One of the most prestigious awards given to people involved in environmental projects has gone to Scotland for the first time in its history. Howard Wood has become the winner of the highly coveted Goldman Environmental Prize in acknowledgement of his dedication to preserving marine life in his native land, especially around the Isle of Arran. With the award comes the sizeable reward of £175,000, but he seems to be more interested in continuing the work he started around 30 years ago, than with spending the money in the short term.

Mr Wood was delighted to receive the award, saying that: "This is global recognition for everything the community of marine volunteers on Arran have been working on for so long.''

Mr Wood is the chairman and co-founder of the Community of Arran Seabed Trust ('COAST'), which he helped to establish in 1995 with his close friend Don MacNeish.

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Through his involvement with COAST's activities, he has been a major factor in the promotion of sustainable management of the seas around Arran. His focus was much needed after decades of excessive fishing and the destructive impact of dredging on marine habitats, something that he saw first-hand through his diving experience. The government in Scotland decided as a result to designate a Marine Protected Area ('MPA') around the Isle of Arran in the summer of 2014. That followed devoted campaigning over many years to establish a "no-take zone" adjacent to Lamlash Bay on the island. With the introduction of that, fishing in the area was banned completely.

MPAs are protected areas of seas, oceans or large lakes that act to restrict human activity, commonly so as to protect the natural or cultural resources in the area.

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The largest MPAs can be found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans surrounding the territorial waters that are governed by Britain and America. By 2014, around 2.09% of the world's oceans were covered by more than 6,500 MPAs. The UK government announced in March 2015 that they would fund the creation of an MPA around the Pitcairn Islands, situated in the southern Pacific Ocean.

It is only the second time that the major award has been won by an individual in the UK, with stiff competition from across Europe for the prize. Established in 1989, the Goldman Environmental Prize selects winners from each of the six inhabited continental regions, those being classed as Asia, Europe, Africa, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. #Animals #Nature

Mr Wood became a resident of Arran in his teenage years and started diving in the seas surrounding the island a few years later. Clearly his own observations shaped his views on the need to campaign for a change to the behaviours being demonstrated, as fish stocks became severely depleted over the years. COAST's work continues with the need to ensure that the South Arran MPA is observed and the desire to improve management of marine life for the entire Firth of Clyde. A good man's work is never done.