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Researchers to examine health of seabed in circumnavigation of Scotland

MV Sea Beaver passes Bass Rock (Open Seas/PA)
MV Sea Beaver passes Bass Rock (Open Seas/PA)

Greenpeace activists and researchers from a marine charity are set to circumnavigate Scotland’s coastline to survey the health of its seabed.

Dubbed Operation Ocean Witness, the joint project between Open Seas and Greenpeace UK will see hi-tech remotely operated underwater cameras and drones used to investigate sensitive areas of the seabed over the next five months.

Those onboard MV Sea Beaver hope their research will help put pressure on politicians at Holyrood and Westminster to take action to restore seabed health, safeguard sustainable inshore fisheries, and regenerate coastal communities.

Phil Taylor, head of policy and operations for Open Seas, said the “environmental health of our seas is below the waves, out of sight and sadly often out of mind”.

He added: “Our coastal seas are massively important for the wider functioning of our marine environment, holding precious nursery grounds for fish and other marine life.

“Unfortunately, our coastal seabed and inshore fisheries are under pressure and the harbours that once supported hundreds of small fishing boats are now empty or in decline.”

Researchers on the 18-metre Sea Beaver have started their expedition from the south-east, in Berwickshire, before heading south around Scotland’s west coast later in the summer.

As part of the mission, they plan to meet with communities working to help protect their local marine environment.

Fiona Nicholls, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “After a brilliant summer patrolling the English Channel last year, documenting and investigating industrial fishing, it’s time for Sea Beaver to investigate the health of Scotland’s seas and push Holyrood and Westminster to take proper action to protect our oceans.”

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