Publication - Consultation analysis

Planning Scotland's Seas: Possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas. Consultation Analysis Report

Published: 2 May 2014
Part of:
Marine and fisheries
ISBN:
9781784124199

Planning Scotland’s Seas: Possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas was published for consultation in July 2013. It set out proposals for a number of new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Independent analysis of written consultation responses was

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117 page PDF

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Contents
Planning Scotland's Seas: Possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas. Consultation Analysis Report
6 Choices

117 page PDF

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6 Choices

6.1 For certain features there are options and alternatives to represent them in the network. The consultation seeks views on choices for:

  • Offshore subtidal sands and gravels, ocean quahog and shelf banks and mounds in OSPAR Region II
  • Burrowed mud feature in the Fladens
  • Offshore subtidal sands and gravels, offshore deep sea mud, and burrowed mud in OSPAR Regions III and V

Offshore subtidal sands and gravels, ocean quahog and shelf banks and mounds

6.2 The choices as to the representation of the Offshore subtidal sands and gravels, ocean quahog and shelf banks and mounds in OSPAR Region II are:

  • Firth of Forth Banks Complex
  • Turbot bank and Norwegian Boundary Sedimentary Plain
  • Firth of Forth Banks Complex, Turbot bank and Norwegian Boundary Sedimentary Plain

6.3 Twenty-six respondents stated a preference (10 individuals and 16 organisations, mainly from the environment/conservation group). The majority of these standard responses (20 respondents) included support for the Firth of Forth Banks option. As described in Chapter 1, six campaign plus respondents also supported the Firth of Forth Banks Complex. In total 6,503 respondents included support for the Firth of Forth Banks Complex in their submission.

6.4 Three respondents supported an alternative; one recreation/ tourism and two energy respondents supported the Turbot bank and Norwegian Boundary Sedimentary Plain option.

6.5 Two individuals and an environment/conservation respondents supported the option of the Firth of Forth Banks Complex, Turbot bank and Norwegian Boundary Sedimentary Plain, although their subsequent comments indicated support for the Firth of Forth Banks Complex.

6.6 The table below shows the numbers supporting the Firth of Forth Banks Complex.

Table 6.1

Number supporting the Firth of Forth Banks Complex option

Number supporting

The Firth of Forth is the most important site on our coastline for sandeels, which are an essential source of food for Scotland's seabirds. This site must be protected and so should others like it [and variations] (seabird campaigns)

1,626

The Firth of Forth Banks MPA proposal must go forward to best represent offshore subtidal sands and gravels, ocean quahog and shelf banks and mounds in the southern North Sea in line with JNCC advice. The other choices presented do not make the same contribution to wider North Sea ecosystem function, are not ecologically equivalent and therefore are not acceptable alternatives. Sandeels and seabirds should also be protected features at Firth of Forth Banks. (network campaign)

2,615

Evidence suggests that the features within the Firth of Forth Banks Complex are of functional significance to the overall health and diversity of Scotland's seas more widely. The Firth of Forth Banks MPA therefore must be designated, because it is JNCC's preferred proposal and the suggested alternatives to the site do not make equivalent contributions to the network. (network campaign)

662

The Firth of Forth Banks is unique and must be designated as a Nature Conservation MPA. The scientific advice clearly recommends the designation of this site over the alternative proposal of Turbot Bank and Norwegian Sediment Plain. (network campaign)

1,526

Campaign plus responses

48

Standard responses

26

Total

6,503

6.7 The main reason for supporting the Firth of Forth Banks Complex was the importance of the area for sandeel habitats. There were calls for sandeels and seabirds to be added as protected features in this area. Several respondents commented that the alternatives would not constitute an ecologically equivalent contribution to the network. There were also several comments that it best represents offshore subtidal sands and gravels, ocean quahog and shelf banks and mounds in the southern North Sea.

6.8 Comments on designation centred mainly around the need to protect seabirds and sandeels with a small number commenting on the importance of other suggested protected features for the area, including ocean quahog aggregations, offshore subtidal sands and gravels, harbour seals, minke whales, harbour porpoises and dolphins .

6.9 A small number of respondents voiced support for the conserve objective for all protected features in the Firth of Forth Banks Complex.

