Preserving Arran's coastline leads to top environment award for local campaigner
The founder of a tiny Scottish conservation charity has won the world’s most prestigious environmental award, it has been announced.
Sea diver Howard Wood will receive the Goldman Environmental Prize at a ceremony in San Francisco today (20 April) in recognition for his work preserving the seabed around the Isle of Arran.
For over 20 years Wood, alongside his charity, Community of Arran Seabed Trust (Coast), has worked tirelessly to protect the island's marine environment and allow it to recover.
The trust established the country's first no take zone, which prohibits fishing in part of the island's Lamlash Bay.
He said: “I am delighted with the award. This is global recognition for everything the community of marine volunteers on Arran have been working on for so long.
"The work of Coast goes back to before 1995, when we could see that the seabed around Arran was being basically dredged away.
"We wanted to have a trial area to find out what happens when you close a small area to all fishing.
"It took us years to get there, but we did get there in 2008."
Sustainable fishing methods such as creeling, hand diving for scallops and angling are being promoted and the organisation led a successful campaign to establish one of Scotland's first marine protected areas (MPAs) in the area around Arran.
Coast is now launching an online petition urging Scottish policy makers to end dredging and bottom trawling in marine protected areas.
Wood added: “The Scottish Government has a duty to manage the marine environment as a public asset, for now and for the future and to give local communities a real say in management.
“Convincing the Scottish Government of the need for Scotland’s first ever no take zone (NTZ) and following this with a designated Marine Protected Area has been a huge achievement.
“The NTZ is already recovering and the MPA will help to restore marine species and important fish nursery habitats.”
The Scottish government is due to announce its proposals for the management of MPAs in Scotland this summer.
Wood is one of six winners of this year's Goldman Environmental Prize, who are drawn from Kenya, Myanmar, Haiti, Canada, Honduras and Scotland.