April 2016 eNews Bulletin

The Moray Firth Partnership brings together people, knowledge and resources to make the most of our coast and seas, now and for future generations. We provide a neutral forum and encourage networking and integration to bring diverse interests together and help them develop joint actions.

Notes from the Chair, Maureen Macmillan

Welcome to our new manager!!

Robyn ShillandFollowing our recent re-recruitment, we are delighted to announce that the new MFP manager is Miss Robyn Shilland. Robyn will work with our current manager, Kathryn Logan, for a four month hand-over period and Kathryn will finish at the end of July.

Robyn has an MSc in Marine Environmental Management from the University of York and has experience in facilitation, interpretation and communication. Robyn’s MSc research focused on the Scottish and New Zealand scallop fisheries, and through this she developed an interest in how fishers and other stakeholders use the marine environment.

Through facilitating community-run mangrove restoration in East Africa, she gained experience of mediating and supporting community involvement in environmental protection. This position at the Moray Firth Partnership draws together these two areas of interest, applying her community engagement experience to her knowledge of Scottish marine environments and coastal communities. Robyn’s experience and enthusiasm will be very valuable as we liaise with members and stakeholders over the coming months to carry out an options appraisal on setting up future Regional Marine Planning Partnership for the Moray Firth area.

Robyn looks forward to meeting many of you personally over the next few months, and at the AGM on 20 May.

MFP Annual General Meeting

This year’s Annual General Meeting and talks will be held on Friday 20th May from 1.30 – 4pm at Great Glen House in Inverness (the St Kilda Room). The meeting is open to the general public, though only members can vote. We hope many of you will be able to attend. Formal AGM Notices and invitations have been issued to members and the AGM programme can be viewed here (332kb pdf).

Call for Directors

Each year at the AGM, one third of the directors are required to retire by rotation, although they are eligible to stand again. This year the two directors standing down are Mike Comerford and George Hogg. Neither is standing for re-election.

George, who is manager for the Scottish Natural Heritage’s South Highland area, has been personally involved with the MFP since it first started as a “Focus on Firths” project in 1993. He became a Management Group Member in June 1997, then Treasurer and was appointed as one of the first Directors in May 1999, later becoming Vice Chair. George strongly supports the integrated and sustainable approach to management of the Firth’s resources and will continue to follow our work with interest and contribute to it from outwith the Board.

Mike joined the MFP as a new director in February 2004 then served as Chair until November 2008. He was re-elected as a Director in November 2009. Mike has extensive experience at strategic / senior management level across a range of organisations. Mike chaired the Management Group that coordinated the development of the management arrangements for the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation, launched in 2001; was a member of Scottish Coastal Forum and co-author of SCF Strategy for Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Scotland. Mike is moving to Wales to take up an exciting new position working with renewables.

We are most grateful to George and Mike for their valued contribution to the Partnership over many years, and wish them all the best for the future.

The Board can have a maximum of seven Directors so we are now looking for up to three new directors to join the team. The Partnership has a very wide remit with a proactive network of members, and this is also reflected in the range of skills and attributes it welcomes in its directors. Anyone with an interest in company management and governance as well as helping to improve the management and sustainable enjoyment of our coastal zone is welcomed to apply.

The Board meets formally about 3 times per year and deals with other issues arising by email, so is not unduly onerous. In return, directorship offers individuals the chance to engage with a wide range of issues relating to coastal zone management and developing marine planning at local, regional and national levels, and to get involved with activities from community level upwards. Directors are unpaid, but expenses are met. Informal enquiries are welcomed and existing Board members and staff will be happy to discuss what is involved (tel: 01463 725028). Please call or email the Partnership for a director nomination form.

Completed nomination forms must be countersigned by two current MFP members, and returned to the MFP office no later than later than 12 noon on Friday 13th May 2016 (which is 5 clear working days before the AGM in accordance with the Articles of Association). If we receive more nominations than vacant posts, an election will be held at the meeting.

Post AGM talks and Viewing the Creatures of Sandy and Muddy Shores through the Microscope.

