ScotSAC News Archive 2012

5 December Pledge your support for a network of Scottish Marine Protected Areas.
1 December New membership Subscriptions and On-line Payment Introduced.
20 November MCS Seasearch Newsletter 19 available to view as PDF.
5 Decemebr Pledge your support for a network of Scottish Marine Protected Areas
19 November Nitrox Course at HQ on 10th February, 2013
13 November Request for assistance: Volunteer Biologist-Divers - updated 28 November
1 November Membership Subscriptions to increase and on-line payment will be available.
27 September ScotSAC Suunto Award 2012
20 August ScotSAC's Basic Nitrox Course to be held at HQ on 1 September 2012
30 July 1st Class Diver Award Updated.
26 July Marine Invasive Non-Native Species Identification Training
10 July After 19 years at Loanhead, Pentland Branch head to the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh - pay them a visit.
29 June Nominate a Board or NDC member!
23 June ScotSAC Deep Diving Course - 25th & 26th August
22 May Branch Instructor Course 24th June, 2012
19 May MCS Seasearch Newsletter 18 available to view as PDF.
3 May NAS Part 1 Course - 15/16th September, 2012
24 April Sharkatag: This year's event will take place on 14-16 June.
18 April Nitrox Course at HQ postponed again.
2 April Pentland SAC Try Dive evening 26 April
21 March Nitrox Course at HQ on 29th April.
18 January Master Diver Lectures at the University of Stirling from February 21 to March 20
12 January A ScotSAC BI Course to be held on Saturday the 18th of February in Aberdeen. For details please contact the course director Gordon Young at
5 January 2012 St Abbs and Eyemouth VMR Newsletter 1 available here.
News archives 2011   2010   2009   2008   2007     2006    2005    2004    2003

Pledge your support for a network of Scottish Marine Protected Areas

5 December 2012 UP
A healthy seabed full of life is a big draw for divers, but the Scottish Government’s Marine Atlas shows there are concerns and/or declines over most of our seabed.
The Marine Conservation Society would like you to pledge your support to a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that helps protect and recover a sufficient extent of Scotland’s seas.
You can pledge your support here:
Please forward the link to your buddies and contact if you would be able to display MPA pledge postcards anywhere.

New Membership Subscriptions and On-line Payment Introduced.

1 December 2012 UP

New Members can join using on-line forms and payment from here.

Existing Members can complete their medical on-line and make their payment from here.

We have introduced the facility to subscribe to membership - we will continue to receive your annual fees until you decide to leave. We will , of course, notify each year and remind you to complete and submit your annual medical.

Basic Nitrox Course at HQ on 10th February, 2013

19 November 2012 UP

NITROXScotSAC's Basic Nitrox Course to be held at HQ on 10 February, 2013

The cost of the course is only £75.00.
A deposit of £30.00 is required to register - deposits should be sent to HQ.

Anyone wishing to attend please contact the Course Director Joe Campbell on the following :-

Request for assistance: Volunteer Biologist-Divers

28 November 2012 UP

Update 28 November 2012
- information here.

There are seashores of extraordinary biological quality in Skye & Lochalsh that run from the point of Sleat to Drumfearn, from Broadford to the Skye Bridge and from the Plock of Kyle, around Plockton and on to Strome. This long, almost continuous strip of seashore is arguably the most exciting biologically in the Highlands.

MAERL and the UK BAP

A common feature of these Skye & Lochalsh shores and adjacent open waters is the presence of the free-living, unjointed, calcareous red algae we know as maerl (here, mostly Phymatolithon calcareum, but requiring closer study).

Maerl is reported to be long-lived and slow-growing. It forms a habitat in its own right and is also the basis of several habitats, exemplified by dominant organisms inhabiting the maerl. All maerl habitats are UK BAP Priority Habitats, but thanks to exploitation and pollution are much reduced in their extent and highly worthy of careful conservation. Maerl beds do not readily or rapidly recover following disruption.

Indications, from personal experience and NBN Gateway distribution maps, show that the three sea lochs of South Skye – Loch Slapin, Loch Eishort and Loch Scavaig – contain patches of all of those maerl habitats plus two more UK BAP Priority Habitats: intertidal boulders and relatively undisturbed deep water muds of various types (with various pennatulids). With six priority habitats, these lochs have to be special and even from the shore, where I can be found routinely at low spring tides, this is more than evident. Over the past few years I’ve turned up twenty-one species that are not on the NBN maps for north Sleat shores, one of them (rock goby Gobius paganellus) apparently never before recorded in the Highlands, but we found it on 16 Oct. this year.

