Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead
Holyrood Magazine Conference - Marine Bill
Roxburghe Hotel, Edinburgh
September 30, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for inviting me here today, to speak about the Scottish Marine Bill. I'm always delighted to talk about the world class marine environment we have in Scotland. And the role the sea has played in shaping Scotland. The aim of our Marine Bill, is to enhance our ability to manage our use of the sea, for the benefit of all Scots.
Throughout history, the people of Scotland have always been close to the sea. It has provided a source of food, a means of defence, and a high-way for trade and communication.
The better we understand Scotland's maritime history, the better able we are able, to chart a new future for Scotland's seas. So, if you haven't done so already, I recommend you have a look at the Historic Scotland stand. There are images there of a new discovery, as yet un-named, lying on the seabed close to the Isle of May.
There are also images of the HMS Campania, lying not far from here in the deep, dark, waters of the Forth, off Burntisland. Not many Scots will know the history of the Campania, a Clyde-built, Cunard liner of the late 19th century. It was converted into one of the world's first ever aircraft carriers, in order to support the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet during World War One.
Stationed in Scapa Flow, Campania was sent back to port prior to the Battle of Jutland. Some believe that, had she been present, she might have played a decisive role for the Royal Navy, in the last major clash between the great battleship fleets.
We can only guess at what might have beens. But today, we face our own challenges:
- Climate change,
- The growth of the human population, and the consequent need for more food,
- The growth of the world economy, and its increasingly competitive nature,
- The increasing expectation and demands for material goods and resources,
- Increases in shipping and trade,
- Changes in technology.
All these challenges put pressure on our seas.
Technological advances can help us. During the 19th century, the power of the tides was used to drive the corn mills at Ayre in Orkney.
But it is only now, with the development of marine renewable technology, based on research from Orkney, that we have real hope for a lasting future of clean, and green, energy production. Scotland itself holds a quarter of Europe's total tidal and offshore wind resource, and 10 percent of its potential in wave power.
We are a country rich in natural marine assets. We are also rich in the skills, and experience, needed to make good on those assets.
Looking at the audience today, it is clear to me that many of you already know the economic, social and environmental, value of Scotland's seas .
Fishing generates around £400m per year, aquaculture produces a similar value and angling produces £140m of income. That is nearly a billion pounds of value each year in these 3 sectors alone.
The Scottish renewables industry is key to the future exploitation of Scotland's renewables resources, and the oil industry remains a crucial source of jobs.
All of this marine activity relies on our ports. There are over 100 ports in Scotland, ranging in size from large ports such as Forth Ports, to smaller ports such as Inverness. These ports handle over 1 million tonnes of cargo each year. Without them, Scotland simply would not work.
Essential to the operation of these ports are the lighthouses around the Scottish coast. There are about 200 "lights", operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board. The Board works hard to ensure the safety of our seas. And to ensure that our ports, and other marine industries, are a continued source of economic prosperity.
"Lights", and other navigational aids, are also essential to leisure users. For instance, yachting is an activity enjoyed by many people in Scotland. And also many who come to Scotland, to enjoy our world class waters. Yachting, and other marine leisure activities, such as:
- Scuba diving
- Wildlife watching and
- Cultural heritage tourism
All have value as recreational activities. But they also generate around £300m of income for the Scottish economy every year.
Also present today, are those who care deeply about our marine environment, and the need to protect it. We all understand the need to ensure, that our seas will be ecologically, and economically, productive for future generations.
Scotland's seas contain some 6,500 species of plants and animals, ranging from whales, dolphins and seals to spectacular cold water corals. In addition there are sea bird populations of world importance. From Gannets, to Guillemots, to Gulls - Scotland is home to nearly half the seabirds in Europe, and hosts world-renowned seabird colonies - St Kilda alone being home to over 1 million seabirds.
I have mentioned our maritime history. We ignore our historic and cultural heritage at our peril. Our historic heritage ranges from wrecks, to drowned landscapes. It is immensely rich and varied. Our cultural heritage ranges from the "vital spark", to "Clyde built". Our relationship with the sea is central to our view of who we are.
In particular, I want to acknowledge the hard work of those local authorities, and coastal forums, who are working to coordinate marine activities at a local level. This work has been vital. Vital to preparing the ground, for a planning regime that will work at both the national, and the local level.
The Marine Bill will build on this work. It will create a marine planning regime that is fit for purpose. Fit for the challenges of the first half of the 21st century.
The Marine Bill will give Scotland the powers, and the flexibility, to manage our seas in the changing, and challenging, times to come.
I have mentioned the good use of technology, for example renewable energy generation. But if not managed properly, technology can do as much harm as good. For instance, it enables us to exploit marine resources at a greater scale, and at a faster rate, than ever before. Technology can create jobs, and income. But if not properly controlled, it also raises the possibility of substantial damage to our marine environment.
