Scottish MPAs worth £10 billion

Creating a network of Scottish marine protected areas (MPAs) could provide benefits to Scotland to the tune of £10billion, and potentially more.

Since 2011, SSACN members have been attending MPA stakeholder workshops held by Marine Scotland, SNH and JNCC and we have put forward a number of 3rd party proposals which we feel are required to ensure the future of certain stocks given much of Scotland’s marine environment is now recognised to be in a state of decline or concern.

mcsWith just weeks to go before MSPs are due to see proposals by the Scottish Government for a network of nature conservation MPAs to help protect and recover Scotland’s seas a report issued by the MSC states that the ‘scenario-based’ values (between £6.3 billion and £10 billion) attributed to a theoretical marine protected area network in Scotland are likely to be minimum estimates, due to a number of important factors being excluded due to a shortage of data and need for further research.

Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland Programme Manager,  said: “£10 billion is a large figure, but potentially even then a major under-valuation. The figures do not take into account the huge value in simply having a resource available in the future, what is known as an ‘option-use value’ by economists, nor the economic value of potential overspill from MPAs. What is clear, however, is that for the benefits to flow, marine protected areas must be well-managed and must properly protect ecosystem function. They must not become ‘paper parks’. Once these figures sink in to policy circles, there is only one way forward. A network of well-managed marine protected areas is a vital part of the way we expect our seas to be managed.”

Others commenting on the value of MPAs included:

Kara Brydson, RSPB Scotland (Senior Marine Policy Officer) said: “Seabirds bring significant tourism revenue to remote and coastal communities which, in financial terms, makes it all the more concerning that breeding populations of some Scottish seabirds are estimated to have plummeted by over 70% in one human generation. A smart government will protect seabirds and the benefits they provide to Scotland’s economy, and the simplest and best way to do this is to create MPAs for seabird feeding hotspots out at sea.” 

Alex Kinninmonth, Scottish Wildlife Trust (Living Seas Officer) said: “The main purpose of protected areas is the conservation of wildlife and natural systems and the benefits that flow from them. However, the economic value of protected areas has tended to be overlooked. This needs to change: if the economic value of marine protected areas is not recognised, they are unlikely to receive the investment from Government they so urgently need. The biological benefits of well-managed protected areas on land and sea are clear, but figures like these highlight that Scotland’s long term prosperity can be enhanced at the same time – its a win-win.”

Sarah Dolman, Whale Dolphin Conservation, (Head of Policy, Scotland) said: “Whale and dolphin watching around Scotland’s coastlines generates millions of pounds and valuable jobs. For example, whale watching in western Scotland is worth about £7.8 million a year, supporting over 60 boat operators. “

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