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Marine conservation order

Marine conservation orders (MCOs) enable Scottish Ministers to ensure the conservation of nationally important marine heritage sites.

Specifically, MCOs can be made to further the:

An MCO can also be made to protect marine Special Areas of Conservation and marine Special Protection Areas. These are collectively known as marine Natura sites (or European Marine Sites).

Scottish Ministers may make MCOs under the provisions of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (sections 85 to 91).

Coverage of an MCO

Scottish Ministers can issue an MCO to cover any area of Scottish territorial waters.

An MCO used to protect a Natura site must include either:

  • all or part of the Natura site
  • an area adjoining the Natura site

MCOs in force

View all marine conservation orders currently in force on the Scottish Government website.