A Scottish daily newspaper is celebrating a victory in its bid to increase protection for the country’s marine life.
The Scotsman’s Save our Seas campaign – first launched last October – demanded tougher measures to care for the great variety of wildlife, including whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Environmentalists claim there is evidence of a decline in marine species and habitats in the seas around Scotland.
Now Scottish Government ministers have unveiled a package of measures, called the Marine Bill consultation paper, setting out what it wants to do to protect the coastline.
The Scotsman’s environment correspondent Jenny Haworth, said: “It’s great news – it’s a victory for the whole of Scotland that the Scottish Government is pushing ahead with a rigorous marine bill.
“Scotland’s precious seas contain a huge variety of marine life and must be preserved for the wildlife and communities that depend on them.
“There’s been a lot of environment groups calling for similar things to protect the marine life that Scotland’s so famous for and finally the necessary steps are being taken.
“Thousands of readers supported our Save Our Seas campaign and their views have been listened to by the Scottish Government.
“Environment groups have been calling for new legislation to preserve our seas for years. It’s brilliant as it’s seems the Scottish Government and the paper have the same agenda on this one.”
When The Scotsman launched the campaign, it called for a network of marine reserves to be created to safeguard sites.
The title also wanted a system of marine planning, effectively zoning areas for appropriate use, and a single organisation to administer this system.
It also called for Scotland to be given control of conservation to the 200-mile boundary with international waters.
Proposals in the Marine Bill, published on Scotsman.com, show the campaign has been a successful one with a planned ‘National Marine Plan’ aiming to give the country control over conservation to the international waters boundary.
Currently, it only has control out to 12 miles, with Westminster responsible for the rest.
Since the launch, The Scotsman has run a succession of stories about the area’s marine wildlife, gathered petitions from readers to hand to Government and been praised by the Scottish Government’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead.