Marine Innovation Award
The Marine Innovation Award Scheme was run on a pilot basis in 2002 and 2003. It aimed to reward projects and companies for innovative works that demonstrate best practice in the sustainable use of Highland coasts and inshore waters.
In addition to funding from the Highland Biodiversity Project, the Scheme attracted further sponsorship from the Crown Estate, Fishmongers Company, Highland Council and the Mallaig & North-West Fishermen’s Association. Applications were invited from marine resource users in the fishing, aquaculture and general environment (including wildlife tourism) sectors within Highland inshore waters.
Following the success of the first year of the pilot the Highland Council, with funding from Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the North Highland Leader + Programme, has initiated a new marine and coastal development scheme entitled HiMARCS (Highland Marine Resources and Communities Scheme). This new scheme was launched in August 2003, and the closing date for the first round of applications was 31 January 2004.
Despite a very successful first round, applications to the second round of the Marine Innovation Award were disappointingly thin, and therefore the funding partners have decided not to continue the scheme as a stand alone project. However, there are some funds left in the budget and these will be used to reward projects applying to HiMARCS that demonstrate innovation and best practice in the sustainable use of the marine environment.
The prize money for Rounds One and Two of the pilot scheme was allocated as follows:
Loch Torridon Nephrops Creel Fishery Escape Panel Project (£2,000).
Jointly awarded to Shieldaig Export Ltd and the Highlands & Islands Fishermen's Association for their project to fit escape panels to all creels used by boats landing prawns with the company, and demonstrate the results to fishermen. The escape panels have been specifically designed to allow juvenile prawns to escape and return to their burrows before being lifted to the surface and effectively removed from the population. The project has resulted in an increase in the minimum size of prawns caught, which has raised the value of the catch and improved the sustainability of the fishery in the long term. It forms part of an application from the Loch Torridon Nephrops Creel Fishery for certification according to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard.
Prolonged Fallow Improves Biodiversity (£1,500).
Awarded to Loch Duart Ltd., for a project to monitor the extended fallowing period of fish farm sites. Loch Duart Ltd., aims to farm salmon sustainably, and fallows its sea farm sites for a period of 12 months, much longer than the average fallow period of 6 - 8 weeks, which aims to interrupt the life cycle of sea lice and reduce or prevent re-infestation of the next 'crop'. The project will monitor the biodiversity of the seabed over the 12-month fallow period, and aims to demonstrate the environmental benefits of this practice.
Native Oyster Project (£1,500).
Awarded to Kyle of Tongue Oysters for their work in improving native oyster populations in North Sutherland. Over the last three years, the company has used natural materials to re-seed native oysters both on their farm site, contributing towards a sustainable fishery, and elsewhere in the Kyle of Tongue, with the aim of improving native stocks.
General Marine Environment Category
Installation of ROV and Display Screen (£2,500).
Awarded to Seaprobe Atlantis, a company offering glass bottomed boat trips in Loch Alsh, which includes part of the 'Lochs Duich, Long and Alsh Reefs' candidate Special Area of Conservation. The Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and plasma screens will add to the underwater experience onboard Atlantis, and give people an opportunity to explore the rich diversity of Loch Alsh in a safe and sustainable manner. The company offers free trips to local schoolchildren, and hopes to compile an underwater film for use in schools around the area.
General Marine Environment Category
Portree High School Beach Clean-Ups (£1,500).
Awarded to the High School for its ongoing work with the Council Ranger Service to educate and raise awareness amongst Secondary 2 pupils of the wildlife of the coastal environment and the hazards posed to it by marine litter through beach clean-ups. A number of popular beaches are cleaned annually through this project. The funding will help continue the project and transfer the ideas to other schools within the Highlands.
Loch Torridon Nephrops Creel Fishery Escape Panel Project (£2,500).
Awarded to Golspie Seafront Centre for their project to undertake a scientific survey of marine life, establish a cetacean rescue facility and educate people about marine biodiversity. The funding will help the Group carry out the survey, train volunteers in cetacean rescue and organise events to raise awareness of biodiversity.