Following the formal AGM business we have something a little different lined up this year. After a short update from Marine Scotland on latest developments in regional marine planning and coastal management, we will have a presentation from marine enthusiast, diver and photographer George Brown, who will show a selection of his facinating under water photographs - highly magnified images of the creatures that inhabit our seas and shores, including new images from the underwater Tain Bombing Range site which has been undisturbed for many years. Delegates will then have an opportunity to use high power microscopes to see some of the living creatures from our sandy and muddy shores for themselves, “eye to eye”.  (Also see the Diary Dates section for our 07 May seashore workshop on practical sampling methods).

Purple Henry Lumpsucker

Scottish Coastal Forum @ 20 Conference

The Scottish Coastal Forum conference took place on March 10th in Edinburgh. Isabel Glasgow, SCF Chair opened the conference and the keynote address on Marine Planning since 2011 was given by Linda Rosborough, Director of Marine Scotland.

Delegates heard two presentations on marine spatial planning (MSP). The first, ‘MSP in the North Sea – the Dutch approach & experience’ by Lodewijk Abspoel, NL Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment, gave delegates an insight into MSP activities in the Netherlands – including the challenges of communication across borders with neighbouring countries!

Igor Mayer, professor of games at Breda University, then introduced the ‘MSP Challenge’ board game. Delegates were each assigned a role - in areas including fisheries, ports and harbours and nature conservancy - and challenged to negotiate within and between countries to create an effective and cohesive spatial plan for the marine and coastal zones of ‘Bayland’, ‘Island’ and ‘Peninsulaland’. A discussion following the game indicated that it increased understanding of the challenges faced by various sectors, the difficulty of cross-border negotiations, and the absolute need for a structured approch to marine planning. The game was a huge success among the delegates! Photos and a fantastic timelapse video of the game can be seen at MSP Challenge.

Delegates then attended parallel sessions; the Scottish Tourism & Recreation Survey gave an insight into the economic value and spatial distribution and scale of marine and coastal tourism in Scotland. It was encouraging to hear that a large number of responses were recorded for this survey, further demonstrating the importance of marine recreation in Scotland. Lucy Greenhill then discussed knowledge needs for marine planning, including social, ecological and economic understanding of MSP activities and the roles that science and community engagement play in the process. Delegates also heard updates from the Scottish Marine Regions including the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership; Shetland Marine Planning Partnership and the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Pilot. All presentations from the conference can be viewed and downloaded from the Scottish Coastal Forum web site.

Scotland’s National Marine Plan interactive (NMPi) continues to grow and evolve

NMPi is Marine Scotland’s on-line mapping portal to make spatial data and information available to all as new marine planning responsibilities are implemented.  The latest improvement to NMPi functionality includes ‘time aware’ layers which allows users to see a time series of data in one layer (rather than multiple layers). This should make things a little easier as the user can ‘animate’ the movement from one period to another (usually yearly). Layer names will include such terms as ‘since’ or ‘2013-2014’ in their title to indicate the function. Users can access it by ‘right clicking’ on the layer name in the Layer Control Box. Layers including time aware data will increase over time but so far include:

• Maritime casualties since 2005

• Marine strandings data 2013-2014 (cetaceans, seals, sharks, turtles)

• Keep Scotland Beautiful - Blue Flag and Seaside Awards since 2012

Users have asked if the various screen control boxes can be hidden to facilitate cleaner screen shots. There are now minimising buttons for all control boxes and the ability to hide the main tool bar (by clicking on the far right icon on it). The main tool bar now also includes additional features, and the data input tool bar (registered users only) now has the ability to add points by a lat / long (three format) input.

NMPi staff are also working with other partners including Marine Alliance for Science & Technology Scotland; Marine Scotland; Scottish Environment Protection Agency; Scottish Natural Heritage and Joint Nature Conservation Committee to improve data flow to NMPi. Scottish Natural Heritage has developed a web map service (WMS) that is allowing them to replace the Priority Marine Feature layers in the Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas section to a direct feed from SNH and with new symbols, as well as add some new layers, such as basking shark, minke whale and Risso’s dolphin.

