Planning Scotland's Seas


The sea around Scotland is almost six times the area of its landmass.  It sustains a diversity of sea life, from rich communities of cold-water corals, to aggregations of deep-sea sponges and vivid-orange flame shell beds.

Tall sea pen in Central Fladden possible MPA © JNCC_Cefas


For the past three and a half years, JNCC has been working in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Marine Scotland on a Marine Scotland-led project to identify possible Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Using a science-based approach, these new areas were identified to protect nationally important habitats, species, geology and underseas landforms. Nature Conservation MPAs will complement existing protected areas in Scotland’s seas, and contribute to the emerging network of MPAs around the UK.


In the summer stakeholders and members of the public were invited to share their views on possible MPAs as part of Marine Scotland's 'Planning Scotland's Seas' consultation. The consultation ended in November and comprised multiple strands, including marine planning and the future of marine renewables in Scotland, as well as MPAs. In total, 33 possible MPAs were included in the consultation, based on JNCC and SNH's formal advice on the selection of MPAs submitted to Scottish Ministers and Marine Scotland in 2012.


To support the consulation, 56 stakeholder events and drop-in sessions were held around Scotland. They  provided an opportunity for members of the public and stakeholders to discuss proposals and ask questions, and to encourage them to respond to the consultation. The events, run by Marine Scotland were accompanied by drop-in sessions focused on MPAs organised by JNCC and SNH.


A short video on the "Hidden world of Scotland's seas" gives an insight into the rich variety of the undersea life Scotland's seas support. Providing a window into a world rarely seen, the video is one of a number of materials produced by SNH and JNCC to support stakeholder input to the consultation. Site Summary Documents help bring the sites to life, and summary leaflets provide background information on the MPA network. These materials all support the consultation packages for each of the possible MPAs and are available on the JNCC and SNH websites. Engagement with international stakeholders has been principally through the Fisheries Regional Advisory Councils, and a translated sub-set of materials is available on the JNCC website.


Marine Scotland are analysing the submissions to the consultation and producing a report summarising their response. The report will then be considered by Scottish Ministers, who will decide which of the possible MPAs they wish to designate.  Following designation, there may be further discussions on how these sites might best be managed. More information on management is available in Marine Scotland’s Management Handbook, and the site-specific Management Options Papers developed by JNCC and SNH.


Further information on the Scottish MPA Project can be found on the SNH and Marine Scotland websites, and on the JNCC Scottish MPA webpage.



Contact File


Beth Henshall

MPA Implementation Adviser

Tel: +44 (0) 1224 266597