The Celtic Seas Partnership set up a number of groups to work on developing initiatives that would help to improve the marine environment in the Celtic Seas. Themes included marine litter, invasive non-native species and sea-users collecting data.
Marine Litter – Eco-Schools
The group is exploring how the international Eco-Schools programme can help address the problem of marine litter in the Celtic Seas. Eco-Schools are well established in all of the Celtic Seas countries. They follow a common process and set of environmental themes, including litter. The Task Group has developed plans for a pilot project where Eco-Schools, working with partners in their communities, would undertake a programme of activities on marine litter. The programme would focus on: increasing awareness of the sources and causes of marine litter; changing public behaviour, policies and business practices to prevent marine litter; and directly reducing marine litter. The Task Group is now investigating potential sources of funding for the pilot. The aim is to involve 20-25 schools from across the Celtic Seas.
The Fishing4data group set out to establish a scheme that provides equipment and training for fishermen and other sectors to monitor the state of the marine environment. Salacia Marine was contracted to help work with the group to help clarify it’s focus and develop a project that was felt to be most useful for stake holders. Two workshops were held; one in March 2016 and the other in October 2016 where a clear aim, objectives and next steps were developed. The workshops involved DEFRA, BIM, fishing representatives, scientists and eNGOs. The group agreed to work together to ‘develop a strategy to make industry-collected data scientifically credible and salient to inform policy and its implementation.’ It was felt this was a unique opportunity as there was a common purpose identified between key stakeholders, most notably industry and eNGOs, which hadn’t existed before. Salacia Marine and Celtic Seas Partnership have identified potential funding opportunities to employ a Strategy Development Officer, who will be hosted by one of the industry stakeholders. The officer will across the UK to support the further development of the strategy.
Invasive non-native species
The aim of the task group is to identify and address gaps in the coverage of biosecurity protocols for marine non-indigenous species, and to create an operational action plan at the Celtic Seas scale to promote best practice. Existing initiatives and legislation are in place, such as the EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species, the ICES Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms and the Marine Pathways project. However, it’s important to evaluate how far these measures will go towards reducing the risk of the spread of invasive species. The group has 39 members from France, Ireland and the UK, many of whom met at the Paris workshop. Progress is being made towards awarding a contract to pull together existing guidelines on non-indigenous species and write a review and gap analysis of legislation.
Two of the task groups drew to a natural conclusion:
The long-term goal of the initiative was to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of food webs, resulting in a network of sea-users that can contribute to monitoring them. After exploring a potential scheme it was decided that a stakeholder-led citizen science initiative would be limited in its ability to advance understanding of food webs to the required level. The group noted that the Marine Ecosystems Research Programme, funded by NERC and Defra, is already addressing evidence gaps in this area. Subsequent efforts to broaden the initiative to a more bottom-up approach to raising awareness were unable to identify a specific proposal. Following the Paris workshop in May 2015, it was decided that the work had come to its natural end.
This group aimed to develop learning materials to inform and guide noise mapping in the Celtic Seas. Underwater noise is a complex emerging field and, within the group, there was a wide range of knowledge and specialisms. The group highlighted a number of important gaps in our knowledge of underwater noise and suggested a clear focus on achieving specific objectives with a specific audience was needed for a successful initiative. Following a number of discussions around these issues, the group was unable to reach a consensus on a single initiative, but an appetite for raising awareness around underwater noise in the Celtic Seas remains. At a minimum, the noise task group provided a forum for an exchange of ideas and information around the issue, and may lead to further collaboration at the Celtic Seas scale.