Scotland's seas shape our nation. We are committed to protecting and managing this precious resource, to meet the needs of nature and people, now and into the future.
Through the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 we have ensured a more integrated approach to planning for our seas. Marine plans will set out policies for sustainable development of the seas - protecting the environment and promoting economic growth, while also taking social and cultural considerations into account.
The publication of this Atlas is a key step in developing our first national marine plan, for all Scottish waters out to 200 nautical miles. For the first time, the Atlas maps and brings together a wide range of data on the marine environment and the activities that take place in our seas. This represents a unique evidence base to help develop future objectives and inform marine planning and management. This evidence base is an invaluable resource in its own right - and one which we must continue to develop and make as accessible as possible.
The Atlas highlights the breathtaking richness of our seas - from rare species of plants and animals to the income generated by marine industries as diverse as aquaculture and tourism. It draws on well established marine science and monitoring programmes, economic data and a wide range of other sources, demonstrating how they can be interpreted spatially.
The Atlas provides an up-to-date assessment of the current state of Scotland's seas, which will inform the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. I hope the Atlas also serves to educate and inform a broad audience, both within Scotland and further afield, as to the beauty and value of our seas.
Richard Lochhead MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment