November 2015 eNews

Welcome to this Moray Firth news bulletin! In this issue we introduce you to our new MFP manager, Deborah Benham, who’ll be taking over in February 2016, provide updates on seafood matters, the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm onshore transmission works, a study on cockles and surf clams where we hope you can help with information, as well as news of activities including our “animals of sandy and muddy shores” workshop this week-end in Inverness.

We have had a busy and productive year and have enjoyed meeting many of you at different events round the firth, including a very special visitor at Lybster (read on to find out who...)  Next year promises to be even busier as we start more detailed discussions with you about how you envisage a marine planning partnership might function best for the Moray Firth area. Thank you for your continuing support and input.
Maureen Macmillan, Chair

Introducing the new MFP Manager....

Deborah BenhamWe are delighted to announce that the new MFP manager will be Dr Deborah Benham. She will formally take over in February 2016, although Kathryn will stay on for a short hand-over period. Many of you will have already come across Deborah when she was the Moray Firth Dolphin Space Programme project officer from 2005 to 2011 and through her other recent environmental interpretation work.

Deborah has a BSc in Zoology, an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection and a PhD in Ecotourism, Marine Conservation and Marine Management. She has significant experience in facilitation, interpretation and communication which will be very valuable as we move forward to this next phase of our work focusing on identifying options for Regional Marine Planning for the Moray Firth area.

Putting Seafood on the Map

The first phase of the Seafood – See Here! project finished in August on a high note, with a highly successful stand at the World Orienteering Championships at Darnaway near Forres. Despite high winds and limited marquee facilities in the middle of a field, we provided seafood tasters to over a thousand visitors and competitors from home and abroad, spreading the message of top quality Scottish Seafood and healthy eating. Although the first funded element of the project only lasted ten months, we managed to achieve a great deal including creating the website with interactive map showing where you can buy seafood, created two short films, a range of postcards for promotion and distribution, had stands at six main events across Aberdeenshire, Highland and Moray as well as attending and supporting various other events, training sessions etc.

Salmon SaladSince our September newsletter, we have:
• added a new feature on the website site - Recipe of the Month;
• started distribution of the postcards;
• met with a seafood company interested in developing our SfSH fish burger recipe;
• started planning and fund-raising for other local engagement work and events.

The next event will be a hands-on training session to learn new tips and ideas on preparing and cooking fish to be held in the fantastic training kitchen at the new Inverness UHI campus. If there is something specific you want to try, such as filleting, skinning etc, please let us know and we’ll try to incorporate as much as we can. The first event will likely be at the end of January or early February 2016. We’ll send out more information with the next newsletter.

The SfSH project steering group is also looking at opportunities to develop a longer-term project and to continue the ambitious outreach programme in conjunction with local fishermen, suppliers, seafood industry and local communities and businesses. Contact Kathryn for more info and to take part in the group discussions.

Scotland's Fishing Industry Lands New Project on the East Coast

A new initiative aimed at increasing awareness, accessibility and consumption of Scottish seafood was launched at Pittenweem during the Year of Food and Drink 2015's themed month of Sustainable Shores. The East of Scotland Seafood Trail (ESST) covers the coast from the Borders to Shetland, with a dedicated website providing links to organisations and initiatives involved with seafood, and specially commissioned video clips from each participating area. The ESST project received funding from the Community Food Fund.

The collaborative project drew together stakeholders from local authorities and relevant initiatives, and aims to promote and develop the east coast of Scotland as a quality destination for seafood. It encourages the use of local seafood at events, provides information about historical and cultural links with traditional coastal communities, and will add value to the visitor experiences. The project will also link with local chefs and colleges.

The Trail aims to make fish and shellfish products visible and available to tourists. The Seafood-See Here! Steering Group was represented on the ESST development group, ensuring close collaboration to achieve the best use of resources and shared information.

"Local provenance and an awareness that the product may have been landed only a few hours ago all add to the attraction for locals and visitors. The East of Scotland Seafood Trail, along with Seafood- See Here! and other projects around Scotland, is a really good news story for fishermen and local seafood outlets. By working together through the supply chain to get locally landed seafood in restaurants and on the menus, this will deliver huge economic benefits and make it easier for the consumer to enjoy Scotland's best."
John Cox, Chair of the Moray Firth & North Coast Inshore Fisheries Group

For more information contact Viv Collie on 07977 510 435.

East of Scotland Seafood

L-R Skipper Michael Bruce with some of his langoustine catch, former Seafood Restaurant Chef of the Year Craig Millar, and Abbie Clunie, a chef at Craig's St Monans restaurant and a former runner up in the Seafish-sponsored UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition.

Regional Marine Planning - The Moray Firth

Following the positive public response at the first open meeting we held in May, the MFP board is keen to see the Partnership have a pro-active role in the eventual new Moray Firth area Marine Planning Partnership. Once the new MFP manager is in post in February 2016, we will be liaising further with a wide range of stakeholders to develop an options paper for Marine Scotland on the type of set up for a regional Marine Planning Partnership (MPP) that might be most appropriate for the Moray Firth area.

Inshore Fisheries Groups are identified in the National Marine Plan as having a key role in representing fisheries interests on the new MPP and further discussions with the local IFG will start to look at how their local fisheries management plan might feed in to the eventual regional marine plan covering all uses and sectors.

Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm Ltd (BOWL)
Onshore Transmission Works

Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL), the partnership formed between SSE Renewables (50%), Repsol Nuevas Energias UK (25%) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (25%) have been granted detailed Planning Permission by The Moray Council to develop the onshore transmission works associated with connecting the offshore wind farm to the electricity network. The detailed planning application was submitted to The Moray Council in April 2015 and was approved by members on Monday 2nd November. The onshore transmission works associated with the wind farm will comprise approximately 20km of underground cable from a landfall point to the west of Portgordon and a new substation which the cable will connect to, located adjacent to the existing substation at Blackhillock near Keith. Construction of the onshore transmission works is expected to commence in 2016 subject to a positive Final Investment Decision early next year.

The Beatrice project, which was consented by Scottish Ministers in March 2014 and granted an Investment Contract by the UK government in May 2014, is expected to generate up to 664MW of renewable electricity if constructed and is expected to bring a range of socio-economic benefits to both the Moray and Highland regions including job creation, skills training, investment in ports and harbours, opportunities for local businesses and community benefit funding. Local stakeholders will be kept informed of progress as the final investment decision date approaches (early next year). For more info please contact Kirstanne Land on 0141 224 7569, or by email.

SSE Open4Business Supply Chain Events
Following the success of the first Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm (BOWL) Open4Business Supply Chain event held in Inverness in June 2015, a further two supply chain events were held in September in Wick and Elgin to engage with local businesses. Over 170 attendees visited both events over the two day period to seek further information on possible supply chain opportunities available during the construction and lifespan of the project. If you were unable to attend the events, copies of the slides presented by BOWL, SSE’s Open4Business team and the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contractors can be downloaded via the BOWL website.

SSE Beatrice

Out and About in September and October


Macduff Marine Aquarium held a seafood-themed fun-filled educational weekend in September. Visitors were encouraged to taste different seafood and to think about the fish that they eat. The brilliant chefs and students from North East Scotland College cooked up breaded plaice goujons, langoustines in garlic butter and haddock in a cheese and herb crumb – all easy, delicious and sustainable fish dishes. The Young Fish Pie Master cooking contest winner was judged and announced at the event – congratulations to Phoebe Wiseman of Macduff for her winning pie - a fish pie with a Mediterranean twist that includes haddock from local and sustainable stocks. The recipe can be viewed on the Aquariums Facebook page.  Phoebe's fish pie wowed the chefs at The Banff Springs hotel who are now delighted to be able to offer it to their customers. As well as the regular aquarium activities the weekend was host to fishing heritage displays, art and music performances, fish biology workshops and presentations from fish research scientists. In all a very enjoyable and educational event!
See more....

Great British Beach Clean

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) held the annual Great British Beach Clean over the weekend of the 18th-21st September. MFP staff cleaned their adopted beach at Munlochy Bay....even Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead got in on the act and lent a hand at Spey Bay! Results from Beachwatch 2015 are now in and the final report is underway. For more information on Beachwatch and other MCS Scotland acitivities, please email Catherine Gemmel, MCS Scotland Project Officer.

