Category Archives: Island News

Fair Isle gets its Marine Protected Area

Scottish Government approves Fair Isles Demonstration and Research MPA

On 26 October, Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, announced  the designation of the Fair Isle Demonstration & Research Marine Protected Area – Scotland’s first ever designation of this kind.

Great result for 25 years of Community effort 

The news comes on the back of decades of community effort campaigning for improved protection for Fair Isle’s waters. Fair Isle is famed for its migratory bird populations and attracts visitors the world over. A small and remote island, located around 40km from the nearest land, the local economy is reliant upon a healthy marine environment to underpin their wildlife tourism industry. Fair Isle records a greater diversity of bird species per unit area than anywhere else in Britain and Ireland, due to its location as first landfall for migrants moving across both the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and often records unusual avian visitors not found elsewhere in the UK. In addition, seventeen species of seabirds breed on Fair Isle, however populations of these have declined from c. 250,000 in total in the 1980s and 1990s to just over 100,000 in 2010, with species such as kittiwakes, arctic skuas, puffins, shags and arctic terns showing the most rapid declines. This is not only an issue for the biodiversity of Fair Isle, but also represents a threat to the island’s main industry – wildlife-based tourism.

FIMETI ‘s role crucial for campaign success

The Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) was established in 1995 as a partnership between the Fair Isle community, the National Trust for Scotland and the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust to work toward the long-term protection and sustainable management of the seas around the island. The proposal for the Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area (MPA) was developed in 2011 by FIMETI on behalf of all residents of Fair Isle, and had full support of other stakeholders using these waters.

Fair Isles MPA’s 2 objectives

The Fair Isle MPA is ultimately designed to protect the island’s sea bird populations (and associated bird tourism industry) and has two objectives:

  • to conduct robust research on population decline of seabirds,
  • to demonstrate the social and economic value of a healthy marine environment to the Fair Isle community and others.

It differs from Scotland’s nature conservation MPAs in that rather than specifically protecting species of European importance it is specifically targeted toward carrying out research to demonstrate sustainable marine management approaches.

Piloting a partnership approach

Speaking about the news, former FIMETI representative Nick Riddiford said, “I am delighted that 25 years of community effort to safeguard our seas has reached this milestone. Its goal as the first Demonstration and Research MPA in Scotland is to pilot a partnership approach towards sustainable marine management of benefit to all.”

“The sea plays a huge role in the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of the isle. The designation will make a big difference for Fair Isle.”

 

Post Brexit Island access to single market?

“Single Market must work for the islands “said Conservative  MEP Ian Duncan last August.

Last year (30.09.15), Dr Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland, and chair of the ECR, welcomed small businessmen from across Europe to the European Parliament to discuss the challenges facing Islands and peripheral communities.

Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels, Dr Duncan said

‘When I campaigned to be elected to the European Parliament I was struck by the challenges facing Island communities right across Scotland. The small businesses based on these Islands produce goods and services of incredibly high quality, but encounter barriers such as distance from market, transport challenges, intermittent Internet, and attracting and retaining staff. We heard today from speakers from Scotland, Denmark, Croatia and Finland, all of whom face common challenges.

‘The key message is that the Single Market must work for you regardless of where you live and work. If you are in Stornoway, or Stirling, Arran or Aberdeen you should be able to do business. The islands don’t need special treatment, they need equal treatment. So when we talk about a Digital Single Market it should be a market for every islander as well as every mainlander. The same when we talk about an Energy Union; it should connect every household, not just those in the middle. And of course, you should be able to access the single market without let or hindrance, regardless of whether you are selling whisky on Islay or gin in Edinburgh.

‘I am delighted to have been able to bring together experts from across Europe and look forward to publishing a report of our findings in due course.’

The group heard from speakers including Gerald Michaluk, the owner of the Arran Brewery, and Donald MacInnes, crofter and former Chief Executive of Scotland Europa.

Gerald Michaluk commented,

‘As one of our potentially biggest trading partners Europe is essential, and if Scotland wants to maintain jobs and vitality on its Islands it needs to support Dr Ian Duncan’s initiative.

