The Scottish Wildlife Trust has welcomed the announcement that five Scottish marine sites of European importance have been submitted for approval to the European Commission. The new offshore sites, one of which- Hatton Bank- will be the largest marine protected area in Europe, will protect internationally important bedrock, stony and cold water coral reefs.
Anton Dohrn Seamount, East Rockall Bank, Hatton Bank, Pobie Bank Reef and Solan Bank Reef are all now considered candidate Special Areas of Conservation and bring the total number of marine SACs in the UK to 107.
All of the sites have been selected for their reef structures and are home to a colourful array of marine wildlife including sponges, brittlestars and cold water corals. Pobie Bank Reef and Solan Bank Reef are also home to harbour porpoise and both grey and common seal.
These new sites, together with existing sites and new Scottish Marine Protected Areas to be consulted on next summer will form a network of sites that, if managed properly, will help protect and recover Scotland’s seas.
Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust Simon Milne said:
“This is great news. The recovery of our seas from years of degradation is one of the most urgent challenges we face today and designating Marine Protected Areas is the first step to restoring the ecosystem health of Scotland’s seas. I hope we can now follow through on this commitment to marine conservation and make real progress on designating and managing areas to protect nationally important species and habitats. Creating a well-managed network of protected areas not only safeguards rare wildlife, it helps secure a long term future for our fisheries and the jobs associated with the industry.”