Fair Isle DR MPA Project Officer

Tim Merrick @ Focal Plane Photo

When FIMRO was first created, its key purpose was to act as the community representative on the MPA steering committee.

FIMRO trustees were able work with other MPA Steering Committee members to shape the initial structure and development of the group. Over time it became evident that a dedicated project officer role was vital to move the pace of planning and development forward and to ensure projects could be initiated, funded and delivered within suitable timeframes.

A community driven approach is integral to the Fair Isle DR MPA. In other circumstances it would be most appropriate for an MPA to be proposed and managed by a range of research and conservation bodies with the expertise to design and implement a management regime. In Fair Isle, where the initial idea and final proposal for the DR MPA was community-led, management of the project officer post needs strong community input. As staff management and the associated employment administration can be a burden for small community groups a co-management approach was agreed with NatureScot Shetland, who provide day-to-day line management and human resources support for the post.

In addition to quarterly Steering Committee meetings, the project officer meets monthly with FIMRO trustees to provide support for the organisation and help develop projects as well as discussing community input and priorities for the MPA. Monthly meetings are also held with an advisory group made up of FIMRO trustees, the NatureScot project officer line manager and the Fauna and Flora community support specialist.

This model has been found to work really well and has been responsible for a significant shift from a planning to research project delivery phase for the DR MPA, the development of a number of independent FIMRO projects and ensured a higher level of communication and consultation with the Fair Isle community.

Katie Cubbon

Project Officer – Katie Cubbon August 2023 – Present

Katie is the current Project Officer for the Fair Isle DR MPA project, starting in the role in August 2023. With a background in marine biology (BSc and MSc), Katie has a keen interest in fisheries science, sustainable management of marine resources and ecotoxicology.  She is currently finishing off her MPhil research project investigating shell disease and claw deformities in velvet crab fisheries in the Orkney islands. Katie lives in Stromness, Orkney, though regularly makes the trip north to Fair Isle. Growing up on an island herself, Katie values the importance of small community involvement in decision making and management of their own marine resources and hopes to support FIMRO to help continue to great work paved out by the Fair Isle community, FIMETI, FIMRO, the DR MPA Steering Group and Martha over the last several years.

Project Officer – Martha Thomson

Martha was lucky enough to spend her early childhood growing up on Fair Isle and has continued to have strong tries to the island. She was thrilled when Fair Isle finally achieved the MPA designation having witnessed the huge effort put in by the Fair Isle community. It was a privilege for her to then get the opportunity to work on developing and implementing the DR MPA further: to contribute to maintaining Fair Isles impressive Maine environment, and to work with the community to achieve their ambitions. With the support, guidance and contribution from the Fair Isle community and DRMPA steering group she was able to facilitate the development of the Fair Isle DR MPA Research and Project Plan, bringing together the aspirations of all stakeholders. She found it particularly rewarding working with FIMRO as they began to grow and develop as an organisation and looks forward to seeing their ideas continue to shape their community. 

Funding for a two year part-time post was provided by Coastal Communities Fund and we gratefully acknowledge the significant impact this funding has had on the development of the DR MPA and the work FIMRO is able to undertake.

Fauna and Flora International

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