The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has stepped up in support of a proposal for a “demonstration and research” Marine Protected Area around Fair Isle. Meaningful engagement with stakeholders had played a key role in SFF’s decision to support the initiative.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: ‘We recognize the vast amount of effort that has precluded this proposal, led by the Fair Isle community in partnership with Fair Isle Bird Observatory and the National Trust for Scotland.”
‘The appointment of a project officer in 2014 helped focus these aims and through more meaningful engagement with fishing stakeholders, identified a governance structure that ensures the fishing industry will be fully engaged throughout the lifetime of the demonstration and research proposal.”
‘The SFF is strongly of the view that this bottom-up approach should be used as a future template to be followed by others wishing to develop further demonstration and research proposals.”
‘We look forward to the opportunity to establish relevant research activities which feed into the Fair Isle demonstration and research MPA objectives.’
The Fair Isle Marine Protected Area is exceptional because it was not proposed by government. The MPA was proposed by a “third party,” the Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI). The initiative was led by the Fair Isle community in partnership with Fair Isle Bird Observatory and The National Trust for Scotland. The objective is to demonstrate the effectiveness of a community led partnership approach in safeguarding the marine environment.
Fair Isle, arguably Britain’s most isolated inhabited island (population around 70), is the most southerly island of the Shetland group. One of Scotland’s four largest puffin rookeries inhabit the cliffs that rise 600 feet above the water.
“[A] healthy, fully functioning marine ecosystem underpins the long-term social and economic well-being of the island population.” Fair Isle Marine Protected Area proposal (2011)