This process has seen some new layers to NMPI this month:

Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas

• Protected areas

o Possible SAC for Harbour Porpoise (SNH WMS) and various other layers with survey, population density and other data.

o Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (SNH WMS)

Leisure and Recreation

• Marine Recreation and Tourism Survey 2015 (March 2016) (x 24 layers) e.g. All Activities (restricted zoom)


• Marine Spatial Plan Maps March 2016 (x 38 layers) e.g. PFOW MSP Map 1 Plan Area

Updated layers:

Productive / Aquaculture

Finfish and Shellfish Sites (06.04.2016)

Guidance on the location of marine fish farms - March 2016

Disease Management Areas - March 2016

Maritime Transport (Ports and Shipping)

• New graph display on Cruise Scotland - Ship Calls 2012-2014


• Fishing Managed Areas (note amendments to EC 850/98 by EC 2015/812)

• Areas where fishing of HERRING is restricted - March 2016

• Areas where fishing of HORSE MUSSELS is restricted - March 2016

• Areas where fishing of SANDEELS is restricted - March 2016

• Areas where fishing of SPRAT is restricted - March 2016

• Areas where fishing of NORWAY POUT is restricted - March 2016

• Areas where fishing with vessels over a certain LENGTH is restricted - March 2016

Marine Management

Regional Inshore Fishery Groups Areas (rIFGs) - April 2016 (hidden when zoomed in past 1:50,000)

All the recent new layers can be seen on the NMPi website. If there are any particular data sets that would be useful to have displayed on NMPi, please contact Martyn Cox or comment via the new online feedback button.

New Regional Inshore Fisheries Groups and Chairs

Following a review of the current Inshore Fisheries Groups, the four mainland groups have now been merged to form two larger regional IFGs (rIFG) – one covering the whole east coast, Moray Firth and North Coast to Cape Wrath, and the other covering the whole West Coast. The new West Coast rIFG Chair is Alastair McNeill, who formerly chaired the South West IFG area. The North & East Coast rIFG chair is Iain Maddox, who formerly represented the Dunbar Fishermen’s Association on the East Coast IFG. More information on these appointments and the new rIFG networks can be found on the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Groups and the Scottish Government website.

Thanks and best wishes go to the retiring chair of the Moray Firth and North Coast IFG, John Cox, with whom the Moray Firth Partnership has worked as secretariat for the last few years. Also to the East Coast IFG chair John Davidson, and the acting North West IFG chair, Duncan MacInnes.  The latest IFG Spring 2016 newsletter is in production and will be available online soon.

Highland Biodiversity Action Plan Update

from Janet Bromham & Jonathan Willet

“As has been featured in the local press, The Highland Council faces a gross budget gap of £38 million next year and there will be a need for further savings to close gaps in 2017/18 and 2018/19. In addition to a range a range of savings and service cuts, a voluntary redundancy scheme was launched late last year to help the Council balance the books for 2016/17. Along with around 340 other staff to date, Biodiversity Officers Jonathan and Janet applied for and were granted voluntary redundancy.

Janet finished work on 31st March and Jonathan will continue to the end of April, when the post of Highland Council Biodiversity Officer will be terminated. Some biodiversity duties have been allocated to other members of staff within Highland Council and to partner organisations, however, the Council will no longer be to take the lead on biodiversity projects and will have less capacity to carry out wildlife-related works.

The Highland Environment Forum (HEF) will continue to meet twice a year to discuss environmental and biodiversity matters and Local Biodiversity Groups will be able to participate in this work. The HEF Biodiversity Working Group will oversee and monitor delivery of the Highland Biodiversity Action Plan. The Council and SNH hope to continue to support the Highland Environment Network and the co-ordination work currently undertaken by Caroline Vawdrey. This will enable the Invasive Species Forum to continue to meet annually, as well as the hosting of an annual biodiversity event such as this year’s Wildlife Fair on 16 April.

The Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project ended in December 2015 and a wrap-up event was held in the Inverness Museum on 19th March. Rowantree Consultants will draw together a brief for a future Marine Heritage Project to build on the success of the Seashore Project and capitalise on the interest and enthusiasm for marine and coastal wildlife and heritage it generated. If funding can be secured, it has hoped that HEF will be able to start this new project within the next two years.

