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.

Managing the Scottish MPA network

The Scottish MPA network covers a diverse array of marine habitats, wildlife, geology, landforms and historic shipwrecks. Various approaches to management are needed to ensure we realise the benefits of these MPAs. Work continues to develop and implement any necessary management measures.

The following principles guide management of the Scottish MPA network:

  • Supporting the sustainable use of Scotland's seas
  • Following a risk-based approach
  • Using the precautionary principle when required
  • Providing opportunities for stakeholder involvement
  • Adopting an adaptive approach i.e. responding as our knowledge evolves
  • Adopting an ecosystem-based approach

Objectives have been agreed for the Scottish MPA network. These objectives describe what the sites are trying to achieve, and are used to determine whether new activities or development can be consented. In future the results of monitoring will help measure whether the objectives are being achieved. A summary of the objectives for each MPA designated under the Marine Acts is provided in Annex 6, along with details of progress towards achieving them.

For each site consideration of the need for specific management, over and above the general protective provisions provided by the Marine Acts, is undertaken. A total of seven Marine Conservation Orders, under s85 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, have been implemented since the last report to Parliament in 2012 as detailed in Annex 7. Currently four remain in force. No management schemes have been established for any MPA designated under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010.

The potential impact of developments and activities that require consents has been taken into account for all MPAs since before they were designated. It is the responsibility of all public authorities to ensure that MPAs are not placed at significant risk through their decision making. This applies equally to their own functions as well as when determining whether to consent activities which they regulate.

This location specific approach does not work for fisheries because licences are issued to enable activity at a broad geographic scale. Progress has been made since 2012 in implementing fisheries management measures in MPAs, using both Marine Conservation Orders and Inshore Fisheries Orders to deliver them.

There are now 27 MPAs that have specific fisheries measures in place. Further measures are currently being developed in partnership with the fishing industry, other stakeholders, including fishermen and governments in other European countries too. In total, these new measures will cover a further 39 MPAs. Beyond this the Scottish Government anticipates receiving specific advice from Scottish Natural Heritage for a small number of the other existing sites.

Tools have been developed to help support management of MPAs and are available online via the Marine Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, SNH and JNCC websites.


What the tool provides

FeAST - Feature Activity Sensitivity Tool

Information on the sensitivity of habitats and species to pressures from human activity.

Fisheries Guidance Notes

Evidence on the interaction between fishing gears and specific habitats and species.

Marine Heritage web pages

Advice and support on protecting Scotland's marine heritage, including information on Historic MPAs.

Scottish Government MPA web pages

Information on the approach taken to develop and implement MPA management.

Marine Scotland Maps (NMPi)

Viewing the MPA network, management measures, and data on marine habitats and species.

Natural Spaces

To download boundaries of MPAs.

Site Information Centres

Information on the MPAs designated in Scottish offshore waters.


Information on the MPAs designated in Scottish territorial waters.


Email: Michael McLeod

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