CHAPTER 01 INTRODUCTION
Aim of Scotland's Marine Atlas
The first ' Marine Atlas' presents data spatially to assist with the introduction of marine planning. It does so based around the elements of the government's vision for the sea: clean and safe, healthy and biologically diverse and productive. The Atlas presents the assessment of condition and summary of significant pressures and the impacts of human activity required for the national marine plan. It also represents a contribution to the initial assessment required for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive ( MSFD) (1) by July 2012.
Area covered and scale of data
The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (2) and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (3) provide for marine planning of Scottish waters out to 200 nautical miles and give new marine conservation responsibilities. So this Atlas presents data over this whole area, including for policy areas which are reserved to Westminster, to ensure that policies developed in the national marine plan are informed by the fullest data possible. The Atlas refers to a variety of boundaries and spatial scales:
- 200 nautical miles - the maximum limit for fisheries and renewable energy powers. Marine planning and nature conservation powers can extend further.
- 12 nautical mile territorial sea - limit of Scotland as defined in the Scotland Act.
- 3 nautical miles - the limit to which Water Framework Directive measures have been implemented in Scotland.
Data can be aggregated to different scales for different purposes, so its presentation has to consider the purpose. This Atlas presents data at the most relevant scale available to illustrate the main issues for national marine planning.
There is provision for future marine plans to be developed for Scottish marine regions. These regions have yet to be decided. However, the 15 sea areas used in this Atlas, based on areas previously adopted for certain environmental monitoring programmes, are likely to be of a similar scale as marine regions.
The data from these 15 areas can be presented regionally and also reasonably aggregated to form a national picture and to develop information for the two main areas required for the MSFD initial assessment: the Greater North Sea (Area II) and the Celtic Seas (Area III) which are existing sea areas used by OSPAR (the Oslo Paris Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic) (4).
How this Atlas has been compiled
The Atlas has taken Scotland's Seas: Towards Understanding their State, published in 2008 (5), and developed its contents to provide a spatial assessment where possible. Much effort has been taken to map data sets and present graphs around them. It is recognised that there are some areas where this is not yet possible so the provision of spatial data suitable for marine planning will be an evolutionary process. A data annex available online, lists the various data sources used for this Atlas.
The preparation of the Atlas has been a collaborative effort. Marine Scotland led the work on chapters 2, 5 and 6, with SEPA in the lead for chapter 3 and SNH, with assistance from JNCC, leading chapter 4. Each contributor also developed the appropriate part of the overall assessment. A valuable contribution was also provided by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland ( MASTS) (6) to all work. The Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute; Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science; Countryside Council for Wales; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Environment Agency; National Oceanography Centre; Natural England and Northern Ireland Environment Agency all reviewed Atlas material.
A variety of data sources have been used. The key data sets are from the range of established monitoring programmes undertaken by the various contributing organisations for their main responsibilities, for example, to meet legal obligations. For much of the productive seas data, existing data from regularly published government statistics have been used. Most data have required somere-working to be presented at the level of the sea areas used.
Data used for Charting Progress 2 ( CP2) (7), published in July 2010, have also been heavily relied on here. CP2 was the second assessment of the UK seas and involved the same contributing Scottish scientists as this Atlas. This Atlas draws on the four CP2 Feeder Reports adding more detail where necessary and appropriate to map Scottish seas.
To make the Atlas easily accessible andto focus on portraying information spatially, the material has been restricted to summaries and short text, complimented by images and graphs. For many topics, further information is available from a variety of sources and these are referenced. Full references are available in an online annex.
The overall assessment
This is presented based around the elements of the vision for the seas. A red/orange/green traffic light approach has been used for the range of parameters assessed for 'clean and safe' and 'healthy and biologically diverse' seas. For 'productive' seas the amount of each activity per sea area is based on either value (where known) or amount of activity.
