Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are classified under the EU Birds Directive, which requires the Member States of the European Community to identify and classify the most suitable territories, in size and number, for certain rare or vulnerable species (listed in Annex I of the Directive) and for regularly-occurring migratory species. SPAs are intended to safeguard the habitats of the species for which they are selected and to protect the birds from significant disturbance.
Scotland currently has 45 existing marine SPAs, of which 31 are extensions to seabird colony SPAs.
Following many years of survey and analysis, SNH and JNCC have now submitted their formal scientific advice on a proposed suite of marine SPAs to Scottish Ministers. The proposed SPA suite comprises 15 marine areas used by 31 species of seabird. These marine areas are identified as being important foraging areas for many of our breeding seabirds and many migratory birds that return each year, in some cases travelling thousands of miles to over-winter.
A workshop was held in Edinburgh in March 2016 to discuss the proposals with key industry and environmental stakeholders. A report outlining the outcomes from the workshop and providing responses to various pre-workshop queries is now available to view.