AFTER leading a 20-year campaign to safeguard domestic marine habitats, Howard Wood has brought the Goldman Environmental Prize to Scotland for the first time.

As co-founder of Coast - the Community of Arran Seabed Trust - Mr Wood has been a keen promoter of the sustainable management of the sea and surrounding life.

And for his efforts he has been given the largest prize of grassroots environmentalists worldwide.

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Coast has fought against the degradation of marine life in the area of sea surrounding Arran particularly from scallop dredging and bottom trawling.

In 2008 it successfully established a No Take Zone in Lamlash Bay and in July last year, following a proposal from the group, the Scottish Government designated a large area of the sea around the south of Arran as one of 30 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Following his award, Mr Wood said more needs to be done to protect MPAs and set his sights on encouraging better marine management for the whole Firth of Clyde.

He said: "This is global recognition for everything the community of marine volunteers on Arran has been working for.

"Convincing the Scottish Government of the need for Scotland's first ever No Take Zone and following this with a designated Marine Protected Area has been a huge achievement.

"They are already helping to recover marine species and important fish nursery habitats."

He added: "The Scottish Government has a duty to manage the marine environment as a public asset, for now and for the future and to give local communities a real say in management.

"Coast staff and volunteers believe that by restoring marine health in the Clyde we can improve our fisheries, boost tourism and create a sustainable future for marine life and our younger generations."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Scotland's Marine Protected Areas network ­- which includes the largest MPA in the EU ­- helps protect and enhance our marine environment so that the rich diversity of life in the waters around Scotland, and the benefits they bring, can be enjoyed for generations to come.

"The South Arran MPA proposal was originally identified by Scottish Natural Heritage as a suitable candidate for designation, and encompassed a similar proposal we received from COAST for an MPA at the south east of Arran. We have been grateful to COAST for their assistance generating support for that proposal, designated as one of 30 new MPAs in July 2014.

"We recently consulted on potential management measures for MPAs and will shortly implement measures that take account of all views received.

"The current preferred management approach would achieve the conservation objectives of the protected features and reduce the footprint of trawling and dredging considerably.

"We congratulate Howard on his award and look forward to continuing working with him and COAST, as well as other Clyde and wider marine interests, on the South Arran MPA and the development of the rest of the MPA network."