Scotland MPA

Marine Protection in Scotland

Bottlenose Dolphin ©John MacPherson/2020VISION

Scotland – Marine Protected Areas

National sites in Scotland are known as Marine Protected Areas. The Scottish Government designated 30 MPAs in 2014 and a further one in 2017. More MPAs, including for the protection of Minke Whales, Risso’s Dolphins and Basking Sharks, are currently being developed. 

Living Seas in Scotland

European Marine Sites are areas at sea protected by European law for their special wildlife and natural habitats.

These include Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs), which together form part of a Europe-wide network of protected areas on land and at sea (the ‘Natura 2000’ network) designed to safeguard the wildlife most at risk. In Scotland, Natura 2000 sites include such iconic areas as the Moray Firth and St Kilda.

Both SACs and SPAs play a critical conservation role by providing wildlife refuges for nationally threatened species and habitats. They are a key part of a network of Marine Protected Areas in UK waters.

What's a Special Area of Conservation?

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are areas which have been given special protection under the European Union’s Habitats Directive. They provide increased protection to a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats and are a vital part of global efforts to conserve the world’s biodiversity.

Coastal and marine SACs in Scotland include St Kilda, the Treshnish Isles and the Solway Firth. Further information about SACs in Scotland, including a full list of sites, is available on the JNCC website.

What's a Special Protection Area?

SPAs are areas identified as of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds found within European Union countries. They are European designated sites, classified under the Birds Directive which provides enhanced protection.

Coastal SPAs in Scotland include Fair Isle and Handa. Further information about SPAs in Scotland can be found on the JNCC website.