Highly Protected Marine Areas: consultation

This consultation paper sets out the background, process, and rationale for Scottish Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMA), as well as containing the consultation questions.

1. Introduction and consultation overview

1.1. Introduction

The Scottish Government's vision for the marine environment is for clean, healthy, safe, productive and diverse seas, managed to meet the long term needs of nature and people. Through the Bute House Agreement, Scottish Ministers have committed to designate at least 10% of Scotland's seas as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) by 2026. These sites will provide high levels of protection by placing strict limits on some human activities, such as fishing and aquaculture, while allowing non-damaging recreational activities to take place at carefully managed levels.

This consultation is seeking views and comments on a number of key documents that propose how HPMAs will contribute to this vision.

1.2. Background Information

Scotland's seas are some of the most biologically diverse in Europe, supporting thousands of plant and animal species, across a wide variety of habitats. But we are facing twin biodiversity and climate crises and have to act now in order to support the recovery and resilience of our marine environment.

The Bute House Agreement states that HPMAs aim to: "provide protection from all extractive, destructive and depositional activities, including all fisheries, aquaculture and other infrastructure developments, while allowing other activities, such as tourism or recreational water activities, at non-damaging levels."

In collaboration with all sea users, the Scottish Government want to ensure the rich biological diversity of our seas is protected, enhanced and where appropriate restored, to ensure that our marine ecosystems continue to provide economic, social and wider benefits for people, industry and society.

1.3. Consultation overview

In this consultation, we are seeking views and comments on a number of key draft documents, to help inform and shape HPMA policy development:

1. Policy Framework - sets out the Scottish Government's proposed definition of HPMAs and what this could mean for different activities taking place in Scottish waters. It also describes how we will account for socio-economic factors alongside ecological considerations. The framework sets out policy objectives for sustainable industries, net zero targets and provides context to existing conservation measures. Additionally, the framework details our proposal to, through primary legislation, give Scottish Ministers the necessary powers to introduce HPMAs in Scottish inshore waters.

2. Site Selection Guidelines - drafted by our statutory nature conservation advisors, NatureScot and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The guidelines describe the proposed process for identifying and selecting HPMAs in Scottish waters.

3. Initial Sustainability Appraisal – Drafted by marine consultants ABPmer, the Sustainability Appraisal provides assessment of any cumulative impacts of the policy and is based upon the draft Policy Framework and Site Selection Guidelines. It comprises two parts: an initial Strategic Environmental Report which assesses the environmental impacts of the policy; and an initial Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) which identifies and assesses potential economic and social effects of the policy and proposes a methodology for carrying out the site specific SEIAs.

4. Partial Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) Screening Report - the partial ICIA screening report seeks to complete the first two stages of the ICIA process by identifying whether there are issues which merit further exploration. Consultation responses will be used to complete the screening report and determine whether a full ICIA is required once specific HPMA sites are proposed. We will engage with island representatives throughout the HPMA site selection and designation process.

5. Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) - the partial BRIA presents an initial assessment of the potential costs, benefits and risks of introducing HPMAs and their potential impacts on public, private or third sectors.


Email: HPMA@gov.scot

Back to top