Responsibility for key marine policy areas
Ports and harbours
Mainly executively devolved
Oil and gas
Executively devolved - Scottish Government administers the activity but the Scottish Parliament has no powers to change the legislation.(*) Offshore is to the median line, 200 miles or further, where applicable
Scottish sea areas and Charting Progress 2 regions
OSPAR sea regions of the North East Atlantic
Facts about Scottish seas
Coastline length ( LW mark)*
Coastline length ( HW mark)*
in excess of 800
HW mark to territorial sea baseline (internal waters) (approx)
Territorial sea baseline to 12 nautical miles (Territorial waters) (approx)
12m limit to 200 nautical mile fishery limit (approx)
Total sea area inside 200 mile fishery limit (approx)
34,810 kms 2
53,638 kms 2
380,546 kms 2
468,994 kms 2
Total UK sea area to 200 mile limit
Scottish sea area as % of UK sea area
Scotland land area (to mean low water)
Sea area : land area ratio
764,678 kms 2
80,060 kms 2
5.85 : 1
Source: * Scottish Government - created from OS Boundary Line 2007 and OS Mastermap: coastline length at minimum scale 1:10,000. ** General Register Office for Scotland based on 2010 postcode data
Descriptors for determining GES under MSFD
Good environmental status ( GES) descriptor
with relevant information
(1) Biological diversity is maintained. The quality and occurrence of habitats and the distribution and abundance of species are in line with prevailing physiographic, geographic and climatic conditions
(2) Non-indigenous species introduced by human activities are at levels that do not adversely alter the ecosystems
(3) Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock
(4) All elements of the marine food webs, to the extent that they are known, occur at normal abundance and diversity and levels capable of ensuring the long-term abundance of the species and the retention of their full reproductive capacity
(5) Human-induced eutrophication is minimised, especially adverse effects thereof, such as losses in biodiversity, ecosystem degradation, harmful algal blooms and oxygen deficiency in bottom waters
(6) Sea floor integrity is at a level that ensures that the structure and functions of the ecosystems are safeguarded and benthic ecosystems, in particular, are not adversely affected
(7) Permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect marine ecosystems
(8) Concentrations of contaminants are at levels not giving rise to pollution effects
(9) Contaminants in fish and other seafood for human consumption do not exceed levels established by Community legislation or other relevant standards
(10) Properties and quantities of marine litter do not cause harm to the coastal and marine environment
(11) Introduction of energy, including underwater noise, is at levels that do not adversely affect the marine environment
Indicative list of characteristics, pressures and impacts in MSFD Annex III
Chapter with relevant information
Physical and chemical features
Other features (e.g. chemicals and specific characteristics)
Pressures and Impacts
Other physical disturbance
3, 4, 5
Interference with hydrological processes
3, 4, 5
Contamination by hazardous substances
3, 4, 5
Systematic and/or intentional release of substances
Nutrient and organic matter enrichment
3, 4, 5
3, 4, 5
Ecosystem goods and services
The concept of ecosystem goods and services is based around the cycle of events that link human societies and their wellbeing with the environment. The concept is an attempt to make apparent the value and importance of functioning ecosystems in providing essential support for human society.
The extent of the benefits received from ecosystems and the possible consequences of damaging them are slowly being understood, having been examined as part of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment(8).
Marine habitats and their diversity of organisms provide a range of ecosystem services and benefits of significant value to Scotland. The goods and benefits accrue both directly and indirectly to much of society. Well established benefits include:
provisions (P) - for example, food (fish, shellfish); genetic resources (used in aquaculture); industrial inputs (blue biotechnology, bio-catalysts, medicines); fertiliser and bio-fuels (from seaweed);
regulation (R) - for example, the reduction of climate stress (through carbon and other greenhouse gas regulation by the seas); flood and coastal protection; pollution regulation (through waste removal, breakdown and detoxification); disease and pest control; and
non material benefits (N) - for example, leisure and recreation opportunities; a focus for engagement with the natural environment; physical and mental health benefits; cultural heritage and learning experiences.
At the time of writing, a UKNational Ecosystem Assessment ( NEA) is being prepared (9) which will go some way to valuing ecosystem services including those provided by the marine environment. The link between ecosystem services, the goods they provide and the value to people is illustrated in the schematic diagram.
This Atlas provides an economic valuation of a range of productive uses of the sea and the value of some goods, for example, fish caught or farmed. It does not provide an analysis and valuation of ecosystem services.
Overall conceptual framework for the NEA showing the links between ecosystems, ecosystem services, goods, values, human wellbeing, change processes and scenarios (9)
Final ecosystem services and corresponding goods and benefits from the marine environment
Final ecosystem service
Goods and benefits
(P) Cultivated seaweeds, cultivated fish, wild caught fish
Food, energy, bio-energy, genetic resources, industrial inputs, fertiliser, recreation and tourism
(P) Kelp forests
Recreation and tourism, fertiliser and industrial feedstock
(R) Climate regulation
Avoidance of climate stress (greenhouse gases)
(R) Hazard regulation - vegetation and other habitats
Coastal protection, erosion protection, avoidance of climate stress
(R) Waste breakdown and detoxification
Pollution control, waste removal, waste degradation, human health, clean food
(P,R) Wild species diversity including microbes
Natural medicine, disease and pest control, genetic resources, wild food, blue biotechnology, recreation and tourism, aesthetics and inspiration, citizenship (responsibility for biodiversity)
(R) Purification(including water quality)
Clean water (for potable use via de-salination, industrial use, recreational use, aquarium use), clean sediments
(N) Places, (including coasts and waterscapes)
Spiritual / religious, cultural heritage, aesthetic / inspirational, security and freedom, neighbourhood development, enfranchisement / social and environmental citizenship
Contribute to physical and mental health and ecological knowledge
Valuing some marine ecosystem goods and services
Primary and intermediate processes
Final ecosystem services
Value of goods
Health and Well-being
(including input from other capital)
(Benefit to people)
(Benefit to people)
(Benefit to people)
Seaweed, cultivated fish
Waste breakdown and detoxification
Pollution control, waste removal
Avoidance of climate stress
Wild species diversity
Adapted from UK National Ecosystem Assessment (9)