Some of you will have dived off south Skye already and know how wonderful these lochs are, and probably many more of you know them by reputation, or have looked out across them from Tarskavaig, Tokavaig, Ord or Camus Malag or gazed down on them from the Cuillin ridge. I doubt you were underwhelmed!

Recently, the Scottish and Chinese Governments signed an agreement that means Scotland will need twice as many fish farms as at present and Norwegian multi-nationals have swiftly moved into the planning process with huge numbers of proposals for fish farms, including a suite of at least eight they want to install in the south Skye lochs.

  • It is well known that fish farms cause environmental degradation (intoxication, eutrophication, sedimentation). Scientific literature, including government advisory, says so.
  • It is well known that we have numerous special ecological treasures in south Skye lochs and maerl is a (are) key species.
  • Species and habitats in these lochs are inadequately recorded and mapped.
  • Therefore, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) does not have adequate information with which to pass judgement – and, of course, they’re overloaded with applications.
  • The government and the statutory authorities (SNH, SEPA, Marine Scotland) that might protect wild places from industrial pollution respectively lack the will and the teeth to protect Scottish lochs from long-term ecological damage by fish farming.
  • Countering fish farm planning applications with valid environmental arguments (there are several more, which other people are trying to tackle) would be a lot easier if we had better ecological information.
  • Planning is already well under way, so ideally that information is needed now. The need for comprehensive biological data is urgent.


The people of south Skye are asking for voluntary assistance from people who have the biological and technical skills to help us survey the most important sites in Lochs Slapin and Eishort (perhaps Scavaig too, certainly the Sound of Soay … so much to do). The community of Sleat (the south Skye peninsula) has the will to protest against fish farms but lacks every resource the big companies have in spades: money, lawyers, experience, strategies, employees, company cars, political clout etc. So, unless we can raise some funding – we intend to try – we can offer volunteers nothing but hospitality. Happily, that is plentiful. So if willing divers can make their way to Skye, they can be put up and well fed during their stay.

In January 2006 I was visited here by maerl specialist Dr Nick Kamenos (ex-Millport, now Glasgow), who I took to the Plock of Kyle so that he could snorkel around the maerl beds. That seemed to work, so if we choose decent low tides, surveying might not be too deep and difficult, and aqualungs a non-essential luxury. Meanwhile, we have a notion that we can borrow a boat and cruise around the lochs with glass-bottomed buckets, getting a rough idea where the maerl beds are.

Do you think our predicament inspires any of you to get together and visit Skye to help us fend off the fish farm big guys? Do you know of other sub-aqua biologists who would join in? It would be marvellous if, as a diverse co-operative, we could produce some really good data to help the likes of SNH deal with unreasonable bids to take over and potentially wreck our precious land/seascape.


I’m afraid our need for assistance is urgent. The first we knew of any of this was less than a month ago and we’ve never done anything like this before, so we’ve had to learn the whole business from scratch. The first planning application from Marine Harvest already has gone beyond the consultation stage (2 Nov.) so we are now awaiting a verdict. Even if that is rejected, the next company (Hjaltland) has already begun ‘screening and scoping’ that includes the same site (!) plus two-three others nearby. They are in position, ready to pounce. Then we will really need to have data ready to present to the authorities, competent material they’re not expecting mere locals to have in their armoury. That could be only a matter of months away, meaning we probably can’t wait even till next summer. Ideally, we should get surveys under way in the New Year when, unfortunately, it will be a bit chilly – a dry suit and cocoa job. Can’t be helped. 11-15th January is looking good for middle of the day low tides.

Thank you for considering this call for help. I’ve attached an essay (here) about the problem I wrote for our MSP (includes a brief author’s biog.) and a poster that shows Loch Eishort (maerl with seagrass) with a Photoshopped-in fish farm, and illustrating a few of its best qualities. If interested, you’ll find a download link to the PowerPoint show I put together for our first community-informing meeting, bottom-left at Before long I hope we’ll have a website where we can keep people informed about progress.

Dr James Merryweather, The Whins, Auchtertyre, by Kyle of Lochalsh, IV40 8EG 01599 566291

Membership Subscriptions to increase and on-line payment will be available.

2 November 2012 UP

The Board have decided, following careful consideration, that an increase in Membership subscriptions have become inevitable.

It has been decided that subscriptions and renewals from 1 December 2012 will be as follows.

