Loch Sween is a complex west coast sea loch with a number of arms extending from a single large basin. It is designated for burrowed mud, maerl beds, native oysters, and sublittoral mud and mixed sediment communities.
The tidal narrows at Taynish and Caol Scotnish provide the perfect environment for maerl beds. Maerl is a free-living, calcareous red seaweed. There are two types found in Scottish waters and both types occur in Loch Sween. The branched structure of the maerl creates a complex habitat in which many other species such as feather stars, scallops, sponges, crabs and fish can shelter. The rapids also support luxuriant stands of seaweeds interspersed amongst the maerl.
Tidal movement through the main body of the loch and the narrow arms creates a variety of different physical conditions in which a diversity of habitats thrive. Here large green volcano worms live in burrows, as well as nephrops, shrimps, worms and burrowing gobies.
The current conservation objective is to conserve the protected features of this MPA.
More detail on the designation is available from the SNH website.
The final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment for this MPA is available to view.