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SEA and Network Assessment consultation for Special Protection Areas launched

Consultation on the Screening and Scoping report for Priorrity Marine Features launched

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Scotland has some of the most beautiful and diverse marine ecosystems in the world. Marine Scotland is committed to protecting and enhancing these amazing ecosystems to ensure they are safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.

Protected areas are one of the mechanisms used to ensure protection of some of the most vulnerable species and habitats.  

The Scottish MPA network covers approximately 20% of our seas and comprises:

  • 31 nature conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 or the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, protecting habitats and species such as maerl beds, coral gardens, and common skate.

  • 1 Demonstration and Research MPA around Fair Isle. This will investigate the factors affecting seabird populations on Fair Isle and demonstrate the socio-economic benefits of the marine environment and the additional benefits that MPA designation can bring to the community.

  • 8 Historic MPAs to preserve sites of historical importance around the Scottish coast. The most recent HMPA was designated on 09 November 2016 to protect the wreck of the Iona I paddle steamer in the Firth of Clyde.

  • 48 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) under the EU Habitats Directive to protect species and habitats such as bottlenose dolphin, coral reefs and seals. The Inner Hebrides and the Minches SAC was designated on 22 September 2016 to protect harbour porpoise, and is the second largest in Europe for the species, protecting over 5,000 animals.

  • 45 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the EU Wild Birds Directive to protect a range of vulnerable or migratory bird species such as puffins and kittiwakes.

  • 61 Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the further protection of species from seabirds and seals, to habitats from sea caves and rocky shores.

Below are links to information on the different topics relating to the Scottish protected areas network.


Nature Conservation MPAs


Information about:

Inshore MPAs/SACs

Offshore MPAs/SACs


Information about:





Information about:

Historic MPAs

Demonstration & Research MPAs

Map of scotland

Information about:


Harbour Porpoise SACs

Harbour porpoise

Information about:


Aquaculture Bill

Archive documents and related links to the work on:



Contact details for all Marine Scotland offices