RSE responds on the development of Scotland's National Marine Plan
The Scottish Government has been consulting on Planning Scotland’s Seas, including the development of Scotland’s first National Marine Plan (NMP). The intention is that the NMP will provide an overall framework for planning and decision making for all the activity which takes place in Scottish waters.
In its response the RSE recognises that the draft NMP represents an impressive effort to bring together the varied and complex issues that must be considered for effective, strategic management of Scotland’s marine environment.
A key issue which is not adequately considered in the NMP but which will ultimately be crucial to its success is implementation of the Plan. In particular, there is a need for more detail on the practicalities associated with regional and local implementation of the NMP’s objectives. There is also a need for a realistic picture of the conflicts between objectives in the NMP and how these will be resolved.
The RSE welcomes the fact that the NMP has been informed by the assessment of the condition of Scotland’s seas, based on scientific evidence and data analysis, as presented in Scotland’s Marine Atlas. It will be important, therefore, to ensure that there is a commitment to updating the evidence presented in Scotland’s Marine Atlas on an on-going basis and ensuring that it is reflected in the implementation of the NMP.
The future of Scotland’s fishing industry is a key issue for the management of Scotland’s marine environment. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy will require the progressive elimination of discards through the introduction of an obligation to land all catches. The transition from the current arrangements to a fully-fledged ban on discarding will be complex and challenging for the fishing industry.