Marine experts want urgent action to protect Scotland’s seas


Conservationists have joined forces to call for a review of protected areas in Scotland

3rd January 2018 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Scotland’s marine environment is at risk unless immediate action is taken, environmentalists have warned.

With programmes such as Blue Planet 2 igniting the public's interest in our seas and oceans, WWF Scotland, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) and a leading marine research scientist have called for urgent action to protect wildlife.

The experts have urged the Scottish Government to carry out a consultation on Marine Protected Areas (MPA) to safeguard these delicate ecosystems and habitats.

Esther Brooker, marine policy officer at WWF Scotland said: "While acknowledging the good work that has already been carried out since the Marine Act was passed in 2010, we now believe the final pieces of the MPA jigsaw must be put in place to complete the network. This means delivery of crucial measures to manage damaging activities in existing MPAs, and designation of more sites for species not currently covered in the network.

"By doing so the Scottish Government will not only be safeguarding iconic species such as the charismatic, but much declined, harbour seal and life-giving habitats such as seagrass, they will also be protecting the thousands of jobs that rely on us having healthy seas."

Alison Lomax, director at the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust added: "The evidence exists to support the designation of the remaining MPAs, and protect important feeding and breeding grounds for these charismatic animals. With increasing pressure from human activity and the effects of climate change, we need to act now."

Dr Charlotte Hopkins, marine research scientist at the University of Glasgow, said: "The oceans are facing unprecedented threats from plastic pollution, overexploitation and the impacts of climate change. MPAs alone will not solve these global challenges. However, when effectively managed to reduce human pressures they are a crucial component in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are undertaking a review of the national marine plan, working to improve the protection of priority marine features and progressing delivery of management measures for existing Marine Protected Areas.

“We are not limiting our efforts to MPAs and developing a conservation strategy for wide-ranging dolphin and porpoise species.

“We are implementing our marine litter strategy and tackling the issue of ocean plastics and aiming to introduce a deposit return scheme to encourage recycling, considering how to reduce the demand for single-use products such as coffee-cups and have also pledged funds to help address the issue of litter sink areas around our coastline.”