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Biodiversity Report

Biodiversity Report 2015 - 2017

CalMac Ferries Limited has prepared a Biodiversity Duty Report to demonstrate its commitment to conserve biodiversity whilst undertaking its operations as detailed within the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and to fulfil the reporting requirements of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 (WANE Act). As per the requirements of the WANE Act, this report will be made publicly available on the website and will be updated every three years.



Accessible version | Biodiversity Duty Report | 2015 - 2017


This report has been prepared to demonstrate CalMac Ferries Ltd's commitment to conserve biodiversity whilst undertaking its operations as detailed within the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and to fulfil the reporting requirements of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 (WANE Act). As per the requirements of the WANE Act, this report will be made publicly available on the website and will be updated every three years.


CalMac Ferries Ltd (CalMac) is a lifeline service provider in the Clyde and Hebrides Regions and is part of the DNA of the Highlands and islands, embedded in the local community where it plays an integral part in the economic sustainability of the area's social and business life.

It is committed to supporting the aims of Scottish Government to provide a wealthier and fairer, smarter, healthier, safer and stronger, and greener Scotland. It will minimise impact on the marine and terrestrial environments in which it operates and wherever possible, enhance biodiversity and the quality of Scotland's natural environment for future generations to enjoy.

CalMac operates 26 harbours and 33 vessels across the West Coast of Scotland. It also leases offices in Gourock and a tour shop in Fort William. CalMac is one of the largest transport operators in Scotland and carried over 5 million passengers in 2016. It is the UK's largest ferry operator in terms of routes and vessels operated.

The 2015 to 2017 period was a time of significant change and development for CalMac with the successful bid for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract from Transport Scotland and the Harbour Operating Agreement from Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) in 2016. During this time it updated its Environmental Management System (EMS) and achieved ISO 14001:2015 accreditation. 2017 has seen further development of the EMS with the creation of an Environmental Management Plan and an Ecology Management Plan, both of which embed environmental protection and biodiversity enhancement within the organisation.

Additionally, during the reporting period, CalMac has recruited both a Corporate Social Responsibility Manager and an Environmental Manager to ensure that its legal obligations are met and that the organisation is able to develop in a proactive and responsible manner.


Biodiversity measures have increasingly been incorporated into policy and procedure during the reporting period. During 2015 the EMS was regularly updated to ensure that all environmental aspects and impacts from across the organisation were identified and controlled.

In late 2016, its first Procurement Strategy was released, which details how sustainability is to be embedded within all the products and services that CalMac procure. This strategy aligns with Scottish Government's Model of Procurement with a specific objective to protect and wherever possible, enhance biodiversity.

CalMac has developed an Environmental Management Plan which outlines the steps required to improve and monitor environmental performance; a key element of this plan is to manage any potential impacts on biodiversity and wherever possible, to enhance biodiversity. The Environmental Management Plan supported the upgrading of the EMS to ISO 14001:2015 and has been shared internally to all employees via our intranet system, Gangway.

During 2017, CalMac developed an Ecology Management Plan which highlights the current understanding of biodiversity at managed sites and identifies potential positive and negative impacts on biodiversity. Within the Ecology Management Plan, CalMac identified the following key vision

By 2020 CalMac Ferries Ltd will have protected and enhanced existing biodiversity across the network through sustainable management and adapting to change; and continuing to provide environmental services and benefits for the passengers and communities that it supports. In late 2017, a Biodiversity Action Plan (2017-2020) was developed to support the vision to protect and enhance biodiversity.


Litter Management

Litter management around harbours is essential for the effective operation of ferry services; it routinely maintains its harbours to ensure that they are free from litter and debris which may cause harm to the environment and biodiversity. As an organisation it is especially concerned about marine litter and has regularly contributed to community beach cleans across the network.

These include:

  • Ensuring that its sites on the Isle of Mull regularly clear rubbish from both the port and foreshore area to ensure that this area is free from debris. These areas are especially known for their breeding otters therefore it takes care to ensure that their habitat is kept litter free wherever possible.

  • On the island of Coll in the Inner Hebrides, CalMac employees have worked in conjunction with the local school, RSPB and Recycoll to ensure that the local beaches are clean, tidy and safe for both biodiversity and visitors.

  • Volunteers from Support Services, based in Gourock, undertook two organised beach cleans at nearby Lunderston Bay during 2016, on both occasions almost 50kg of waste was collected.



With over 5 million passengers a year, ferries are an ideal platform for biodiversity engagement. In 2015 the North Ayrshire Branch of the RSBP provided free wildlife spotting information on the MV Caledonian Isles, which services the Isle of Arran, for the summer holiday season.

In 2017, CalMac hosted Wildlife Officers from both ORCA and Whale and Dolphin Conservation to undertake engagement on its vessels. Passengers were able to learn how to identify marine mammals and understand more about their behaviour. The engagement sessions were extremely well received.


Habitat and Species Protection 

CalMac operates in some of Scotland's most diverse waters and interacts with more than 10 designated areas on a daily basis. It is careful to ensure that it does not impact on biodiversity and does all that it can to protect any individuals that decide to breed on its infrastructure.

Black Guillemots are a common sight around much of the network and breeding pairs have been known to use pier structures as their homes. An established pair of Guillemots have been nesting on the current forward round-head at Brodick for a number of years and during the new terminal development and in daily operation, the company has taken care to avoid disturbance and have regularly monitored their presence and behaviour.


Habitat Creation

Many of the sites that it manages are very small and often consist of roads, slipways and parking. The opportunity to create habitat can often be limited, however both Castlebay and Lochboisdale harbours have created new habitat by installing planters filled with peat-free compost and pollinator-friendly flowers.


Control of Non-Native Species

CalMac is conscious that ferries can unintentionally spread non-native species which can be problematic for local biodiversity. All ferries have routine maintenance schedules which involve hull cleaning to remove any potentially harmful organisms but this is only undertaken by qualified professionals using Government approved chemicals.

Pest control is carried out on board most of its vessels to prevent the spread of rats around the remote destinations that they visit. Pest control contracts are in place at all our major harbour and office locations to reduce rat numbers. During recent internal and external building refurbishment at Wemyss Bay, all timber was replaced resulting in the exclusion of rats which had been nesting within the building structure.


Waste Management

CalMac is working towards aligning itself with Scottish Government targets for waste, with 75% recycled or recovered and less than 5% to landfill. During the reporting period, recycling rates have typically been significantly lower than the target for a number of reasons including lack of suitable local waste recycling facilities, cost and poor infrastructure.

Recycling bins are now available in every office location with recycling contracts established with Local Authorities or private contractors. The company is working to roll out recycling to all vessels and harbour locations and has recently employed a temporary Waste Manager to review waste management procedures and infrastructure.

It has established a food waste stream on the MV Caledonian Isles (Ardrossan to Brodick) and is now regularly removing food waste from the general waste stream for composting.

All waste food oil is collected by national and local contractors for the production of biodiesel.


Fuel Management

CalMac is fortunate to operate three diesel/battery hybrid vessels which can achieve fuel savings of almost

30% when compared to a standard equivalent vessel.

It has installed an engine monitoring system on 10 of the largest vessels it operates, to collect real time data from the main engines and provides the Master with a visual representation of fuel combustion. CalMac believes that the system has realised fuel savings on many vessels by encouraging behaviour change and efficiency and is aiming for a 5% fuel reduction by 2019.


Office Changes

During the reporting period it has rationalised IT equipment in Support Services, Gourock. Prior to 2016 it had 56 devices (printers, faxes, photocopiers), which was reduced to 12 energy-efficient multi-functional devices which use personal accounts to eliminate paper wastage. It now uses recycled, sustainably sourced, paper as standard across all our office locations.

During 2017, a programme to upgrade lighting started in the Gourock office and to date LED lighting has been installed in the main corridor plus one office. Hand dryers have also been upgraded in most toilets to replace out-dated low efficiency dryers or paper hand towels.

We now use recycled, sustainably sourced, paper as standard across all our office locations.



In 2017 Green Travel Plans were developed for all the destinations it services and made them publicly available on the web. The company hopes that the information it provides will encourage more passengers to travel without a private car.

Partnership working & communications

CalMac have been working hard to develop positive working relationships with a number of stakeholders during the reporting period to deliver biodiversity enhancement across the network.


Stakeholder Engagement

CalMac is an active partner in the Clyde Marine Planning Partnership and is a key stakeholder in the development of the Clyde Marine Plan. It regularly participates in Partnership meetings and recently took part in a sector specific workshop starting to develop policy for the Clyde Region.

It regularly attends the Marine Strategy Forum, Chamber of Shipping and all-party Parliamentary Environment Group to ensure that it engages with key stakeholders and is fully informed of stakeholder developments within the wider marine environments of Scotland and the UK.



CalMac communicates its biodiversity duty performance internally using a number of forums, including its own internal publications Horizon and Safety First, which are made available to every employee. It also makes use of Internal Communication emails which every employee receives. The company intranet, Gangway, is used to share highlights and important documents such as the Ecology Management Plan and Biodiversity Action Plan.

Formal external communication is usually in the form of Press Releases however it also regularly speaks at conferences, events and public meeting which it may use as an avenue for communicating biodiversity duty performance.



In 2015, CalMac started to build a relationship with ORCA, a marine mammal charity, which undertakes monitoring from ferries across Europe. During each year of the reporting period CalMac has participated in OceanWatch, a 9-day event where Bridge crew undertake marine mammal surveys during passage. In

2015 it had three vessels contributing and observing 50 animals; by 2017 six vessels took part and 350 animals were observed. The data from OceanWatch is used by ORCA to understand mammal populations in European waters.



Bridge crews taking part in OceanWatch have received annual training in the form of on-vessel training and self-taught training packages delivered by ORCA. The training has allowed crews to correctly identify marine mammals and record their presence in a scientifically accurate manner to allow the data to be used for research purposes.

In late 2017, ORCA provided CalMac employees from across the entire organisation, a full day training course to allow delegates to identify marine mammals, understand survey techniques and data recording and learn about marine mammal behaviour. The training course was attended by employees from all levels of the organisation and from support services, shore and vessel staff. It is hoped that employees who have received training will participate in one or more of the marine mammal surveys scheduled for 2018 and beyond.


Marine Awareness Programme 

In early 2016 CalMac commissioned a report, co-authored and compiled by MacArthur Green and academic specialists from the University of the West of Scotland, to look at some of the possible scenarios and future developments which could take place across Argyll and Clyde's coastline and seas in the next 25 years and beyond. This report sets out the opportunities and threats which could prevail within different marine sectors, as well as seeking to inspire a collaborative and positive approach, which was welcomed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

During 2016 closer relationships were developed with SNH and Marine Scotland to understand how CalMac could assist them in the delivery of the National Marine Plan. CalMac worked with both organisations to develop a Citizen Science programme designed to deliver monitoring of the Clyde, Minches and Hebrides seas using CalMac vessels as a platform for surveys.

The scope of the project developed as additional stakeholders became involved until, in early 2017, it was determined that the project would initially be used for the monitoring of marine mammals and marine birds.

During 2017, marine mammal survey pilots were undertaken on four CalMac routes and were all determined suitable for full scale surveys in 2018. Marine bird survey pilots have been scheduled for early 2018. Volunteers for the early surveys have been trained by ORCA and JNCC and come from a pool of members of the public and stakeholder employees including CalMac employees.

Stakeholders currently involved in the CalMac Marine Awareness Programme include Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, ORCA, RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology, Argyll Bird Group, MARINElife, The Institute for Effective Education, British Science Association, Wave Action, Scottish Association for Marine Science, Argyll and Bute Council and The Highland Council.


Highlights & challenges

One of the highlights for the reporting period is the development of the CalMac Marine Awareness

Programme and the closer links the company now has with a number of key stakeholders. The project should allow for significant biodiversity benefit in future years whilst offering significant opportunities for both staff and public engagement. The take-up of the ORCA-led Marine Mammal Surveyor training course in 2017 already demonstrates how this project has started to raise interest and awareness.

