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Priority Marine Features

In 2014, 81 Priority Marine Features (PMFs) were identified in the seas around Scotland – these are a variety of habitats and species that are a priority for conservation in Scotland’s seas. The list was developed by Marine Scotland, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

While many of these are protected through the existing network of Marine Protected Areas, others occur outside these areas. Marine Scotland is now looking to see whether protection is needed for the most vulnerable PMFs in Scottish inshore waters (within 6 nautical miles from shore), including whether management measures might be needed to ensure that development and use of the marine environment does not have a significant effect on their national status. 

We have therefore commissioned a Sustainability Appraisal, which looks at proposed measures for the 11 most vulnerable features and assesses the potential positive and negative effects from both an environmental and socio-economic perspective. 

The 11 PMFs identified are:

  • Blue mussel beds

  • Cold water coral reefs

  • Fan mussel aggregations

  • Flame shell beds

  • Horse mussel beds

  • Maerl beds

  • Maerl or coarse shell gravel with burrowing sea cucumbers

  • Native oysters

  • Northern sea fan and sponge communities

  • Seagrass beds

  • Serpulid aggregations

This work is at an early stage, and a consultation on the Screening and Scoping report - setting out what options will be assessed and the evidence that will be used - is currently planned to start in June 2018. This will be open to anyone who wishes to comment on this stage of the work, and will be accessible on the Scottish Government online Consultation Hub, along with all the supporting information.

This will be followed by the more detailed assessment work for the Sustainability Appraisal and further public consultation towards the end of 2018

Marine Scotland is also undertaking discussions with key stakeholders during the development of the measures and assessments. Any relevant notes of these discussions will be made available on this web page, which will be updated as and when these are complete.

The Screening and Scoping report will be discussed as part of a Marine Protected Area management measures stakeholder event being held on 14 May 2018 in Edinburgh. If you are interested in attending this event, please contact the Marine Conservation team at marine_conservation@gov.scot. Please note that places are limited. If the event is oversubscribed, Marine Scotland will allocate attendance to ensure there is a representative spread of stakeholders.

We will also be consulting on potential management measures in Marine Protected Areas in our inshore waters. More information on this can be found on those webpages.