The balance between opportunity, and threat, is why our use of the sea has to be carefully managed. And that is why, the most important part of the Scottish Marine Bill, is Planning. The ability to manage our seas, at a local, national, and international level, has to be the basis on which the rest of the Bill functions.
The Bill makes provision, for a new regime of marine licensing. This will streamline existing licensing arrangements. And has been welcomed by marine industry representatives.
The Bill also introduces new powers, to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas. These will allow us to protect some of our most precious, and iconic, marine species and habitats. Work is currently underway, to identify the criteria, on which we will designate these Marine Protected Areas.
But, the most important outcome of the Marine Bill, will be our ability as a government, and as a nation, to plan for the future of our seas. To do so in a way that gives long term assurance, and certainty, to those making plans for investment in marine development and protection.
On the other hand, we must make sure the Marine Bill is flexible enough, to take account of the changing environment in which we live. And also flexible enough, to take account of the changing aspirations, and needs, of the people of Scotland.
This will not be an easy task. But planning for the future of our seas is not something we might do, it is something we must do.
The marine environment is not static. This has always been true. The problems, caused by human induced climate change, have only exacerbated this. The effects can both alter marine ecosystems, and carry dramatic consequences for those living in coastal areas.
In the first half of the 21st century we are entering unchartered waters. We cannot predict with any certainty how calm, or stormy, those waters will be.
Our seas will change, and with it our knowledge and understanding will change; and our aspirations as a nation will change.
Recently, the Scottish Parliament passed strong legislation, in the form of the Climate Change Act, which sets a world-leading framework for reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses. But even if all the nations of the world, were to put such measures in place tomorrow, the effects of climate change would still be with us for many years to come.
Climate change has already caused changes in plankton, fish distribution, and species composition, in the seas around Britain. One small nation may not be able to stop, or even change, these effects. But what we can do, what we must do, is manage our use of the sea wisely.
The Marine Bill will allow this Government, and future Scottish Governments, to do just that. And to meet the challenges that will face our seas in the coming years.
The Marine Bill is strong on powers. And yet flexible enough to cope with changing circumstances.
For example, marine planning will enable us to:
- Ensure that the development of the very best sites for renewable energy in Scotland - such as the Pentland Firth - is well planned.
- Identify the development opportunities associated with traditional maritime industries such as fishing and aquaculture. Integrating these considerations with environmental issues.
- Improve the strategic decision making for industry to keep our precious seas productive healthy
Scotland will take forward a National Marine Plan. And we will be joining up with the UK, on marine planning, to give greater clarity to decision making in Scotland's seas.
It will be important for us to work with the UK, in particular areas such as the Solway, as this area is split between different administrations.
The Marine Bill will allow for the setting up of Marine Planning Partnerships. These will involve local agencies, communities and stakeholders, to ensure local interests can be involved in local decision making.
In setting up Marine Planning Partnerships, we will take account of the distinctiveness of our coastal areas, and of the economic, social, and environmental interests, of the various communities around Scotland.
Marine planning will reduce uncertainty for marine developers. It will reduce the costs of conflicts and delays, and will encourage economic investment. It will help ensure that marine interests use marine resources wisely. By allocating appropriate activities to appropriate places it should also deliver environmental benefits.
Marine Planning will manage the competing demands for the use of the sea. And it will protect our unique marine environment.
The Marine Bill simplifies the current licensing regime, creating a more streamlined, and modernised, marine licensing system.
The Bill aims to reduce the number of licence applications required for any particular marine based activity. It will simplify the system to provide better integration, and ensure that a range of environmental, ecological, and navigational issues, are considered together. It will cut bureaucracy, and speed up decision making, for developments in the marine environment.
This new licensing and consent system will reduce the regulatory burden, and administration costs, for businesses.
Marine Protected Areas
Improved marine nature conservation, and protection for biodiversity, are central to the Marine Bill. We will create new powers for Marine Protected Areas, to protect our natural environment. We will use these powers, to set up an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas. This will protect our most important marine species and habitats.
We will also improve our management of the most important historical seabed remains. This is not just about better protection. It is also about creating opportunities.
I wonder how many people are aware that Scotland is, arguably, the shipwreck diving capital of Europe. For example, 3,000 or so scuba divers visit the scuttled wrecks of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow every year. The Marine Bill will open up Scotland's historic environment to responsible divers, whilst promoting better protection against those who would harm it.
The new Historic Marine Protected Area provision in the Marine Bill is unique to Scotland. It is not a feature of the UK Marine Bill. It will enable us to improve our management of our marine cultural heritage. And to promote appreciation and understanding of our heritage. It will do this by allowing a broader range of historic assets to be protected, but in a more flexible, and effective manner.
