The Scottish government has a target of declaring 10% of the sea area out to the 200-mile limit as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs). The project has started with a consultation on the procedures to be followed, which will be similar to the ones used for the previous Marine Protected Area (MPA) project. (Scotland has MPAs rather than Marine Conservation Zones or MPZs, which are used around the coasts of England and Wales.)
The previous MPA scheme was based on species and habitats the proposed HPMA scheme is based around ecosystem services, which include enjoyment and appreciation of our seas.
The initial Scottish Government consultation is the open until the of 23rd March.
It is not intended for there to be major controls on recreational boating in the HPMAs although anchoring and mooring may be restricted to designated locations. RYA Scotland will be working with NatureScot to minimise these restrictions while protecting the environment. Our case for this will be strengthened by all recreational sailors following the best practice guidelines.
RYA Scotland has worked closely with NatureScot so that the only Marine Protected Area with anchoring restrictions is Loch Creran, north of Oban.
All anchorages in MPAs listed in the Clyde Cruising Club Sailing Directions and Anchorages volumes have been checked to ensure that either they do not overlap with vulnerable habitats, particularly Maerl beds, or are used so infrequently that any damage is insignificant compared with winter storm damage and that in any case recreational boaters are encouraged to follow good practice guidelines.
Following good anchoring practice is important everywhere not only to protect vulnerable habitats but also for your peace of mind when the wind pipes up in the middle of the night.
For further information and guidance on sustainable boating and more details on anchoring best practice download the free Guide to Anchoring and Moorings, or visit The Green Blue’s website: www.thegreenblue.org.uk.