The Scottish Wildlife Trust has received a major boost for its marine conservation work.

The £771,417 grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will enable the Trust to expand its Living Seas project over the next five years.

The funding will allow the Trust to continue and increase its advocacy for a healthier marine environment and establish a ‘hub of excellence’ for marine community engagement in Ullapool.

This will build on work in the North West Highlands started in 2015, which included the development of Scotland’s first-ever snorkel trail and an innovative remote litter station.

Living Seas Communities Manager Noel Hawkins said: “Initiatives like our North West Highlands Snorkel trail and the litter station at Dun Canna have generated interest from coastal communities all around Scotland’s coastline.

“We want to be able to share what we’ve achieved here with those communities, ensuring that others can benefit from what we have achieved here. Over the last three years we’ve put over 50 kids through pool based training, and taken over 100 children out into the sea, helping them directly experience the marine life on their doorstep.

He continued: “Ultimately we’re aiming to work with local communities to show how they can benefit from healthy, living seas, and demonstrate that sustainable stewardship of the marine environment doesn’t mean people have to turn their back on the sea.”

Marine Planning Manager Dr Sam Collin said: “The future health of our seas faces several challenges, including the effect of Brexit on fisheries and the planned rapid expansion of Scotland’s aquaculture industry.

“Any further development of Scotland’s seas has to work within the limitations of the marine environment. Thanks to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation the Trust will be able to continue playing an important role in ensuring the completion of Scotland’s network of Marine Protected Areas, and advocating for future legislation that creates a balance between environmental, social and economic benefits.”

Find out more about The Scottish Wildlife Trust here.

Image caption: Children receiving BSAC dolphin snorkeller certification © Noel Hawkins.

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