In 2016, CalMac Ferries commissioned MacArthur Green and the University of the West of Scotland to produce a paper on Blue Economy in the West of Scotland. The paper identified a number of opportunities for CalMac to support the delivery of the Scottish Marine Plan (SMP).
A number of opportunities were identified and investigated and through extensive conversation with Marine Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage it was decided that CalMac could support with marine biodiversity monitoring.
The project proposed by Marine Scotland, SNH and CalMac Ferries was a collaborative Citizen Science programme using CalMac vessels to gather marine biodiversity data, building on the background data already being gathered by various NGO's.
A workshop was held in April 2017 with a number of key stakeholders who already undertake marine biodiversity monitoring, citizen science projects and community engagement in the West of Scotland. During the workshop the project scope was determined to include marine bird and marine mammal monitoring and engagement with the local and wider community.
A key requirement of the project is that marine biodiversity monitoring is undertaken by volunteers using standardised methods. With this in mind, the methodology that is currently used to observe marine mammals from large vessels by organisations such as ORCA and MARINElife was adopted for mammal monitoring and the European Seabirds At Sea (ESAS) methodology used by JNCC was adopted for marine bird monitoring.