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The Marine Project

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A common dolphin leaps from Outer Hebridean seas.  Image © Lewis Mackenzie.  |

As well as our day-to-day digital storytelling we also explore ideas which inspire us through our Social Projects, helping us to understand our island’s history, culture and place in the modern world.

From the craft and creativity of the Harris Tweed Project to understanding the historical roots of local population decline in our Diaspora Project, we actively seek out new ways to connect and learn.

This year, inspired by Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, we have created the Marine Project to dive into the Harris Distillery’s deep links to the sea and wider maritime ecosystems.

A common seal enjoying a few rays of rare sun. Image © Lewis Mackenzie

Like ourselves, many in our community, from tourism businesses to fishing enterprises, rely on ensuring the healthy oceans around the Outer Hebrides continue to survive and thrive.

The Marine Project will be a celebration of our place in this natural world but will also begin a journey to becoming a better business within this important environmental context.

While always taking care not to ‘greenwash’ our work, we will embrace both our achievements and our shortcomings openly and honestly, making important steps towards being a more ecologically responsible company over the coming years.

Dinner-time for the Puffins. Image © Lewis Mackenzie

With Scotland now officially declaring a Climate Emergency and other countries and cities following suit, we want to help Harris join the growing global movements to protect and preserve our planet.

It may be that small voices from those quiet places which have the most to lose will resonate the loudest over the next decade.

The first step of the project begins as we engage with Zero Waste Scotland to assess and implement better use of our resources like energy, water, raw materials and waste management.

One of our growing population of Sea Eagles. Image © Lewis Mackenzie

We'll be connecting with our community to take part in local beach cleans and reaching out to the environmental charities which operate near us, like the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, to support their work where we can.

Two of our distillery team, Kath and Rebekah, are BDMLR volunteer rescuers, and we’ll be following them to learn more about the seals and whales they tend to, often badly affected by discarded plastic and marine pollution.

Lewis Mackenzie gathering Sugar Kelp seaweed.

There will also be much more to celebrate, from learning about our island’s abundant sea-life and participating in the annual Harris Feis Na Mara festival to the hand-building of ‘The Hearach Skiff’, a beautiful wooden rowing boat with a long history here in the Outer Hebrides.

And of course, there is the wonderful Sugar Kelp, sustainably harvested by hand from nearby sea-lochs to become the defining botanical in our Isle of Harris Gin. The more we research, the more we uncover about this incredible seaweed, its lifecycle and the creatures which depend on these important underwater forests.

We hope you’ll be inspired to join us, helping us spread awareness and sharing advice as we face the challenges which will inevitably arise as we strive to embrace effort, ecology and education as the Marine Project unfolds.


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