Date lodged: 18 December 2017
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the status of the four proposed Nature Conservation marine protected areas, identified to protect a host of marine species and habitats in Scotland and for which Scottish Natural Heritage provided formal advice in 2014 and what measures it is taking to ensure the conservation status of these species and habitats in the meantime.
Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 10 January 2018
Current work is focused on ensuring that the existing MPA network is well managed, and progressing protected areas for marine birds. The four locations are proposed for a range of biodiversity and geodiversity which are representative of Scotland's seas. The plan is to consider their suitability for being Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in 2019.
Basking shark, Minke whale, and Risso's dolphin are highly protected species. This means they are protected from intentional or reckless killing, injury or disturbance wherever they are found in Scottish waters; Sandeels are subject to fisheries regulations including a complete prohibition of fishing on the west coast of Scotland; Burrowed mud is already protected by 12 MPAs; and Northern seafan and sponge communities are already protected by 6 MPAs.