Membership Type
Annual Subscription
Ordinary £55.00
Joint (cost for pair) £86.00
Junior (14-17 yrs) £38.00
Associate (non diving) £35.00
Student £42.00
Family £103.00
Junior Snorkeler <14 £15.00

In response to may requests we are introducing additional options for making your applications and payment on-line. You will be able to Pay - This will cover the 12 months of your membership or Subscribe - This will continue to take your annual subscription until such time as you decide to leave us.

Forms, including the Medical, will be available to complete on-line and save as PDF files that can then be sent by e-mail to us.


ScotSAC Suunto Award 2012

27 September 2012 UP

We are delighted to announce that once again, Suunto UK are sponsoring the ScotSAC Annual Award for Volunteering, and have generously donated 6 D6i Dive Computers.  

These awards are designed to reward an individual's exceptional exceptional contribution to our sport.  This contribution could be effort that has encouraged new people to become divers, encouraged existing divers to complete further development training, the organisation of dive expeditions, or some other activity that has raised the profile of diving in a positive way.  It may also be an Instructor who has encouraged and developed new divers and delivered training.  If you know of any individual within ScotSAC who has made a significant contrubution to the sport, in any way, now is your chance to nominate them for recognition.

There will be 6 prizes of Suunto D6i watch size dive computers with PC interface; a prize worth over £600 each.  Judging will be by a panel consisting of the Chairman, National Diving Officer and General Manager of Suunto Diving UK.

All Nominees must hold current membership of the Scottish Sub Aqua Club and may not be current members of the Board or National Diving Council.  The closing date for nominations is 26th October 2012 with the winners being announced and prizes presented at the ScotSAC Dive Conference in Eyemouth on 10th November 2012.

Further details and Nomination Forms can be found here.

ScotSAC's Basic Nitrox Course to be held at HQ on 1 September 2012

20 August 2012 UP

NITROXScotSAC's Basic Nitrox Course to be held at HQ on 1 September 2012

The cost of the course is only £75.00.
A deposit of £30.00 is required to register - deposits should be sent to HQ.

Anyone wishing to attend please contact the Course Director Joe Campbell on the following :-

1st Class Diver Award Updated

30 July 2012 UP

When ScotSAC changed the names of the training awards to Sport and Master Diver it was recognition of the fact that the world had changed.  It both brought us more into line with the nomenclature the rest of the world used, and rid us of the perceived stigma of being called a second or third class diver.  However, it was decided to retain First Class even though there had been precious few candidates putting themselves forward for it.  It appeared, for whatever reason, unattainable.

The Scottish Sub Aqua Club Board discussed this at length and decided it was time to update the award and recognise it as such, an award.  The Board were aware there are members who for many years have unselfishly given their time and energy to ScotSAC both at branch and national level.  Therefore the Board asked the NDC to look at the First Class, and without diluting the standard come up with an award that was attainable and recognised the dedication of our hard working members.

The NDC acted swiftly and enthusiastically and have prepared an award based on skill, experience and an active involvement with the club at some level.  An award that ScotSAC members will be proud to hold.  Following unanimous Board approval, we are pleased to announce the introduction of the award.

Details of the pre-requisites and how to apply are here, and we look forward to receiving the first applications.

Marine Invasive Non-Native Species Identification Training

26 July 2012 UP

Following on from the publication of the Biosecurity Plan, The Firth of Clyde Forum ( are publishing a guide to marine invasive non-native species (INNS) in the Clyde. To help people to use the guide and increase reporting of INNS we are organising 2 FREE identification training sessions. The sessions are identical and facilitated by the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

They will run on the 23rd of August at the Royal Gourock Yacht Club from 1-4 pm and 6-9pm, refreshments included.
The sessions will be non technical and no previous knowledge is required. We are aiming for an audience of people who regularly see the bottom of boats and under the water e.g. aquaculture managers, boat yard operators and divers. Other groups include marina managers and yacht clubs or special interest groups who do beach/coastline surveys.

If you would like to book a place please contact me as soon as possible.

Sarah Brown, Project Manager, Firth of Clyde Forum

Tel: 0141 951 0820 M: 07774 160931

Tues-Thurs 9-5pm

Pentland Branch head to the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh

10 July 2012 UP

We are Moving!

Pentland Sub Aqua Club will no longer train at Loanhead Leisure Centre. Our new home is now the newly refurbished Royal Commonwealth Pool. We will have access to the 25m diving pool, with a variable depth between 2m and 5m. This is an excellent facility for new trainees or those qualified who would like to brush up on their skills.

