New Marine Protected Areas designated to help contribute towards safeguarding Scotland’s seas

 
24 July 2014
 
Across the globe there have been increasing efforts to help protect marine life and the services they provide for both people and nature. Scotland today welcomes the designation of 30 Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to help conserve Scotland’s rich marine heritage.  These are focussed on the protection of habitats, species and undersea landforms, including areas harbouring gardens of coral, fields of sponges and seamounts that tower from the deep sea-floor. JNCC provided scientific advice to Marine Scotland on the 13 offshore (beyond 12nm) MPAs designated in Scotland’s waters.
 
Marcus Yeo, JNCC Chief Executive said “Covering an area six times that of Scotland’s landmass, the sea around Scotland has a rich and varied marine life ranging from the coast to the great depths of the ocean hundreds of miles offshore. The designation of Nature Conservation MPAs represents an important milestone in protecting the diversity of habitats and species found in Scottish waters.”
 
JNCC’s Marine Director John Goold said  “JNCC welcomes the introduction of these new MPAs and the important contribution they will make to the emerging UK, European and Global networks.  We thank our project partners, and all those who contributed, for their hard work over the past four years to get to this point. At the same time, we welcome the announcement that Scottish Government are considering proposals for possible new marine SPAs, which would further extend the contribution the UK makes to marine conservation.”
 
Sites have been identified for a range of features, such as highly productive sand and gravel habitats, and the ocean quahog, a type of clam that can live for up to 400 years. This range of marine life found in Scotland’s seas and an introduction to Scotland’s newest MPAs is showcased in a short film produced by JNCC and SNH. A description of the habitats and species found in each site is provided in Site Summary Documents.  The sites can also be viewed on JNCC’s Interactive Map.
 
This news comes at the same time as an announcement on an indicative suite of draft marine Special Protection Areas for seabirds in Scottish waters. The suite is designed to alert stakeholders to additional marine sites that are likely to be considered by the Scottish Government over the next few months. Its public release does not constitute a consultation at this stage but aims to provide early information on the process of developing a network of marine SPAs in Scotland. For further information, please see JNCC’s SPA page
 
Background to the Nature Conservation MPAs
 
Nature Conservation MPAs were selected as part of a four year project led by Marine Scotland, in partnership with JNCC, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Historic Scotland, and Marine Scotland Science
 
The work to select suitable Nature Conservation MPAs has drawn from the best available information on the marine environment, and has included an extensive programme of marine surveys and research. The MPAs have also been discussed with a wide range of groups with an interest in the marine environment at a series of five stakeholder workshops held at key stages, which included representatives of the fishing industry, offshore energy developers, recreational users, environmental organisations and local communities. Nature Conservation MPAs were part of Marine Scotland’s extensive ‘Planning Scotland’s Seas’ public consultation that took place during summer 2013. 
 
Following designation, JNCC will continue to work with Marine Scotland and sea users who have an interest in these areas on the development of appropriate management measures for the Nature Conservation MPAs. SNH are also leading ongoing work regarding the development of a further four  proposed MPAs for mobile species.
 
The UK designates MPAs within inshore and offshore waters under European and national legislation to contribute to the vision of ‘clean, safe, healthy, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. UK Government and the Devolved Administrations are all designating MPAs to contribute to an ecologically coherent, well-managed network of MPAs by the end of 2016 to fulfil international and European commitments.
 
For further information and photos to accompany this press item please contact JNCC’s Communications Team via  or Tel: 01733 866884.
 

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