New marine partnership is formed

A new marine group covering the Northumberland and Berwickshire coast has been formed.
A new marine group covering the Northumberland and Berwickshire coast has been formed.
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The newly-formed Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership is a collaboration of more than 20 Scottish and English organisations responsible for managing our local inshore waters.

The original partnership was established 16 years ago to proactively manage the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Lindisfarne Special Protection Area (SPA).

The new partnership will coordinate management for the entire network of inshore marine nature conservation designations between Fast Castle Head in Scotland, and the River Tyne in England.

Partnership members include statutory regulators such as Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Environment Agency and Marine Scotland, together with ports and harbours, local authorities, Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, and conservation charities.

Working together, the partnership will develop a toolkit to help them manage this suite of important marine areas.

The toolkit will provide management organisations with the resources they need to effectively manage these sites, such as accurate mapping, up to date condition assessments and an inventory of local monitoring activity.

It is hoped that the toolkit will eventually sit on a publicly available web-hub, so anyone interested in the management of the local marine environment can learn more.

The partnership project officer, Claire Hedley, said: “Management of the marine environment can be really complex, especially in the intertidal zone where land and marine legislation, policies and organisations overlap. It’s even more complicated when we have sites that cross the Scottish-English border. Working in partnership is really important and we’re excited to be developing a coordinated approach for the area.”

The iconic coastline of Northumberland is famous for its large sandy bays like those at Bamburgh, Beadnell and Druridge. The bays are punctuated by rocky headlands that tumble into the sea to form offshore reefs that support large kelp forests.

Extensive sand and mud flats between Holy Island and the mainland support large seagrass meadows and dense mussel beds, providing a rich food source for over-wintering seabirds.

The high coastal cliffs of Berwickshire and the rugged offshore Farne Islands and Coquet Island support thousands of breeding seabirds in the summer months. Sea caves created by the pounding waves can plunge for hundreds of meters into the depths.

One of Europe’s most important breeding colonies of grey seal resides on the Farne Islands and at St Abbs, regularly hauling out on Fenham Flats, while the Tweed and Aln estuaries are important havens for fish.

Partnership chairman, Tom Cadwallender, said: “The shallow sea, shores and estuaries of Berwickshire and Northumberland are home to some of the most spectacular marine life in world. With so many people involved in management, the partnership really helps us to work together to protect these special areas.”