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.

6. Aims of HPMAs

Designating 10% of Scotland's seas as HPMAs is intended to deliver demonstrable benefit to the achievement of the Scottish Government's vision for the marine environment and make a significant contribution to the achievement of broader UK, regional and global conservation ambition.

Scotland's Nature Conservation Strategy for the marine environment outlines a 'three-pillar' approach to nature conservation (species conservation, site protection, and wider seas policies and measures), in which, HPMAs are a part and aim to:

  • Facilitating ecosystem recovery and enhancement
  • Enhancing the benefits that coastal communities and others derive from our seas
  • Contributing to the mitigation of climate change impacts
  • Supporting ecosystem adaptation and improving resilience

The designation and management of HPMAs will protect all elements of the marine ecosystem within their boundaries, including the seabed, water column habitats and everything that lives in the protected area. This will protect not only the species and habitats within them, but also the complex web of interactions and processes that form a marine ecosystem.

HPMAs will still allow for some recreational activities to continue, provided they are at non-damaging levels. This means that the entire site (i.e. all habitats and species and their supporting environment) would be protected from risk of damage: meaning that harm would be prohibited, irrespective of severity or duration, unless the effects were negligible to all marine biodiversity and associated functions and resources within the boundaries.

In areas where human activity has been relatively low, HPMAs will ensure the marine ecosystem is preserved and allow for any recovery to occur as necessary. This will also enable the effects of prevailing conditions to be monitored.

In areas where there have been more significant levels of human activity, HPMAs will allow for the recovery of the marine ecosystem to a more natural state. Some HPMAs could also allow for active restoration of historically present habitats or species, such as seagrass and native oyster beds.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

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