6.10 An energy respondent commented that designating the Norwegian Boundary Sedimentary Plain could lead to conflict with the oil and gas industry and a public sector respondent made a similar point. Respondents also mentioned a number of assets in this area including a telecoms cable, oil and gas pipelines and potential carbon storage sites.

6.11 The two energy respondents who favoured the Turbot Bank and Norwegian Boundary Sedimentary Plain option had concerns about an overlap of the Firth of Forth Banks with the Firth of Forth Round 3 Zone and the development of offshore wind capacity; one said they had made significant investment in "responsible development of projects in the Zone".

6.12 Other comments on socioeconomic aspects included a small number commenting that while the Firth of Forth Banks Complex option has a higher displacement cost than the Turbot Bank and Norwegian Boundary Sediment Plain option, the Firth of Forth Banks Complex is of far greater ecological significance relative to the other two.

6.13 Energy respondents had concerns that "the evaluation of potential Offshore Wind projects, and the quantification of potential development cost impacts from designation of p MPAs, is inadequate and incomplete. A very specific value is given to the MPA network based on a very subjective assumption, whereas the value of renewables projects are described as uncertain."

Summary - Offshore subtidal sands and gravels, ocean quahog and shelf banks and mounds

There was a large support for the Firth of Forth Banks Complex. The main reasons for this support were the importance of the area for sandeel habitats and that the alternatives would not constitute an ecologically equivalent contribution to the network.

Burrowed mud feature in the Fladens

6.14 The choices for representation of the burrowed mud feature in the Fladens are:

  • Central Fladen p MPA only
  • The tall sea-pen component of Central Fladen, plus Western Fladen
  • The tall sea-pen component of Central Fladen, plus South-East Fladen.

6.15 Eight respondents submitted a preference (five from environment/conservation and one each from energy, public sector and recreation/ tourism). Seven of these respondents supported the Central Fladen p MPA only option; the recreation/ tourism respondent favoured the Tall sea-pen component of Central Fladen, plus South-East Fladen and did not give a reason for this support.

Table 6.2

Number supporting the Central Fladen p MPA only option

Number supporting

Core Central Fladen must be protected in line with scientific advice and I support the 'Central Fladen p MPA only' option to be included in the network. This would be the most ecologically coherent option, providing scope for tall sea pen recovery beyond what may be a remnant population in 'core' Central Fladen. (network campaign)

2,615

Campaign plus responses

6

Standard responses

7

Total

2,628

6.16 As described in Chapter 2, one campaign text included support for the Central Fladen p MPA only option; this text was submitted by 2,615 respondents while 6 standard respondents submitted a campaign plus [4] response based on this text.

6.17 Respondents supported this option as they saw it as the best way to protect, and possibly expand, the tall sea pen population component of the burrowed mud MPA search feature. Most environment/conservation respondents who commented wanted to see the objective for this feature set as recover rather than conserve; one supported conserve.

6.18 A small number noted that the cost of managing damaging commercial fisheries and oil and gas sector activities is lower in this option than in the others.

Summary - Burrowed mud feature in the Fladens

There was a large support for the Central Fladen only option

Respondents felt this would be the best way to protect the tall sea pen population.

Offshore subtidal sands and gravels, offshore deep sea mud, and burrowed mud

6.19 The choices for representation of the offshore subtidal sands and gravels, offshore deep sea mud, and burrowed mud in OSPAR Regions III and V are:

  • South-West Sula Sgeir and Hebridean slope
  • Geikie slide and Hebridean slope

6.20 Four environment/conservation respondents and one from recreation/ tourism stated a preference at this question. The environment/conservation respondents supported the Geikie slide and Hebridean slope option, while the recreation/ tourism respondent favoured the South-West Sula Sgeir and Hebridean slope option but did not give a reason.

6.21 The environment/conservation respondents gave similar reasons for the support of the Geikie slide and Hebridean slope option, saying that "it offers the most significant representation of northwest continental shelf slope species and communities, such as burrowed mud, offshore deep sea muds and offshore subtidal sands and gravels." In addition, there were comments that this area has greater sighting records for whales and dolphins than the alternative area.

6.22 In terms of socioeconomic impacts, respondents commented that the costs of restricting damaging activities will be outweighed by ecological benefits.

Summary - Offshore subtidal sands and gravels, offshore deep sea mud, and burrowed mud

A very small number commented; most supported the Geikie slide and Hebridean slope option.


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