Principle of Best Available Evidence
The best available scientific evidence has been used to identify proposals for Nature Conservation MPAs in Scotland's seas. What constitutes 'best available data' varies by feature and by Nature Conservation MPA proposal, and is likely to be more detailed for areas closer to the coast than for offshore areas. The age, the source, and the type of data and its coverage will all contribute to an evaluation of data quality. At the start of the project SNH, JNCC and Marine Scotland identified the following principles for using evidence
1 We will use the best available evidence.
2 We will seek evidence from stakeholders, including users, of areas being considered as Nature Conservation MPAs and we will build on their knowledge where possible.
3 For some sites the requirement for detailed evidence could increase through the process, from selecting Nature Conservation MPAs to designation and management.
4 The level of evidence required to progress search locations to MPA proposals will vary depending on the nature of the search location and the features it supports.
5 More detailed data will be required for those features being used to delineate the boundary of a MPA.
6 The achievement of conservation objectives for protected features of Nature Conservation MPAs will be assessed through the implementation of a monitoring and surveillance strategy.
7 We will make our evidence available to others so as to ensure as much transparency as possible and maintain public confidence.
8 All evidence used to support Nature Conservation MPA selection will be subject to quality review before being incorporated into GeMS  (the Scottish MPA Project geodatabase).
9 We will use independent expert review at intervals during the project to examine the quality of the evidence and the scientific integrity of our gathering, synthesis and interpretation of evidence.
10 We will routinely publish background material and consultants' reports, to show how evidence has been gathered, analysed and applied
The advice from SNH and JNCC on whether the guidelines have been met for each MPA search feature, and the evidence that was used to support these assessments, will be in the Detailed Assessment against the MPA Selection Guidelines and the Data Confidence Assessment documents that are being produced for each MPA proposal. The Data Confidence Assessments will also provide a description and an evaluation of the type, age, source and extent of evidence used to support each of the Nature Conservation MPA proposals.
SNH and JNCC used the best available evidence and supporting guidance on MPA search features, applying expert judgement when assessing the MPA proposals against the MPA Selection Guidelines.
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