rights to decide matters on behalf of the group. However for a central point of contact and stability of organisation as well as a point of contact for outside groups there shall be a convener-coordinator in the model of a parliamentary cross party committee working on behalf of the membership.  The convener-coordinator/s must serve the direction that the management committee/group attending meetings has agreed upon collectively.  All key decisions are made collectively by vote, or consultation.

They will coordinate and oversee progress, research next steps and coordinate group ideas, plans, activity and agreements and keep tabs on progress. They must report back to the wider group at all important junctions and keep the group informed of all activity done in its name. This position is appointed by group vote or group agreement and changed as and when the group requires and meets to vote for change.

Assistant convener-coordinator

An assistant convener-coordinator can be agreed by the group (by vote if necessary) to share the duties above.

Chairperson for group meetings

A group chairperson will be appointed to manage meetings to ensure each person is heard at group meetings if they wish to be.  This is not a permanent office but the role will be taken up by one of the members attending the meeting in order to oversee the agenda items are fairly heard and discussed.  The chair will respond to individual requests to put items on the agenda, collect and circulate any relevant information within the group and ensure minutes are shared.  They will schedule date and time of the meeting to suit the majority (either by doodle poll or email).

Specific tasks

To spread the workload, specific tasks can be assigned outside of the central coordinator-convener roles where prior connections, talent or experience makes this logical. This can include assigning specific communications and projects to individuals e.g. Ali with the SCFF,  Robyn North Minch Shellfish, Andy with divers groups or people with prior links to MSPs etc.  All agree to report fully back to the group.

Sub groups/Task groups

Specific task groups are formed in order to deal with specific group objectives where a smaller group with special expertise or interest may serve the group purpose more efficiently. (For example to decide specific plans/ or organise specific needs such as Facebook page, films, economic’s-statistics etc). Sub-groups are collectively formed and agreed at meetings; these can be initiated by suggestion or self volunteered, but group agreement must be sought and their objectives always serve the wider groups agreed aims.

Each appointment is made on the caveat that all appointments work to serve the aims of the whole group directed by the management committee (all members attending meetings). Those appointed agree to be honest, open and transparent in their communications and serve what is decided, directed, endorsed by the wider group.

Public spokesperson

The spokesperson/s (different from convener-coordinator) will be specifically chosen to speak on behalf of the group for public parliamentary petitions, media or wherever a public spokesperson is required. Spokespersons needs to be assigned by group agreement. This can be done by email or group meeting.

Meeting minutes

To share the task, the taking and sharing of group minutes will be assigned to people who attend the meeting, and rotated.


The management committee (group) must ensure that everything the group or individuals within the group do, when representing it or using its name is in support of the shared aims, purpose and vision of the wider group. Each individual agrees to establish and protect the fundamental values, ethical principles and policies which govern the activities of the group, when acting on the group’s behalf or in its name.

The management committee/group needs to regularly review the challenges and opportunities faced to enable them to anticipate, manage and respond to change.  Strategic planning is to be discussed at group meetings.

The management committee will resolve disagreements for the benefit of the group. If there are problems the members concerned about issues, they shall have the right to be heard by the Management Committee, accompanied by a friend or supporter, before a collective decision is made.


Those members of the management committee that attend the meeting can vote. The voting process is one person one vote. The process is designed towards listening and building a consensus with full agreement being the intent.

On votes of exceptional and fundamental importance – when people are away – there is an allowance of  Proxy Votes (by email).

If a consensus or general agreement is not arrived at and there is a dispute another meeting and vote is held to resolve the dispute and then the issue is decided by majority vote 51%.

Voting at management committee meetings shall be by a show of hands of all people attending.

If the vote is tied – then there is more discussion and then an online vote where each argument is presented in bullet points and voted on.  For a decision this requires a majority: 51%.

Ultimately, the management committee is the decision-making forum for the group and should ensure that it is well-informed in its decisions through effective planning, monitoring and review of the organisation and its activities.


There may be supporters who want to be kept informed but do not want to be part of the management committee or shape the direction of the group. They can be on a secondary list and kept informed.


The committee shall meet at least four times a year. Intended to be at least once every 4-6 weeks.

At least 5 management committee members must be present for a management committee meeting to take place and a vote to be carried.


If required, a treasurer will be appointed to:

  • supervise the financial affairs of the group and
  • keep proper accounts that show all monies received and paid out by the group.

