Scotland’s iconic marine species and habitats will be better protected following the designation of 30 Marine Protected Areas.
Scottish Government ‘Sites will protect a range of habitats and species including flameshell beds, feather stars, the common skate and ocean quahog, a large mollusc which can live for centuries. They will also protect sandeels – a small fish that many seabirds and marine mammals depend on for food – and black guillemot, a species of seabird found in Scotland’s seas that has striking black and white plumage and bright red feet. One of the sites – the North East Faroe Shetland Channel – is estimated to be the largest Marine Protected Area in the EU.
Scotland’s seas are the fourth largest in the EU and support many habitats and species including cold water coral reefs, 22 individual species of whales and dolphins and almost half of the European Union’s breeding seabirds. The Marine Protected Area (MPA) network in Scotland’s seas is designed to conserve a selection of marine species and habitats and offer long-term support for the services our seas provide to society.’ Click here to read more
Scotland’s environmental charities have welcomed today’s decision by the Scottish Government to more than double the size of an emerging network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In a bold move, Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead gave 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.
Members of Scottish Environment LINK’s marine taskforce have campaigned for stronger protection of Scotland’s sealife for over a decade and last year over 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. Today’s 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.