Red Rocks and Longay MPA
Flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius) was historically abundant in the north-east Atlantic and widely distributed in the seas surrounding the British Isles, however its range has reduced significantly and catch rates declined throughout the 20th century. It now only occurs in the northern North Sea, off Northern Ireland's north-east coast and off Scotland's north-west coast. Part of the common skate complex (along with blue skate), they are on the OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining Species and Habitats List and the list of Priority Marine Features. Furthermore they are considered 'Critically Endangered' globally and in European waters by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Dive surveys by members of the public identified over 100 flapper skate eggs in the Inner Sound of Skye in 2020 following their initial identification by commercial scallop divers. Marine Scotland obtained advice from NatureScot to understand the conservation requirements of the flapper skate eggs, and input from stakeholders to understand areas of economic importance and views about the extent of the site boundary, and designated an MPA urgently in March 2021.
Following further surveys to gather evidence for the permanent site in August and September 2021, a significant number of flapper skate eggs were discovered north of the original site. Scottish Ministers determined there was a need to urgently extend the boundary of the urgently designated Red Rocks and Longay MPA in the interim. The MPA was extended in December 2021.
An urgently designated MPA can only be in place for a maximum of two years so this consultation is being undertaken to inform the permanent designation of the site. Figure 2 shows the proposed permanent site boundary which is the extended boundary put in place in December 2021.
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