Scot Gov announce additional funds to accelerate 4 MPAs

Whale MPAs

On 31st January the Scottish Government announced the upcoming budget will include additional resources for the development of four nature conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). These sites could afford protection for some of Scotland’s most iconic mobile species.

If designated, the MPAs would be the world’s first sites for minke whale, basking shark and Risso’s dolphin. They would see the introduction of area based measures that should provide greater protection than surrounding areas of sea.

The four MPAs – Sea of the Hebrides MPA, Shiant East Bank MPA, North-East Lewis MPA and Southern Trench MPA –were first proposed in 2012, but were not taken forward then as more evidence was needed.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) provided this additional information and formally recommended the designation of all four sites in 2014, towards completion of the MPA network.

Basking sharks are currently listed as officially endangered in the North East Atlantic, and are a species of conservation importance in Scottish and wider UK waters. Whilst the EU Conservation Status of UK minke whale is ‘favourable’, Risso’s dolphin is ‘unknown’.

Effective Conservation Tool

MPAs are recognised as an effective conservation tool globally, and with the right management measures in place can provide much needed spatial protection to highly mobile species as well as seabed habitats.

Although cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are strictly protected under European Law, MPAs can help protect areas that contain significant numbers of animals, or are essential to key life cycle stages – such as calving, feeding or breeding.

These protected sites would provide protection for the following features:

Biodiversity: Basking shark, Minke whales, Risso’s Dolphin, Sandeels, Northern Seafan and sponge communities, Burrowed mud, Oceanic fronts, Circalittoral sand and mixed sediment communities, shelf banks and mounds.

Geological features: Quaternary of Scotland, Marine Geomorphology of the Scottish Shelf Seabed and Submarine Mass Movement.

Read the full news article and further resources at Save Scottish Seas.

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