Archive for March, 2014

Please see the link below reporting MCNI objections to the proposed Islandmagee Gas Project.



COAST inspire Northern Ireland’s Marine Conservation                                              24th February 2014

A team from Marine Conservation Northern Ireland visited Arran Island over the weekend to meet with Arran’s COAST members, Andrew Binnie and Howard Wood. The Northern Irish organisation have big plans to create a greater awareness of marine laws across the province, with the help of some recent government funding. The funding received will be used to establish the recovery of valuable indigenous species, whose current decimated stock levels threaten their sustainability. MCNI’s Garry Gregg said, “The issues facing marine conservation and restoration in Northern Ireland are very similar to those in Scotland, and there is a lot we can learn from each other in our fight to improve the health and productivity of our coastal waters.”

An Eye-opening Visit

MCNI’s primary concern are elasmobranchii, a subclass of fish which includes sharks, skates and rays, and their project aims to ensure that these species receive better protection under Northern Ireland marine laws. The organisation does not set out to be ‘all talk’, either, as they will be running a tagging and monitoring programme in order to establish base line data. While the focus will be on the distribution of the IUCN critically endangered Common Skate (Dipturus batis), the project will also involve the tagging of other elasmobranch species.

MCNI’s team visited the Isle of Arran to meet with Community of Arran Seabed Trust after meeting Andrew Binnie at a presentation in Northern Ireland in 2012 and being encouraged by their incredible achievement of Scotland’s first fully protected marine reserve in 2008. Their trip also incorporated a meeting with the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN), and provided the team with a fantastic opportunity to develop links and discuss their project with our Scottish neighbours. Last Sunday, the COAST team took MCNI out to see the No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay, and encouraged the Northern Irish team that progress towards a better protected marine environment is possible. It is a testimony to the work of COAST, that marine conservationists across the water are intrigued to find out more about the impact that our community on Arran has had on the broader scale.

 A Partnership for the Future

One major element of MCNI’s project is the running of an educational programme, which will be taking place in primary schools across Northern Ireland. Hearing from the COAST team about the education programme they are currently running on Arran, the Northern Irish team return home with a fresh perspective for approaching their own primary schools and plan to share educational resources. Aiming to reach schools, first within a 12 mile distance from the coast and then progressing inland, the sessions will be run by Kerry, Nicole and Zara. The three boast a great wealth of experience and knowledge on marine life – two of the girls having studied Marine Biology at university level – and promise an informative, fun and interactive progamme for the students involved. To find out more information on the Northern Irish project, email: