Offshore MPA Fisheries Measures: Offshore sites - 25 January 2022

Pre-Consultation Engagement with Fisheries Stakeholders on Offshore Management Measures for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Attendees and apologies

List of attendees representing

  • Marine Scotland (MS)
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
  • Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF)
  • Scottish Whitefish Producers’ Association
  • Orkney Fisheries Association
  • Shetland Fishermen’s Association
  • Offshore fisheries representatives
  • Aberdeen Fisheries Producers Organisation
  • Hooktone Group

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Marine Scotland welcomed everyone to the meeting to discuss the proposed management measures for offshore Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with fisheries stakeholders. Introductions were made by each individual in attendance.


No actions.

Outline of background to measures

Marine Scotland presented a PowerPoint presentation to give an overview of the process behind offshore fisheries management measures within MPAs so far. This included the timeline for the designation of management measures, a reminder of stakeholder meetings to date, an overview of all sites including those with and without boundary changes, and a brief summary of how decisions on management measures are made.


No actions.

Discussion on proposed management measures

Marine Scotland presented slides and maps on the sites for discussion and opened up discussion for the following MPA sites;

  • Darwin Mounds SAC
  • Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt MPA
  • East Rockall Bank SAC
  • Stanton Banks SAC
  • West of Scotland MPA

Darwin Mounds SAC

Newly proposed measures: Static gear ban.

Comments and questions:

  • clarification required on why static gear is included in the measures, as they are not all bottom-contacting and a point noted for request for the evidence base of the decision
    • MS/JNCC clarified measures regarding static gear. JNCC are looking into data St Andrews University have on static gear and bycatch from their observer programme
    • action point 1 noted
  • clarification required on the 600m depth limit under EU deep sea regulations and if this included longlining
    • MS/JNCC confirmed that Deep- Sea Access Regulation (EU) 2016/2336 do not include longlines. However, whilst the new management measures are partly to consolidate measures within EU regulations, Marine Scotland have a legal obligation to implement management measures where needed to meet the conservation objectives of protected features. Therefore proposed management measures may apply to further gear types than are stated in EU regulation

Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt MPA

Newly proposed measures: Increase to size of management area.

Comments and questions:

  • clarification if inner channel with no features present can be opened up to trawling
    • MS recorded area in question onto the map - action point 2
  • clarification required for when evidence for this site was collected
    • JNCC clarified the data on the map are from 2018 survey and another survey was undertaken in 2021 but this data is not yet available
  • clarification on if the area has been fished for decades they why do features need protection
    • MS highlighted that proposed management measures are there to protect the most vulnerable species and habitats, which contribute to the national network of MPAs, which are required to protect a representative coverage of species and habitats in Scottish waters
  • clarification on other activities restricted within the MPA
    • MS explained that other activities are already regulated and must obtain a licence to operate within the MPA and provide evidence of their impact on the marine environment
  • clarification needed on why seine nets are prohibited despite not touching the seabed?
    • MS and JNCC confirmed that seine nets are still defined as bottom-contacting due to features such as ground ropes that do touch the bottom
  • a stakeholder stated that progress has been made and measures have had the support of the fishing industry from early on in the process, there is concern from the fishing industry that not all industries are treated equally

East Rockall Bank SAC

Newly proposed measures: Increase to size of management area.

Comments and questions:

  • error on the first slide- action point 3
  • mobile fisheries are satisfied that mobile gear measures are what was previously agreed on
  • the map is hard to read -action point 4

Stanton Banks SAC

Newly proposed measures: Increase size of management area.

Comments and questions:

  • clarification on boundary change in the Southern part of the site, if static gear is banned and the different risks associated with static gear on inshore and offshore sites
    • MS/JNCC confirmed this change is to incorporate the updated extent of the Annex I Reef under the management measures and measures only apply to mobile gear. MS/JNCC clarified this risk depends on the species or habitat being protected

West of Scotland MPA

Newly proposed measures: Removal of demersal mobile gear from areas shallower than 800m*; Removal of demersal static gear in areas shallower than 600m**.

*Bottom trawling below 800m depth is prohibited under the Deep-sea Access Regulation​

** Bottom-set gillnets, entangling nets and trammel nets are prohibited below 600m under the Deep-sea Access Regulation​.

Comments and questions:

  • clarification if seamounts are shallow can fishing occur there within deep-sea regulations. And what features are protected on top of seamounts
    • MS/JNCC explained Deep-sea Access Regulations mean that under EU law, most of the site is already closed to fishing. However, this does not include some of the shallower areas of the seamounts and so proposed management measures now will cover the whole site, including shallower areas of the seamounts
    • MS/JNCC confirmed the features are benthic seamount community features
  • question raised if meetings are occurring with other stakeholders?
    • MS/JNCC confirmed wider discussion with other stakeholders will be planned prior to the public consultation
    • action point 5


  1. JNCC to investigate existing data on static gear impacts and EU regulations relating to static gear in deep sea regulations. 
  2. MS/JNCC to search for data on the inner channel closure in the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt, to determine why that section is proposed for closure, and whether it could be opened to trawling.
  3. MS update protected feature on first slide of East Rockall Bank SAC in the presentation – Should be Annex 1, biogenic, stony and bedrock reef.
  4. MS to include coordinates, depth contours, and extent indicators on maps for future presentations.
  5. MS to share more detailed coordinates with stakeholders for all MPAs to enable them to feedback on whether there is any fishing activity.

Run through of unchanged sites/ conclusions and close

Marine Scotland ran through the remaining offshore sites, for which management measures have not changed since 2017. No questions or comments followed.

Marine Scotland asked stakeholders to share their thoughts about the West Shetland Shelf prior to Thursdays meetings if possible.

Marine Scotland thanked attendees for their time and input in today’s meetings discussions.

Close of meeting.

Back to top