Publication - Impact assessment

Planning Scotland's Seas: 2013 - Possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas Consultation Overview - Strategic Environmental Assessment Report

Published: 19 Aug 2013
Part of:
Marine and fisheries

This report summarises the findings from a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the possible Marine Protected Areas (pMPAs).

110 page PDF

3.3 MB

110 page PDF

3.3 MB

Planning Scotland's Seas: 2013 - Possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas Consultation Overview - Strategic Environmental Assessment Report
Appendix 1. Environmental Policy and Environmental Protection Objectives

110 page PDF

3.3 MB

Appendix 1. Environmental Policy and Environmental Protection Objectives

A1. Context For The Sea

Policy Framework

A.1 The Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 requires responsible authorities to identify the broader policy context and the environmental protection objectives relevant to the plan, programme or strategy that is being assessed. The policy context for the development of the proposals is described in Section 2 of this report; the following paragraphs set out the broader policy environment, in terms of relationships between the proposals and other plans, programmes or strategies ( PPS). Greater detail on the PPS policy context review and the environmental protection objectives is provided in this appendix.

Marine Policy

A.2 Marine policy includes international conventions, European Directives, and UK and Scottish strategy and law. The key policy messages relate to the need to balance competing interests and objectives within the marine environment within a strong protective framework. Protection of the marine environment includes managing marine transport, sustainable management of fish stocks, coastal protection and access within the context of sustainable economic growth.

Biodiversity, flora and fauna

A.3 The international context sets the framework for the conservation, protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, flora and fauna. In relation to the marine and coastal environment this includes planning for sustainable fisheries and mariculture, the protection of migratory species, including birds and fish stocks, protection of marine and coastal habitats, and management of non-native invasive species. Cetaceans and sharks are also highlighted as requiring specific protection from a range of marine activities including fishing and pollution.

A.4 There is strong emphasis on an ecosystems approach to managing and restoring marine and coastal environments. Protected sites as part of the Natura 2000 network also form a key component of the protection of fauna and flora. European and Scottish policy reflect the objectives of an eco-systems approach, action for priority species and habitats, with particular reference to the protection of seals and sustainable management of fish stocks. Building resilience to climate change is also a cross-cutting theme.

Climatic factors

A.5 The marine environment provides an important resource for achieving Scotland's renewable energy targets, which are required to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The policy framework also provides for reducing emissions from shipping and explores the actions required to understand the necessary adaptation responses within the marine environment.

Plan, Programme or Strategy Objectives
Marine Policy
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 ( UNCLOS) [49] Defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of natural resources. It enshrines the notion that all problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be addressed as a whole. Provides the framework for the establishment of territorial waters to 12 nautical miles.
European Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008 ( MSFD) [50] The MSFD is the most recent marine obligation on EU Member States. It extends the requirements of the Water Framework Directive ( WFD) into seas beyond 1nm. The MSFD requires Member States to "take necessary measures to achieve or maintain good environmental status in the marine environment by the year 2020 at the latest". Coastal waters are also covered by the directive, and the Directive sets out the requirement for member states to develop a marine strategy.
European Integrated Maritime Policy 2007 [51] Aims to deliver a sustainable development approach for Europe's oceans and seas. Its scope includes: a marine transport strategy and new ports policy; research and data collection and management strategies, and work to mitigate climate change and reduce the impact of and adapt to the effects of climate change on coastal regions. In relation to fisheries it aims to take action in relation to eliminating discards and destructive fishing practices and promote the development of an environmentally safe aquaculture industry.
EU Common Fisheries Policy Reform [52] (the reformed CAP will enter into force in 2013) The current reform of the Common Fisheries aims to improve fish stocks through sustainable fishing, support coastal communities, and improve governance and financing. The main points of the reform include:
  • fish stocks are to be brought to Maximum Sustainable Yield ( MSY) by 2015;
  • the establishment of long term multi- annual plans, based on the best available scientific advice;
  • a commitment to greater regionalisation;
  • to phase out all discarding by 2016 with fishermen obliged to land all they catch;
  • the introduction of Transferable Fishing Concessions, an EU wide, and rights based management scheme.
COUNCIL REGULATION ( EC) No 850/98 (as amended) for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms [53] This regulation is a set of measures aimed at ensuring the protection of fisheries resources by technical means, including fishing gear specifications, minimum fish landing sizes, catch composition rules, and establishing restricted fishing areas. There are also related transitional measures (see below) in Council Regulation ( EC) No 1288/2009.
The Commission's 2008 proposal for updating the measures underwent a number of structural changes but was not agreed, therefore a roll over set of transitional measures is in place until the end of 2012. The Commission plans a new proposal for permanent measures to be developed in step with the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy which should take shape during 2012
United Kingdom
Coast Protection Act 1949 (as amended by The Coast Protection (Notices) (Scotland) Regulations 1988 [54] and The Coast Protection (Notices) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1996) [55] Sets out the licensing and regulatory framework within which activities including navigation and flood defences are set. Aims to protect the coast from erosion and encroachment and to ensure safety in navigation. Excludes some tidal waters in Scotland. Local authorities which include coastline within their boundaries are designated as coastal protection authorities and given specific duties and powers to undertake coastal defence works where necessary.
Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 [56] The key issues covered by the Act comprise: the creation of a Marine Management Organisation ( MMO); planning in the marine area; licensing activities in the marine area; marine nature conservation; managing marine fisheries; reform of inland and migratory fisheries; modernisation and streamlining of enforcement powers; administrative penalties scheme for domestic fisheries offences; and access to coastal land.
Our seas - a shared resource - High level marine objectives for the UK [57] Sets out high level objectives for the UK marine environment. This includes achieving a sustainable marine economy, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society, living within environmental limits, promoting good governance and using sound science responsibly. Renewable energy is strongly supported by the strategy.
Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 [58] Provides a framework to manage activities with Scotland's marine environment in a sustainable way. Notes the importance of protecting seas whilst facilitating sustainable economic growth. Introduces a new statutory marine planning system, a simpler licensing system, improved marine nature and historic conservation with new powers to protect and manage areas of importance for marine wildlife, habitats and historic monuments; improved protection for seals and enforcement powers.
Biodiversity, Flora & Fauna
UN Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) [59] The three main objectives of the CBD are:
  • the conservation of biodiversity;
  • the sustainable use of biodiversity; and
  • the sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources (including by appropriate access to these resources).

Article 6 requires that all parties to the Convention develop national biodiversity strategies, plans or programmes, and that they seek to integrate the provisions of these across other policy sectors. Article 7 requires the identification of key resources and their protection. Monitoring of potentially damaging processes and activities should also be undertaken.

Two policy decisions came from the 1995 Conference of the Parties known as the Jakarta Mandate on marine and coastal biodiversity. Commitments include the development of a global system of marine and coastal protected areas, the establishment of and implementation of a global program of making fisheries and mariculture sustainable, blocking the pathways of invasions of alien species, increasing ecosystem resilience to climate change, and developing, encouraging, and enhancing implementation of wide-ranging integrated marine and coastal area management. [60]

Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals 1979 [61] Aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian species throughout their range through international co-operation.
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance 1971 (amended 1982/87) [62] Otherwise known as the Ramsar Convention, this emphasises the special value of wetland, particularly as a key habitat for waterfowl, and this includes estuaries, tidal flats and near shore marine areas. The Convention resulted in designation of sites for management, sustainable use and conservation.
Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic ( OSPAR Convention) (1992) [63] and Council Decision 2000/340/ EC of 8 May 2000 concerning the approval, on behalf of the Community, of the new Annex V to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic

The aim of the OSPAR Convention is to prevent and eliminate pollution and to protect the maritime area against the adverse effects of human activities. This Convention led to establishment of a cross-regional commission promoting an ecosystems approach to marine management, including establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas. Its five work areas are biodiversity and ecosystems, eutrophication, hazardous substances, offshore industry, and radioactive substances). Climate change is also a key cross-cutting theme. Also includes a Biological Diversity and Ecosystems Strategy.

The scope of the OSPAR Convention was limited to four main areas defined in four Annexes (on the prevention and elimination of pollution from land-based sources, by dumping or incineration, and from offshore sources, and on the assessment of the quality of the marine environment). A new Annex V was prepared, on the protection and conservation of the ecosystems and biological diversity of the maritime area. Under it, the Contracting Parties must adopt the necessary measures in order to protect and conserve the ecosystems and the biological diversity of the maritime area, and to restore, where practicable, maritime areas which have been adversely affected.

Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds 1995 ( AEWA) [64] An independent international treaty developed under the auspices of the UNEP/Convention on Migratory Species. The AEWA covers 255 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle, including species of divers, grebes, cormorants, herons, ducks, swans, geese, waders, gulls, and terns. An action plan [65] addresses issues including: species and habitat conservation, management of human activities, research, monitoring, education and implementation.
Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas 1992 ( ASCOBANS) [66] An agreement on the protection of small cetaceans, noting that the migratory nature of dolphins, porpoises and whales means that they can be vulnerable to a range of marine activities and issues including marine pollution and bycatch.
UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks 2001 [67] Sets out principles for the conservation and management of specified fish stocks and establishes that such management must be based on the precautionary approach and the best available scientific information. The Agreement elaborates on the fundamental principle, established in UNCLOS, that States should co-operate to ensure conservation and promote the objective of the optimum utilisation of fisheries resources both within and beyond the exclusive economic zone.
International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks 1999 and the UK Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks [68] The objective of the IPOA-SHARKS is to ensure the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use. Threats to sharks include fishing pressures, habitat loss, pollution, disturbance from eco-tourism, climate change and the fields produced by sub-sea electric cables. The objectives for national Shark Plans should include assessment of threats, ensuring sustainable catch through directed and non directed fisheries, and improved data gathering and monitoring. There are 25 species of sharks in Scottish waters, of which a high proportion are already or nearly at risk.
Council Directive 92/43/ EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive) [69] Established a commitment to designating networks of sites of ecological importance across Europe. These are known as Natura 2000 sites and include special protection areas ( SPAs designated under the Birds Directive - see following paragraph) and special areas of conservation ( SACs).
Council Directive 79/409/ EEC on the conservation of wild birds (the Birds Directive) [70] Protects all wild birds (together with their nests and eggs) and their associated habitats. Commitment to designation of SPAs (included in Natura 2000 sites - see preceding paragraph).
Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979) [71] Aims to ensure conservation and protection of wild plant and animal species and their natural habitats and to promote co-operation between European states to protect biodiversity. Implemented in UK law by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981 and as amended).
The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (1995) [72]

The Strategy aims to reverse the decline of landscape and biological diversity, by promoting innovation and proactive policy making. It supports preceding measures for protecting natural heritage, and aims to supplement this by further promoting a number of action themes relating to different environmental resources. The long-term objectives of the strategy are:

  • the establishment of a Pan-European Ecological Network to conserve ecosystems, habitats, species and landscapes that are of European importance;
  • the sustainable management and use of Europe's biodiversity;
  • integrating biodiversity conservation and sustainability into the activities of other sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, industry, transport and tourism;
  • improving information on and awareness of biodiversity and increasing public participation in conservation actions;
  • improving our understanding of the state of Europe's biodiversity; assuring that adequate funds are made available to implement the strategy.
Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 [73] The strategy has six main targets and 20 actions to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. The six targets cover:
  • Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity
  • Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure
  • More sustainable agriculture and forestry
  • Better management of fish stocks
  • Tighter controls on invasive alien species
  • A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss
United Kingdom
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 [74] Provides the framework for protection of species other than European Protected Species. Sets out protection objectives for specified birds and wild animals. The Act's various schedules detail the species that are protected under the Act, including dolphins, porpoises, and numerous birds such as geese and ducks. This was reviewed and updated in December 2008 and it was recommended that several further species of marine fish should be added to the lists attached to the Act, including shark, seahorse and ray species.
The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994 [75] Transposes the requirements for protection of designated sites under the Habitats and Birds Directives, and the framework for protection of European Protected Species. Applies within 12nm. Several marine species are protected by various development consenting regimes covered by the Act. This includes marine turtles, all species of dolphins, porpoise and whale, seals and several types of marine fish (Atlantic salmon, barbel etc.)
UK Biodiversity Action Plan 1994 ( UKBAP) (Since the creation of the UK BAP, devolution has led the four countries of the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to produce their own country biodiversity groups and country biodiversity strategies. In 2007, however, a shared vision for UK biodiversity conservation was adopted by the devolved administrations and the UK governments, and is described in 'Conserving Biodiversity - the UK Approach') [76] In response to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, this describes the UK's biological resources, commits a detailed plan for the protection of these resources. Sets out 1150 species and 65 habitats which are priorities for conservation action in the UK. The list was last updated in 2007 and includes 87 species in the marine group. Numerous habitats are also relevant to Scotland's marine environment, including several which are specific to coastal areas (salt marsh, sand dunes) or the marine environment (including machair, maerl beds, mud habitats in deep water, estuarine rocky habitats, blue mussel beds, carbonate mounds, tide swept channels, reefs, and intertidal mudflats).
Conserving Biodiversity - the UK Approach (2007) [77]

A framework document for biodiversity identifies six priorities for implementing biodiversity objectives within the integrating framework of an ecosystem approach:

  • protecting the best sites for wildlife;
  • targeting action on priority species and habitats;
  • embedding proper consideration of biodiversity and ecosystem services in all relevant sectors of policy and decision-making;
  • engaging people, and encouraging behaviour change;
  • developing and interpreting the evidence base;
  • ensuring that the UK plays a proactive role in influencing the development of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and contributes fully to their domestic delivery.
Nature Conservation (Scotland ) Act 2004 [78] Introduced a 'duty to further the conservation of biodiversity' for all public bodies, and sets out more specific provisions within this including for Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Also states a requirement for the preparation of a Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, to which all public bodies should pay regard. Applies to 12nm around Scotland and includes protection measures for marine species.
Scotland's Biodiversity - It's In Your Hands. A strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland (2004) (Scotland's Biodiversity Strategy is currently being reviewed and was consulted on in summer 2012) Sets out Scottish aims relating to biodiversity over 25 year period. Seeks to go beyond a previous emphasis on protecting individual sites to achieve conservation at a broader scale. Aims to halt loss and reverse decline of key species, to raise awareness of biodiversity value at a landscape or ecosystem scale, and to promote knowledge, understanding and involvement amongst people. The Strategy notes the importance and health of Scotland's ecosystems, and summarises key trends.
The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (the Act) repealed the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 on 31 st January 2011 [79] . On 31 January 2011, Part 6 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force.
Part 6 seeks to balance seal conservation with sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and its introduction means:
It is an offence to kill or injure a seal except under licence or for welfare reasons, outlawing unregulated seal shooting that was permitted under previous legislation
A number of seal conservation areas around Scotland will begin to be introduced, designed to protect vulnerable, declining common seal populations
A new seal licensing system, providing a well regulated and monitored context for seal management in Scotland has been introduced.
A Strategy for Marine Nature Conservation in Scotland's Seas The strategy sets out aims and objectives for protecting and, where appropriate, enhancing valuable marine biodiversity in the marine area where Scottish Ministers have devolved responsibility (Scottish territorial waters and the Scottish offshore region). The strategy is designed to facilitate co-operation in pursuit of shared marine objectives in the UK and to meet national and international obligations. These include the achievement of Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD).
Climatic Factors
Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 [80] The Climate Change (Scotland) Act includes a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 80% by 2050 and an interim target of 42% by 2020. Proposals include setting of targets for 2050 and interim periods, requirement for annual reporting, and provisions for meeting targets through additional policies and legislation. The targets include emissions from the aviation and shipping sectors. .
Climate Change Delivery Plan: meeting Scotland's statutory climate change targets (2009) [81] Sets out the measures required to meet Scotland's targets for climate change mitigation included in the Act (above). Includes commitments to the development of the renewable energy sector, including marine renewables. Also aims to reduce emissions from aviation and shipping. Further reductions could arise from the use of biofuels in shipping and improved energy efficiency measures, but interventions will be required to achieve this. Notes that shipping can be an efficient mode of freight transport, despite the recorded emissions from the sector.
Climate Change Sector Adaptation Action Plan: Marine and Fisheries (2011) [82] Sets out a number of objectives including raising awareness of climate change to the wider marine stakeholder community (through the Marine Strategy Forum). Also aims to build evidence to support future adaptation action and build further policies that respond to impacts.