Climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2023

Fourth annual progress report on "Climate Ready Scotland: Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019 to 2024".

9. Progress on SCCAP2 'Coastal and Marine Environment' outcome

SCCAP2 Outcome 6: Our coastal and marine environment is valued, enjoyed, protected and enhanced and has increased resilience to climate change

This outcome has two sub-outcomes. These sub-outcome split across the adaptability of coastal and marine natural systems' themselves and the social and cultural benefits that societies obtain from ecosystems. The products and economic value obtained from ecosystems (provisioning services) are considered under outcome 3.

Examples of progress on cross-cutting policies in support of this outcome

Scotland's National Marine Plan – In Programme for Government 2022-2023, Scottish Ministers announced their intention to start the process of developing a new National Marine Plan (NMP), to "address the global climate and nature crises by carefully managing increased competition for space and resources in the marine environment". There are clear synergies between the six outcomes of Scotland's Blue Economy Vision and the existing NMP objectives, making it a key delivery mechanism for Scotland's Blue Economy. The programme of work to develop a "National Marine Plan 2" (NMP2) will integrate these outcomes and seek to address the increasing competition for marine space, whilst supporting progress to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. To do so, the development of NMP2 is exploring opportunities to strengthen climate change adaptation objectives, and opportunities for a clearer prioritisation and decision-making framework to guide different interests and sustainable use of Scotland's marine space in the context of Scotland's net zero ambitions. As part of NMP2, an updated monitoring and evaluation framework will be developed to enable improved tracking of progress against new NMP2 objectives, which will include consideration of achievement of climate change mitigation and adaptation outcomes.

Marine Protection – In 2022, new commitments to help marine ecosystems adapt to climate change continued to progress and a consultation on the Policy Framework and Selection Guidelines for Highly Protected Marine Areas was launched in December 2022. Work started and is continuing to develop consultation materials on management measures for fishing activity in Marine Protected Areas and to collate views on a cap on inshore fishing effort both consultations are due towards the end of 2023. New protection was given to critically endangered flapper skates through designation of the Red Rocks and Longay MPA in December 2022.

Blue Carbon - The Scottish Blue Carbon Forum (SBCF) continues to support strengthening the evidence base for marine and coastal blue carbon habitats, including in relation to climate change adaptation. The SBCF is working with the UK Blue Carbon Forum and UK Blue Carbon Evidence Partnership, both of which formed in 2022.

Multilateral action to achieve seas resilient to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification – The North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy is the key means by which OSPAR's 16 Contracting Parties will implement the OSPAR Convention until 2030. Adopted in 2021, it sets out collective objectives to tackle the triple challenge facing the North-East Atlantic ocean: biodiversity loss, pollution, including marine litter, and climate change. We are working with the rest of the UK and the other Contracting Parties on the implementation of this new Strategy to improve the state of the marine environment.

Examples of progress on policies in support of sub-outcome that: "Scotland's coastal and marine biodiversity, ecosystems and landscapes are adaptable to the changing climate"

Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Network and Monitoring Strategy – The MPA network currently consists of 233 protected areas covering over 37% of our seas, over the 30% by 2030 target defined by the Convention on Biological Diveristy's Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. We are using the Scottish MPA Monitoring Strategy to measure the effectiveness of the MPA network. Fisheries measures, for sites which still require them, are being developed and will be delivered by 2024.

Farmed Fish Health Framework – Monitoring and responding to climate change has been one of the main areas of focus for the Farmed Fish Health Framework (FFHF). Work on development of an 'early warning system' for harmful algal blooms has continued. The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) has received funding to develop a series of training workshops on identification of relevant species. The FFHF will also consider the impact of zooplankton which has had an impact on the health of farmed fish in 2022. The FFHF with SAIC has also carried out some work on dissolved oxygen and published a report in 2022 outlining what monitoring is currently undertaken in Scotland. The FFHF will explore opportunities to expand the scope of this monitoring in 2023.

Examples of progress on policies in support of sub-outcome that: "Scotland's coastal and marine environment and its contribution to wider societal adaptation is enjoyed, valued and maintained"

Coastal Change Adaptation - £1.6 million was allocated to local authorities for coastal change adaptation in 2022-2023. £11.7 million capital has been allocated over 4 years to local authorities to undertake coastal change adaptation and consider how nature based solutions can help coastal communities adapt to climate change. Coastal Change Adaptation Planning guidance was published in February 2023 on the Dynamic Coast website.

Scotland's Future Fisheries Management Strategy 2020-2030 - Within the Future Fisheries Management Strategy, we published a delivery plan on 21 September 2022 to set out how and when we would deliver the range of actions in the Strategy, including the climate change action, with a clear signal on the front-loading of actions which would deliver enhanced environmental benefits and significant improvements to our fisheries management approach. We will develop a firm plan to set out direct actions to address climate change in a fisheries context in partnership with our main co-management group – the Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (FMAC). We have recently undergone a considerable refocussing of FMAC – to place it on a more strategic footing and to ensure that we have a balance of fishing industry and environmental input. The FMAC group will be supplemented by a number of technical and issue-specific subgroups, including one focussed on climate change. The climate change sub-group membership will not just be limited to FMAC members but will be opened to others with expertise in fisheries and climate change. The subgroup will have balanced representation of fisheries and conservation interests.

Monitoring Climate Change Impacts in Scottish Seas – Marine Scotland's sustained ocean observing programme has continued to collect evidence of the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine ecosystems. These observational programmes collect data on the changes in physics, chemistry and biology, informing several national and international assessments (UK Marine Strategy, OSPAR). Experts from Marine Scotland have participated in the Oslo-Paris Convention's Quality Status Report 2023 (due for publication Autumn 2023) where this evidence has contributed to the status assessment of the North-East Atlantic marine ecosystem, including the impacts due to climate change. Data from the Scottish Coastal Observatory have shown changes since 2014 in the seasonality and abundance of some phytoplankton groups at some sites that could have the potential to impact higher trophic levels and ecosystem services. These data have also contributed to the recent DEFRA Expert Panel Review of crab mortalities in the Tees.

Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) – The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership has continued to work on updating the evidence review papers to ensure the latest information is available to decision makers. Updated scientific reviews, supported by experts from Marine Scotland, have been produced on the topics of Coastal Flooding, Aquaculture, Ocean Acidification, Stratification, Temperature, Storms and Waves, Ocean Circulation, Oxygen and Marine Mammals. Marine Scotland will continue to support this partnership's work, as it is seen as a key method for providing evidence of climate change impacts in the marine environment to inform decision making.

How the Adaptation Scotland Programme is supporting this outcome:

Adaptation Scotland works to incorporate consideration of marine and coastal change climate risks, impacts and adaptation responses into the work of place -based adaptation projects. This includes supporting engagement on marine and coastal climate impacts and adaptation as part of the support for the Carbon Neutral Islands Project where we are working in partnership with Community Energy Scotland and local partners to incorporate climate adaptation into local plans for six Scottish Islands.

We included coastal adaptation in our adaptation finance case study work and are currently working in partnership with Glasgow University and the City of Edinburgh Council to develop a case study to share learning on how climate adaptation has been incorporated in to the coastal park which is part of the Granton waterfront regeneration.



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