There is a glimmer of hope reflecting on Scotland’s sea. Invariably it is bad news when seabirds make the headlines, but recent announcements by the Scottish Government have bucked the trend.
14 draft Special Protection Areas (SPAs) have been announced for seabirds, along with the designation of 30 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), including six for black guillemots and three for sandeels.
The announcements are an important first step towards creating a network of protected areas for seabirds and great news for RSPB Scotland and our supporters who have been campaigning for this for over a decade.
Scotland is home to globally important populations of seabirds, with 95% of the EU’s great skuas, 67% of the EU’s northern gannets and 65% of the EU’s black-legged kittiwakes all breeding on Scotland’s coasts. Climate change and poor management of Scotland’s marine environment has contributed to declines in seabird populations in Scotland, with around half of our seabirds disappearing since the mid 1980s.
A recent report, published by RSPB Scotland, identified key seabird feeding areas the Government must designate to meet its international obligations, so the draft SPAs announced are an important first step, but more must be done to properly protect seabirds in Scotland.
These sites have the potential to protect and enhance Scotland’s marine environment, benefit our world class industries and our coastal communities; the challenge of unlocking that potential is still to come. Watch this space!
RSPB Scotland report: Seven sites for seabirds – http://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/RSPB_Scotland_SPA_report_May2014_tcm9-369474.pdf
14 draft SPAs – http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A1350044.pdf
Scottish MPAs designated – http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/marine-environment/mpanetwork/developing/DesignationOrders
Scottish Government Press Release – http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/New-protection-for-Scotland-s-seas-f1e.aspx