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Berwickshire Marine Reserve Project

The Berwickshire coast has some of the most biodiverse waters in the UK. Blue Marine is working to make this a model marine protected area MPA— and secure a ban on dredge fishing 

The waters off Berwickshire on the south-east coast of Scotland are unique, a place where cold and warm currents converge to provide a diversity of marine life rarely found in the UK. Devonshire Cup corals share space with Arctic wolf-fish and pods of bottlenose dolphins, giving scientists an opportunity to monitor the effects of climate change within a marine protected area (MPA).  

This stretch of coastline supports one of the most productive crab and lobster fisheries in Scotland, as well as providing some of Britain’s best diving and recreational fishing. Unfortunately, most of the Berwickshire MPA is also open to bottom-towed trawling and dredging, and reports of unlawful fishing from trawlers are common.  

Remarkably, only five per cent of Scotland’s inshore waters are protected from damaging bottom-towed fishing gear. Since 2015, there have been more than 140 recorded incursions within Scottish MPAs. Few have resulted in prosecutions. 

Blue Marine is calling on the Scottish government to protect its rich biodiversity for the benefit of all. In Berwickshire, we are working with fishing communities and other stakeholders to deliver sustainable models of fishing that work for people and nature, creating a template for MPA management in Scotland.  

We champion low-impact fisheries here, with fishers involved in decision-making through a regional approach, providing increases in catch and returns at market. We aim to create an MPA that provides long-term benefits to local livelihoods and submit research and management recommendations to government to support protection throughout the area. 

Blue Marine is a member of the Our Seas coalition, a growing organisation of 120 marine businesses, Scottish NGOs, fishing associations and community groups. Our Seas calls for urgent reinstatement of a limit on bottom-towed fishing gear at least three miles from Scotland’s coastline; the prioritisation of fishing opportunity and financial aid for fisheries with low environmental impacts; and an urgent roll-out of Vessel Monitoring Systems on all registered fishing vessels.  

Our Seas film ‘The Limit’ explores the drastic decline in Scotland’s fish populations and hidden damage to the seabed, and looks at how the connection between people and the life in our oceans can be restored.  

In addition, Blue Marine continues to support the Inshore Limit petition, which calls on the Scottish government to stop the destruction of the country’s seabed by urgently reinstating a coastal limit on bottom-trawl and dredge fishing.  

Find out more about the coalition and sign the petition here.  


Key stats

112 reports of incursions into Scotland’s protected areas

1st voluntary reserve in Scotland

Over 45,000 nesting sea birds 

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By working together, we can turn the tide on overfishing and the destruction of biodiversity. By supporting Blue Marine, you can help to create marine reserves around the world.


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