Finally, on a personal note, the Highland Biodiversity Officers express their thanks to everyone who has been involved in and has supported biodiversity work in Highland. Janet started as Biodiversity Officer back in 2002 with Jonathan taking up a job share position in 2005. A tremendous amount has been achieved since then and it would not have been possible without the input of wildlife enthusiasts; working as volunteers or on behalf of organisations.”

MFP Postscript - Due to recent budget cutbacks within the Highland Council, the post of Biodiversity Officer has ended, and Janet and Jonathan have now moved on to develop their careers elsewhere. We wish to thank Janet and Jonathan for their tremendous work over the years, of which the Seashore Project was just a small, though important part, and for their input to the work carried out by the Moray Firth Partnership. We wish them every success for the future, and hope to meet up with them in their new roles before long.

Cullen Sea School

Cullen Sea School, run by the Three Harbours Association (3HA), is now completed thanks to funding from CCF, the European Fisheries Fund and support from the Moray Council. The School is currently being developed into a hub for all things related to small boat sailing and water sports, offering a small boat building/repair workshop, meeting/instruction space and showering/changing facilities including provision for the disabled.

It is anticipated that local water based events will be a regular feature over the coming seasons. During the winter months, boat building/repair will continue as an important activity and evening classes will be arranged to fit with local demand. A St Ayles skiff, generously funded by the Baxter Foundation, is already under construction and will be ready for the coming season, along with other small sailing craft.  An important component of the School will be the development, in conjunction with Buckie High School, of an SQA accredited wood working course designed to help to stimulate interest in and preserve fast disappearing traditional boat building skills. It is heartening that we already have two young BHS volunteers, who never miss a boat building session.

At present the sessions take place on Tuesday mornings, (9.30 am), Tuesday evenings (6.30 pm) and Saturday mornings (9.30 am). The knot tying evening sessions, run by expert knot enthusiast Ian Flaws, have started and are currently scheduled for Wednesday evenings (7.00pm). It is planned that other courses such as a Beginners Navigation Course and First Aid courses will be established to suit local demand.

The building of the first Cullen Sea School skiff “Mairi” is well ahead of schedule and will be ready for the coastal rowing events of the coming season. A band of prospective rowers was identified nearly two years ago and we now need them and all others interested to re-affirm their interest and make contact with the Sea School Co-ordinator. We have a number of volunteer trained sailing instructors, and safety boat handlers but welcome additional trained volunteers.

Long term sustainability is a major challenge and we need wide ranging and diverse community support, and not only from sailing/boating enthusiasts. If you would like to know more about the project, have helpful suggestions, wish to join our list of volunteers or be part of what is already happening or planned, please get in touch with Katalin Urquhart, Sea School Co-ordinator by e-mail or phone 01542 840830.

Marine Recreation and Tourism spend worth £3.7bn to Scotland

The Scottish marine tourism and recreation survey report is now live and the accompanying press release contains some impressive headline figures and data sets!

The Scottish Marine Recreation and Tourism Survey shows that £1.3 billion of expenditure comes from specialist marine activities including wildlife watching, sailing, kayaking, surfing and angling with expenditure on general recreation and tourism like beach combing, short walks and coastal cycling amounting to £2.4 billion…that’s an impressive worth of £3.7 billion per year!

The survey covered 23 different recreation and tourism activities undertaken at sea or around the Scottish coastline. General marine and coastal recreation, including beach activities was found to be the most popular activity. The full press release can be read here.  The final report is available to read and download from the Scottish Government website and the maps can be viewed on the NMPi website.  Sarah Brown, Project Manager, will be organising a webinar for late April to help with dissemination to wider audiences. Sarah can be contacted at the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership on 07774 160931 or via the Clyde Forum website.

Nature of Scotland Awards 2016 – Call for Entries

The search begins to unearth the inspirational people, projects, and organisations working hard to protect Scotland’s natural heritage as nominations are now open for this year’s annual Nature of Scotland Awards! Launched in 2012, RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards continues to celebrate excellence, innovation and outstanding achievements in Scottish nature conservation. The deadline for nominations is Monday 13 June 2016. This year, entries are welcomed across eight categories, including two new categories:

• The Corporate Award *NEW

• Food & Farming *NEW

• Community Initiative

• Innovation

• Nature Tourism

• Politician of the Year

• RSPB Species Champion

• Youth and Education

To make your nomination visit the RSPB website where you can download an entry form and find out more about the awards and past winners. The awards are free to enter and applications must be submitted electronically via email.  Entrants will find out if they have been shortlisted in August at an evening reception.