We have two sessions booked on 17th July and 21st August and then every Tuesday from September 2012.
Our new time slot is 1930 –2030; so more time to enjoy a beer in the pub afterwards.
Other branches are welcome to join us, contact our Training Officer or BDO for details.

Come along and try it!

Nominate a Board or NDC member!

29 June 2012 UP

If you are a member of ScotSAC then you have the opportunity to nominate for election, at the next AGM, 2 Board members and 6 members of the NDC.
You need to use the appropriate form that can be downloaded from here. Those nominated will be put forward at the AGM on 26th September. Confirmation of the date, venue and formal notices will be sent to members with the next magazine.

If you are being nominated it will be usefull to read the Role Description of a Board Member or NDC member. Nominations must be received at HQ by 31 July.

ScotSAC Deep Diving Course - 25th & 26th August

23 June 2012 UP

A ScotSAC Deep Diving Course will be held on Sat/Sun the 25th & 26th August at ScotSAC HQ.Please go here for more information on the course and an application form to book a space on this course.

There is a charge of £40.00 for attendance at this course which must be paid in advance.

Branch Instructor Course

22 May 2012 UP
A ScotSAC BI Course to be held on Sunday the 24th of June in Edinburgh. For details please contact the course director Gordon Young at

NAS Part 1 Course - 15/16th September, 2012

3 May 2012 UP

Diver recording a site underwaterFor those divers who have completed the Introductory Course, there will be a chance to further their skills on a NAS Part 1 Course which is being run over the weekend of the 15th/16th September in Fife. This 2-day course builds on the knowledge and skills learnt during the Introduction Course as participants will have the opportunity to take part in a small archaeological project from the planning phase through to carrying out a 3D survey. The course will also look at other issues which may arise during a project, such as safety and logistics, search and survey methods, and dealing with archaeological finds. The cost of the course is £190 per person.

As with the Introductory Course, the Part 1 course will combine both theory and practical sessions. It can also be used towards completing the ScotSAC First Class Diver ‘Underwater Archaeology Module’.

If you wish to book yourself a place on the Part 1 Course, please contact Mary Harvey at the at the NAS Office on 023 9281 8419 or e-mail

For further information on all the NAS courses and project opportunities see

Sharkatag: This year's event will take place on 14-16 June.

24 April 2012 UP


This year Sharkatag takes place 14-16th June from marks around the Solway and SW Scotland.

NB :: Sharkatag is not a competition – its main aim are to highlight the urgent need for shark and ray conservation in Scottish waters, and to raise the public awareness of sea angling.

As always, the focus is on collecting data on tope, smoothound, thornback and any other shark or ray species.

The poster for the upcoming Sharkatag Event is available to dowload from here. Help publicise the Event, make it an even greater success, pass this email on to your friends or print a few off and pin them up in your office, workplace, club, pub or meeting place.

You can find out more details and enter Sharkatag here on tagsharks.

Nirox Course at HQ postponed again.

18 April 2012 UP

NITROXScotSAC's Basic Nitrox Course now to be held at HQ on 24th June has been cancelled due to the lack of interest. Further information will be posted when the next course is due.

The cost of these courses is only£75.00 and a deposit of £30.00 is required to register - deposits should be sent to HQ..

Anyone wishing to attend one of these courses please contact the Course Director Joe Campbell on the following :-

telephone 07876496493

Pentland SAC Try Dive evening 26 April

2 April 2012 UP
Pentland SAC Try Dive

Nitrox Course at HQ on 29th April.

21 March 2012 UP

NITROXScotSAC's Basic Nitrox Course to be held at HQ on 29th April.

The cost of the course is £75.00 and a deposit of £30.00 is required to register - deposits should be sent to HQ..

Anyone wishing to attend one of these courses please contact the Course Director Joe Campbell on the following :-

telephone 07876496493

Master Diver Lectures followed by the Master Diver Exam at the University of Stirling

19 January 2012 UP

The lectures will start on Feb 21st 2012 for 4 weeks and will be held in Lecture Theatre A4. 

Lecture 1        Safety and Emergency Procedures
Lecture 2        Nitrogen absorption and narcosis
21st Feb 2012
Lecture 3        Advanced decompression
Lecture 4        Oxygen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide poisoning
28th Feb 2012
Lecture 5        Underwater navigation and search methods
Lecture 6        Basic seamanship
6th March 2012
Lecture 7        Expedition organisation
Lecture 8        Compressor operation
13th March 2012
Everyone is welcome to attend, whether it is just to attend one or two lectures or the entire series.  We have plenty of room.  If you need to get in touch please contact Dot Kisielewski on 07713103578.