‘Islands need to have full access to Europe and be able to operate on a level playing field with mainland locations. Only in this way can we sustain the beauty and natural environment of Island communities across the EU.’

Donald MacInnes commented:

‘Islanders don’t feel remote. For the single market to work for everyone, disparities between peripheral regions/islands must be minimised. Equally important is to focus on eliminating differences within these regions and islands. An understanding of this fine grain is crucial in seeking strategies and solutions.’

Jamie McGrigor, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands added:

‘As someone who lives in and has represented remote and island communities in the Scottish Parliament for many years, I know the unique challenges they face. Geography, transportation and logistical challenges often mean it is particularly difficult to do business in remote communities such as those up and down the west coast of Scotland.

“However, their produce, skills and expertise are often second to none, and I am delighted that my colleague Ian Duncan MEP is raising this issue in the European Parliament.”

What is Dr Ian Duncan’s position now?

Currently there are no new post from Dr Duncan’s blog on the need for the islands to engage with the single market.

Is he towing the party line on a hard Brexit, or he is standing by his word on the Single Market s advantage for the island?

If you are concerned about this issue,  contact Andrew Johnston, Head of Office for Ian Duncan, Ian Duncan MEP as he stated his position as always putting Scotland’s interests’ first and the current discussion does not look as if Scotland’s interests – and never mind the islands – are being fully considered in the discussion.  

 

 

BREXIT result: some of the reactions around Scotland

Alyn Smith, MEP: do not let Scotland down!

SNP MEP Alyn Smith addressed the European Parliament making clear Scotland’s desire to continue our membership of the EU – and received an unprecedented standing ovation from MEPs.

Addressing the meeting of the Parliament, Alyn Smith said:

“I represent Scotland within this house and where I’m proudly Scottish, I’m also proudly European.

“I want my country to be internationalist, cooperative, ecological, fair, European – and the people of Scotland along with the people of Northern Ireland and the people of London and lots and lots of people in Wales and England also voted to remain within our family of nations. I demand that that status and that esprit européen
be respected.

“Colleagues, there are a lot of things to be negotiated and we will need cool heads and warm hearts, but please remember this: Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you, cher colleagues, do not let Scotland down now.”

See more about Alyn Smith ‘s speech here.

COAST: seriously alarming

“We are alarmed at the referendum result in favour of leaving”, says Andrew Binnie from COAST “as we believe it will undermine the hard-won environmental legislation which underpins Scotland’s 2010 Marine Act, not to mention a raft of other important pieces of environmental legislation. These have made a real difference to the quality of our fragile natural environment”

Probable Erosion of Important Directives

“It has taken decades of hard work involving many UK/Scottish experts, civil servants and organisations to get Directives such as the Bathing Water, Water and Marine Strategy Framework Directives in place”, continues Mr Binnie .”The implementation of these has greatly benefited the people of Scotland who have seen a real improvement in water quality, particularly in our estuaries and cities. We no longer dump raw sewage into the Clyde for instance and fish stocks in the North Sea are showing signs of recovery. It is critical we continue to build on existing progressive legislation.”

Real danger

There is a real danger that without the backing of EU Directives the implementation of marine and fresh water legislation will be delayed, diluted and vulnerable to even greater industry lobbying. COAST is not uncritical of the EU but it is already clear that some (not all) sections of the fishing industry view ‘Brexit’ as an opportunity to discard regulations they are not in favour of ‘over the side’. We should expect the roll out of Scotland’s MPA network to be challenged. This would be a tragedy not just for the environment but also for fishers and coastal communities. It is self-evident that a healthy marine environment will support many more jobs than a depleted and degraded one.

No trade off

Environmental legislation must not be traded off in any negotiations. As a community organisation fighting for better management of Arran and Clyde waters, COAST is particularly concerned that marine legislation and the implementation of Scotland’s Marine Protected Area network remain on course.

