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Wester Ross sea lochs included within proposed Marine Protected Area

Posted: Friday 14 December, 2012 @ 15:59:12

Report to the Scottish Parliament on Progress Towards Scottish MPA Network

Today SNH and JNCC published their advice to the Scottish Government on the selection of Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for the development of the Scottish MPA network.


The advice can be found at:


To accompany the advice, the Scottish Government has published a Report to the Scottish Parliament on Progress Identify a Scottish Network

of Marine Protected Areas. This can be found at:


The report has proposals for 33 MPAs. The proposals are based primarily on scientific assessment of the occurrence of priority marine features (habitats and species). A huge amount of work has been done by the SNH team. After much deliberation including a series of meetings with stakeholders, the sites chosen are those which are judged to make the biggest contribution to the protection of respective priority MPA features in Scottish waters. Ministers will make a decision in ~April 2013 which of these sites should go forward for full consultation. 


For those who supported the Gairloch and Wester Loch Ewe Third party bid submitted on behalf of the local community earlier in the year, the news is mixed.


The whole of Loch Ewe has been included within a proposed North West Sea Lochs MPA encompassing an area from Rubha Reidh to Rubha Mor, also including the sea around Greenstone Point, Gruinard Bay, Little Loch Broom, Loch Broom and the Summer Isles.


Loch Gairloch has not been included within a proposed MPA. This was for two reasons: 

  1. Although several priority MPA search features, including maerl beds, eelgrass beds and burrowed mud were found in Loch Gairloch, these features were also found in the proposed Northwest Sea lochs MPA area.
  2. Loch Gairloch already has greater protection than most areas through an existing ban on mobile fishing gear (benthic trawling and dredging).

Further south a proposal has been developed for a MPA for lochs Duich, Long and Alsh following sea bed surveys earlier this year.