REVITALISING Scottish coastline communities could deliver a major boost to local economies, according to a report
Better management of coastal areas to create jobs and investment opportunities while improving the environment, said a study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF).
It says that adopting the right approach could transform towns and villages suffering from historic under-investment and lead to healthier seas and waterways.
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The NEF works to promote alternative solutions to economic, environmental and social problems, and to challenge traditional viewpoints.
Fernanda Balata, Project Lead for Coastal and Marine Environment at the group said: "As an island nation, the UK has access to a considerable wealth of natural resources.
"But our failure to properly manage them has told a story of unfulfilled potential - fewer jobs, lower revenues, unnecessary public costs, and unsustainable coastal economies. We want to deliver more and better jobs for coastal communities and the marine environment plays a key role to help achieve that."
"Over the next year, we will work with actors across the UK to identify solutions and practical measures to improve the health of our marine and coastal ecosystems to address these challenges.
"There are great examples of innovative and sustainable approaches already happening around the UK coast. We need to put in place the incentives and policies to encourage action on a national scale."
The report advises communities to focus on five areas, including sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, innovative coastal management, renewable energy, responsible tourism, and re-connecting people with nature.
Its analysis shows that better management of UK fish stocks could create 4,922 new jobs, while coastal areas are also prime spots for tourism and the development of renewable industries.
During the coming months, the think tank intends to develop a national action plan by working with local councils and national government departments, as well as entrepreneurs and industry representatives.
Among the examples of successful coastal development, the report highlights the Tidal Energy company in Pembrokeshire, Southwest Wales, which is developing green energy technology to support local jobs.
By 2017, it expects to add enough power to the national grid to provide energy for up to 10,000 homes and provide sustainable employment opportunities for local businesses.
Also onboard is the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) group, who have reaped the benefits of adopting sustainable fishing methods.
Chairman Howard Wood said: "The COAST initiative on the Isle of Arran is built around the concept that if the marine environment thrives, then everyone dependent on it will too.
"The Lamlash Bay No Take Zone is recovering well and this success is expected to have a positive effect on the surrounding waters, benefiting scallop divers and creelers that work within the newly created South Arran MPA.
"It also helps generate many tens of thousands of pounds for the local economy."
"The need to restore marine habitats and properly manage these ecosystems for the benefit of society and the economy is not unique to the Clyde.
"What's really exciting is that other groups across the country are waking up to the huge potential of our marine environment."