The Scottish Government has a vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive, and biologically diverse marine & coastal environment, managed to meet the long-term needs of nature and people. The creation and maintenance of the Marine Protected Area (MPA) network is an integral part of achieving that vision by safeguarding marine biodiversity. It is evident from this report that Scotland has made excellent progress against international commitments to create an MPA network.
Since 2012 the MPA network has almost doubled in size and in doing so a broader range of habitats and species are now protected. This means that as a whole the MPA network is able to make a greater contribution to maintaining the ecosystem services we all depend upon. A total of 42 MPAs have been added to the network since 2012 providing new sites for nature conservation, protection of the historic environment, and for demonstration and research purposes. Good progress has also been made with implementation of specific site management measures.
I also recognise the significant contributions made by stakeholders over the last six years. Your engagement has helped shape the MPA network into what it is today. I hope you all continue to provide that input as we attempt to complete the network and put the necessary management measures in place.
Looking forward, the next six years will focus on completing the network and implementing management measures as required. Alongside this monitoring and assessment of what the network is achieving for biodiversity will continue. I hope that by the next report the network will be complete, well managed, and results will show that the objectives of the network are being achieved.
Mairi Gougeon MSP
Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment
Email: Michael McLeod