Results from the Marine Conservation Society 2015 Great British Beach Clean
Call for a national Single Use Drinks Container Deposit Return System

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) launched the results of the Great British Beach Clean on 23rd March. The national event took place from 18th – 21st September 2015 and a record number of more than 6,000 volunteers took part in 340 events across the UK. A summary report and associated press release is available on the MCS website.  2014 saw a 21 year record when MCS volunteers found 2,457 items of litter on every kilometre of beach cleaned. The 2015 figure is even higher: a staggering 3,298 items of litter collected per kilometre, a 34% increase from 2014.

An item of litter frequently found across this distance was plastic drinks bottles. There was a 43% increase compared to 2014 figures, with an average of 99 bottles found per km surveyed. This is not a trend that anyone wants to see continue and MCS believe there is a solution which has been tried and tested in other countries around the world that has been very successful in reducing single use drink containers. MCS wants to see the introduction of a Deposit Return System (DRS) in the UK. A DRS allows people to re-cycle plastic, aluminium and glass, by giving value to items that are often regarded as having zero worth and so are disposed of irresponsibly. In Scotland, you can keep up to date with the 'Have You Got The Bottle' campaign via their website.  Click the link for more information on getting involved with Beachwatch.


Local Moray Firth press coverage about these 2015 MCS statistics mentioned the large weight of rubbish found on our MFP adopted beach at Munlochy Bay. We can confirm that the weight was vastly skewed by some very heavy metal cable, along with the inevitable plastic bottles and drinks cans, so there wasn’t a significant increase in rubbish on that shore. Other areas of the coast act as “litter sink” points, where the retreating tide deposits rubbish that may have originated many miles away. We are keen to hear from people about such litter sink points around the Moray Firth that would benefit from more regular cleaning. Please drop us an email if you wish to discuss.

Hero of the Month Award

Congratulations are due to Pete Miners, who has just been awarded the Keep Scotland Beautiful “Clean Up Scotland Hero of the Month” award for his incredible tally of rubbish gathered from local shores and riverbanks. Pete has worked for a number of years to help clear litter from the local coastline, going to great lengths to collect materials from some of the most inaccessible areas. He joined forces in 2015 with Adrian Hutchins, a former Clean Up Scotland hero from Forres Community Clean Up and established the ‘Coast of Moray Beachcleaners’ group to encourage more local residents to improve their local environments along the Moray coast. You can find more details on the Coast of Moray BeachCleaners page, along with information about ongoing beach clean events, where more volunteers are very welcome.  To nominate your local hero, see the Keep Scotland Beautiful website.

Pete Miners receiving his KSB Clean Up Hero award

Microplastics in the Marine Environment

Microplastic beads are used in industrial processes and body care products. For example, they are used in cosmetic products as exfoliation beads, as components in abrasive sandblasting, can be sourced from clothing fibres and as particles from tyres. Because of their tiny size, these microplastics can’t be fully filtered out by waste water treatment and can end up flushed into the sea and entering the food chain. Other microplastics result from the breakup of larger plastic objects in oceans. It is estimated that there are around 250,000 tons of plastic in the oceans (Erikson et al 2014).

As the risks to human and animal health are currently uncertain, the UK Parliaments Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry on 18th March to look into the environmental impact of microplastics. Key issues include: the scale, sources and consequences of microplastic pollution in the ocean; strategies for dealing with the problem; and the state of our knowledge on the issue. The Committee will also be looking at the health consequences of eating fish containing microplastics and the extent of the damage to our eco-systems. It is hoped to discuss potential solutions with industry, environmental and consumer groups.  In the USA recent legislation introduced a phased ban of microbeads smaller than 5mm in personal care products. Some companies in the UK and Australia have begun to voluntarily phase out microbeads in their products. For more information on the inquiry please go to Environmental Audit on the UK Parliament website. The inquiry closed on 15 April 2016 but you can keep updated on the process

There is an online Greenpeace petition about banning microbeads for those interested.

