Chapter 6: Progress towards "our coastal and marine environment being valued, enjoyed, protected and enhanced and having increased resilience to climate change"
Scottish waters are a special place for marine habitats and wildlife thanks to the unique combination of our position at the edge of the European continental shelf, Scotland's long coastline and large area of sea. and the mixing of warm Gulf Stream currents and cold currents. Coastal habitats including sand dunes, cliffs, saltmarsh and saline lagoons are also a very big part of the Scottish landscape.
Scotland's coastal waters are in good ecological condition. Targets to designate ten per cent of coastal waters as protected areas have already been met. However, as climate change increases pressures on our coastal and marine environments, it is important that we keep working to protect and support these areas in order to protect this good ecological status and the ecosystem services which depend upon it.
Examples of progress on policies in support of this outcome
Scotland's Marine Atlas - Through the work of Scotland's Seas Data and Assessment Group, the Scottish Marine Assessment 2020 has made considerable progress in the development of a wide range of assessments reporting on Scotland's vision for the seas. The external peer review process is currently underway and the final outputs are intended to launch later in 2020.
Dynamic Coast 2 - This project, which is expected to be launched in late 2020, will consider the impacts of future erosion along our coastline, taking sea level rise forecasts into consideration. It will then identify lengths of coastline most likely to be impacted by climate change, the assets at risk, assets being protected by nature and identify adaptation strategies at seven super sites.
Monitoring Climate Change Impacts in Scottish Seas - To help inform future policy development, Marine Scotland gathers data on the impact climate change is having within Scottish seas. This includes data from the Scottish Coastal Observatory (a network of coastal monitoring sites where measurements are made by Marine Scotland and volunteers). These data are currently undergoing quality assurance prior to publication by autumn 2020. Physical conditions in Scottish waters further away from the shore are measured by ship-based surveys. The time series of key indicators based on these surveys has been submitted for inclusion in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Report on Ocean Climate, due for publication in September 2020.
Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) - MCCIP is a partnership of UK governmental and academic organisations that compile and publish assessments of climate change and climate change impacts in UK marine waters, as well as providing climate adaptation advice through its Climate Smart Adaptation initiative. The latest MCCIP product is the Marine Climate Change Impacts Report Card 2020, which summarises the latest evidence from 26 topics regarding the physical, ecological, social and economic impacts of climate change on UK coasts and seas, both current and future, based on latest climate change projections. The key headlines of the 2020 report include evidence that warming seas, reduced oxygen, ocean acidification and sea level rise are already affecting UK coasts and seas. Increasingly, these changes are having an impact on food webs, with effects seen in seabed-dwelling species, as well as plankton, fish, birds and mammals.
Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Network - In order to comply with national, European, and international obligations there is now an extensive MPA network which covers 22 per cent of Scotland's seas. The network has evolved over the last 25 years and work continues to complete site designations, implement management measures and deliver a monitoring programme. Preparatory actions to designate four additional MPAs for mobile species, Special Protection Areas for Seabirds and the West of Scotland Deep Sea Marine Reserve are all nearing completion. Management measures for phase two inshore MPAs and Priority Marine Features outside of MPAs, including blue carbon habitats, are also currently being developed and will go out to public consultation in due course.
Crown Estate Scotland - In April 2020, Crown Estate Scotland published their Corporate Plan for 2020-2023 which includes climate change adaptation (and mitigation) as an investment criterion.
How the Adaptation Scotland programme is supporting this outcome
The Adaptation Scotland programme is represented on the steering groups for the Dynamic Coast project and the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership.
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