The Marine Conservation Society commends proposals for five new offshore Special Areas of Conservation
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) today welcomes the Scottish Government’s announcement that five new European Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) will be designated in offshore waters adjacent to Scotland. The list of sites includes Hatton Bank, which will be Europe’s largest marine protected area.
Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland Programme Manager says “We are delighted with today’s announcement confirming designation of five new European sites. They must help protect fragile coldwater corals, soft corals, sponges, deepwater brittlestars and other sea life in Scotland’s deeper waters. We urge the Scottish Government to ensure that appropriate measures will be put in place both to protect these surviving wonders and to support recovery from historic damage. It is paramount that all European sites, inshore and offshore, are adequately protected from damaging activities and we look forward to strategic consideration of this in Scotland.”
Marine Special Areas of Conservation have been established around Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, with varying degrees of conservation success. They are designated according to the European “Habitats Directive” to protect places of European importance for just seven marine habitat types and three marine species in Scotland. MCS therefore successfully pushed for new marine protected areas under the Scottish and UK Marine Acts to protect sites for many more nationally important species and habitats. The national sites are needed in addition to European SACs to complete the ‘ecologically coherent’ network of marine protected areas required under several international commitments.
Calum continued “A coherent network of marine protected areas, both national and European, is essential for the future. Alongside these European sites, we look forward to the forthcoming nationally designated sites to complete the network and bolster our seas ability to provide food, energy and enjoyment for generations to come”