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marine environment

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Wider MPA Network

The Scottish MPA network has been developed using scientific guidelines based on the same OSPAR principles as the rest of the UK and neighbouring countries. Marine Scotland's scientific advisers and the independent review consider these recommendations to provide an appropriate contribution to the UK and OSPAR networks. The review also agreed with the replication and representation of the habitats and species within the proposed network.

Both Marine Scotland and the independent review consider that the advice provided by SNH and JNCC suggests that the Scottish network is coherent. This conclusion recognises that further work is necessary to complete the network for highly mobile species such as basking shark, minke whale and Risso’s dolphin, and this work is currently under way. In addition, Marine Scotland is confident that the work being done to identify the last SPA sites for seabirds will complete the wider marine protected areas network.

What is Meant by the Wider MPA Network?

Today every type of protected area has a different name; from the SACs and SPAs, to the new MPAs we are working on now. The aim is that once we have completed a well-managed network, every site in Scotland offering some sort of spatial protection to species, habitats or geology, be it an SAC, SPA or SSSI or Nature Conservation MPA, will be known collectively as the MPA network. The legislative and management requirements of each type of designation will not change under this collective term; the collective MPA network will serve to facilitate our work with UK administrations and the rest of contracting parties to develop an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas for the north-east Atlantic under the OSPAR convention.

At present the network already consists of a number of existing protected areas in our seas. These range from:

  • 45 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for colonies of seabirds such as puffins and kittiwakes
  • 47 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for species and habitats such as bottlenose dolphin, coral reefs and seals (one of these, Hatton Bank for reefs, is the largest in Europe)
  • 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