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Scotland's Marine Atlas: Information for The National Marine Plan

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PROTECTED AREAS

Protection of the marine environment is considered of the highest priority, as reflected by the general duty under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, 'to act in the way best calculated to further the achievement of sustainable development including the protection and, where appropriate, enhancement of the health ofthat area, so far as is consistent with the proper execution of that function'.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 provided the mechanism for the designation of Sites of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI), but these powers only extend down to the limit of mean low water spring tide. At present there are 56 SSSI in Scotland which contain some intertidal and seal features of interest. In addition there are a number of other designations that apply to coastal areas, such as National Parks, National Nature Reserves and National Scenic Areas.

Designated sites

Designated sites

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Intertidal and Seal Features

Ballochmartin Bay

Sand flat

Balranald Bog and Loch nam Feithean

Mudflat

Berwickshire Coast (Intertidal)

Reefs
Sea caves

Bogside Flats

Mudflat

Bridgend Flats

Sand flat

Cree Estuary

Mudflat

Cromarty Firth

Mudflat
Sand flat
Saline lagoon

Dornoch Firth

Eelgrass bed

East Sanday Coast

Reef
Mudflat
Sand flat
Harbour seal

Eden Estuary

Mudflat

Eynhallow

Harbour seal

Faray and Holm of Faray

Grey seal

Firth of Forth

Saline lagoon

Gribun Shore and Crags

Mudflat
Saline lagoon

Gruinart Flats

Mudflat

Howmore Estuary, Lochs Roag and Fada

Saline lagoon

Isle of May

Grey seal

Kames Bay

Sand flat

Kentra Bay and Moss

Mudflat

Loch an Duin

Tidal rapids
Saline lagoon

Loch Bee

Saline lagoon

Loch Fleet

Eelgrass bed
Sand flat

Loch Moidart

Mudflat

Loch nam Madadh

Reefs
Mudflat
Tidal rapids
Saline lagoon

Loch Obisary

Saline lagoon

Loch Siadar

Tidal rapids
Saline lagoon

Lochs at Clachan

Saline lagoon

Lochs of Harray and Stenness

Saline lagoon

Longman and Castle Stuart Bays

Eelgrass bed
Mudflat

Luskentyre Banks and Saltings

Sand flat

Lynn of Lorn Small Islands

Common seal

Montrose Basin

Mudflat

Mound Alderwoods

Saline lagoon

Mousa

Common seal

Muckle and Little Green Holm

Grey seal

Munlochy Bay

Mudflat

North Fetlar

Grey seal
Harbour seal

North Rona and Sula Sgeir

Grey seal

Northton Bay

Saline lagoon
Sand flat

Obain Loch Euphoirt

Saline lagoon

Oronsay and South Colonsay

Grey seal

Papa Stour

Reefs

Pool of Virkie

Mudflat

Rosehearty to Fraserburgh Coast

Mudflat

Sandness Coast

Reefs

Small Seal Islands

Grey seal

Sunart

Reefs
Eelgrass bed

Taynish Woods

Reefs
Tidal rapids

Tayport - Tentsmuir Coast

Mudflat
Harbour seal

The Vadills

Tidal rapids
Saline lagoon

Tob Valasay

Tidal rapids
Saline lagoon

Tong Saltings

Mudflat

Treshnish Isles

Grey seal

Ulva, Danna and the McCormaig Isles

Mudflat
Tidal rapids
Saline lagoon

Upper Solway Flats and Marshes

Mudflat

Whiteness Head

Mudflat

Natura 2000 sites, Special Protection Areas ( SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation ( SAC) designated respectively under two European directives, Directive 79/409/ EEC (otherwise known as the Birds Directive) and Council Directive 92/43/ EEC (otherwise known as the Habitats Directive) represent some of the very best of Scotland's marine natural heritage.

The Birds Directive provides member states with the responsibility to classify Special Protection Areas to protect birds which are rare, or vulnerable, in Europe as well as all migratory birds which are regular visitors. There are currently 58 SPA in Scotland with marine/coastal components, and of these, 31 of the seabird breeding colony SPA have recently had their boundaries extended by either 1.2 or 4.0km into the adjacent marine environment (marked with an * in the table below). At present there are no entirely marine SPA in Scotland although work is underway to identify areas important for inshore aggregations of non-breeding waterbirds and for offshore aggregations of seabirds. (see jncc website jncc/gov.uk/pdf/SPA_AOS_Maps%2020100304.pdf)

Natura 2000 sites

Natura 2000 sites

Special Protection Areas which are within or have links to the marine environment

The SPAs listed in the table comprise:

1. Sites which support true seabirds i.e. truly marine birds - auks, gulls, terns, petrels, gannets, etc.

2. Sites which support species which, at times, use maritime habitats.

3. Sites which include maritime habitats which are sometimes used by terrestrial species. 'Waterfowl' is used to include seaduck, waders and divers. 'Seabirds' is used to refer to the 24 species of seabirds listed in the Seabirds Section and Mitchell et al. (2004). 1