CPMR calls for unity

The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) has expressed its disappointment that the UK has voted to leave the EU, but has called for EU Members and Regions across Europe to remain united and to work together to build a better future.

CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said:

“It is very disappointing that the people of the UK have taken the historic decision to leave the European Union. It is a decision that undermines European integration and unity, but we must respect the fact that they have exercised their democratic right.

“Now the EU and all Regions across Europe must move forward together, in the interests of growth and prosperity, to find the answers to our common challenges.”

New, innovative health care model for the Small Isles

The Nuka Health care model, Scottish Island style

A new health and well being centre for the Small Isles

Residents of the Small Isles of Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna have a brand new health centre – and a new way of delivering healthcare to these remote communities.

A team from NHS Highland had been working on the conversion of the former doctor’s house on Eigg into a health and wellbeing centre.

Eigg’s newest resident, three-week old Bryn Lovatt, officially opened the facility on Friday 27 May during a special Community Health Fair on the island that brought residents of Eigg, Muck and Rum together.

The Health Fair was organised by the three Eigg Community Health and Social Care workers, appointed as part of the new health care system in place in the Small Isles, which is modelled on the Alaskan Nuka system.

NHS Scotland “Being Here” Nuka model

Director of operations for NHS Highland’s north and west operational unit, Gill McVicar, said: “Today is the celebration of work NHS Highland has been doing with residents of the Small Isles for a few years.

“The resident GP on Eigg passed away three years ago, and we needed to review the model of care for the people of Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna. It provided us with an opportunity to do something different.”

The model which NHS Highland and the residents settled on is one that is inspired by another remote community – only several thousand miles away.

“We worked with the community to find exactly what they needed, and we’ve put in a model of care that is developed from Alaska,” Mrs McVicar explained. “The Nuka model of health and care services was created, managed and owned by Alaska Native people.

“The approach has been designed to bring about results by communities working together to achieve positive outcomes. We identified and trained four health and social care support workers based within the local communities to deliver health care to people in the Small Isles. There are three based on Eigg and one on Muck.

“We borrowed the Alaskan community health aid model from the South Central Foundation’s model of care and developed it here in Highland. There are five levels of training they can undertake, ranging from basic to advanced, and the beauty of it is that it is delivered by people living in these communities. They know the people they are treating, and they are more likely to remain within the community for longer.

The health and social care support workers are part of an extended integrated team that is supporting them from the mainland. “They report to the integrated team leader in Mallaig and medical care comes from Skye using our Rural Support Team model,” explained Mrs McVicar.

“We have three GPs that visit all of the islands on a regular basis. They travel to Eigg every week, and twice every second week, and visit the other islands every fortnight. Using this model, we have been getting to know the health needs of the populations and working with them to deliver sustainable high-quality healthcare.”

Community engagement through action research 

It was the potential of the Nuka model of care that finally convinced residents to get on board with this innovative and creative way of working.

“We couldn’t imagine any other way of working than having a resident GP,” explained chair of the Small Isles Community Council, Camille Dressler ( who is also chair of the Scottish Islands Federation).  “We had to go through the process of exploring every alternative available to us.

“In doing so, we began to realise that the way GPs work has changed in the last 30 years. They are now very much part of a team, and the turning point was when we started to look at the Nuka model in a deeper way.”

Mrs Dressler continued: “We liked the idea of having more community involvement and more say in how our care is delivered. The new model – Being Here- is the subject of an Action Research process, and we feel happy that we have been able to give our feedback throughout the process.

We may have lost a resident doctor, but we are gaining access to more services. Emergency care is still an issue that we want to work on as we feel that our First Responders are in  a unique position and should have access to some of the training that Emergency responders receive, but we are working on this.

I’m very happy that NHS Highland has committed so many resources and is committed to new ideas and innovation because we think this is where the future lies for rural medicine.”

A new way to look at health 

It was a busy day on Eigg, as the Small Isles Community Health Fair was also held on Friday to mark the opening of the new health centre. A series of NHS Highland healthcare professionals travelled to the island to deliver basic health checks, smoking cessation clinics and heart health sessions to the residents.

