31 SPA extensions!


Common guillemots are one of the seabirds which will benefit from increased protection at sea. © Ben Dean

Scotland’s seabirds are to benefit from strengthened protection, after Scottish Government announced that 31 of Scotland’s seabird breeding colony Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are to be extended to protect their adjacent marine habitats. The extensions, which came into force on 25 September 2009, will go out to 1, 2 or 4km, depending on which species are protected within the existing terrestrial SPA. Although there are already a number of coastal or island SPAs which have marine components, these are the first seabird SPAs in Scotland which will extend below the low mean water springs mark. Rathlin Island SPA in Northern Ireland has a substantial marine component, but there is currently only one wholly marine SPA in the UK (Carmarthen Bay in Wales, designated for its internationally important numbers of common scoter).


The announcement follows a consultation on the SPA extensions, carried out on behalf of Scottish Government by SNH in summer 2008, which recommended the extensions based on work carried out by JNCC’s Marine SPA team. The seabirds for which the SPAs are classified will benefit from protection against activities that would cause significant disturbance and their marine habitat will be safeguarded.


The 31 sites are: Canna and Sanday; Marwick Head; North Colonsay and Western Cliffs; Rum; St Abbs to Fast Castle; Ailsa Craig; Buchan Ness to Collieston; Calf of Eday; Cape Wrath; Copinsay; East Caithness Cliffs; Fair Isle; Fetlar; Forth Islands; Flannan Isles; Foula; Fowlsheugh; Handa; Hermaness, Saxa Vord and Valla Field; Hoy; Mingulay and Berneray; North Caithness Cliffs; North Rona and Sula Sgeir; Noss; Rousay; Shiant Isles; St Kilda; Sule Skerry and Sule Stack; Sumburgh Head; Troup, Pennan and Lion's Heads; and West Westray.


For more information, visit  http://www.snh.org.uk/about/directives/ab-dir15j.asp


Linda Wilson

Senior Seabird Ecologist

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 655713