Protected Area M - St Kilda SAC
The tiny archipelago of St Kilda, lying off the west coast of mainland Scotland, is breath taking. The islands were formed over 50 million years ago from the rim of an ancient volcano. Exposure to some of the greatest wave heights and strongest wind speeds in Europe plays a major role in shaping the coastal ecology.
With nearly one million seabirds present at the height of the breeding season, St Kilda supports the largest seabird colony in the north-east Atlantic. It's a seabird sanctuary without parallel in Europe, and is of global significance.
The combination of oceanic influences and local geology around the archipelago has created a marine environment of unparalleled richness and colour. The seabed communities are outstanding in terms of biodiversity and composition. Many species are at the extremes of their range. The complex ecological dynamic in the marine environment is essential to the maintenance of both the terrestrial and marine biodiversity.
The waters around St Kilda contain extremely wave exposed, steep and vertical reefs around the island group. These reach depths of 60-80m and because of the clarity of the waters here, the reefs are dominated by kelp forests in water down to around 35m and then diverse communities of anemones, sponges and soft corals. The caves and tunnels above and below the water are a major feature of the islands and are one of the most extensive of such systems in the UK. They support diverse, varying communities including sponges, anemones, hydroids, cup corals and tube worms, reflecting the degree of surge to which they are exposed.
St Kilda is also a UNESCO World heritage Site, Special Protection Area, Site of Specific Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserve.
Summary of the approach to management
The use of demersal trawls, mechanical dredge, or suction dredges (boat or diver operated) would be prohibited throughout the SAC.
See the Protected Area M section in the following documents;
See questions 33 - 34