Green groups are delighted by the Scottish Government's move to create more marine protected areas
Environmentalists have praised the Scottish government for plans to extend the number of marine and coastal areas protected by legislation.
Thirty new marine protected areas (MPAs) have been announced as well as measures to protect populations of seabirds, whales and dolphins in coastal regions.
The move comes after 14,000 people backed Scottish Environment Link’s public consultation on new MPAs last year.
The group has campaigned for stronger legislation to protect Scotland’s marine environment for over a decade.
Fisheries management measures for all of the sites will be developed during an intensive two years process, meaning anyone fishing in these areas must ensure sealife and seabed habitats are adequately protected from damaging activities.
The work does not stop here; for the time-being these MPAs are just lines on maps - Calum Duncan
Calum Duncan, convenor of Scottish Environment Link's marine taskforce, said: “By setting up these MPAs the government has wisely placed its confidence in that verdict. The work does not stop here – for the time-being these MPAs are just lines on maps, so careful management will be needed to ensure they actively help recover our sealife.”
And Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, praised Scottish ministers for making “the right decision for our seas”.
He added: “They have also made the right decision for those communities and industries that depend on healthy seas in the long term.
“The next step is to ensure that this network of MPAs are well managed and result in the recovery of our ecosystems for the benefit of all.
“This is a great step towards delivering a marine environment where economic interests can operate in a way that does not have to undermine the health of our seas.”