Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)


The Marine (Scotland) Act and the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act include powers for Scottish Ministers to designate Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scotland’s seas as part of a range of measures to manage and protect Scotland’s seas for current and future generations. 

JNCC and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have applied the Site Selection Guidelines to identify Nature Conservation MPAs that together with existing protected areas will form a network of MPAs. The process will also help Scotland meet its contribution to UK commitments under international conventions and legislation such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the OSPAR Convention for an ecologically coherent network of MPAs.


In July 2014, 30 Nature Conservation MPAs were designated in the seas around Scotland, of which 13 are offshore:


A short document providing an overview of changes to offshore Nature Conservation MPAs since the public consultation is available.

Information on Nature Conservation MPAs designated in territorial waters is available on the SNH website.

Further information on Nature Conservation MPAs is available on the Marine Scotland website.


For each of the Nature Conservation MPAs, JNCC and SNH have produced:

  • A site summary document  - providing a brief overview of the site and the protected features
  • A data confidence assessment  - setting out our confidence in the presence and extent of the protected features
  • A detailed assessment against the MPA selection guidelines - detailing the application of the five stages of the Scottish MPA Selection Guidelines
  • Management options papers - considering the management options for achieving the conservation objectives for each of the protected features in the MPA.  Management Options Papers summaries for a number of the MPAs are available in French, Spanish, Danish and Norwegian on request.  Please email 


Details on the process applied to select possible Nature Conservation MPAs is available here.

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