Monday 14 March 2011

Atlas of the seas: a first for Scotland

Marine Atlas created for marine planners and schools across the country

An atlas of Scotland’s seas – with visual representation of its competing uses, productivity and health – has been compiled for the first time.
The Marine Atlas will inform key planning decisions in Scottish waters while providing everyone with an accessible and detailed insight into the geography and vast richness of Scotland’s seas. The Marine Atlas has been developed by a wide range of partners and provides an unparalleled level of analysis of a country’s marine environment.
This unique resource is being made freely available online so that anyone with an interest in the varied waters around Scotland’s shores can find out more. In addition, school packs have been developed, including two hard copies of the atlas for every secondary school, colourful posters and an accompanying DVD.
Launching the new resource aboard marine protection vessel MPV Hirta in Leith Harbour, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland’s seas are a precious resource that, as a nation, we must treasure. That’s why we have developed the Marine Atlas, a world-leading resource that draws together a vast array of information to enable an accurate picture to be built up of the complex interactions taking place, region by region, throughout Scottish waters.
“The Atlas explores the state of marine life and biodiversity; how competing pressures on an area have an impact; the economic contributions of fishing, marine energy, telecommunications and leisure activities; the effects of climate change; and the environmental legacy of Scotland’s industrial past.
“The uses of the Marine Atlas are as diverse as its contents. It will ensure that informed marine management decisions can be made by planners. It gives pupils a fantastic tool for growing their knowledge of ours seas and the rich contribution – environmental and economic – they make to Scotland. And as an easily accessed and free website, many people in this country and beyond can explore the wonders of Scotland’s seas.”
Renowned meteorologist, Heather Reid OBE, said: 'Scotland's Marine Atlas is an excellent new educational resource for use in the classroom. The Atlas will help young people develop a deeper understanding of the crucial role played by our seas and oceans in a wide range of environmental contexts, including climate change, renewables and biodiversity. I'm sure it will also inspire young people to find out more about marine science and conservation.”
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) worked with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to contribute key information on the biodiversity of Scotland’s seas. Susan Davies, SNH director of policy and advice, said: “SNH and the JNCC welcome the publication of the Atlas of Scotland's Seas. It highlights the diversity and richness of the seas around Scotland and their importance at both the national and international levels. But crucially it also draws attention to the challenges that we face to keep them healthy.
“We look forward to continuing to work with government, other agencies and those who use the sea to develop marine planning and management measures that will make sure our remarkable biodiversity is looked after for future generations to enjoy.”
Professor David Paterson, Executive Chair of Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS), added: “The MASTS community was proud to help in the production of this excellent and novel Marine Atlas, the first governmental publication of its kind in Scotland. The Atlas amalgamates many sources of expert knowledge and presents the information in a straightforward way, outlining the status and recent challenges to marine systems.
“The Atlas will be an invaluable source of information for the public, commercial, governmental and private sectors and a valuable educational tool for the next generation of marine scientists and managers.”
James Curran, Director of Science and Strategy, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said:
“Monitoring of our seas and pollution control has been very effective in reducing the discharge of damaging pollutants around our coastline. Our seas are now generally clean and healthy, an asset for all of us, but there are some areas where further reductions are needed and where our country’s industrial past has left a legacy of contaminated sediments.
“With such a beautiful marine environment it is really important we stay vigilant and continue to monitor for possible damage by any new contaminants. This Atlas gives us a baseline of the current state of our seas and SEPA looks forward to working with others to ensure our seas improve further, and remain healthy for generations to come.”
Scottish Marine Atlas

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