Council of Europe Diploma




Fair Isle has held the prestigious Council of Europe Diploma since 1985, which recognises communities living in harmony with their environment. It is significant that when it was recently renewed in 2010, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers attached six recommendations, four of which related to the marine area. They include a call for a Marine Protected Area within the European Union Birds Directive and Habitats Directive in waters adjacent to Fair Isle to be created in consultation with Fair Isle’s community representatives, and for the traditions and culture of the island population to be taken into consideration when issuing regulations.

Fair Isle's proposal for a Fair Isle Marine Protected Area is supported by the most recent Council of Europe Diploma renewal (2010) through the following condition:


"In recognition of the internationally important seabird colonies and associated marine environment currently experiencing severe pressure, the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments should use the powers invested in them through the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 to establish the protected marine area which has been called for in successive diploma renewals. A new protected marine area should be in conformity with the Fair Isle Marine Action Plan."


Failure to achieve this requirement would see Fair Isle lose its diploma at the next renewal (2015).


In 2012, the Fair Isle community presented a petition to the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee asking for the above Council of Europe Diploma condition to be  honoured and implemented.

The island is now being considered by the Scottish Government as a  Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area (MPA). In 2014, we are still awaiting to hear the outcome.


Text and photographs Copyright Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative. All rights reserved.

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