Urticina felina cluster and Nermertesia sp. and sand covered bedrock. Sanday SAC. Photographer: Malcolm Thompson. © SNH. All rights reserved. Please contact CMEU for details - snhmarinephotos@nature.scot

Scottish Marine Protected Area advice

Explore the advice from NatureScot on Marine Protected Areas

Our role and advice on MPAs

NatureScot provides guidance and technical advice on MPAs including advice:

  • on the selection of MPAs
  • on how the conservation objectives of an MPA may be achieved
  • on activities that may cause damage 
  • to support management
  • on consultation queries

For each MPA there are supporting documents which can be viewed on SiteLink alongside maps, protected features and other information about the sites.

Advice on marine activities

    Development Management Advice

    Our Planning and Development pages provide further information on our role in the Planning system and where you can find our Service Statement. Our Marine Planning pages provide further detail on the system in the marine environment, including links to the National Marine Plan which is used to guide development. Further sector and topic based information can be found on our Managing Coasts and Seas page.

    Development Management and Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas Guidance is being updated and will be available at the end of 2020.

    This guidance assists our staff in providing advice to public authorities to help them when making their decisions over whether activities or developments affect NC MPAs. The guidance follows the assessment process as set out in the MPA Management Handbook.

    Also read our guidance on How to consider plans and projects affecting Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

      Marine Fisheries Advice

      Our advice on fishering activity within MPAs is linked to our wider approach to sustainable fisheries but focusses on the specific interactions between fishing and marine biodiversity. Read our Fisheries pages to find out more about our role.

      Our advice to support MPA fisheries management can be viewed in Conservation Objectives and Management Advice Documents on SiteLink. In addition a series of short Fisheries Management Guidance summaries were produced for the protected features of MPAs. These have been produced jointly with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.  Fisheries Guidance Notes have also been produced for the features within four potential MPAs.

      In February 2014, SNH provided advice to Marine Scotland on the sensitivity of European Marine Sites (EMS) to the impacts of fishing activities. The aim was to help Marine Scotland work out where further management may be required.

      Read the Assessment on the sensitivity of EMS to fishing activities

      Information on fisheries management measures in place within MPAs can be found on the Marine Scotland webpages. Compliance with marine fisheries measures in Scotland is the responsibility of Marine and Fisheries Compliance and their web pages explain how to report suspicious activity.

      Additional Advice

      Adequacy of Scotland’s MPA network

      Read the Assessment of the adequacy of the Scottish MPA network for MPA search features which was undertaken in 2015 against stage 5 of the MPA Selection Guidelines.

      The assessment against this guideline has been completed for the MPA search features in terms of how the below have been met for these features:

      • representation
      • replication
      • resilience
      • range and geographic variation of features
      • key linkages

      NCMPA 2013 consultation advice report

      Read SNH’s advice on selected responses to the 2013 Marine Scotland consultation on Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas: Commissioned Report No. 747

      In 2013, we recommended the designation of all 17 NCMPAs proposed for Scottish territorial waters, i.e. within 12 nautical miles of Scotland’s coast.

      Our advice covers a wide range of issues such as:

      • principles of network design
      • use of evidence
      • boundary setting
      • determining conservation objectives
      • site-specific issues
      • future management of MPAs

      Read the NC MPA selection page for further information on the initial NC MPAs designated in 2013. 

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