Marine environment and conservation

June 2023

Highly Protected Marine Areas - proposed legislation abandoned

The Scottish government has scrapped its controversial plan to restrict fishing in 10% of Scotland's waters following an uproar from coastal communities.

Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan confirmed the plan to introduce highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) by 2026 will no longer go ahead on Thursday.
.   .   .   .
"I can confirm today that the proposal as consulted on will not be progressed.

"This means we will no longer seek to implement HPMAs across 10% of Scotland's seas by 2026."

Minister's statement to Parliament

Sky News     29 June 2023

A longer report in The Guardian  (29 June  Libby Brooks), includes a comment from Phil Taylor, the director of the conservation charity Open Seas, who said: 'The Scottish government are now learning an important lesson that deep community engagement and participation is fundamental to effective environmental action.'

He added that  'The HPMA debate has diverted some attention from the routine environmental damage to Scotland’s coastal seabed caused by scallop dredging and bottom-trawling. Scottish ministers must prioritise action on these most destructive fishing methods to secure real sustainability for our seas and fisheries.'

May 2023

Highly Protected Marine Areas - some questions and answers

From the Scottish Parliament's SPICe information centre

In recent weeks, there has been increasing debate surrounding the Scottish Government’s proposals to introduce Highly Protected Marine Areas, covering at least 10% of Scotland’s seas. This blog sets out some questions and answers about the Scottish Government’s plans for HPMAs and reaction to the proposals.

What are Highly Protected Marine Areas and how are they different from existing Marine Protected Areas?

Read the article


May 2023

Cromarty Firth case study for marine research project - next event

We have made video recordings of the introductory workshop sessions on the 15th and 16th of May. If you would like the link to the recordings which outline the project overview, activities and Q&A please email Tavis ( and I will send this to you.

As we mentioned, the first in person workshop is planned for Thursday 22 June at the National Hotel in Dingwall.

Places at the workshop are limited and therefore could you please let Vicki and Tavis know whether you are willing and able to attend no later than 12:00 on Friday 26 May and please indicate which organisation(s) you are representing.

Although places will be secured on a first come first served basis, we must also ensure that the full range of sectors and community interests are represented and therefore we may need to manage the allocation of places accordingly. We will also engage with stakeholders between and after workshop events. If you are unable to attend you are welcome to forward this invite to colleagues within your organisation.

If you would like to know more about the project or have any questions regarding any of the workshops then please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.

Professor Tavis Potts, University of Aberdeen, Vicki Paxton,Moray Firth Partnership


May 2023

Cromarty Firth case study for marine research project

The Cromarty Firth and the Solent have been selected as sites for case studies in a research project which aims  'to understand the different values we hold towards our local marine environment, the diverse benefits it provides, and how nature-based solutions can potentially support community development.'  The findings will be used to inform the wider management of marine biodiversity across the UK.

The project,  ‘Sea the Value: Marine Biodiversity Benefits for a Sustainable Society',  funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and running from 2022 to 2025, is led by Prof. Nicola Beaumont from Plymouth Marine Laboratory and includes as partners the University of Aberdeen and the Moray Firth Coastal Partnership.

The University of Aberdeen and the Moray Firth Coastal Partnership will focus on the connection between coastal ecosystems and communities in the Cromarty Firth.  We plan to hold a series of workshops over the next 12 months to map and understand the natural and human features, identify the benefits they provide and how they may change over time. All the project outputs, including maps, data and reports will be provided to you for future use.

We are planning to host two informal online introductory events:

Session 1: Monday  15 May 2023 at 13:00-14:00

Session 2: Tuesday 16 May 2023 at 19:00-20:00.

You are welcome to attend one or both of these events. Please RSVP to Vicki and Tavis (via the email addresses below) stating which session(s) you would be interested in attending. You will be sent a Zoom meeting link closer to the date of the event.

Professor Tavis Potts, University of Aberdeen, Vicki Paxton, Moray Firth Partnership

Read the invitation email in full




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