Marine Scotland is inviting users of Scotland’s marine environment to comment on draft guidelines for identifying marine protected areas (MPAs)

A flameshell bed – photo: Scottish National Heritage
A flameshell bed – photo: Scottish National Heritage

The new Scottish Marine Act and the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act provides for a network of MPAs that will ensure the sustainable management of marine habitats, species, geology and landforms.

Draft guidelines for selecting individual areas have been drawn up by Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation. They include a draft list of priority marine features for which MPAs could be selected, such as flameshell beds, northern sea fan communities and coral gardens.

SNH and JNCC will be advising the Scottish Government on the selection of MPAs. In doing this, they will use existing data, results of some new targeted surveys and information gathered from stakeholders. Socio-economic factors may also be taken into account, for example in situations where two or more potential sites offer equal contribution to the network.

Susan Davies, policy and advice director for Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “Consulting on these guidelines provides people with an opportunity to comment on how marine protected areas can be established in Scotland. This is the first major step in what we hope will be a continuing process of working with others to establish and manage the MPA network.”

The consultation runs until 4 June, alongside a separate consultation on a strategy for marine conservation in Scotland.

The draft marine nature conservation strategy is available here.

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