Islanders also provided head massage sessions, qi gong tasters, a wild life walk , a singing group session and a chance for everyone , and especially the school children to have a go a making green smoothies using the Smoothy bike.  “Well being is a wholistic concept” explained Berni McCoy who is one of the three community Health workers on Eigg. “we wanted the island children to be there and enjoy the day as well, and what better way to engage them than to get them to pedal hard to make a healthy treat! ”

Comments from the Alaskan guests.

The senior medical director for quality improvement and chief medical informatics officer for the South Central Foundation, Dr Steven Tierney, was a special guest on the day, with his wife Michelle who is the Foundation’s director.  He was delighted to see the impact the Nuka model of care is having thousands of miles from home.

“We have collaborated with NHS Highland for some time now, and we found that we have so many similarities in terms of recruitment and retention of medical professionals in remote and rural communities,” he explained.

“One of biggest challenges in Alaska was finding GPs to work in such isolated communities – in some cases they would require a six-hour flight to get to these communities.

“We decided to train people from within the communities to deliver basic healthcare, as they are adapted to the lifestyle of living in remote and rural Alaska, and they will remain in the community.

“It’s wonderful to have been invited to the opening of the Small Isles Health Centre and to see such community empowerment. The people of the Small Isles deserve a lot of credit for their resiliency and for embracing new ways of working.”

New blood for S.I.F.

Meet our new Development officer and new board member

S.I.F. directors are delighted to announce the appointment of Kirsty MacColl as the organisation’s new development officer.

Kirsty is a crofter in Acharacle in West Lochaber and has close family links with Uist. She knows all about the challenges of farming in a remote area and has a strong interest in community empowerment, having worked for the Community Retail Network, Seeing is Believing and Plunkett Scotland. She is looking forward to find out more about the challenges of island life and has started to work on a new survey to identify how we can all work together to ensure the islanders’ voice is heard loud and clear!

Another outcome of the S.I.F. recruitment drive has been the appointment of a new director on the board, Ann MacDonald from the Tiree Community Trust.

 

 

 

 

 

Blue New Deal workshop

The Blue New Deal

The Blue New Deal is a UK-wide initiative, led by the New Economics Foundation and working in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, to support good jobs, increased economic sustainability and resilience for coastal communities through a healthier coastal and marine environment.

Free New Blue Deal workshop: 

Tuesday 26 July 2016 – 12:00 to 17:00                                                                                  University of Aberdeen

This one-day workshop is an opportunity to discuss Scottish coastal communities, coastal economy and marine environment.

It wants to bring together:

  • Private, public, third-sector stakeholders representing coastal and marine issues in Scotland (incl. fisheries, aquaculture, energy, tourism, coastal management)
  • Stakeholders representing the interests of Scottish coastal communities (including local councils, coastal partnerships, community groups, business networks)

You will talk about:

  • What needs to happen to deliver a vision of good jobs and increased economic sustainability for coastal communities through a healthier marine environment
  • Discuss how the Blue New Deal initiative can help strengthen existing efforts towards these goal

The output will feed into a UK-wide action plan, to be launched in autumn 2016.

Visit the Blue New Deal website to find out more.

Register your interest by June 6 by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please contact Fernanda Balata: fernanda.balata@neweconomics.org

 

Community Marine Workshop: buying into Marine Scotland’s Vision and strategy

Community Marine Workshop: buying into Marine Scotland’s Vision and Strategy

Organised by Flora and Fauna International, the recent Community Marine Workshop held on 7 and 8 May 2016  was very informative about all issues surrounding  MPAs and community involvement.

The Marine Scotland strategy  about MPAs was presented in detail:

Marine Scotland Vision: 

Clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse marine and coastal environment that meets the long term needs of people and nature.

