Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Views Wanted on Cross-boundary Protection Areas for Marine Birds

By Philpickin @philpickin
Views wanted on cross-boundary protection areas for marine birdsScottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee are inviting views on four cross-boundary proposals to protect important areas for marine birds.A formal public consultation launched today (Tuesday) by SNH on behalf of Scottish Government is asking people to comment on four proposed Special Protection Areas (pSPAs) which cross the 12 nautical mile territorial waters boundary. The four proposed SPAs are the Pentland Firth, the Seas off Foula, the Seas off St Kilda, and the Outer Firth of Forth and St Andrews Bay Complex. The sites are part of a suite of pSPAs designed to help a wide range of marine bird species, by protecting their important areas such as foraging grounds and places where they roost. Species set to benefit from the four proposals include puffin, kittiwake, storm-petrel, Manx shearwater, northern gannet, great skua, Arctic skua, and Arctic tern. Scotland’s 11,800 km of coastline and 800 islands make it an ideal place for marine birds and it is home to some internationally important populations. For example, Bass Rock, in the Outer Firth of Forth, and St Kilda, are home to the world’s two largest colonies of northern gannets If the sites are designated they will form part of Scotland’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which covers approximately 20% of our seas. Developing a network of well-managed MPAs is one way the Scottish Government aims to meet its 2020 Biodiversity Challenge outcome of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse’ coasts and seas. The 15-week consultation is being run in partnership with JNCC, which is responsible for the identification and classification of SPAs in offshore waters beyond the 12 nm limit. SNH is responsible for proposals within territorial waters and where pSPAs cross this limit, responsibilities are shared between SNH and JNCC. A 13-week consultation on 10 pSPAs within territorial waters ended this week, having been extended for a week to accommodate additional views. Andrew Bachell, SNH’s director of policy and advice said: “Scotland is an incredibly important place in the world for marine birds. Our seas and marine birds are a unique and exciting part of nature and attract many thousands of people to visit Scotland every year. We want to protect these areas to help the marine birds, and to ensure that they are safeguarded for the benefit of generations to come.”John Goold, JNCC’s Director of Marine Operations said: “We are delighted to be undertaking this consultation with SNH. Scotland’s seas provide a rich habitat for seabirds and this is an important step forward in their protection.”The consultation, which closes at midnight on 17 January 2017, gives people the opportunity to share their views on each of the proposed designations: on topics such as the featured bird species, the scientific evidence and options for site management. For detailed information about each of the proposals, and to respond to the consultation, visit the SNH website –

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