Helping coastal communities and wildlife flourish.
Coastal communities around Scotland are being invited to bid for a share of more than £3 million to invest in their local area.
The next round of the Coastal Communities Fund in Scotland opens to applications today, with £1.9 million up for grabs in the Highlands and Islands and £1.4 million available for the rest of Scotland.
The Coastal Communities Fund has already invested up to £17.7 million in 69 projects across Scotland, which is forecast to create more than 1,300 jobs.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:
"Scotland's estimated 10,000 miles of stunning coastline are one of our greatest natural assets. Many of our coastal communities rely on the marine environment not only for industries such as fishing, but for tourism and recreation too.
"People come from both near and far to visit coastal communities which are the stepping stone to experiencing important habitats and species through activities such as wildlife watching, kayaking, surfing and angling. Our seas are amazingly productive and today's announcement seeks to continue protecting and investing in our coastal futures.
"The Coastal Communities Fund helps people living and working in these areas to make the most of the economic opportunities on offer. The projects already funded are forecast to create 1,332 jobs in the coming months and years, and I urge all coastal communities to consider applying for this latest round of support."
It comes as Scottish Natural Heritage launches a consultation on the scientific case to classify 10 sites as marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
Ms Cunningham continued:
"Scotland's seas are globally important for many bird species, providing food, a place to rear their young, and winter refuge. This means we have a moral and legal obligation to protect them, including meeting the requirements of the EU Wild Birds Directive.
"Scotland is still firmly in the EU and, as the First Minister has stated, we are pursuing all options to maintain Scotland's EU status. That means continuing to act as a responsible EU citizen, including proceeding with this consultation on marine Special Protection Areas."
Round 4 of the Coastal Communities Fund is being delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. Full details of eligibility and how to apply for a grant for round 4 are now available on the Big Lottery Fund website: https://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/ccf
The consultation on marine Special Protection Areas can be accessed via: www.snh.gov.uk/marinebirdSPAs