Marine Scotland Strategy 

  • Site protection:
  • Species protection
  • Wider measures

The Scottish MPA network

  • 30 nature conservation MPAs protecting habitats and species such as maerl beds, coral gardens, and common skate.
  • 47 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protected species and habitats such as bottle nose dolphin, coral reefs and seals.
  • 45 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for colonies of seabirds such as puffins and kittiwakes.
  • 61 Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the further protection of species from seabirds and seals to habitats from sea caves and rocky shores.
  • 194 seal haul-out sites, where seals are protected from harassment.
  • Five seal conservation areas to protect vulnerable local populations of common seals. These areas cover Moray Firth, Shetland, Orkney, Firth of Tay and the Western Isles.

20% of Scottish seas are now protected by MPAs.

See more in this presentation by Sebastian Howell from Marine Scotland: Sebastian Howell_MPAs

The event also featured inspiring community presentations about Fair Isle, South Skye and Little Loch Broom, as well as COAST, who charted the milestones of their journey to successfully establish an MPA for Arran.

Fair Isle Demonstration and Research MPA

fair-isle-by-air-2-tommy

The community on Fair Isle has been actively campaigning for a Demonstration and Research MPA to be set up on the island which has witnessed a worrying decline in its sea-bird population during the last decades. The D&R MPA seeks to look into the causes of this decline, address it and research the socio-economic benefits of marine conservation for local communities.

Inge Thomson, the singer and performer from Fair Isle and her father Stewart showed the  film made on Fair Isle about the need for a D&R MPA and made an impassioned plea for people to support  their proposal.

To have your say, click on this link to the Scottish Government consultation which ends on 26 May.

 

 

 

EU resolution on islands signals positive change

NEW EU resolution on islands passed on 4 February 2016

Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) recognises the special nature of island territories. However, very few concrete EU measures have aimed to support islands to date. Several insular regions and municipalities call for the development of an ‘insular dimension’ in EU policies, and for EU regional policy to take insularity factors, that affect them disproportionately, into account. They also claim that due to the European Commission’s established method of regional funding – based on GDP – certain islands and insular territories are severely penalised.

The Scottish Islands Federation hopes this may change if the measures proposed by the new resolution on islands  (see  below) are implemented:   the resolution calls  for new statistical indicators besides GDP  that can reflect the economic and social vulnerability arising from being an island territory.  An island desk, special financial instruments aimed at islands, an agenda for the islands, a White paper to monitor the situation,  a European Year for Islands and Mountains are amongst other welcome proposals to ensure that the island situation is considered as it should.

However, such resolutions have to be supported by all EU member states. Therein lie the problem of the Scottish Islands: the UK government cares little for its island territories and will care even less if voters decide to leave the EU.

European Parliament resolution of 4 February 2016 on the special situation of islands (2015/3014(RSP))

