Protected Area Q - Wester Ross MPA
The Wester Ross MPA encompasses seabed features that not only offer valuable insights into Scotland's glacial past but are also home to an amazing array of plants and animals. Burrowed mud, flame shell beds, maerl beds and northern feather star aggregations to name but a few, all find a place to thrive in the mosaic of sea lochs, bays and near shore island channels. This complex landscape is a legacy from the end of the last ice age, when the ice sheet that once covered most of Scotland retreated.
The deeper parts of the MPA are covered by extensive areas of burrowed mud. Norway lobsters can be seen guarding the entrances to their burrows amongst dense forests of seapens. All three species of seapen found in Scottish coastal waters are present including substantial numbers of the scarce tall seapen.
Increased tidal flow in shallower waters between the coastal islands and on the sills of the sea lochs supply the necessary food and aeration for beds of flame shells and maerl to form. These habitats provide a stable home for a myriad of other plants and animals, from beautiful burrowing sea cucumbers burying their bodies in the maerl and gravel, to northern feather stars gripping onto the mixed sediments.
Summary of the approaches to management
There are 2 approaches presented. Under both approaches, the use of suction dredges (boat or diver operated) would be prohibited throughout the MPA. The capacity of vessels able to fish in the MPA would also be restricted to 150 Gross Registered Tonnage ( GRT).
The 1 st approach focuses on zonal management for the recovery habitats - maerl beds and flame shell beds. These zones would prohibit the use of demersal trawls or mechanical dredges. Additional measures would be required for sedimentary habitats.
The 2 nd approach provides zonal management for all habitats. These zones would prohibit the use of demersal trawls or mechanical dredges. This approach would deliver all of the conservation requirements.
See the Protected Area Q section in the following documents;
See questions 43 - 47