The Scottish Government has opened a consultation on four new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scotland. The areas proposed are North East Lewis, Sea of the Hebrides, Shiant East Bank and the Southern Trench (in the outer Moray Firth).

Scottish Natural Heritage has provided advice to Scottish Ministers on the MPA proposals in order to complete the MPA network. RYA Scotland has been working closely with Scottish Natural Heritage to ensure that the needs of recreational boaters are considered as part of this process.

The newly proposed marine protected areas are currently out for consultation until 30 August 2019.

These sites, in addition to the 31 Nature Conservation MPAs already designated, will fulfil Scottish Ministers duties under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, as well as contributing to the OSPAR North-east Atlantic MPA network.

The proposed protected features of these sites include basking shark, minke whale, Risso's dolphin, as well as seabed habitats and geological features. Encounters with whales, basking sharks and dolphins are one of the many attractions of sailing in these waters.

Whales and dolphins, collectively known as cetaceans, as well as basking sharks are protected wherever they occur throughout Scottish waters. The four possible MPAs would offer additional levels of protection to locations important for the various life stages of these species.

Have your say

Responses to the consultation are invited on the Scottish Government consultation hub, where you will be able to view the consultation documents and for details on how to respond. 

The RYA supports the UK and Devolved Governments’ shared vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. In its response to the consultation, RYA Scotland will highlight the work of The Green Blue, a joint RYA and British Marine environmental initiative.

Since its launch in 2005, The Green Blue has been actively promoting the sustainable use of coastal and inland waters by recreational boaters and watersports participants, as well as sharing good practice on how to minimise wildlife disturbance.

If the Marine Protected Areas are approved, Scotland would become the first country in the world to have designated areas for specific species.

RYA Members seeking environmental information and advice are invited to contact the RYA Environment and Sustainability team on 023 8060 4228 or at environment@rya.org.uk. Further information is also available on the RYA Planning & Environment hub.