Sea, Soul and Society at Sea Scotland 2018

orca whales

People from across Scotland came together in Kinghorn, Fife for the annual Sea Scotland conference on 20-21st June. This year, delegates explored the involvement of young people and communities in the decisions that will have an impact for our seas now and in the future, against the stunning backdrop of the Firth of Forth.

Sea Scotland 2018 took place amidst a context of change for marine stewardship for community empowerment, including the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, Islands (Scotland) Bill 2018, Crown Estate Scotland Local Asset Management Pilots Scheme and more.

Marine planners, decision makers, scientists, community representatives, industry representatives, community councils, NGOs, along with members of the Scottish Youth Parliament and other youth participants, joined to share perspectives on the opportunities these changes present for society.

Keynote speakers included Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, as well as Alastair McIntosh, at the forefront of Scottish land reform and the Isle of Eigg community buyout. Watch Alastair’s speech here.

The conference also served as a starting platform for youth views on the marine environment, with Jack Dudgeon (Vice Chair and Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament) announcing the key messages  of a youth survey on how Scotland’s seas are used, developed and protected.

Jack also highlighted that young people care, and should be actively involved in decision making as they will have to live with consequences of the decisions made today for the longest time. Watch Jack’s speech here.

Key results from the youth survey

  • Young people value our seas and coasts for their personal well-being, Scotland’s cultural heritage and Scotland’s economy, and recognise the important role of science in guiding decisions.
  • They are concerned with impacts upon the marine environment, but also with the well-being of coastal communities and vibrancy of traditional industries. There are mixed views about how well Scotland’s seas are being looked after, but agreement that it is important to look after them.
  • It’s also clear that most young people are keen to be more involved in activities around the coast, including volunteering.
  • Many have an interest in sharing their views on the uses and development of our seas, and would welcome more opportunities to engage.

The conference included three workshops to explore these opportunities and develop best practice methods to take these forward. Exciting extras included a trip beneath the waves with Sarah Conner, BBC Blue Planet 2 Assistant Producer, and Scottish Fidler Thoren Ferguson treating delegates to sea shanties on a special driftwood violin ‘Il Mare’ crafted by mater-violin-maker Steve Burnett.

Delegates also ventured out to take part in one of two coastal citizen science projects run by the Marine Conservation Society and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, in conjunction with the Forth Marine Mammal Project.

Sea Scotland is a national annual event dedicated to the field of Scottish marine planning and related marine management and conservation policy. The conference was a partner-driven initiative involving Scottish Environment LINK, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Ocean Dialogues Ltd., and the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh, with support from the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS).

Read the Sea Scotland 2018 Reports.

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