Future Scenario Analysis of Aquaculture, Tourism & Recreation and Marine Traffic Within the Clyde and Argyll Marine Regions: With Recommendations on the Key Opportunities and Challenges to Sustainable Development

David H. MacArthur, Robert W. Furness, Brian Quinn, Edward P. Borodzicz, Kirsty I. MacArthur

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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MacArthur Green and UWS have been commissioned by Caledonian MacBrayne to prepare a report on economic development within the marine economy over the next 25 years. The report contemplates the opportunities and challenges that are likely to arise from various development scenarios when considered in the context of the Scottish National Marine Plan (NMP)1, which introduces marine planning to Scotland’s seas for the first time. To enable useful analysis within the time and financial constraints of the project, it has been necessary to focus the scope of work to the regional seas areas of Argyll and Clyde and to three key sectors in these areas: aquaculture, tourism & recreation and marine traffic.

The Scottish Government’s Vision for the marine environment is to achieve “Clean, healthy, safe productive and diverse seas; managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people”. Achieving this vision will ultimately require stakeholders within the marine environment to work in partnership with each other for the common good.

Caledonian MacBrayne is a key stakeholder in the west of Scotland with its origins dating back to 1851. The company provides lifeline ferry services and carries millions of people each year to and from Scotland's Hebridean and Clyde islands and remote peninsular communities. They have been, and remain, a major local employer, both on shore and at sea. Operating 475 sailings per day in summer and around 350 per day in winter, they carry in excess of 4.9 million passengers per annum.

It is hoped that the following chapters on aquaculture, tourism & recreation, marine traffic and stakeholder engagement will provide a helpful contribution to the National Marine Plan, and in particular, the development of Regional Marine Plans in the Argyll and Clyde regional sea areas.

The report identifies the following key conclusions for the four areas considered:

Aquaculture – Environmental Impact
Key challenges include: reliance on only two major products (salmon and blue mussel); climate change impacts; planning constraints; aquafeed costs and availability of suitable constituents to maintain high nutritional quality of farmed finfish; diseases and parasites; impacts on local ecosystems and protected wildlife; and, the ability to compete with overseas producers.
Key opportunities that could overcome the challenges, and help to make Scottish aquaculture more productive, more resilient and more sustainable include:
 Monitoring: Scope for strategic partnerships between stakeholders. There is an opportunity for ferry operators, such as Caledonian MacBrayne to embrace partnerships with aquaculture specialists, to collect and provide real time information on phytoplankton and zooplankton (including jellyfish) blooms, and to sample organisms for further analysis. A real time service, provided online, with a robust system of alerts could provide the aquaculture industry and marine regulators with tools to save fish from harm and contribute to maintaining the highest standards of fish health and welfare in finfish sea pen aquaculture.
 Marketing: The Scottish marine environment is very clean with low contaminant levels and salmon produced have high omega-3 levels. These attributes lend themselves to a differentiation based competitive advantage which could be exploited to a greater degree through a strategic marketing strategy. Diversification: Opportunities for diversifying Scotland’s aquaculture products exist which would help improve the overall resilience of the industry. Sea snails, sea urchins, sea weeds for food,chemicals and bio-gas production. Also, the development of a blue mussel hatchery in the west of Scotland would help boost the mussel farming industry with supply chain benefits.  Multi-trophic aquaculture: Through integrated planning and strategic partnerships, there is scope to develop multi-trophic aquaculture. This would enhance local production, protect the environment and increase sustainability.  R&D into aquafeeds: With uncertainty over the sustainability of many lower trophic level fisheries and a rapid increase in global prices of fish meal and fish oil, it is important to develop aquafeed formulations that reduce the need to import marine products but continue to provide the health benefits of high omega-3 levels in Scottish farmed salmon. 
Aquaculture – Socio-economic Impact Key challenges include: the development of a more Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) to include development of human, physical, social and environmental capital; overcoming issues of marine planning to allow for greater job creation and the positive impacts that can have in the community;the potential reduction in employment from technological advances and increased mechanisation;and, the negative impacts of debris and rubbish a small fraction of which may originate from aquaculture facilities. 
Some key opportunities that could overcome these challenges and help to improve the socio-economic impact of aquaculture: Job Creation: Continued job creation, youth employment and skills training with the expansion of the aquaculture sector and the positive impacts that has on rural communities.  Sustainable Livelihood Approach: The inclusion of a SLA approach towards the growth and further development of sustainable aquaculture as part of the Scottish Government’s Ministerial Group on Sustainable Aquaculture (MGSA) and the industries’ 2020 targets to ensure long-term sustainable development of the sector.  Economic Diversification: Diversification of the communities’ economy was seen as an important benefit allowing the opportunity to move away from an over reliance on tourism.  Development and growth of strong rural communities that can help maintain a thriving tourist industry. Also the presence of aquaculture in rural areas provides a much needed incentive for the provision of public services such as education and ferry services and the provision of housing. 
Tourism & Recreation Key challenges include competition for resources (e.g. access to shore front and fish stocks), impacts on the environment, public awareness of natural resources, provision of services (e.g. internet) to public, lack of affordable housing for local residents and development of infrastructure. 
Some key opportunities that could overcome these challenges and help to improve tourism and recreation in the Clyde and Argyll region include:  Marketing Strategy: Development of an inclusive and comprehensive marketing strategy for the region (developed with local business input), to increase public awareness of the attractions in the area.  Sea Angling: The development of sustainable sea angling as a tourist attraction as fish stocks begin to recover bringing valuable revenue to rural areas. Sailing Tourism: The potential for significant growth in sailing tourism that could be linked with other business to encourage further development (e.g. Classic Malt Cruise).  Wildlife Tourism: The further development of wildlife tourism by linking of existing walking and cycling infrastructure and the development of new routes. Cruise Ship Tourism: The continued growth in cruise ship tourism which, in addition to generating increased revenue to local areas, can also lead to the development of infrastructure.  Adventure Tourism: The potential development of these regions as an adventure tourism location helping to diversity the tourism market. 
Marine Traffic Key challenges include: the possibility of congestion and an increase in marine noise pollution and emissions following from an increased in marine traffic; increased stress on fish stocks if fishing vessel numbers increase; access to existing infrastructure with increasing number of ships (both commercial and pleasure); the impact of climate change on marine infrastructure; and, the need for substantial infrastructural port development to meet growing demand. 
Some key opportunities that could overcome these challenges and help to improve marine traffic in the Clyde and Argyll region include:  The regions are ideally located to exploit the development of new international shipping passages resulting from a reduction in arctic ice mass (e.g. northern sea route).  Development of marinas and pontoons to meet the growing demands of the pleasure/sailing tourist sector.  Development of greener technologies to reduce emissions in the marine transport sector.  Substantial development of port infrastructure to accommodate an increase cruise ship market.  Development of new deep water facilities to accommodate the growing trend of larger commercial shipping vessels. 
Opportunities and Challenges: A Stakeholder Risk Perspective Key challenges and opportunities for sustainable development are considered in terms of understanding how different stakeholders might perceive the problems associated with their own opportunities and challenges. The effect of growth (or the lack of it) in one sector could have negative consequences in terms of achieving goals in another. For example a lack of transport infrastructure and communications could have adverse effects on visitors, similarly lack of communications could have adverse effects on the desirability of the area for jobs sustainability.This section considers a methodology (mental modelling), which can be used to both understand and resolve stakeholder conflicts and identify areas of common mutual interest. 
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherMacArthur Green
Commissioning bodyCaledonian MacBrayne
Number of pages77
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2016


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