Marine Protected Area Network - 2018 Report to the Scottish Parliament

A report to Parliament on progress being made in

implementing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) network.

Contribution to international MPA networks

The progress that has been made over the last six years in developing the Scottish MPA network is significant. Our network contributes to international networks at European, North-east Atlantic and global scales.


Scottish MPA network

Infographic text:

Convention on Biological Diversity - At least 10% of coastal and marine areas to be effectively conserved
Sustainable Development Goal 14 - Sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems. Conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas.

North-East Atlantic
The establishment of an ecologically coherent and well-managed MPA network

EU Habitats and Wild Birds Directives - The creation of MPAs for habitats and species of European importance
Marine Strategy Framework Directive - The contribution of MPAs to achieving Good Environmental Status across Europe's seas

Scottish MPA network

Internationally there are commitments to MPAs and other spatial conservation measures under EU Directives, the OSPAR Convention, and the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity and Sustainable Development Goals. Together they provide a global framework that requires delivery of MPA networks by Contracting Parties.

Scotland is largely meeting or exceeding these international commitments. In area terms our network exceeds any of the targets set by a considerable margin. In addition the Scottish MPA network is broadly representative of the habitats and species found in our seas. Ongoing work to complete the network is primarily focused on improving the representation of habitats and species, and delivery of any required management measures.

Table 2: Scotland's progress towards international commitments




What percentage of sea has spatial protection?

10% of coastal and marine areas

UN Sustainable Development Goal 14

Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11

22% of Scotland's seas are in the MPA network.


Which features are represented?

Bird species

EU Wild Birds Directive

Once work on new MPAs for birds is complete, all but Roseate Tern will be included within the Scottish MPA network. Roseate Tern does not breed in Scotland and is therefore not a gap in the network.


Habitats and other species

EU Habitats Directive

MPAs designated for all seven habitats and all five species relevant to Scotland.


Threatened and declining habitats and species

The OSPAR list

MPAs designated for all 12 listed habitats and seven of the eight listed species relevant to Scotland. MPA proposal being progressed for the remaining species, basking shark.




A key aim of the Scottish Government has been to make a significant contribution to the OSPAR[5] MPA network in the North-east Atlantic. The OSPAR maritime area is split up into regions which are different from those defined under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, even though the names are the same in some cases.

Scotland has waters within four OSPAR regions enabling an assessment of relative contribution of Scottish MPAs to each of those. These regions are:

Region 1: Arctic Waters
Region 2: Greater North Sea
Region 3: Celtic Seas
Region 5: Wider Atlantic


Scotland's MPAs as part of the OSPAR network in the North-East Atlantic

Infographic text:

Scotland's MPAs as part of the OSPAR network in the North-East Atlantic

In spatial terms Scotland's seas make up a relatively small proportion of the OSPAR maritime area. Nevertheless our MPAs make a significant contribution to the OSPAR MPA network. In three of the four OSPAR regions Scotland has made a greater than average relative contribution to the OSPAR MPA network. Although no regional based target has been set for MPA coverage the Scottish MPA network covers more than 10% of our seas that fall within each OSPAR region.


Scotland's relative contribution to the OSPAR network at the regional scale

Infographic text:

Scotland's relative contribution to the OSPAR network at the regional scale


Email: Michael McLeod

Back to top