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Previous Action

1989: concern over declining marine resources in Fair Isle waters raised at a quarterly Fair Isle community meeting.

1989-1995: initial studies done of Fair Isle marine values and efforts begun to draw attention to the issue.

1995: efforts formalised in the Fair Isle Marine Environment & Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) – an initiative led by the Fair Isle Community in partnership with Fair Isle Bird Observatory and The National Trust for Scotland.

1997: FIMETI publishes Safeguarding Our Heritage as a blueprint for sustainable management of Fair Isle’s marine resource.

1999-2001: isle takes project lead in EU/Norwegian Government Northern Periphery Programme demonstration project on sustainable use of environmental and cultural resources. Outcomes included: a series of booklets, sustainable shellfish study, eco-tourism initiatives, community workshops with Scandinavian partners, Trans-national children’s projects.

Late 1990s: FIMETI organises Fair Isle Marine Partnership as a first attempt to engage all stakeholders in sustainable marine management planning.

Late 1990s-early 2000s: series of workshops on the isle with Scottish Natural Heritage, attended by entire island expressing their views, concerns and aspirations.

Late 1990s-mid 2000s: FIMETI one of eight members of the Scottish Executive’s Scottish Coastal Forum.

Throughout: considered responses to a welter of government consultations on marine issues including Marine Parks, Marine Bill, etc., all the time emphasising the socio-economic relevance of marine resources for small coastal communities beyond the narrow perception of fish and oil as the only marine economic resources.

2007-present: membership of the Scottish Sustainable Marine Environment Initiative (Shetland) and Shetland Marine Spatial Plan advisory group.

2009: production of draft Fair Isle Marine Spatial Plan as adjunct to Shetland MSP.

2009: Chair of the Fair Isle Commitee and Community Association, Fiona Mitchell, presents the Fair Isle case to Parliament in Edinburgh.

2010: production of concise but comprehensive Fair Isle Marine Action Plan.

2011: production of proposal for a Marine Protected Area for Fair Isle Waters, presented to Scottish Government’s Marine Scotland in December 2011.

October 2011 & March 2012: participation in stakeholder workshops organised by Marine Scotland to identify Nature Conservation MPAs.

The Fair Isle community has been 100% committed and engaged in every marine development it could identify over the last 15 years or more; and done everything it can to engage with national government, local government, government representatives and officers, other agencies and stakeholders.

Yet objectives for sustainable management of our marine resource, set in 1995, have not been achieved. The Scottish Marine Bill opens up a new opportunity for us. The Fair Isle community voted unanimously for a petition to stress our case and to support 1) the Council of Europe condition, 2) the proposal to Marine Scotland.

A note on the marine bill and the Marine Scotland MPA process. An integral component of the Scottish Marine Bill is the establishment of a Marine Protected Area network in Scottish waters, compliant with similar initiatives in other European coastal states. Marine Scotland is leading this process, aided by Scottish Natural Heritage in identifying potential sites. The process also allows third parties to propose sites and the Fair Isle community has done just that. The Fair Isle proposal follows Marine Scotland guidelines and includes appendices detailing the many values, environmental, economic and cultural, which makes Fair Isle in the eyes of the community an ideal site for incorporating the Nature Conservation and the Dissemination and Research elements of the planned MPA network. The proposal is available at:

http://www.fairisle.org.uk/FIMETI/Reports/MPA/FAIR_ISLE_MPA_Proposal_Parts%20I&2_smaller.pdf

The proposal has been accepted for consideration by Marine Scotland and Fair Isle representatives are attending stakeholder workshops, both at the national level with Marine Scotland and at the regional level through the Shetland Marine Spatial Plan Advisory Group in which the Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative is a member. The isle is as engaged as it can be in the preparation process.

The MPA process is a welcome step forward and the isle is delighted to be participating. However, the MPA focus is on a narrow suite of priority nature conservation marine features and this forms the basis of the recommendations to be made to Scottish Ministers. Fair Isle has many of these features but there is no absolute guarantee that it will qualify on those terms. The isle remains concerned, therefore, that it may miss out. Fair Isle cannot risk losing this opportunity as lack of action will have a detrimental impact on the socio-economic well-being of the community – an issue recognised at Committee of Ministers level by the Council of Europe.