The European Parliament,

  • –  having regard to Articles 174 and 175 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013, on the European Regional Development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the Investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006,
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006,
  • –  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005,
  • –  having regard to the Commission’s Sixth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion (COM(2014)0473),
  • –  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion on ‘Specific problems facing islands’ (1229/2011),
  • –  having regard to the question to the Commission on the insularity condition (O-000013/2016 – B8-0106/2016),
  • –  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,
  1. whereas islands, classified as NUTS-2 and NUTS-3 regions, have common and permanent specific features, which clearly distinguish them from mainland areas;
  2. whereas Article 174 of the TFEU recognises the permanent natural and geographical handicaps specific to the situation of islands;
  3. whereas the reduction in economic, social and environmental disparities between regions and polycentric harmonious development are the main objectives of cohesion policy, in close connection with achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy;
  4. whereas the economic crisis has impacted dramatically on the national and regional budgets of many Member States by limiting the availability of financing in many sectors and leading to a 20 % collapse of public investment; whereas, as also pointed out in the Sixth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion, the impact of the crisis has seriously affected the potential development of many disadvantaged regions, including islands; whereas the economic crisis has reversed the long-term trend of convergence of GDP and unemployment rates across the EU, resulting in increased poverty and social exclusion and preventing the achievement of the Union’s long-term objective of economic and territorial cohesion;
  5. whereas EU islands are also peripheral regions situated in some cases on the EU’s external borders and are particularly vulnerable to the challenges which Europe is currently facing, such as globalisation, demographic trends, climate change, energy supply and, especially for the southern areas, exposure to increasing migration flows;
  6. whereas European islands contribute to the diversity of the Union in both environmental terms (specific habitats and endemic species) and cultural terms (architectural heritage, sites, landscapes, agricultural and non-agricultural features and geographical identities);
  7. whereas European islands can contribute to strengthening sustainable development in the Union, given their high potential for producing energy from renewable sources due to specific exposure to wind streams, ocean swell and sunlight;
  8. whereas the accessibility of regions and connections within islands are key factors in making island areas more attractive for skilled workers and businesses; whereas there is a need to attract investment, to create new jobs and to reduce maritime and air transport costs for people and goods, in accordance with the principle of territorial continuity, while also making efforts to reduce emissions and pollution deriving from maritime and air transport;
  9. whereas agriculture, breeding and fisheries constitute an important element of local island economies, which are a source of supply for a significant part of the agro-industrial sector, and whereas these sectors suffer due to lack of accessibility, particularly for SMEs, a low level of product differentiation, and climate conditions;
  10. whereas intensive tourism is, for most islands, an important part of their local economy but tends normally to be concentrated only in certain periods of the year and not adequately planned outside the season, and this may entail risks for the environmentally sustainable development of island regions;
  1. Encourages the Commission to provide a clear definition of the type of geographical, natural and demographic permanent handicaps that insular regions can suffer from, with reference to Article 174 of the TFEU;
  2. Asks the Commission how it intends to implement the wording of Article 174 of the TFEU regarding the permanent handicaps of insular regions that hinder their natural development and prevent them from achieving economic, social and territorial cohesion;
  3. Recognises the importance of providing support to tackle the significant depopulation trend in island regions; recalls that certain handicaps are more difficult to cope with for islands, in proportion to their small size and their remoteness from the European continental coasts;
  4. Requests that the Commission launch an in-depth study/analysis on the extra costs incurred as a result of being islands, in terms of the transport system for people and goods, energy supply and access to markets, in particular for SMEs;
  5. Is of the opinion that islands should have a proper definition/categorisation that will take into account not only their differences and specificities but also their specific situation; invites the Commission, on the basis of Article 174 of the TFEU, which recognises the special situation of islands, to set up a homogeneous group made up of all island territories; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to take into account, besides GDP, other statistical indicators that can reflect the economic and social vulnerability arising from natural permanent handicaps;
  6. Recalls that, in accordance with Council Directive 2006/112/EC, certain European islands have been granted special tax arrangements as a counterbalance to their natural and demographic permanent handicaps; stresses the importance of those special tax arrangements for local communities and economies, and calls for their continuation, especially in those Member States that are under economic adjustment programmes;
  7. Recalls especially the need for better connectivity through maritime routes, improved access to ports and better air transport services; considers that particular emphasis should be placed on transport hubs, inter-modal transport and sustainable mobility; stresses also the need to support balanced territorial development of island regions by promoting innovation and competiveness in these regions, which are remote from the major administrative and economic centres and do not benefit from ease of access to transport, and by strengthening local production for local markets;
  8. Stresses that digital capacity is a vital means of counterbalancing the connectivity handicaps of island regions; emphasises that investments in infrastructure are required in order to ensure broadband access on islands and the full participation of islands in the digital single market;
  9. Recalls that many islands in the Mediterranean have seen huge numbers of migrants arriving and are having to deal with this situation; underlines the need for a holistic EU approach, which should include EU support and a joint effort by all Member States;
  10. Underlines the importance of providing education at all levels, where necessary also by making more use of distance education systems; recalls that islands are also facing serious

climate change impacts, with particularly serious consequences, including increasing numbers of natural hazards;