Speybay Beach Clean 2015

Images from Charlotte Wells, Summer Events and Guide Volunteer at the Scottish Dolphin Centre.

Aberdeen “Doors Open” Days

Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen opened the marine lab doors for the first time as part of Doors Open Day on 12th September. Professor Colin Moffat, Marine Scotland’s Head of Science, put together a film using pictures and video that he took during the day. This can be viewed on the Marine Scotland blog

Highland “Doors Open” Days

On Saturday 19th September, the Seafood- See Here! project joined forces with the Waterlines Heritage Centre at Lybster, Caithness to help celebrate the area’s fishing and fish curing heritage. The Waterlines Café provided their famous crab rolls and other special fish dishes including a delicious fish soup made to a recipe by retired local skipper George Carter.

A Special Visitor

Visitors to Waterlines were thrilled to meet Duane “Digger” Carey, the astronaut who in 2001 piloted the servicing mission STS-109 to the Hubble Space Telescope. He and his crew spent almost eleven days aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and completed 165 orbits of the earth. Duane was in the Caithness area to visit local schools as part of his ongoing outreach work. He and his wife took part in a kayak trip organised by local hosts, leaving from the beach in front of the Waterlines Centre before returning to the café for refreshments.

Duane Carey with his wife and Waterlines volunteer

The Highland Environment Forum

The Highland Envirnment meeting held in Inverness on 23 September had a marine theme, with interesting and diverse presentations including an introduction to Marine Planning, the Highland Seashore- highlights and issues, Shorewatch, citizen science and scallop ranching. Short workshops in the afternoon included stakeholder engagement in regional marine planning, using the Moray Firth as an example, led by Kathryn Logan, tackling marine litter and the Highland Seashore Project. The main presentations are on the HEN website

You may also be interested in the current Highland Environmental Network newsletter on the subject of 'Pollinators and other Wee Beasties' downloadable here.

Scottish Inshore Fisheries Conference

The third Scottish Inshore Fisheries Conference was held on Friday 9 Oct 2015 at Eden Court in Inverness. The Conference opened with an evening reception on Thursday 8th October. A report of proceedings will be published on the Marine Scotland website soon.  Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, launched the conference and delegates attended workshops and sessions to share experience and knowledge on a wide range of issues, including long-standing fisheries management challenges and actions, and proposals to improve the evidence base on which fisheries management decisions are made. There were also plenty opportunities for delegates to network and visit stands including MASTS, fishing federations, Seafish, Marine Scotland, the MFP and others.

Snippets / In the News

New Wildlife Photography Book - “On a Rising Tide”

Charlie Phillips, the North Kessock based professional wildlife photographer and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Field Officer, has published his new book “On A Rising Tide” about the local resident population of Bottlenose dolphins. It’s illustrated with nearly 100 dolphin images, including “Up For Air” with which Charlie won The Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year award in 2012. The book is a long overdue publication telling of Charlie's 20 years of studying and photographing these enigmatic, dynamic, and highly intelligent marine mammals. Wildlife film maker and TV presenter Simon King provides the foreword. Priced at £19.50 the book will initially be available from WaterstonesNess PublishingCharlie Phillips ImagesAurorabearealis Arts & Crafts North Kessock and WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre, Spey Bay.

Cockles and Surf Clams Alive Alive-o!!
Can you help? The MFP is supporting a very short research project by a UHI Environmental Science student. The aim is to identify and map current information on where cockles and surf clams are present in the Moray Firth area, where harvesting is taking place (both commercial and non-commercial) and where this has taken place in the past. We are also interested in any records of other shellfish harvesting, including old oyster beds. If you have any information to pass on about current or past activities, please contact us by email or by calling 01463 725028.

common cockle     surf clam
Common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) (left hand image) Surf Clam Spisula solida (right hand image)

North Sea cod - out of the red
Following scientific advice released in the summer and the addition of new ratings, North Sea cod is now off the Marine Conservation Society red list.  Read more.... If you have any queries or would like hard copies of the Good Fish Guide please contact Fisheries Officer (Fishonline) Bernadette Clarke on 01989 566017.

