Report to the Scottish Parliament on Progress to Identify a Scottish Network of Marine Protected Areas

This reports on which sites are currently included in the MPA network and outlines progress on Nature Conservation MPAs, Historic MPAs, and Demonstration and Research MPAs.

What is a Marine Protected Area ( MPA) Network?

A Marine Protected Area network is designed to conserve a scientific selection of both marine biodiversity (species and habitats) and geodiversity (the variety of landforms and natural processes that underpin the marine landscapes), offering long-term support for the services our seas provide to society.

We are developing Nature Conservation MPAs in Scotland to either protect a range of biodiversity or geodiversity features in their current state for the future, or to allow them the space from human activity to recover to the state they should be to remain healthy and productive. The benefits our seas provide are not limited to the environment; MPAs can also add to the protection of Scotland's outstanding marine cultural heritage through Historic MPAs.

In Scotland there are already many existing protected areas in our seas. These range from Special Protection Areas ( SPAs) for seabirds such as puffins and kittiwakes, Special Areas of Conservation ( SACs) for features such as bottlenose dolphin, coral reefs and seals, and Sites of Specific Scientific Interest ( SSSI) for the further protection of seabirds and seals to sea caves and rocky shores.

Nature Conservation MPAs are being identified for features (the collective term for species, habitats and geology we are looking to protect in the MPA network)that we believe require more protection than what is offered by existing protected areas.

At the moment every type of protected area has a different name; from the SACs and SPAs, to the new MPAs we are working on now. The aim is once we have completed a well managed MPA network, every site in Scotland offering some sort of spatial protection to species, habitats or geology, be it an SAC, SPA or SSSI or Nature Conservation MPA, will be known as an MPA, and collectively as the MPA network.


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