  1. Emphasises that, while islands face constraints, they also benefit from a territorial potential, which should be used as an opportunity for development, growth and job creation; stresses the importance of low tax and red tape reduction policies as key incentives for attracting investment; mentions, in this context, the development of sustainable tourism in addition to seasonal tourism, focusing on the promotion of cultural heritage and specific artisanal economic activities; stresses also the huge potential of ocean, wind and solar energy and the potential of islands to become important sources of alternative energy, to be as energy-autonomous as possible and, above all, to guarantee cheaper energy supplies for their inhabitants;
  2. Stresses, in this connection, the importance of using all possible synergies between the European Structural and Investment Funds and other Union instruments with a view to counterbalancing the handicaps of islands and enhancing their economic growth, job creation and sustainable development situation;
  3. Calls on the Commission to establish an ‘EU Strategic Framework for Islands’ with a view to linking up instruments that can have a major territorial impact;
  4. Calls on the Member States and regional and local authorities to play an important role in the development strategies of islands on the basis of a vertical approach that involves all levels of government, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, with a view to ensuring the sustainable development of EU islands;
  5. Suggests that the Commission establish an ‘islands desk’ linked to the Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) and made up of a small group of officials in order to coordinate and analyse issues relating to island regions;
  6. Calls on the Commission to submit a communication containing an ‘Agenda for EU Islands’ and, subsequently, a White Paper to monitor the development of islands, based on best practice and involving local, regional and national authorities and other relevant actors, including economic and social partners and representatives of civil society;
  7. Calls on the Commission to propose a European Year of Islands and Mountains;
  8. Invites the Commission to bear in mind the specific situation of islands when preparing the proposal for the next multiannual financial framework;
  9. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Committee of the Regions and the Member States.

Cold Water Tourism Conference on Arran 14-16 March 2016

2nd Cold water tourism conference in Arran

Cold water island tourism is a new initiative to promote, celebrate and help develop tourism on small cold water island destinations around the world.

Meet private sector drivers of tourism – Investors – Public sector policy makers – Politicians and civic leaders – Destination managers and marketeers – Educationalists and researchers: it is all happening on the isle of Arran  on 14th – 16th March 2016.

Following on from last year’s success, this second  Cold Water Tourism conference will focus on sustainable economic development on islands and rural areas and is supported by the North Ayrshire Council.

Download the programme here:

SIF director Frank Corcoran will be attending and will report on the conference and its merits.

What the prospectus says:

For many cold water maritime countries, in both the northern and southern hemispheres, their islands make a valuable contribution to the overall tourism experience and the economy.

In the Northern Hemisphere this is especially the case in most of the North Atlantic (Scandinavian, Germany, Netherlands and Baltic nations as well as Scotland, Ireland, Wales and, to a lesser extent the rest of the UK).

In terms of our understanding of the value, market demand and economic impact there has been relatively little research. Most of the published work, and indeed the focus of most travel writers, is upon ‘warm water island’ tourism. This is also the case for many of the conferences that take place on this subject.

The AIM is to redress this situation.

The ‘cold water islands’ face common tourism opportunities and challenges. There is real potential for collaboration, sharing knowledge and developing a common research agenda.

There is a collaborative opportunity to DIRECTLY assist

island tourism. We need to develop a robust and innovative programme of activity designed to help tourism professionals.

Knowledge transfer and sharing sits comfortably with the notion of international cooperation.

At the same time there is scope to jointly develop events and festivals across a wide geographic area that can develop tourism visits.
It is possible to design and develop events to be hosted at several islands – to create innovation, quality and reduce costs.

A key element of a collaborative approach is to develop fresh appropriate methods for measuring and evaluating ‘success’.
In particular, there is the potential to develop a new Island ‘Livability Index” and to understand tourism’s contribution to this ‘index’.

ORGANISING GROUP

Lars Olsen — (Denmark)
Alastair Dobson — Visit Arran (Scotland)
Terry Stevens — Stevens and Associates (Wales)

Vision

Making small cold islands tourism destinations of choice helping to making them sustainable (financial, economic, social and environmental) and attractive places to live and work.

