The health of our seas has been in steady decline for years – but there are solutions. Right now the Scottish Government is putting in place a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that can help recover our seas. MPAs are already working in Norway, Mexico, and Nova Scotia… and they can work in Scotland too. The science is clear. MPAs can help to recover our seas if they have the right management measures in place.
#SupportMPAs by contacting your MSP
You can make a difference by letting your local MSP know what you think about the management proposals – particularly if you have an MPA within your constituency. It’s important to let them know that well-managed MPAs can have extensive environmental, social and economic benefits, and that these benefits can help support local communities. Support for MPAs within the Scottish Parliament will make a difference to ensuring that they are considered for the long-term ecological and economic benefits they can bring. If you #SupportMPAs, and want to see management proposals deliver the benefits indicated by scientific evidence, please write to your local MSP.
Check out our interactive web map to see how our MPAs are progressing.
Everyone has a stake in this. Our seas are a shared resource and must be managed so that sustainable approaches to fishing, marine tourism, sea angling, diving, aquaculture, recreation and renewables can thrive in our precious coastal waters. MPA management cannot be “business-as-usual” – we need to make sure that they are effectively managed to protect and recover Scotland’s marine life.
Your support has already made a difference
In 2014, over 4,500 people supported our #DontTakeTheP campaign and sent a message to the Scottish Government, highlighting the importance of proper fisheries management for inshore MPAs. The management now proposed (which you can view via our webmap) is much more progressive and will make a real difference to the health of our seas and the many communities that rely on them. We have documented this growing awareness of ‘seabed sense’ and wider support for change, but we still need to keep making sure that no-one takes the ‘P’ out of MPAs.
What’s up next for MPAs?
There are still important decisions being made that will determine whether Scotland has a network of well-managed Marine Protected Areas…or a patchwork of paper parks:
– more consultations on management yes – Marine Scotland are developing management for other MPAs in a series of separate consultations. Management for offshore nature conservation MPAs (and other inshore habitats) are being developed. A consultation on management for remaining inshore MPAs is expected this summer.
– protecting our mobile species: the MPAs in Scotland have been set up largely to protect – and hopefully recover – our seabed habitats and low-mobility species. However, sites for amazing marine animals such as minke whales, basking sharks and Risso’s dolphins – which move about in our seas – have yet to be put in place. MPAs for these species have been delayed, as the Scottish Government gathers more scientific evidence, but we are expecting proposals to be consulted on later this year.
– resourcing and monitoring: we will only know if the management of our new MPAs is working if we are adequately monitoring their ecosystem health . This costs time and money – and will require a strategic approach by Scottish Government to enable its nature conservation advisors Scottish Natural Heritage and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to fully implement a well-funded monitoring programme. We firmly hope that fishermen – some potentially impacted by fisheries management – could be involved in monitoring programmes for our MPAs. Furthermore, although we hope there will be a culture of compliance with the fisheries regulations in MPAs, we recognise that infringements may happen and that resources will be needed to back up the role of Marine Scotland Compliance.
It is vital that Marine Protected Areas are used as a tool to deliver real change in our marine environment, so we will continue to put a clear case to our representatives that people want to see real change in the health of our seas in Scotland.
If you #SupportMPAs please make sure the Scottish Government knows you do too by:
- Sharing our video far and wide | via Facebook | via Youtube | via Twitter
- Contact your MSP (see above)
Read our running history of MPAs here.