The aim of this project was to carry out a scientific review of the evidence and recommendations made by Scotland’s Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies that underpin the proposed Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (pMPAs) in Scottish offshore and territorial waters. This included:
- an assessment of individual site recommendations
- an assessment of the sites taken together as an ecologically coherent network
The specific protocol involved a review of the relevant documents in conjunction with the available evidence, following the assessment process undertaken by SNH and JNCC, to ensure that the guidelines on the selection of MPAs have been appropriately applied, that decisions and recommendations made are supported by scientifically robust evidence that is presented transparently, and that any data limitations have been highlighted:
- Detailed Assessment Against the MPA Guidelines
- Data Confidence Assessments
Summary of Findings
Overall, the reviewers agreed with the proposed sites for designation for all sites based on the quality and use of evidence as well as based on the assessments of the MPA selection guidelines. The templates used for the assessments against the MPA guidelines and the data confidence assessments were easy to follow. The data provided for the presence and extent of features was suitable and clearly described in the data confidence assessments. There were, however, some parts of the assessments that needed to be addressed by SNH and/or JNCC prior to finalisation of the documents to be taken forward in the proposals to Scottish Government that were highlighted in the individual site reviews, and SNH and JNCC have since updated these assessments accordingly.
The reviewers also, overall, agreed with the replication and representation of the features within the proposed network and consider that the information provided does suggest the network is coherent in terms of Scottish seas. Although it is not possible to develop an opinion before the UK MPA network is more complete, it is expected that the proposed Scottish MPA network could also provide an appropriate contribution to the UK MPA network. Exceptions to these have been highlighted in the review.
For further information and guidance from SNH and JNCC on Marine Protected Areas please use the links below: