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marine environment

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Possible Marine Protected Area Consultation 2019

The following four possible MPAs (pMPAs) are currently out for consultation until 30 August 2019. Scottish Natural Heritage have provided advice to Scottish Ministers on the MPA proposals in order to complete the MPA network. These sites, in addition to the 31 Nature Conservation MPAs already designated, will fulfil Scottish Ministers duties under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, as well as furthering our contribution as part of the UK network to the OSPAR North-east Atlantic MPA network. You can visit the links below to find out more information about each site.

We are inviting responses to the consultation at the Scottish Government consultation hub, where you will be able to  view the consultation documents and for details on how to respond. 

Site Name

Proposed protected feature

Draft conservation objectives

North-east Lewis

Biodiversity: Risso’s dolphins; sandeels


Geodiversity: marine geomorphology of the Scottish shelf bed (longitudinal bedform field); Quaternary of Scotland (glaciated channels/troughs, landscape of areal glacial scour, megascale glacial lineations)

Sea of the Hebrides

Biodiversity: basking sharks; minke whales; fronts


Geodiversity: marine geomorphology of the Scottish shelf seabed (Inner Hebrides Carbonate Production Area)

Shiant East Bank

Biodiversity: circalittoral sands and mixed sediment communities; Northern sea fan and sponge communities; Shelf banks and mounds


Geodiversity: Quaternary of Scotland (drumlinoid forms, glacial lineations, iceberg ploughmarks, streamlined bedrock)

Southern Trench

Biodiversity: burrowed mud; minke whales; fronts; shelf deeps


Geodiversity: Quaternary of Scotland (subglacial tunnel valleys and moraines); Submarine Mass Movement (slide scars)

Below is a map showing all four of the pMPAs:

Map of Four MPAs

As part of the consultation, for each site, the following documents are available:

  • Data confidence assessment of the scientific evidence
  • MPA Selection Guidelines assessment
  • Conservation objectives and advice to support management
  • Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIAs)

In addition the following documents provide evidence on all of the proposals:

  • A Strategic Environmental Assessment
  • A Socio-Economic Impact Assessment
  • A Sustainability Appraisal, combining environmental, social and economic effects

North-east Lewis pMPA

North-east Lewis pMPA is the most northerly of the four pMPAs. The proposed protected features are Risso’s dolphins, sandeels, and geodiversity features. The site is at the north of the Risso’s dolphin range and represents an area where Risso’s dolphins are recorded in high numbers year-round. The site supports part of the west coast sandeel population, which is the preferred prey of many fish, seabirds, whales and dolphins.

Sea of the Hebrides pMPA

Sea of the Hebrides pMPA is the largest of the four pMPAs. The proposed protected features are basking shark, minke whale, fronts and geodiversity features. Fronts are created by cool nutrient-rich water mixing with shallow warmer water. They are areas of high productivity and create feeding grounds for predators of all shapes and sizes. Minke whales are the smallest member of a family of whales called baleen whales, which feed by engulfing large volumes of water and sieving out through their baleen plates. Basking sharks are the second largest species of fish in world and feed solely on zooplankton.

Shiant East Bank pMPA

Shiant East Bank pMPA is in the middle of the Minch, the sea which separates the Outer Hebrides from the Scottish mainland. The proposed protected features are circalittoral sands and mixed sediment communities, northern sea fan and sponge communities and shelf banks and mounds. The Shiant East Bank pMPA is made up of mosaics of sand and mixed sediment which support species such as worms, clams, brittlestars, crabs and starfish. Outcrops of volcanic rock provide habitat for filter feeders such as northern sea fans and sponges.

Southern Trench pMPA

Southern Trench pMPA is the only one of the four pMPAs on the east coast. The proposed protected features are minke whale, burrowed mud, fronts and shelf deeps. Fronts in the Southern Trench are created by mixing of warm and cold waters, which creates an area of high productivity, attracting a number of predators to the area. Minke whales are attracted by the fish species brought to the area by the fronts, as well as the abundance of sandeels in the soft sands. The Southern Trench pMPA takes its name from the trench running parallel to the Moray coast. The trench is up to 250m deep and the soft mud on the floor are home to many species of mud-loving animals including Norway lobster and crabs.

Further Information

Additional Documents