Another key highlight for the reporting period is the development of the Biodiversity Action Plan which provides a clear pathway to protecting and enhancing biodiversity in future years. Over the next three years CalMac aims to see significant improvement in resource efficiency with reductions in fuel consumption, energy and waste plus an increased level of recycling and waste segregation across the network.

It also aims to increase the amount of public engagement on its vessels, utilising the close relationships it has built with stakeholders in the CalMac Marine Awareness Programme, and will start to assess the plan's effectiveness through routine audit and inspection programmes. A key aim for the next reporting period will be to engage with communities across the network to assist in the delivery of local biodiversity projects.

It is hopeful that progress with the implementation of our Biodiversity Action Plan will continue during the next reporting period.

It anticipates that there will be economic and resource pressures which will challenge the delivery of its commitments however, it will continue to focus on small gains and build on relationships with stakeholders to maximise biodiversity protection and improvement opportunities across the entire network.

Over the next three years CalMac aims to see significant improvement in resource efficiency with reductions in fuel consumption, energy and waste plus an increased level of recycling and waste segregation across the network.



CalMac actively monitors marine mammal observations during OceanWatch and some vessels also report sightings throughout the year using the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Whale Track App. In the rare event that it identifies breeding birds on board its vessels, it will report this to the BTO. It monitors fuel consumption, energy usage, waste production, water consumption plus consumable usage however, trends have not yet been analysed.

It intends to actively monitor biodiversity by undertaking biodiversity condition assessments for all sites that it operates using the baseline data gathered during site surveys 2017; the condition assessment will provide a quantitative baseline with which biodiversity net gain can be measured over forthcoming years. Biodiversity protection and enhancement will also be routinely measured during our annual site inspections and audits as part of the maintenance of our Environmental Management System.


Contribution to targets

Targets/key steps

Contribution to key step?


Chapter 1 (Healthy ecosystems) of the "2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity"

(1.2) Use assessments of ecosystem health at a catchment level to determine what needs to be done


CalMac Marine Awareness Programme

(1.3) Government and public bodies, including SNH, SEPA and FCS, will work together towards a shared agenda for action to restore ecosystem health at a catchment-scale across Scotland


CalMac Marine Awareness Programme

Chapter 3 (Biodiversity, health and quality of life) of the "2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity"

(3.1) Provide opportunities for everyone to experience and enjoy nature regularly, with a particular focus on disadvantaged groups


Public engagement
Green Travel Plans for each destination on

(3.2) Support local authorities and communities to improve local environments and enhance biodiversity using green space and green networks, allowing nature to flourish and so enhancing the quality of life for people who live there


Habitat creation

(3.3) Build on good practice being developed by the National Health Service (NHS) and others to help encourage greenspace, green exercise and social prescribing initiatives that will improve health and wellbeing through connecting people with nature


Green Travel Plans for every destination on

(3.4) Increase access to nature within and close to schools, and support teachers in developing the role of outdoor learning across the Curriculum for Excellence


Public engagement

(3.5) Encourage public organisations and businesses to review their responsibilities and action for biodiversity, and recognise that increasing their positive contribution to nature and landscapes can help meet their corporate priorities and performance


Environmental Champions Group
Sustainable Procurement
Locally sourced produce

Chapter 4 (Wildlife, habitats and protected places) of the "2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity"

(4.3) Integrate protected areas policy with action for wider habitats to combat fragmentation and restore key habitats


Ecology Management Plan
Biodiversity Action Plan

(4.5) Involve many more people than at present in this work and improve understanding of the poorly known elements of nature


Public engagement

Chapter 5 (Land and freshwater management) of the "2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity"

(5.4) Put in place the management necessary to bring Scotland's protected areas into favourable condition and improve the ecological status of water bodies


Control of invasive non-native species

(5.6) Restore and extend natural habitats as a means of building reserves of carbon and to help mitigate climate change


Habitat creation

Chapter 6 (Marine and coastal) of the "2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity"

(6.4) Achieve good environmental status for Scottish seas


Beach cleans
Clyde Marine Planning Partnership
Marine Strategy Forum
CalMac Marine Awareness Programme


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