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2021 SHIREs Awards: Highlands will benefit from abundant blue economy resources

By Calum MacLeod

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The Port of Cromarty Firth itself is an example of the blue economy's potential and diversity.
The Port of Cromarty Firth itself is an example of the blue economy's potential and diversity.

THE blue economy is a relatively recent concept, but one that offers tremendous opportunity to the Highlands, Islands and North-East.

Defined as the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources for economic growth, it encompasses activities ranging from the traditional fishing sector which was once the mainstay of many north communities, maritime transport, coastal and marine tourism, aquaculture and emerging sectors such as tidal, wave and offshore wind power.

It is an area of much potential for the north of Scotland –with just under 5000 km of coastline, including its island regions, the Highland Council area alone accounts for more than a fifth of Scotland’s coastline, with the Western Isles, Argyll and Bute and the Northern Isles all having around 3700km of coastline of their own.

That potential is recognised in the Rural Blue Award for blue economy enterprise of the year at the 2021 Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy (SHIREs) Awards, which will be held virtually on Thursday, November 18 following the online SHIREs conference.

The Rural Blue Award is supported by one of the region’s leading blue economy businesses, the Port of Cromarty Firth, which is evolving into one of the country’s most important renewable energy hubs and prior to the pandemic was Scotland’s most visited cruise ship port.

Chief executive Bob Buskie said: “Scotland’s unique rural economy plays a vital part in the prosperity of the Highlands and Islands, the blue economy in particular is essential to the region.

“We recognise the importance of achievements in this area and we are delighted to be able to support the upcoming Scottish Highlands and Islands Rural Economy Awards by sponsoring the Rural Blue Award for blue economy enterprise of the year.

“The blue economy in the Highlands benefits from a wealth of natural resources which continue to provide opportunities and employment.

“As Scotland moves towards a more sustainable and low carbon future, we firmly believe these resources and notably the Highlands ability to harness offshore renewable energy, will lead to huge growth potential in this area.”

Judges at the SHIREs Awards, which were created by leading Scottish law firm Harper Macleod and newspaper and multimedia group Highland News & Media to celebrate Scotland’s modern rural economy, will be looking for a winning entrant which has grasped the opportunities its location presents, and is making waves in their chosen sector or industry.

The Rural Blue Award is one of nine categories open to entries at this year’s SHIREs Awards with a further award, the Rural Star Award, decided by the judges without any open entry requirements.

The awards are open to any individuals, businesses or other organisations based in or operating within the area covered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, from Argyll and the Islands in the south to Shetland in the north, and from the Western Isles to Moray.

Entries close at midnight on Saturday, October 16.

For more information on the award entry criteria, visit www.hnmedia.co.uk/the-shires-conference-awards

Celebrating the best of rural Scotland at the SHIREs Awards and Conference

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