Marine Protected Areas are one part of an overarching effort to introduce better planning of our seas.
The Scottish Government is currently developing Scotland’s first National Marine Plan (NMP), and the draft consultation version was released on 15th July 2013 for public comment. The purpose of the Plan is to set the strategic objectives and national policies for sustainable development for Scotland’s seas, provide a framework for all the activity which takes place in Scottish waters and to guide the future development of more detailed Regional Marine Plans. Members of the Save Scottish Seas campaign responded to the National Marine plan to help ensure marine ecosystem and climate change objectives are appropriately incorporated. You can read our full consultation response here.
LINK members welcome the draft National Marine Plan (NMP) and believe it is a very important document to guide marine planning in Scotland. However, in its draft form we have fundamental concerns about many of the sectoral objectives and the compatibility of those objectives both with one another and with marine ecosystem and climate change objectives. LINK members also question how effective the NMP will be, both as a resource for planners and as a robust guide for sustainable development.
- As currently drafted LINK members assert that the NMP will not support sustainable development, mitigation or adaptation to climate change, the delivery of Good Environmental Status, nor the protection or enhancement of Scotland’s seas.
- LINK members have major concerns that the draft NMP is not underpinned by the ecosystem-based management principles and approaches that will be required to achieve the sustainable development, protection and possible enhancement of Scotland’s marine resources.
- The draft NMP seriously misrepresents the concept of sustainable development. This must be corrected.
- The NMP presents many policies, but for planning purposes, its value is unclear. There are no guidelines for decision making, resolving conflicts and indeed for achieving the objectives of the NMP.
- National and international environmental objectives are explicitly adopted as the National Marine Plan’s strategic objectives, but the sectoral objectives appear to be largely industry wish-lists, failing to reference each sector’s potential to contribute to environmental protection and recovery.
- General policies on protection and enhancement of the health of our seas, biodiversity, climate change and research and monitoring all need to be significantly tightened and additional policies added.
LINK members recommend that:
- The stated purpose of the NMP should be to protect and, where appropriate, enhance the health of Scotland’s seas, ensure that they meet Good Environmental Status, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to ensure sustainable development therein;
- That the purpose and structure of the final NMP closely follow the duties and requirements directed by the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. As it stands we are not convinced that those duties will be met;
- General Policies for, in particular, nature conservation, biodiversity and geodiversity; historic environment; landscape/seascape and climate change be strengthened to reflect existing legislative duties and policy commitments;
- New general policies highlighting the key issues of marine ecosystem enhancement, cumulative impacts, marine litter and invasive non-native species are included in the final NMP;
- A separate chapter be introduced in the final NMP to reflect the marine conservation objectives of the strategy to provide an explanation of how marine ecosystem structure and function will be valued, how the NMP affects the flow of services the sea provides us and how those good and services will be enhanced;
- Integrated terrestrial-marine planning should be a shared component of the forthcoming River Basin Management Plans (due 2015) and Regional Marine Plans.