1.1 The Scottish Government is committed to a clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse marine and coastal environment that meets the long term needs of its people and natural assets. In order to meet this commitment, Scotland's seas must be managed in a sustainable manner that balances the competing demands on marine resources and space. The biological and geological diversity within Scottish waters must be protected to ensure that the future marine ecosystem is capable of providing the economic and social benefits that it yields today.
1.2 The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 call for the designation of Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas ( MPAs) in Scottish waters, to protect marine biodiversity and geodiversity and to contribute to a UK and international network of MPAs. This will contribute towards achieving Good Environmental Status ( GES) under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) and deliver Scotland's contribution to the ecologically coherent network of MPAs under the OSPAR convention on the protection of the marine environment in the North East Atlantic.
1.3 Work to satisfy these requirements has been underway since 2010. The Scottish Government received advice from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee ( JNCC) and Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) on 33 MPA proposals and four search locations in December 2012. SNH and JNCC have advised that between 29 and 33 of these locations should be included in the network.
1.4 The Scottish Government is proposing that these original 33 MPA proposals now be considered, through public consultation, as possible Marine Protected Areas (pMPAs) for designation to supplement existing protected areas for marine species and habitats, and to create a wider network of Marine Protected Areas  . The pMPAs are located in both Scottish territorial waters (0-12 nautical miles) and offshore waters (12-200 nautical miles) (Figure 1).
1.5 The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (Schedule 6 s10) requires marine planning authorities to " carry out an appraisal of the sustainability of its proposals for inclusion in the plan". Whilst this applies to the statutory marine planning undertaken through the National Marine Plan process, the possible MPAs have also been subject to a Sustainability Appraisal ( SA) for consistency in approach  .
1.6 The possible MPAs have been subject to strategic environmental assessment ( SEA) under the Environment Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. Given that the possible MPAs are located in both Scottish territorial and offshore waters, it was decided that (on a voluntary basis) the SEA should also meet the requirements of The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004.
1.7 A socio-economic assessment of the possible MPAs has been undertaken, both of the individual pMPAs and of the suite of pMPAs as a whole. This assessment was commissioned by Marine Scotland and undertaken by ABPMer and eftec.
1.8 A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA) has been undertaken to review the site-specific socio-economic impacts for each pMPA where the decision is either to designate or not to designate. A BRIA has also been undertaken for each of the sets of sites deemed to make an equal ecological contribution, or to be science-based alternatives. The BRIAs have drawn on the socio-economic assessments of the individual pMPAs
1.9 The SEA and the socio-economic assessment have been combined to provide an overall sustainability appraisal ( SA) of the pMPAs, to accompany the possible MPA consultation document. The inputs from the SEA constitute the "environment" sections of the SA. The socio-economic assessment has informed the "population and health" and "economy and other marine users" sections of the SA. The focus has been on the overall effects of the suite of pMPAs.
1.10 The purpose of this report is to document the findings of the SA. The inputs from the SEA constitute the 'environment' sections of the SA. The socio-economic assessment has informed the 'people and health' and 'economy and other marine users' sections of this SA. The Environmental Report, BRIAs and socio-economic assessment reports are available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/marine-consultation.
1.11 The views of the public, the Consultation Authorities and the Consultation Bodies on the possible MPAs and the findings of this SA Report are now being sought.
1.12 The remainder of this report is structured as follows:
- Section 2 provides information on the possible MPAs.
- Section 3 discusses the approach to the SA and the methods used.
- Section 4 sets out the results of the SA.
- Section 5 considers the next steps.