Highly Protected Marine Areas - policy framework and site selection guidelines: ICIA – partial screening report

This report seeks to complete the first two stages of the island communities impact assessment (ICIA) process by identifying whether there are issues which merit further exploration. Consultation responses will be used to determine whether a full ICIA is required once specific HPMA sites are proposed.

3. Background

The Scottish Government is committed to introducing Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) covering at least 10% of inshore and offshore waters by 2026. HPMAs in Scottish waters will allow for the protection and recovery of marine ecosystems, contributing to halting biodiversity loss and aiding our efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. They will build upon our existing network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), representing a significant increase in the overall level of protection afforded to Scotland's seas.

HPMAs will afford high levels of protection to marine ecosystems by limiting or prohibiting specific human activities that may have negative impacts. Carefully managed recreational activities may still be allowed at non-damaging levels. This will provide the best possible chance of protecting and restoring marine ecosystems so they can continue to provide vital ecosystem services such as climate regulation and provision of food and support marine industries and the communities that depend upon them. We expect HPMAs to bring some socio-economic benefits from enhancing marine natural capital through the increased protection and recovery of marine areas. We also expect additional benefits, including for carefully managed tourism and recreational activities, opportunities for research and education, and positive impacts on human health. The introduction of HPMAs will contribute to achieving our UK and international environmental commitments (Box 1) as well as the commitment to rebuild Scotland's natural capital by 2032, as set out in our National Strategy for Economic Transformation. Only by protecting and enhancing our marine natural capital, can we secure the long-term economic and wellbeing benefits that we derive from our sea.

Our seas are vital to Scotland's population and key to our identity. They sustain the livelihoods of thousands of people in communities up and down the country, providing food, energy and a thriving marine tourism industry, among many other benefits. HPMAs will ultimately protect the resources and industries we all rely on, ensuring we can continue to benefit from our rich seas for generations to come. The introduction of HPMAs is a critical step in helping to address biodiversity loss and needs to occur alongside the growing demand for marine space for human activities.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

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