Through the funding from Vp over 2021 – 2022, Fauna & Flora brought in dedicated coordination to the Coastal Communities Network (CCN) in turn ensuring both the Network and its constituent communities, have been supported to harness their full potential in looking after Scotland’s seas.
The Network has seen many direct and indirect benefits since the recruitment of CCN coordinator, Alan Munro, in February 2022.
The primary benefit of recruiting Alan Munro was the improved coordination among the various CCN members. The Coordinator helped facilitate peer-to-peer support between groups, broker relationships between the Network and key governmental/parliamentary bodies and individuals, coordinate responses to policy processes, as well as produce position statements (e.g., on Highly Protected Marine Areas) and link members of CCN to external expertise and guidance where needed.
The Coordinator has also been responsible for organising regular CCN meetings, such as virtual meetings with guest speakers from Uplift (see recording here), Project Seagrass, as well as Fauna & Flora’s staff (e.g., training from experts of the Global Policy lead and Marine Plastics teams).
Alan organised monthly calls for the three CCN sub-groups (known as forums) that were created in 2022 (Restoration, Marine Plastics and Aquaculture). In addition, as requested by the CNN members, the Coordinator created a 4th forum called Inshore Reform, which was created in February 2023.
This forum will help to coordinate CCN input and action on policy developments related to the management of Scotland’s inshore waters, namely:
- The upcoming consultation on fisheries management for inshore Marine Protected Areas;
- The upcoming Priority Marine Feature review;
- The upcoming consultation on the inshore fisheries effort cap;
- Engaging with the Fisheries Management and Conservation Group inshore fisheries subgroup; and
- Input to OurSeas and calls for an inshore limit to bottom trawl and dredge fisheries.
The Coordinator has also been responsible for outreach efforts, which have led to an increase in membership from 18 groups in February 2022 to 24 groups in March 2023. The wider Friends of CCN network (affiliated organisations that are not CCN members themselves) has grown by 5 to include 29 members. Through proactive engagement, the coordinator has been responsible for bringing in new members and partner organisations to the Network. More members mean a stronger voice with which to advocate for improved marine management and governance of Scotland’s waters.
Strengthened Capacity for Advocacy
In September 2022, the coordinator organised training through Fauna & Flora for CCN members to build their capacity to understand how to influence policy. Furthermore, the coordinator has initiated meetings with key government agencies, Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and Ministers. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, the coordinator facilitated CCN meetings with NatureScot’s head of Marine Ecosystems (January) NatureScot’s CEO (February) and Marine Scotland’s CEO (March). CCN members attended to these meetings and discussed key issues about the conservation and management of their coasts as well as the many legislative barriers that exist to conducting restoration in their areas, and how communities want to overcome them.
Additionally, the coordinator has pulled together CCN member input into written policy briefs and position statements. For example, CCN’s position paper Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in Scotland, and the community vision for restoration. They have also coordinated input from CCN members on government consultations, most recently on HPMAs.
CCN’s expertise is becoming more and more valued, and they are being asked to contribute their views as key stakeholders. In February 2022, they were invited to be part of the Fisheries Management and Conservation group of the Scottish government. Furthermore, they were invited to a parliamentary committee session in October 2022. Lucy Kay, one of CCN’s founding members (COAST), represented CCN at a Rural Affairs and Islands (RAI) Committee roundtable discussion with stakeholders to discuss issues affecting Scotland’s inshore fisheries. As a result, in February 2023, the Committee held a formal inquiry to scrutinise aspects of inshore fisheries based on those conversations.
The Years Ahead
The next few years are very exciting for CCN. They have now agreed on a new vision and mission and will co-develop a strategy to help the members achieve them. They have grown considerably and have started to make a considerable impact on the ground and through relationship building with policymakers.
In May 2023, CCN members will agree on key next steps towards a more independent CCN and articulate how Fauna & Flora can support them in this matter. It is therefore a crucial time to have an experienced coordinator to help them through this process.
We are immensely grateful for the support of Vp plc. The transformative results we have achieved in Scotland so far would not have been possible without your support.
Author: Alerick Pacay, Trusts & Foundations Account Manager, Fauna & Flora