In addition

  1. All monies received by or on behalf of the group shall be applied to further the aim of the group and for no other purpose.
  2.  Any bank accounts opened for the group shall be in the name of the group.
  3. Any cheques issued shall be signed by the signatories who are part of the management committee.
  4. The group shall ensure that its accounts are audited or independently examined every year.


The group will hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the month of November.

All members shall be given at least fourteen days notice of the AGM shall be entitled to attend and vote. Every attempt to set a date to ensure all can attend will be made. Doodle Poll will be used.

The business of the AGM will include:

  • Receiving a report from the convener-coordinator or group of people on the group’s annual activities.
  • Receiving a report from the treasurer (if one has been appointed) on the finances of the group.
  • Choosing a new convener-coordinator and/or assistant convener-coordinator.
  • Considering any other matter as may need to be decided.
  • Updating agreements – by discussion this agreement when necessary can be amended by majority vote.

At least 5 of members must be present for the Annual General Meeting and any other General Meeting to take place and be considered valid for votes to be carried.


A Special General Meeting may be called by the Management Committee members to discuss an urgent matter. The coordinator shall give all members fourteen days notice if possible but could be as per situation – of any Special General Meeting together with notice of the business to be discussed.


Any changes to this Constitution must be agreed by at least Majority 51% of those members present and voting at any General Meeting.


The group may be wound up at any time if agreed by majority 51% of those members present and voting at any meeting.  In the event of winding up any assets remaining after all debts have been paid shall be given to another group with a similar aim.


Until the first AGM takes place the persons whose names, addresses and signatures appear at the bottom of this document shall act as the management committee referred to in this Constitution. This Constitution was adopted on by:

Electronic Signatures

Sue Pomeroy, Robyn Dutton, Hamish Sinclair, Andy Holbrow, Brian Wilson,  Peter Cunnigham, John wilding, Sara Nason, Noel Hawkins, late arrival: John McIntyre.  Witnessed by (Kerri Whiteside FFI)


Sue Pomeroy, Robyn Dutton , Hamish Sinclair, Andy Holbrow, Brian Wilson, Peter Cunnigham, John wilding, Sara Nason, (Noel Hawkins – no longer member), John McIntyre,

Plus: Bernard Planterose, Beatrice Brinkler and Paul Copestake and others who signed in person at the group meeting in Nov 2016 to be added )

Witness observer – Kerri Whiteside Flora and Fauna International.

Updated 2016 November.  Sea Change is now working to:

  • BUILD effective management of the now designated Wester Ross Marine Protected Area (MPA) and a seabed survey to baseline map the whole MPA area.
  • MONITOR recovery by supporting surveys to measure habitat and species recovery with ‘Citizen Science’.
  • BOOST or sustain the livelihood of those dependent on low impact fishing and marine eco-nature tourism and increase the popularity of the area as a diving and tourist destination with a sea festival.

Updated Dec 21 2016

We voted to oppose new or expanded salmon farms within Wester Ross Marine Protected Area. Whilst Sea Change is not a national lobby group which campaigns against Salmon Farms  – we agree to add our voice to national campaign networks working for reform of the industry. 

Our opposition to new or expanded fish farms is based on the following: 

  • Protecting the species the MPA was set up to conserve/ restore via careful assessment of the EIA and rigorous conditions requested for these.
  • Protecting jobs such as the creel and dive /shellfish fishermen, anglers etc
  • Protecting the ecosystem recovery and potential for the MPA ‘umbrella effect’ with the related socio-economic benefits.
  • The principle that MPA’s are not the place to expand fish farms (given the national push for expansion in MPAs overriding community will elsewhere)
  • It is a dangerous precedent that MPA’s should be considered appropriate locations for fish farms with fragile ecosystems being legally protected, which are still unmapped, as well as the creel and dive, angling “MPA umbrella effect restoration” we’ve worked hard for.
  • We work with local creel and dive fishermen by working with the local and national fishermen’s groups. (SCFF) And agreed at former meeting that we share information with WRFT and WRASFB
  •  Encourage universities to share/ focus research on pinning down key evidence with reliable data.
  •  Explore the pros and cons of closed containment as an alternative option to open cage salmon farming. 

Agreed Jan 2017

“We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one affects all.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“All things are our relatives…what we do to everything, we do to ourselves…all is really one.”  Black Elk

Member of the Coastal Communities Network Scotland