Protecting the Loch Carron flame shell bed showed the way

An important consultation on how we protect the wider marine environment

Overview The project to improve protection given to PMFs outside the MPA network was initiated in May 2017.  This followed an incident in Loch Carron in April 2017 when a flame shell bed was damaged by scallop dredging activity, and resulted in the designation of the Loch Carron MPA.  The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change, and Land Reform also requested that necessary steps were taken to ensure that Priority Marine Features (PMFs) were being protected in accordance with the National Marine Plan.

The National Marine Plan states that “Development and use of the marine environment must not result in significant impact on the national status of Priority Marine Features”. Furthermore the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 requires that decision makers should act in the way best calculated to further the achievement of sustainable development and use, including the protection and, where appropriate, enhancement of the health of the Scottish marine area.

Most industries have to go through a licensing process, with many required to undertake environmental impact assessments to enable the regulator to determine whether a project will have a significant impact. PMFs are considered in this process, and SNH provide advice to regulators based on published guidance. All regulators should continue to make decisions in accordance with the policies set out in the National Marine Plan.

There is no equivalent mechanism for fisheries. Therefore Marine Scotland commissioned SNH to identify locations where there is a need to consider additional management for bottom contacting mobile fishing gears to ensure there is no significant impact on the national status of PMFs within the 6 nautical mile (NM) limit. The rest of this document sets out the process for determining these areas. Click here to read more

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