The purpose of MPAs is to safeguard nationally important species, habitats and geology across Scotland's marine environment. Correctly identifying critical areas for mobile species is more challenging than for low mobility or static features. Following the designation of 31 MPAs since 2014, Scottish Natural Heritage (hereafter referred to by its operating name "NatureScot") have undertaken additional surveys and research to provide advice on four additional locations. By adding more MPAs to the Scottish MPA network, we can improve the status of the marine environment by protecting a wider range of features. It also enable greater compliance with a range of national and international commitments as stipulated by:
- the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010
- the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009
- the Convention on Biological Diversity
- The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the OSPAR Convention)
- the EU Marine Strategy Framework, and Wild Birds and Habitats Directives
The Sea of the Hebrides site has been identified for designation as an MPA due to the confirmed presence of biodiversity features detailed above.
Evidence in this BRIA is drawn from the work of statutory nature conservation body NatureScot and consultants ABPmer and eftec. It brings together the science-led arguments for management and the projected potential social and economic consequences of such action. This BRIA examines the socio-economic effects of designating the Sea of the Hebrides as an MPA. The socio-economic effects of introducing specific management measures in the site are not considered here; once finalised, the introduction of any specific management measures will be accompanied by their own assessment.
The appraisal period for assessing the socioeconomic impacts covers the 20 year period from 2019 to 2038, although benefits will be delivered for longer if effective management measures remain in place. As with any socio-economic assessment related to environmental designations, the findings should be considered as estimates, and in cases where greater uncertainty exists, such as for fisheries, are deliberately presented as worst-case scenarios to build in necessary caution into each scenario.
In addition, a range of scenarios are presented to account for the inherent uncertainty associated with such proposals. Lower, intermediate and upper scenarios have been developed to reflect the requirements for management measures, the spatial extent of features and the extent to which features are already afforded protection. The intermediate scenario is viewed as the most representative estimate. The estimated impacts across the three scenarios commonly vary quite significantly.
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