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Priority Marine Features

In 2014, 81 Priority Marine Features (PMFs) were identified in the seas around Scotland. The list, which are are a variety of habitats and species that are a priority for conservation in Scotland’s seas, was developed by Marine Scotland, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and you can read more about Priority Marine Features online.

While many of these are protected through the existing network of Marine Protected Areas, others occur outside these areas. Marine Scotland is now looking to see whether protection is needed for the most vulnerable PMFs in Scottish inshore waters (within 6 nautical miles from shore), including whether management measures might be needed to ensure that development and use of the marine environment does not have a significant effect on their national status. 

We have therefore commissioned a Sustainability Appraisal, which looks at proposed measures for the 11 most vulnerable features and assesses the potential positive and negative effects from both an environmental and socio-economic perspective. 

The 11 PMFs identified are:

  • Blue mussel beds

  • Cold water coral reefs

  • Fan mussel aggregations

  • Flame shell beds

  • Horse mussel beds

  • Maerl beds

  • Maerl or coarse shell gravel with burrowing sea cucumbers

  • Native oysters

  • Northern sea fan and sponge communities

  • Seagrass beds

  • Serpulid aggregations

This work is at an early stage, and a consultation on the Screening and Scoping report – setting out what options will be assessed and the evidence that will be used – was launched on 5 July 2018.  This is open to anyone who wishes to comment on this stage of the work, and is accessible on the Scottish Government online Consultation Hub, along with all the supporting information. 

This will be followed by the more detailed assessment work for the Sustainability Appraisal and further public consultation towards the end of 2018.

Marine Scotland is also undertaking discussions with key stakeholders during the development of the measures and assessments. The notes of these discussions are available on the left hand side of this web page, and will be updated as and when these are complete.

We will also be consulting on potential management measures in Marine Protected Areas in our inshore waters. More information on this can be found on those webpages.