The new nature conservation MPA designation orders come into force on 7 August

environmental charities have welcomed a decision by the
Scottish Government
to double the size of an emerging network of Marine
Protected Areas (MPAs).

Cabinet Secretary Richard
Lochhead has given the go-ahead for 30 new MPAs to protect a further 12% of
Scotland’s seas, as well as paving the way for urgent new measures to
protect struggling populations of seabirds, whales and dolphins.

of Scottish Environment LINK’s marine taskforce have campaigned for
stronger protection of Scotland’s sealife for over a decade and last
year more than 14,000 people backed proposals for new MPAs during an
extensive public consultation.

The new sites are needed to protect and
recover the full spectrum of Scotland’s sealife from large-scale and
productive offshore habitats to fragile and ecologically important
inshore areas around the coastline.

Inshore MPAs include Clyde Sea Sill, East Caithness Cliffs, Fetlar to Haroldswick, Loch Crera, Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura, Loch Sween, Lochs Duich, Long and Alsh, Monach Isles, Mousa to Boddam, Noss Head, Papa Westray, Small Isles, South Arran, Upper Loch Fyne and Loch Goil, Wester Ross, Wyre and Rousay Sounds.

The Marine Conservation Society says the announcement also signals a
new Scottish Government resolve to provide protection in critical
habitats for other nationally important mobile species such as basking
sharks, minke whale and Risso’s dolphins.

activities at sea will be subject to the new nature conservation MPA
designation orders that come into force on 7 August.

Fisheries management measures for all of the sites will be developed
during an intensive two years process. Together, they must ensure
sealife and seabed habitats in the new MPAs are adequately protected
from damaging activities.

Duncan, Convenor of Scottish Environment LINK’s marine taskforce and
Marine Conservation Society, Scotland programme manager said: ‘These new Marine Protected Areas are very welcome news for sealife and
Scotland’s hidden, underwater wonderlands.

‘There has been a consensus
among our marine scientists that the health of Scotland’s seas has
suffered in recent decades and that threats from human activities must
be better managed.

‘By setting up these MPAs the Government has wisely
placed its confidence in that verdict. The work does not stop here – for
the time-being these MPAs are just lines on maps, so careful management
will be needed to ensure they actively help recover our sealife.’

Alex Kinninmonth, Scottish Wildlife Trust Living Seas policy officer said: ‘This is a huge leap forward for nature conservation in Scotland.

many years of making a compelling case for better management of our
seas, we are delighted to see these ambitious plans for marine
protection. Each new MPA forms an important piece of a complex jigsaw
that when complete will help turn the fortunes of our sea around.’

Sarah Dolman, North Atlantic programme manager for Whale and Dolphin Conservation
said: ‘Having provided the evidence and demonstrated huge public
support for protection of important whale, dolphin and porpoise habitat,
it’s great news that minke whales and Risso’s dolphins are included in
the Scottish MPA network.

‘With the right management in place, MPAs in
conjunction with wider measures, will help to protect Scotland’s
precious whale and dolphin populations.’

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said: ‘Scottish ministers have made the right decision for our seas and the
many wonderful species and habitats that live in them.

‘They have also
made the right decision for those communities and industries that depend
on healthy seas in the long term.

‘The next step is to ensure that this
network of MPAs are well managed and result in the recovery of our
ecosystems for the benefit of all. 

‘This is a great step towards
delivering a marine environment where economic interests can operate in a
way that does not have to undermine the health of our seas.’

‘There is still work to do’

Richard Luxmoore, head of Nature Conservation National Trust for Scotland, said: ‘Many of these MPAs – such as South Arran and Wester Ross – have been
the direct result of local campaigning and research.

‘We know that these
measures to recover our sealife have popular support within many
communities, but there is still work to do.

‘Other communities – such as
the tireless campaigners of Fair Isle – are still calling for better
protection of their local marine environment and we hope that these MPAs
mark a new, regionally-sensitive approach to coastal and marine

Click here to find map showing the locations of the proposed MPAs.

Pictures of a Horse Mussel with sealoch anemones and a Flame Shell credited to the Marine Scotland Image Bank.