Special Protection Areas

Summary interests

Ailsa Craig *

seabirds

Auskerry

seabirds

Buchan Ness to Collieston *

seabirds

Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands

waterfowl

Calf of Eday *

seabirds

Canna & Sanday *

seabirds

Cape Wrath *

seabirds

Copinsay *

seabirds

Cromarty Firth

waterfowl, seabirds

Dornoch Firth & Loch Fleet

waterfowl, seabirds

East Caithness Cliffs *

seabirds

East Sanday Coast

waterfowl

Fair Isle *

seabirds

Fetlar *

seabirds

Firth of Forth

waterfowl

Firth of Tay & Eden Estuary

seabirds, waterfowl

Flannan Isles *

seabirds

Forth Islands *

seabirds

Foula *

seabirds, waterfowl

Fowlsheugh *

seabirds

Glas Eileanan

seabirds

Gruinard Flats

waterfowl

Handa *

seabirds

Hermaness, Saxa Vord & Vallafield *

seabirds, waterfowl

Hoy *

seabirds, waterfowl

Imperial Dock Lock

seabirds

Inner Clyde

waders

Inner Moray Firth

waterfowl, seabirds

Lewis Peatlands

waterfowl

Loch of Strathbeg

waterfowl, seabirds

Marwick Head *

seabirds

Mingulay & Berneray *

seabirds

Mointeach Scadabhaigh

waterfowl

Monach Islands

seabirds

Montrose Basin

waterfowl

Moray & Nairn Coast

waterfowl

Mousa

seabirds

North Caithness Cliffs *

seabirds

North Colonsay & Western Cliffs *

seabirds

North Rona and Sula Sgeir *

seabirds

North Uist Machair & Islands

waterfowl

Noss *

seabirds

Orkney Mainland Moors

waterfowl

Otterswick and Graveland

waterfowl

Papa Stour

seabirds

Papa Westray

seabirds

Pentland Firth Islands

seabirds

Priest Island

seabirds

Ramna Stacks & Gruney

seabirds

Ronas Hill - North Roe & Tingon

waterfowl, seabirds

Rousay *

seabirds

Rum *

waterfowl, seabirds

Shiant Isles *

seabirds

Sleibhtean agus Cladach Thiriodh
(Tiree Wetlands and Coast)

waterfowl

South Uist Machair & Lochs

waterfowl, seabirds

St Abb's Head to Fast Castle *

seabirds

St Kilda *

seabirds

Sule Skerry & Sule Stack *

seabirds

Sumburgh Head *

seabirds

Treshnish Isles

seabirds

Troup, Pennan & Lion's Heads *

seabirds

Upper Solway Flats & Marshes

waterfowl

West Westray *

seabirds

Ythan Estuary, Sands of Forvie & Meikle Lochs

waterfowl, seabirds

1 Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland: Results of the 'Seabird 2000' Census 1999-2002.

The Scottish Government is committed to establishing a well managed, ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas through OSPAR for a number of marine habitats and species considered to be under threat or in decline, as well as others that are representative of Scotland's marine environment.

Scotland has international commitments to establish an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas ( MPAs) by the end of 2012. Existing protected areas ( SACs, SPAs, SSSIs and Ramsar sites) will make a significant contribution to the network but are limited in their ability to recognise features of national importance in the marine environment. There is considerable overlap between the OSPAR list of threatened and/or declining species and the list of Marine Protected Area search features which have been identified to help underpin the development of the MPA network in Scotland's seas.

The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 both include powers to designate Marine Protected Areas ( MPAs) in the seas around Scotland to enable the network to be completed.

Under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 there are three different types of MPAs that can be designated in territorial waters:

  • Nature Conservation MPAs
  • Demonstration and Research MPAs
  • Historic MPAs.

Following the Ministerial Statement on MPAs in March 2010, the Scottish MPA Project was established with the aim of providing advice to Scottish Ministers on the selection of MPAs and development of the MPA network. Identification of MPAs will be carried out by the end of 2012. The Scottish MPA Selection Guidelines set out the selection process and highlight the opportunities for stakeholders to become involved. There will be one network in the seas around Scotland which will contribute towards UK, North-East Atlantic and global networks.

See the Selection Guidelines at www.scotland.gov.uk/marinescotland/mpaguidelines

Species

OSPAR Feature

PA search feature

Arachnanthus sarsi

v

Leptometra celtica

v

Atrina pectinata

v

Glossus humanus

v

Arctica islandica

v

v

Nucella lapillus

v

Ostrea edulis

v

Palinurus elephas

v

Rissa tridactyla

v

Sterna dougalii

v

Cepphus grille

v

Alosa alosa

v

Anguilla anguilla

v

Centroscymus coelolepis

v

Centrophorus squamosus

v

Cetorhinus maximus

v

v

Dipturus batis

v

v

Raja montagui

v

Gadus morhua

v

Hoplostethus atlanticus

v

v

Lamna nasus

v

Raja clavata

v

Molva dypterygia

v

Ammodytes spp.

