The Scottish Government has designated 30 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) aimed at safeguarding the most important habitats and species in Scotland’s seas. The protected sites range from vast offshore areas of the Firth of Forth Banks and the northeast Faroe Shetland Channel, to more familiar coastal areas such as East Caithness Cliffs and the sea lochs of Western Ross. With effective management in place, the new MPAs will mean seabed habitats from deep sea corals and sponges to shallow kelp forests and seagrass beds are allowed to thrive protected from damaging activities. The decision by Scottish Ministers to designate these new MPAs comes after a public consultation in 2013 where an overwhelming 99% of responses backed the proposal.
Advice to the Scottish Government on additional MPAs to protect whales, dolphins and basking sharks as well as a suite of draft Special Protected Areas (SPAs) for seabirds has also been published. The advice outlines recommendations for 14 draft SPAs and 4 MPAs, including the Sea of Hebrides, an area between Skye and Mull, to protect minke whales, basking sharks and ocean fronts.
For more information: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/marine-environment/mpanetwork