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Moorings in Loch Creran SAC. Graham Saunders © SNH. All rights reserved. Graham Saunders © SNH. All rights reserved. Graham Saunders © SNH. All rights reserved, Please contact CMEU for details - snhmarinephotos@nature.scot

Scottish Marine Protected Areas Project

The Scottish MPA Project is an ongoing joint initiative between Marine Scotland, JNCC, Historic Environment Scotland, SEPA and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Covering around 22% of Scotland’s seas, the Scottish MPA network consists of nature conservation sites designated under various legislative frameworks. 

There are now 217 sites in the Scottish MPA network for nature conservation purposes. In addition there is one demonstration and research MPA, eight historic MPAs, and five Other Area Based Measures recognised as part of the Scottish MPA network, making a total of 231 sites distributed across our seas.

Nature Conservation MPAs (NC MPAs), designated under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, provide protection for a wide range of important marine habitats and wildlife, geology and geomorphology. A total of 31 NC MPAs have been designated in Scotland’s seas. 

Our role in the project

Scottish Natural Heritage provides guidance and technical advice to Marine Scotland on NCMPAs.

This includes advice on:

  • selection of NCMPAs
  • how the conservation objectives of an MPA may be achieved
  • ways to avoid damaging a protected feature

Learn about the link between OSPAR and the Scottish MPA Project.

Stakeholder involvement

The Scottish MPA Project is an ongoing joint initiative between:

  • Marine Scotland
  • JNCC
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • Scottish Natural Heritage

The project has also involved:

  • public consultation – including more than 50 local engagement events
  • analysis and consideration of more than 14,000 consultation responses
  • Marine Strategy Forum discussions
  • MPA stakeholder workshops
  • meetings with stakeholder representatives, marine user groups, council elected representatives and staff

We continue to work with marine users to identify appropriate management measures for individual NCMPAs.

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