Mission

“Creating a unique network of cold water island destinations in order to benefit from having a representative voice of influence and forging collaborative working and sharing practical solutions based
upon successful actions and evidence.”

Aim

To give this mission with a starting point by organizing the first ANNUAL European Conference on ‘cold water island tourism’.

Objectives

— Share knowledge of successful practical projects; — Create networks of expertise and information;
— Discuss common issues and opportunities to grow

the value of tourism;
— Identify innovative solutions to underpin sustainable growth; — Celebrate and recognise best practice project;
— Develop a common agenda for support and development; — Promote awareness of cold islands as tourism destinations; — Influencing eu programs and policies.

Desired outcomes

— Establishing and growing an on-going network and dialogue between destinations

— Creating a central and accessible pool of research, knowledge and case studies

— Holding regular symposia, conferences and workshops — Promoting the interests of these destinations

We need to raise the status of tourism in the context of economic development in maritime countries. This is best done through improving our understanding of the potential for growth in the context of:

Market trends Innovation Investment Climatic issues Sustainability Accessibility

THE TIME IS RIGHT

The EU’s ‘Blue Growth Strategy’ is highlighting the importance of developing all aspects of the marine environment for economic development. This is supported by a new focus on “Cold Water Islands” as part of the EU programs 2014-2021.

International conferences have been announced to consider future of Island communities. There is a real opportunity to influence these agendas.

For many island communities, tourism is the main stay of their economy. It is a sector in growth and offers considerable scope for enhanced sustainable development. As a result, there is now a growing interest at the level of national Governments to take advantage of these island assets.

Tourism is becoming increasingly segmented with a diversity of markets and interest groups, which increases the opportunities for cold water islands.

THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLABORATION

Most island communities have a strong heritage and cultural resources. As a result of their heritage of having to be self sufficient there is generally a good asset base of local crafts and produce creating a very compelling sense of place.

Island tourism businesses tend to be micro / SMEs. They are often marginal businesses but the cash generated is vital for the overall survival of island communities. Much of the appeal and product base is also small scale. It takes the form of special interest tourism and events, often featuring indigenous art, music, history, archeology, hand crafts and sport.

New Island resolution voted on in EU parliament

New Island resolution voted on in EU parliament on 4 February 2016

MEPs urge the European Commission to take concrete steps to address the permanent handicaps that EU islands face and make full use of their potential,  in a resolution voted on Thursday. The text also stresses the unique difficulties that southern insular regions face due to the increased migration flows and asks that special tax regimes should continue.

MEPs list the actions that they want the Commission to take to address the unique and vulnerable situation of EU islands. The resolution calls on the Commission to:

  • set up “a homogenous group made up of all island territories”, based on EU Treaty Article 174, which recognises the permanent handicaps of insular regions,
  • take account of other statistical indicators, besides GDP, which will reflect the economic and social vulnerability of these regions,
  • launch an in-depth study/analysis in the extra costs incurred as a result of being an island (e.g. transport system, energy supply and access to markets),
  • establish an “EU Strategic Framework for Islands” which would link up instruments that could have a major territorial impact, and
  • submit a communication on an “Agenda for EU Islands” and subsequently a White Paper to monitor the development of islands.

Islands exposed to migration flows

Parliament stresses that EU islands are also peripheral regions on the EU’s external borders. The southern areas and the many Mediterranean islands are particularly exposed to increased migration flows. MEPs ask for an EU-wide approach, “which should include EU support and a joint effort by all member states”, to help them.

Special tax regimes should continue

MEPs approved an amendment stressing “the importance of special tax arrangements for local communities and economies”- some EU islands have been granted special tax arrangements to counterbalance their permanent natural and demographic handicaps – and “calling for their continuation, especially in those member states that are under economic adjustment programmes”.

Resolution on the role of regional authorities

In a separate resolution voted on Thursday, MEPs ask that regional and local authorities be given a bigger role in managing EU structural and investment funds in 2014-2020, to help boost their impact.