Priority Marine Features


Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have developed a prioritised list of marine features in Scotland to underpin conservation action across Scottish Government’s ‘three-pillar approach’ to effective marine nature conservation as presented in their Marine Nature Conservation Strategy

Following public consultation, the Cabinet Secretary made an announcement on the adoption of the PMF list on 24th July 2014.

The list contains 81 habitats and species considered to be of conservation importance in Scotland's seas. It includes many features which are characteristic of the Scottish marine environment, ranging from flame shell beds in coastal waters, to cold-water coral reefs of the deeper seas, and mobile species such as minke whale and basking shark. This list will help focus future marine planning, research and conservation work.


White beaked dolphin © Caroline Weir

Orange roughy © JNCCBasking shark © Paul Naylor


In order to produce the list, species and habitats on existing conservation schedules were assessed against criteria that considered whether a significant proportion of their population occur in Scotland’s seas, whether they are under threat or in decline and the functional role they play.

Further detail on the processes followed to identify PMFs in Scottish territorial and offshore waters is available through reports published by SNH* and JNCC**.

*Howson, C. M., Steel. L., Carruthers, M. and Gillham, K., (2012). Identification of Priority Marine Features in Scottish territorial waters.  Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 388

**Joint Nature Conservation Committee (2012). Priority Marine Features in Scottish offshore waters.  Joint Nature Conservation Committee Report 462. ISSN 0963 8091

Descriptions of Priority Marine Features in Scotland’s seas have been published as a report which is available for download below.

Tyler-Walters, H., James, B., Carruthers, M. (eds.), Wilding, C., Durkin, O., Lacey, C., Philpott, E., Adams, L., Chaniotis, P.D., Wilkes, P.T.V., Seeley, R., Neilly, M., Dargie, J. & Crawford-Avis, O.T. 2016. Descriptions of Scottish Priority Marine Features (PMFs). Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 406