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Assessment of Orkney waters getting underway

The seas around Orkney will be the focus of a new study.

WORK is beginning on a state-of-the-environment assessment of the seas around Orkney.

This follows an announcement by the Scottish Government that Orkney Islands Council had made a successful bid for European Maritime and Fisheries Funding (EMFF) worth £119,000 for the initiative.

The aim of the Orkney Marine Environment Project is to improve the availability and accessibility of environmental, social and economic data for marine planning, management, education and awareness raising.

“Orkney’s marine economy relies on the quality of the environment and a skilled workforce to manage it sustainably,” said Dr Shona Turnbull, marine environmental planner with OIC.

“To help promote this, our aim is to assess information on the environmental, economic and social issues and pressures that can have an impact on what’s known as our blue economy.

“This will provide a firm foundation for the sustainable management of Orkney’s marine and coastal resources, establishing a baseline against which future marine planning and management can be monitored and evaluated.”

The state-of-the-environment assessment will look at the current condition of the seas around the islands out to 12 nautical miles.

Where information permits, the report will also look at likely trends, such as sea level rise or the economic growth of key marine sectors.

The International Centre of Island Technology (ICIT) will be undertaking an independent review of the state-of-the-environment assessment and will provide expert guidance along the way.

To help ensure an accurate picture is built up of the current state of the marine environment and economy, businesses and the wider public are invited to provide views and ideas by completing questionnaires.

Business and community questionnaires are available from Dr Turnbull, who can be contacted by email shona.turnbull@orkney.gov.uk or by phone 01856 873535 extension 2542.

A number of stakeholder events will be held later this year.

A draft report will then go out for public consultation early in 2020.

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