Safeguarding Scotland's marine life


Since royal assent of UK and Scottish Marine Acts, JNCC has been working with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Marine Stunning marine life on the Hebrides Terrace Seamount © JNCCScotland on an extensive and diverse programme of work to identify Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), designed to protect important habitats, species, geology and undersea landforms in Scotland’s seas. This has included survey work in areas that until recently have been poorly understood, such as the Hebrides Terrace Seamount, as well as gathering existing data from a range of sources.


Scotland’s MPA network is being developed using a science-based approach, following the MPA Selection Guidelines published by Marine Scotland in 2010. This has involved assessing the contribution that existing protected areas and other area-based measures such as military practice areas or fisheries closures make to the protection of important marine life in Scotland’s seas to ensure new measures complement rather than duplicate existing protection. Stakeholder engagement is recognised as a vital component of the work to gather evidence to support selection of potential Nature Conservation MPAs, and June 2012 marked the last in a series of five national stakeholders workshops, which provide an opportunity for stakeholders to input scientific information and influence the design of the network including proposed alternatives.


The developing shape of the MPA network in Scotland’s seas was presented to sea-users and interest groups at the most recent workshop in Edinburgh, and discussions continued on how management of potential Nature Conservation MPAs should be determined. The workshop also provided an opportunity to seek feedback on the format of documents that will support formal consultation on Nature Conservation MPA proposals. Flame shell bed © Sue Scott


JNCC and SNH will be submitting advice to Marine Scotland on Nature Conservation MPA proposals in Scotland’s seas in November 2012. These will be proposed to help safeguard the protection of important marine life such as coral gardens, flame shell beds and communities of giant deep-water sponges, some of which are unique to Scottish waters.


Between now and November 2012, work will continue to refine the current suite of recommended potential areas for MPAs using the best available evidence. Alongside ongoing work to identify European marine sites (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas), and other national measures such as Marine Conservation Zones it is expected that Nature Conservation MPA proposals in Scotland’s seas will make a significant contribution to the establishment of an ecologically coherent network of MPAs in UK waters, and in turn international waters, as agreed under legislation and international commitments such as the OSPAR Convention and EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.


For more information on the Scottish MPA Project visit the SNH, JNCC and Marine Scotland websites.


Contact File


Megan Linwood

Senior MPA Specialist

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 266585


| JNCC - Adviser to Government on Nature Conservation | Site Map | Search | Legal | Feedback | List Access Keys |