Survey 2nd - 8th August 2006 (photo credit: Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust)
Marine wildlife conservation and tourism

Author: Gemma Paterson, The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

Location: Isle of Mull, Scotland

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT)’s Sea Change project explores solutions, which can deliver conservation objectives as well as support jobs and the local economy in a number of coastal communities across the Hebrides, West Scotland.

HWDT is a registered charity that, since 1994, carries out research and works with local communities to ensure the lasting conservation of Scotland’s whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) and the overall Hebridean marine environment.

The Sea Change project, which was awarded £120,000 through the UK Government’s Coastal Communities Fund, works to safeguard and indirectly create employment opportunities in the region. Sea Change is an innovative project to strengthen people’s connections to the sea in 15 remote island communities across the Hebrides, including by developing the region’s appeal as a major destination for wildlife tourism.

Key to this will be engaging coastal communities in learning, training and volunteering – so that they can develop stronger links with and understanding of their marine environment, and invest in its sustainable use for the long-term benefit of local people.

“We want our Sea Change project to help local people make the most of their natural marine assets – benefiting the conservation of our world-class marine environment and bringing real economic and social benefits to the whole region,” said Gemma Paterson, HWDT’s Operations Manager.

“The project will set up a legacy, with the communities themselves taking ownership of it, and so ensuring its sustainability for years to come. We hope that increased tourism numbers will also strengthen the tourist-dependent businesses in each community.”

HWDT works collaboratively with community enterprises, trusts, wildlife groups, businesses, schools and individuals, so that the project is tailored to each of the 15 communities and to encourage as many volunteers as possible to get involved.

(photo credit: Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust)