Marine (Scotland) Act

The Act introduces a duty to protect and enhance the marine environment and includes measures to help boost economic investment and growth in areas such as marine renewables.

On 10 March 2010, Scotland's Marine Bill received Royal Assent, making it the Marine (Scotland) Act.

This marks a major turning point in safeguarding the future of Scotland's seas and laying the foundations for a more simplified marine planning and licensing system.

The Marine (Scotland) Act provides a framework which will help balance competing demands on Scotland's seas. It introduces a duty to protect and enhance the marine environment and includes measures to help boost economic investment and growth in areas such as marine renewables.

The main measures include:

  • Marine planning: a new statutory marine planning system to sustainably manage the increasing, and often conflicting, demands on our seas
  • Marine licensing: a simpler licensing system, minimising the number of licences required for development in the marine environment to cut bureaucracy and encourage economic investment
  • Marine conservation: improved marine nature and historic conservation with new powers to protect and manage areas of importance for marine wildlife, habitats and historic monuments
  • Seal conservation: much improved protection for seals and a new comprehensive licence system to ensure appropriate management when necessary
  • Enforcement: a range of enhanced powers of marine conservation and licensing


The Sustainable Seas Task Force, a national stakeholder group representing a diversity of marine interests, was formed in 2008 to develop proposals for marine legislation and lay the foundations for a public consultation. The Task Force considered issues relating to marine nature conservation, marine planning, marine licensing and enforcement, science and data and a proposed marine management organisation.

Marine legislation and policies have been developed over time at a national, European and international level and their development has gathered significant momentum over the last few years. The Task Force work built on and took forward the conclusions of the Advisory Group on Marine and Coastal Strategy (AGMACS) and the Environment and Rural Development Committee Marine Inquiry, published in March 2007.

Scotland's Seas - Towards Understanding Their State was jointly produced by Fisheries Research Services, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage, and was published on 9 April 2008. This is an initial summary of what data is available for the marine environment. This document is the starting point for understanding the state of the marine environment in Scotland and will help to assess and monitor the success of the new legislative framework brought about by the Scottish Marine Bill.

UK High Level Marine Objectives

The first joint initiative as part of the Scottish Marine Bill and the UK Marine and Coastal Access Bill was the "Our seas - a shared resource" publication.

The Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government, Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government agreed a suite of High Level Marine Objectives around the sustainable development framework. These policy objectives articulate the outcomes we are all seeking for the UK marine area as a whole as we strive to achieve the UK vision for the marine environment of "clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas". These objectives will be used to underpin the development of the joint Marine Policy Statement (MPS).



Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) - partial
Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) - final
Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) - independent report
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