Our use of the sea has changed throughout history, and will continue to do so. It is therefore appropriate that new powers be made available to allow for demonstration, and research, into new methods of managing and using our seas.
That is why we have created a provision, in the Marine Bill, for Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Areas. Again, like the Historic MPAs, these are unique to the Scottish Bill. They are not a feature of the UK Bill.
For instance, we could use Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Areas, to carry out research into ways of monitoring, and responding to, climate change. Or to research into new methods of sustainable production of food.
There is also a mechanism in the Scottish Marine Bill whereby communities, under certain circumstances, can submit proposals for Marine Protected Areas.
Local communities, where they have the support of the Marine Planning Partnership, can formally propose sites to Scottish Ministers for Marine Protected Area status. It is important of course, that such areas also meet the scientific criteria, which the Bill lays down, for establishing Marine Protected Areas.
Scotland has a strong coastal community, with approximately a fifth of the Scottish population living within one kilometre of the sea. The importance of the marine environment to these communities, whether it be for:
- Or support for the social fabric
cannot be overstated. And the need to involve them in marine decision making is essential.
As well as Marine Protected Areas, the Marine Bill contains some other provisions for the protection of wildlife. In particular it contains provisions to revise the protection of seals.
Scotland has a duty to protect its iconic seal populations. We have over 160,000 grey seals, and a minimum of 20,000 common seals, more than the rest of the European Union. They represent a significant conservation success.
Such large numbers of seals, inevitably mean there are local conflicts between individual seals and fisheries, or fish farms. This necessitates sustainable seal management.
The Scottish Marine Bill sets out proposals that will improve the balance between seal conservation and sustainable fisheries and fish farms. It will put Scotland at the forefront of improving seal protection in the UK.
The Scottish Marine Bill, will make it an offence to kill a seal at any time, except under licence. It will introduce a duty to report the killing of a seal, and increase penalties for offences against seals. It will also repeal the outdated, and complex, existing legislation.
For the first time, there will be monitoring of licensed seal management in Scotland. This will ensure that local management, will not have a significant impact on our overall seal populations.
Conclusion and looking to the future
In conclusion, It will not have escaped many of you that many advanced economies, including Scotland, remain in recession, although the rate of decline in output in most countries has eased in recent months.
Our vision is that development should raise the quality of life for the Scottish people, through increasing economic opportunities for all, on a socially and environmentally sustainable basis.
In case anybody is wondering why I using a speech about the Marine Bill to talk about economics, let me give you some more figures about the numbers of jobs that depend on Scotland's seas:
- 5,448 fishermen were employed on Scottish based boats in 2008
- 195,000 Scottish jobs are provided by the oil and gas industry,
- Leisure boating in Scotland supports 1,800 jobs, with an additional 7,000 jobs created in associated tourism
- Wreck diving is estimated to create just over 80 jobs
- Sea angling is estimated to support nearly 3,200 full time jobs
- Even excluding oil and gas it is estimated that Scotland's seas provide 50,000 jobs in Scotland
These are some examples of the ways in which Scotland's seas contribute at both a national and a local level.
With the coming of the Scottish Marine Bill I look forward to a future that balances improvements to marine conservation, with the growth of marine industries. This is at the heart of the Scottish Marine Bill.
There will always be instances of conflict, between conservation priorities and economic development. But I believe that overall we must manage our seas, to allow for economic growth and conservation. It is not one thing or the other. My belief is that by providing for a new marine planning regime, the Marine Bill will allows us to accomplish both.
It will not be easy, but it is necessary.
Ladies and gentlemen. Let me remind you, that our seas are among the most biologically productive in the world, and some of the finest marine habitats in Europe can be found in Scottish waters. I intend to ensure they stay that way. We will use our new planning, conservation and licensing tools, to ensure the wellbeing of our seas.
Our seas are a major asset, and this precious natural and cultural resource is essential to the economic wellbeing of Scotland, and our coastal communities. I will work to ensure that we build on that economic success.
The progress we have made so far shows that, whatever our differing views about the sea, people in Scotland are able to work together for the long term good of our marine environment.
We all have a responsibility to ensure that we continue to benefit from our coasts and seas. And that future generations have the chance to benefit as much, if not more, than we do.
The Scottish Marine Bill is designed with that long term vision in mind.
I began my talk by speaking about the HMS Campania, and the legacy of history. As this wreck, and other wrecks, such as those at Scapa Flow, demonstrate, the sea has often been a battle site for war between nations.
Our challenge now, is to work together to deliver a Marine Bill that makes a real difference for Scotland's seas.
The challenge for all who care about the sea is to work with us to deliver the best system to make that happen.