Marine protected areas
Scotland (along with the rest of the UK) has designated a number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) which include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Ramsar sites . The term "MPA" can be used for several different types of protected areas within the marine environment.
The Marine (Scotland) Act has established a new power for Marine Protected Areas in the seas around Scotland, to recognise features of national importance and meet international commitments for developing a network of MPAs. This complements the MPA power introduced through the Marine and Coastal Access Act for offshore waters around Scotland.
Why have new MPAs?
MPAs are an important mechanism for protecting Scotland's seas. They are one way of helping us to achieve the Government's vision of 'clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas'. Scotland has international commitments to establish an ecologically coherent network of MPAs under OSPAR and the World Summit on Sustainable Development . Together with existing Natura sites, the new MPA power will help Scotland to meet these commitments. A network of well-managed MPAs will, alongside other management measures, underpin our future use of the seas around Scotland.
What will MPAs do?
The Act allows for three different types of MPAs to be set up:
- Nature Conservation MPAs
- Demonstration and Research MPAs
- Historic MPAs
Nature Conservation MPAs will protect important marine habitats and wildlife, geology and geomorphology whilst Historic MPAs will protect features of cultural importance such as shipwrecks and submerged landscapes. The Act also allows other people to put forward proposals for Nature Conservation and Demonstration and Research MPAs.
What is Scottish Natural Heritage's role?
Through the Scottish MPA Project we will provide guidance and technical advice to Marine Scotland on Nature Conservation MPAs. This will include advice on the selection of Nature Conservation MPAs, how the conservation objectives of an MPA may be achieved and ways to avoid damaging a protected feature. In some cases we will also provide advice on Demonstration and Research MPAs. It will then be for Scottish Ministers to decide which sites to designate as MPAs and how they will be managed.
On 1st November 2012, SNH and JNCC submitted formal advice to Marine Scotland on the selection of Nature Conservation MPAs and the development of an ecologically coherent network.
Marine Scotland intends to run a public consultation on the Nature Conservation MPA proposals and the development of an ecologically coherent network of MPAs starting in summer 2013.
More information about this work and other MPA related projects is available on our Scottish MPA Project page.
Last updated on Wednesday 6th February 2013 at 16:25 PM. Click here to comment on this page