A flame shell on a maerl bed with red and green seaweeds

Scotland’s Marine Protected Area network

Scotland’s existing network of Marine Protected Areas consists of more than 180 designated areas.

A network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) helps to protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and undersea landforms.

2018 Report to Parliament

The Marine Protected Area Network - 2018 Report to Parliament celebrates the progress made in developing a Marine Protected Area (MPA) network for Scotland.

During the last six years, our MPA network has more than doubled in size and now covers over 22% of Scotland's seas.

A total of 42 new MPAs have been designated to protect marine habitats, wildlife, geology, undersea landforms, historic shipwrecks, and to demonstrate sustainable management of the sea.  Scotland's MPA network makes a significant contribution to both the European and global MPA networks and delivers on our international commitments for protection of the marine environment.

Protection for a broader range of habitats and species means Scotland's MPA network is able to make a greater contribution to maintaining the ecosystem services we all depend upon.

Developing the MPA network

Developing Scotland’s network of MPAs is part of a wider strategy to meet the Scottish Government’s commitment to a “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse marine and coastal environment that meets the long term needs of people and nature”.

A well-managed network of MPAs will:

  • protect important marine habitats and species
  • deliver benefits for our marine environments
  • support coastal communities
  • help sustain marine industries
  • provide for recreational uses

Scotland’s network includes:

To strengthen the existing MPA network, Scottish Ministers have designated a suite of NCMPAs. This was undertaken through powers granted by the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the UK-wide Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

The NCMPAs give much-needed spatial protection to a wide range of marine wildlife, habitats and geology not previously covered by the network.


Email: [email protected]

Find out more

Scotland’s Special Seas: Hidden wonders revealed

Different types of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scotland

Marine Protected Area FAQs

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