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Thursday, July 24, 2014

24/07/2014: Marine protected areas to be set up around Scottish coastline

A network of 30 marine protected areas is to be established around Scotland's coastline to protect marine species and their habitats. The Scottish government is also considering the creation of 14 special protection areas for seabirds, reports the BBC.
 

In its report it says further plans would include four new areas for the protection of basking sharks, whales and dolphins.
 

One site, the North East Faroe Shetland Channel, is estimated to be the largest marine protected area in the EU.
 

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the plans would "enhance our marine environment so that it remains a prized asset for future generations.
 

"Our waters support a huge diversity of marine life and habitats, with around 6500 species of plants and animals and are among the richest in Europe for marine mammals.
 

"Many of these sites will provide protections for our seabirds like the black guillemot and sandeels which provide a vital food source," he added. 

But Shetland MSP Tavish Scott was critical of the government's timing of the roll out - and claimed it was discourteous to local fishermen.

"The government certainly hasn't been shy with its major announcements in the past.
 

"And an announcement of this magnitude, which will have a profound impact on Scotland's fishermen, could and should have been made either before the Commonwealth Games started or postponed until afterwards."
 


The BBC reported Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, saying: "A significant area of the seas around our coasts are now protected, and we firmly believe that rather than falling into the temptation to deliver even more MPAs, there now needs to be a period of reflection and assessment to see how effective this current designation is in delivering overall ecosystem benefits and the impact they may have on our fishing fleets."

Read more HERE.

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