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.

5. Policy Framework and Selection Guidelines

The subject of this consultation is a HPMA Policy Framework and Site Selection Guidelines.

The Policy Framework sets out the Scottish Government commitment to designating a suite of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), our aims for HPMAs and our proposals for what HPMAs are and what they will mean for different marine activities. It also describes how we will account for socio-economic factors alongside ecological considerations and policy objectives for sustainable industries, net zero targets and existing conservation measures. The commitment to designate at least 10% of Scotland's seas as HPMAs by 2026 is set out in the Bute House Agreement.

The HPMA Selection Guidelines set out a process to determine how and where HPMAs will be identified. The guidelines set out a five-stage site selection process, based in all cases around the conservation of marine ecosystems as the priority, and driven by the presence of the following functions and resources of significance to Scotland's seas:

  • Blue carbon
  • Essential fish habitats (including prey species)
  • Strengthening the Scottish MPA network
  • Protection from storms and sea level rise
  • Research and education
  • Enjoyment and appreciation

The policy framework and accompanying site selection guidelines as a whole are intended to apply to both Scottish inshore waters (0-12 nautical miles from the coast) and Scottish offshore waters (beyond 12 nautical miles). The selection and designation of HPMAs in offshore waters is subject to the prior transfer of relevant powers by the UK Government to Scottish Ministers. Sections of this document which set out our proposals in relation to legal powers to designate HPMAs therefore relate only to inshore waters. Some of the marine activities, which take place in Scottish inshore and offshore waters, relate to matters which are currently reserved to the UK Government, i.e. are not in the competence of the Scottish Parliament. The prohibition or management of these reserved activities will be subject to agreement with the UK Government. We will work closely with the UK Government to realise our vision for HPMAs in relation to offshore waters and reserved matters.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

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