The 30 MPAs are not anticipated to cause any problems for recreational boaters
The Scottish branch of the Royal Yachting Association has thrown its support behind the 30 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), saying they are not anticipated to cause any problems for recreational boaters.
Instead the MPAs should serve to help protect the beautiful waters of Scotland that so many sailors enjoy.
RYA Scotland has worked closely with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and other marine recreation organisations in the Scottish Boating Alliance, with the associated cross-party Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism group to make sure that recreational boating is given due consideration.
Partly as a result of these efforts, many of the new MPAs are in water that is much too deep to affect recreational sailors and in other areas the features being protected are not affected by recreational craft.
RYA Scotland Chief Executive James Stuart said: ‘In keeping with the view of our members we are supportive of maintaining and managing a world class water space and the designation of these MPAs will contribute to that.
‘We have been delighted to be able to work with SNH and others to ensure our community can continue to access the areas that are so important to us all.’
The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP was clear from the outset that ‘a fundamental principle of our approach to marine nature conservation is that conservation should be integrated with productive and sustainable use of the seas’ and that ‘we should encourage the co-existence of MPAs and social and economic activities where they are mutually compatible’.
Pilot study conducted
Before the draft list of candidate MPAs was produced RYA Scotland carried out a pilot study with SNH plotting anchorages on habitat maps in order to identify areas that are important to recreational boating and to help SNH identify possible areas of conflict.
Only a handful of areas showed an overlap between anchorages and natural features and these were gone through on a case by case basis. In almost all cases the anchorages were far enough away from the features for there not to be a problem.
Two areas Whiting Bay on Arran where there are seagrass beds and Loch Teacuis off Loch Sunart where there are rare serpulid reefs are being investigated further.
Designed to protect some of Scotland’s important wildlife and habitats, the decision on these MPAs comes after over three years of work with stakeholders including RYA Scotland.
Led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) the work to identify new MPAs was kicked off by the passing of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and links up with the English, Welsh and Northern Irish Marine Conservation Zone processes.
The recent announcement means that 20% of all of the seas around Scotland are now protected.