Cullen Skink World Championships
The 4th World Championship Cullen Skink championship is being held at the Cullen Bay Hotel on Sunday 22 November 2015. There are two competitions run on the day, the morning is for the Traditional Cullen Skink and the afternoon is for Cullen Skink with a twist. There will also be local crafters. Read more....

Cullen Skink World Championships 2015

Village SOS
Village SOS is a UK wide program funded by the Big Lottery. The SOS stands for "Support, Outreach and Sustainability".  The project aims to support and mentor social enterprises primarily in rural parts of the UK. Individuals and groups can join for free. The organisation, through its partner companies, is also looking for individuals to act as mentors to new ideas (expenses are paid). With the new Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 now in force together with the Land Reform Act, many community organisations are seeking a way forward to provide better or new services to their community. Village SOS is there to help that process.  Read more....

Lossie Litter – A Call to Arms!!
Moray based dog walker Pete Miners has been running a crusade to help remove and raise awareness of a mass of river and beach litter in the Lossiemouth and Spey Bay / Kingston areas. Anyone who is willing and able to help should contact Pete for details on 01343 200398 or 07899 834556. A photographic record of Pete’s clean ups can be found on his Facebook page.

Picture (c) Pete Miners.

Marine Climate Change Impacts report
The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) has just issued its latest Marine Climate Change Impacts report “Implications for the Implementation of Marine Biodiversity Legislation”.  This Report Card looks at climate change and marine biodiversity legislation, with a focus on the legislation used to establish various types of marine protected areas.  Read more... 

Diary Dates

Email us to include your activity in our online events diary.  Here is a small selection:

Marine Tourism & Recreation Survey Workshop – Thursday 19th November, Inverness
As you’ll have seen in the previous newsletter and online, the Scottish Government has been undertaking the first survey of all marine tourism and recreation across Scotland. The early results are now available and the project team would like to share them with key groups, organisations and individuals. To do this they are organising a series of workshops around Scotland. Workshops will be structured to give participants an opportunity to view and comment on the maps and results relevant to their area as well as to get a feel for the Scotland wide data. The workshop for Inverness will be held on Thursday 19 November at the SNH Inverness offices, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, IV3 8NW from 0930-1230 in the St Kilda room. Numbers are limited but there are a few places left. Please email for more info and to book a place.

Seashore Exploration Workshop, Saturday 21 November
Places are strictly limited and are filling fast! The Moray Firth Partnership have organised a special workshop with the Highland Seashore Project titled 'The animals of sandy and muddy seashores'. Led by Mike Kendall, the workshop takes place on Saturday 21st November, with a 9am start (in Inverness) to tie in with the tide. Click here to view the workshop poster or email us to book a place.

Guided Walk - Winter Birds of the Cromarty Firth - Thursday 26th November

Pop into the RSPB bird hide at Nigg for a look at the winter visitors before heading along to Nigg Ferry to search for long-tail, eider, divers and other ducks.  Meet at the RSPB Nigg Bay Bird Hide car park. Grid ref: NH 807730. Grade A. Adults £4.00, conc. £3.00, family £11.00. For more info or to book contact Martin on 01349 868563 or email.

Salmon Trapping at Loch na Croich, Tarvie - Saturday 28th November 28th

Simon McKelvey from the Cromarty Firth Fisheries Trust invites you to come along and learn all about their work with helping keep the rivers populated with young salmon. Help with the stripping of salmon roe and milt and learn about the next stages of the process. Meet at Loch na Croich located at the bottom of the track down from the northside of the main Ullapool road. Entrance at NH427589 about 100 metres west of the Tarvie Roadside café. This is a free event.  For more info email Martin Hind.

Port of Cromarty Firth, Annual Meeting - 26th November and Workshops, December 1st and 2nd
The Port of Cromarty Firth’s Annual Public Meeting is on November 26th, from 6.30pm in Tulloch Castle Hotel, Dingwall. The Port is holding two further events in December and you are invited to come along and learn more about the Port’s development plans:- December 1st from 2-9pm at the Invergordon Social Club, and December 2nd, 2-9pm in the Resolis Memorial Hall. Attendance is by registration only. For more info and to book please contact Victoria on 01349 852308.

The Moray Firth Partnership wishes to thank its key core sponsors and donors, who enable us to complete a wide range of work, including:-