v

Salmo salar

v

Squalus acanthias

v

Squatina squatina

v

Caretta caretta

v

Dermochelys coriacea

v

Balaenoptera musculus

v

Eubalaena glacialis

v

Phocoena phocoena

v

Balaenoptera acutorostrata

v

Grampus griseus

v

Lagenorhynchus albirostris

v

Habitats

OSPAR Feature

MPA search feature

Coral gardens

v

v

Deep sea sponge aggregations

v

v

Blue mussel beds

v

v

Intertidal mudflats

v

Cold water coral reefs

v

Maerl beds

v

v

Maerl or coarse shell gravel with burrowing sea cucumbers

v

Horse mussel beds

v

v

Native oysters

v

v

Sabellaria spinulosa reefs

v

Seamount communities

v

v

Sea pen and burrowing megafauna communities

v

v

Seagrass beds

v

v

Carbonate mound communities

v

Flame shell beds

v

Inshore deep mud with burrowing heart urchins

v

Kelp and seaweed communities on sublittoral sediment

v

Low or variable salinity habitats

v

Northern sea fan and sponge communities

v

Offshore deep sea muds

v

Offshore subtidal sands and gravel

v

Sea loch egg wrack beds

v

Serpulid aggregations

Shallow tide-swept coarse sands and burrowing bivalves

v

Shelf banks and mounds

v

Shelf deeps

v

Shelf fronts

v

Tide-swept algal communities

v

Summary of condition of marine habitats and species on designated sites in Scotland (as at January 2011)

Feature

Number of features

Number of features assessed

Favourable

Unfavourable recovering

Unfavourable

Habitats

129

96

94

1

1

Mammals

50

49

42

2

5

Species

4

3

3

0

0

Seabirds

470

464

261

12

191

Waterfowl

250

248

208

0

40

Hoy coast

Hoy coast
© John M Baxter

Eden Estuary

Eden Estuary
© John M Baxter

The Habitats Directive is a major contribution by the European Community to implementing the Biodiversity Convention agreed in Rio in 1992. Special Areas of Conservation ( SACs) are designated for particular habitats and species which are listed in annexes to the directive. There are eight habitat types and four species listed on Annexes I and II respectively for which there are marine SACs designated in Scotland. Some sites contain more than one feature. There are currently 34 marine SACs covering ~4% of the total area of territorial waters within 12nm. There are also six offshore SACs that have either been designated or proposed.

Isle of May

Isle of May
© P&A Macdonald/ SNH

Loch of Stenness

Loch of Stenness
© John M Baxter

Special Areas of Conservation

Interest Features

Ascrib, Isay and Dunvegan

Harbour seals

Berwickshire and North Northumberland coast

Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
Large shallow inlets and bays
Reefs
Submerged or partially submerged sea caves
Grey seals

Braemar Pockmarks

Submarine structures made by leaking gases

Darwin Mounds

Reefs

Dornoch Firth and Morrich More

Estuary
Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time
Reefs
Harbour seals
Otters*

Eileanan agus Sgeiran Lios mor

Harbour seals

Faray and Holm of Faray

Grey seals

Firth of Lorn

Reefs

Firth of Tay and Eden estuary

Estuary
Reefs
Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
Harbour seals

Isle of May

Reefs
Grey seals

Loch Creran

Reefs

Lochs Duich, Long and Alsh

Reefs

Loch Laxford

Large shallow inlets and bays
Reefs

Loch Moidart and Loch Shiel Woods

Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide

Loch nam Madadh

Large shallow inlets and bays
Lagoons
Reefs
Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time
Otters*

Loch of Stenness

Lagoons

Loch Roag Lagoons

Lagoons

Luce Bay and Sands

Large shallow inlets and bays
Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide

Moine Mhor

Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide

Monach Isles

Grey seals

Moray Firth

Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time
Bottlenose dolphins

Mousa

Reefs
Submerged or partially submerged sea caves
Harbour seals

North Rona

Reefs
Submerged or partially submerged sea caves
Grey seals

North West Rockall Bank

Reefs

Obain Loch Euphoirt

Lagoons

Papa Stour

Reefs
Submerged or partially submerged sea caves

St Kilda

Reefs
Submerged or partially submerged sea caves

Sanday

Reefs
Submerged or partially submerged sea caves
Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time
Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
Harbour seals

Scanner Pockmark

Submarine structures made by leaking gases

Solway Firth

Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time
Estuary
Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide
Reefs

Sound of Arisaig

Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time

South-east Islay Skerries

Harbour seals

South Uist Machair

Lagoons

Stanton Banks

Reefs

Sullom Voe

Reefs
Lagoons
Large shallow inlets and bays

Sunart

Reefs
Otters

The Vadills

Lagoons

Treshnish Islands

Reefs
Grey seals

Wyville Thomson Ridge

Reefs

Yell Sound Coast

Harbour seals
Otters*

* There are further SACs identified for otters but these are entirely terrestrial and freshwater sites and have no marine component.

Offshore SACs