Marine Conservation Society (MCS) champion the ‘Beat the Bead’ Campaign.  MCS are also the partner organisation with Flora Fauna International who produce the Good Scrub Guide.

Good Fish Guide App

Marine Conservation Society have launched their new Good Fish Guide app – the fishmonger for your pocket! It is available from the app store and google play. The new Pocket Good Fish Guide for 2016 is also available to download from the Good Fish Guide website.  If you would like copies of the pocket guide please contact the Good Fish Guide Programme Manager on tel: 01989 566017 or 01873 832477 or make contact via the website.

Out and About

Strathpeffer Science Festival 2016 – Waterways and Seas

This free festival is an annual event run as part of British Science Week, which aims to promote education and understanding of science in the wider community. This year’s event on Saturday 19 March at the Strathpeffer Community Centre was well enjoyed by adults and children. The theme was based around exploring the science related to our rivers and ocean and there were plenty exhibitors providing information, demonstrations, activities and experiments in their specific fields, as well as a programme of talks and video presentations. The MFP’s “Under the Surface” banners were on display in the café area and were also featured on the front page of the Ross-Shire Journal.

Firths and Fjords Conference, Dornoch

“Firths and Fjords: a Coastal History Conference” was a major international event exploring the pasts of communities living near or along adjacent coastlines. This took place in Dornoch from 31 March to 02 April 2016 with a wide variety of eminent and enjoyable speakers, and great opportunities for networking and sharing information. Delegates also enjoyed the delicious local food, music, dance and films which added to this lively event. The MFP displayed part of the Gansey Exhibition.  You can see images from the conference on Flickr.  Videos of the many talks will be uploaded via the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) to the Firths and Fjords webpage. Talks ranged from the keynote presentation by Professor John Gillis on “Prospect and Refuge: Changing Meaning of the Bay“ to talks on coastal witches, Brora Saltpans, the Zulus of Loch Fleet and Findhorn Bay, to tea smuggling in the North Sea. Many talks were held during parallel sessions so it will be invaluable to get the chance to catch up on what you missed online. David Worthington, UHI’s Head of the Centre for History who has worked so hard over the last year and more to organise this event, hopes that some of the speakers’ papers will be developed into chapter-length contributions for an internationally-focused volume. Contact for more information and keep to date with the latest news on the Firths and Fjords Facebook page.

Diary Dates

Please email us to include your activity in our online events diary. Here is a small selection of some upcoming events:-

30 April 2016 -Findhorn Woodland Festival

The Findhorn Hinterland Trust is hosting a Woodland Festival on Saturday the 30th of April 11.00-5.00pm, The Shelter, Wilkies Wood, Findhorn. A fantastic day out, lots of great activities and it’s free!

07 May 2016 – MFP -Seashore Sampling Methodology Workshop

Following on from our very popular workshop in November 2015 on the Creatures of Sandy and Muddy Shores, this practical workshop is aimed at individuals and citizen scientists keen to develop practical sampling skills. When gathering marine data, it’s not just your footwear that needs to be robust – sampling data need to stand up to scrutiny too. Mike Kendall, Marine Biologist, will show how to select your survey sites, safe and practical methods for carrying out the count, and recording / analysing what you’ve found. The start time will be around 08.00am at a shore location near Inverness to be agreed, depending on the interests of delegates. We will then move to the Fish Vet Group laboratory for further examination of what has been sampled. Contact Kathryn for more information and to book a free place. (limited to twelve). Tel 01463 725028.

25 June 2016 - Electrofishing with the Cromarty Firth Salmon Fisheries Board

Come and see how the Cromarty Firth Salmon Fisheries staff survey the burns using electro-fishing techniques. Learn to tell the difference between a salmon or sea trout parr and find out what is a lamprey? The event will take place at the Brahan Estate near Maryburgh on Saturday 25th June 2-4 pm. Meet over the bridge at the car parking area on Dunglass Island. For more info and directions, email Lynn Brydon.

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