Scotland's Marine Protected Area (MPA) network
The seas around Scotland and the spectacular wildlife they support are one of our best kept secrets, one that only a very few have had the privilege to explore first hand, but upon which we all depend for our quality of life.
Our seas account for 61% of UK waters and remain at the forefront of our food and energy needs, through fishing, aquaculture, oil and gas, and new industries such as renewables, as well as recreation activities and eco-tourism.
Scotland's MPA network is being developed to help safeguard our most important natural and cultural heritage features in line with the principle of sustainable use. By doing so protecting the many natural goods and services they provide for current and future generations to enjoy.
The MPA network, as shown in Figure 1, currently consists of sites designated for nature conservation and other areas which provide nature conservation benefits (called Other Area Based Measures) protecting the historic environment, and for demonstrating or researching marine management. The network currently consists of 231 sites which protects 22% of our seas.
We are required to have an MPA network which:
- Contributes to conservation or improvement of the marine environment;
- Represents a range of features present in Scottish waters; and
- Reflects that the conservation of a feature may require the designation of more than one MPA.
Figure 1: The existing MPA network in Scottish waters. Contains information from the Scottish Government (Marine Scotland), Scottish Natural Heritage, and Historic Environment Scotland licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
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