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March 24, 2020

An inspiration to COASTal communities

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead’s evocation of the power of community action seems such a neat fit for the work of local people on Arran to promote marine conservation. For over ten years, the community group, COAST, has campaigned for stronger protections of their marine environment and by harnessing good science and political will, they’ve had a transforming impact on the health of their coastal waters with dramatic increases in marine life. A new report tells the story.

Frontiers in Marine Science

Full report here

Marine Conservation Begins at Home: How a Local Community and Protection of a Small Bay Sent Waves of Change Around the UK and Beyond

The Firth of Clyde, on the west coast of Scotland, was once one of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe. However, successive decades of poor management and overfishing led to a dramatic loss of biodiversity and the collapse of finfish fisheries. In response, concerned local residents on the Isle of Arran, which lies in the middle of the Clyde, formed the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) in 1995. After 13 years of campaigning, a small (2.67 km2) area in Lamlash Bay became Scotland’s first no-take zone (NTZ) in 2008, and only the second in the UK. Since protection, biodiversity has increased substantially, along with the size, age and density of commercially important species such as the king scallop, Pecten maximus, and the European lobster, Homarusgammarus. Arguably more important, however, is the influence the Lamlash Bay NTZ and COAST have had on UK marine protection in general. Most notably, detailed research has created a case study that clearly demonstrates the benefits of protection in an area where little such evidence is available. This case has been used repeatedly to support efforts for increased protection of UK waters to help rebuild marine ecosystems and enhance their resilience in an uncertain future. In Scotland specifically, lobbying by COAST led to the designation of a much larger marine protected area (MPA, >250 km2) around the south of Arran, one of 30 new MPAs in the country. Evidence from Lamlash Bay has supported development of strong protection for these MPAs, seeing off lobbyist efforts to weaken management. Arran’s conservation success has been recognized internationally and is inspiring greater involvement of local communities around the UK, and further afield, to take the destiny of their coastal waters into their own hands.

Successful marine conservation begins at home.