Plans to create areas of marine protection in Scottish waters have received almost unanimous public support, in a boost for the future of the country’s marine ecosystems.
Published on Friday, the report sets out the Scottish government’s plans to introduce 33 marine protected areas (MPAs) off the country’s coastlines. The zones will have tougher regulations on fishing and commercial activities in a bid to regenerate and protect marine life.
Of the 14,703 respondents, only 12 said they were against the introduction of the MPAs.
The report says that there was “support for an MPA network from almost all respondents, both campaign and standard. Many respondents stressed the need for protection for the marine environment.
“Many respondents wanted to see the network offer protection for more species. Seabirds, whales and dolphins were mentioned most often in this regard.”
Many marine creatures are adversely affected by commercial and human activity in seas off the coast of Scotland. Last October, at an event to kickstart the Healthy Seas Initiative in Slovenia, Zoological Society of London marine biologist Dr Heather Koldewey said that as a result of plastic consumption, a pod of orca whales had been left unable to reproduce.
Marine pollution, along with activities such as unsustainable fishing, has meant that some species of marine life are diminishing fast. But a growing support for MPAs could prove vital in stepping up measures to protect marine species.
Calum Duncan, convenor of Scottish Environment LINK’s marine taskforce, said there was “growing momentum” for the government to step in.
He said, “A network of MPAs that do what they say on the tin, adequately protect areas of sea, are being called for by the Scottish people to help recover the sea and contribute to a fair and just society. Scottish ministers don’t just have a legal duty to designate new MPAs, they now have a democratic mandate to do so, delivered by people from across Scotland.”
Alex Kinninmonth, policy officer for the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas initiative, said the results of the public consultation show “that an overwhelming majority are in favour of improved protection for marine life in Scottish seas”.
He added, “The Scottish government must now listen to this clear message from the Scottish public and not only designate the proposed marine protected areas but put in place effective management that kick-starts the recovery of the Scottish marine environment.”
Last year, similar measures were introduced off coastlines in England, but the government came under criticism when its network of 27 marine conservation zones (MCZs) fell well short of the 127 recommended by the House of Commons science committee.
Photo: Colin Brough via freeimages