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Launch of Small Isles MPA and Fetlar to Haroldswick MPA Designation Order consultation and Small Isles representation period

Launch of SPA Consultation

Historic MPA and Fair Isle D&R MPA consultations launched

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Scotland has some of the most beautiful and diverse marine ecosystems in the world. Marine Scotland is committed to protecting and enhancing these amazing ecosystems to ensure they are safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.

Protected areas are one of the mechanisms used to ensure protection of some of the most vulnerable species and habitats.  

The Scottish MPA network covers approximately 20% of our seas, and also comprises:

  • 47 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to protected species and habitats such as bottlenose dolphin, cold-water coral reefs and seals
  • 45 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for colonies of seabirds such as puffins and kittiwakes 
  • 61 Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the further protection of species from seabirds and seals to habitats, from sea caves and rocky shores.

Thirty Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were designated on the 7th August 2014 to protect benthic species and habitats such as maerl beds and common skate. Seventeen of these sites fall under the Marine (Scotland) Act for inshore waters and 13 under the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act for offshore waters.

Below are links to information on the different topics relating to the Scottish protected areas network.


Nature Conservation MPAs


Information about:

Inshore MPAs/SACs

Offshore MPAs/SACs


Information about:





Information about:

Historic MPAs

Demonstration & Research MPAs

Map of scotland

Information about:


Harbour Porpoise SACs

Harbour porpoise

Information about:


Aquaculture Bill

Archive documents and related links to the work on:



Contact details for all Marine Scotland offices