Last month, CalMac Ferries launched their new Marine Awareness Programme at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban. The programme is a CalMac Ferries initiative to monitor and raise awareness of the marine environment in the West of Scotland. The launch was well-timed to coincide with important advancements by the Scottish government in new marine protected areas in the region.
Programme partners include MARINElife, JNCC, Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland, and ORCA, and all will be working together to coordinate citizen science monitoring and engagement programmes. MARINElife will be using our vast experience in ferry-based research to coordinate the bird monitoring branch of the project, coordinating ESAS trained researchers and survey volunteers in carrying out monthly surveys on board CalMac ferries, with commencement in early 2019. Surveyor training, pilot surveys, and network development is currently under way with project partner JNCC. MARINElife surveyors Graham Etkins, Cheryl Leaning, and Martin Kitching have already received ESAS training, becoming team leaders and mentors on this network, and the second round of mentor and volunteer training will begin next week (8th-10th May).
With support from Marine Scotland and JNCC, MARINElife will be recruiting a new (and paid) part-time member of staff, to start in August this year, to oversee surveyor coordination and development on this network. So do keep a watch for the job posting coming soon!
You can find out more about the Marine Awareness programme and its aims at the programme webpage: https://www.calmac.co.uk/calmac-ferries-marine-awareness-programme