I was delighted to be asked to speak at the official opening of the Octopus Centre in Lamlash, Arran, Scotland’s first Marine Protected Area visitor centre, on the afternoon of 22 September.
The Octopus Centre will not only provide offices for the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) but will also be a hub for marine activities and community education.
The occasion was marked with an exhibition, music performed by Edinburgh Castle Chorus and musicians, Heather Macleod and Stuart Farrar and a poem from Colin Guthrie, with kayaking in the bay in collaboration with Arran Outdoor Education Centre.
The opening was timely, as two days earlier marked the 10th anniversary of the creation of the highly successful Lamlash Bay No Take Zone (NTZ), an area of roughly two square kilometres at the north end of Lamlash Bay, from which no marine life can be removed by any method, which was set up to protect Maerl beds and to promote natural regeneration of all marine life. The NTZ has already succeeded beyond all expectations.
COAST and its supporters should be congratulated on their successful campaign to secure the South Arran Marine Protected Area and their achievement in promoting sustainable marine management whilst delivering education programmes since COAST’s inception in 1995.
The other speakers were John Aitchison, Blue and Frozen Planet Wildlife Film Maker and Friends of the Sound of Jura; Kerri Whiteside, Project Manager, Marine Community Support Project, Fauna and Flora International; Manuela de los Rios, COAST Communications Officer 2015-2018; Debora Milenkova, COAST volunteer and Marine Programme Assistant and Howard Wood, chair of COAST
In recognition of Scotland’s Year of Young People, the ceremonial ribbon was cut by Luke Nelson, at 14 the youngest member COAST’s Community Advisory Panel and opened the centre.
Some 300 people attended what was a joyous occasion. It was particularly good to see my former SNP MSP colleague Rob Gibson, with his partner, former Green MSP Eleanor Scott, both of whom have strongly supported COAST and its aims over many years.