The difference between a MPA and a SAC

| March 3, 2012

From a question by Tavish Scott MSP

To ask the Scottish Executive what the differences are between a special area of conservation (SAC) and a marine protected area (MPA).

Answered by Richard Lochhead (01/03/2012):

Marine Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation.

The EU Habitats Directive requires member states to designate locations for certain internationally important habitats and species as Special Areas of Conservation contributing to a EU wide network of protected areas.

The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 (“the Act”) created new powers for Scottish ministers to designate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scottish territorial waters in order to protect marine biodiversity, geodiversity, the historic environment and in order to demonstrate or research new methods of sustainable resource use or management solutions. The MPA powers in the Act complement the powers in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to designate MPAs in offshore waters adjacent to Scotland to protect marine biodiversity and geodiversity. The powers in both Acts will be used in an integrated way to develop a MPA network that delivers our priorities for biodiversity and geodiversity at a national and international level.

The designation and management of SACs must comply with the requirements of the Habitats Directive, and the designation and protection of MPAs is governed by the duties and powers in the Marine Acts.

Case law of the European Court of Justice dictates that member states may not take account of economic, social and cultural requirements or regional and local characteristics when selecting and defining the boundaries of Special Areas of Conservation. The European Commission Guidance on Managing Natura 2000 Sites states that management measures should take account of economic, social and cultural requirements or regional and local characteristics subject to ensuring that deterioration of the location is avoided.

A science-led approach is being used to identify nature conservation MPA proposals with provision in section 68(8) of the Marine (Scotland) Act to take account of socioeconomics in decisions on designation. A series of workshops provides an opportunity for stakeholder interests to influence the design of the network including proposed alternatives and to highlight socioeconomic concerns and impact assessments of MPA proposals and equivalent provisions for demonstration and research MPAs are contained in section 71(3). MPAs will be managed on the basis of sustainable use with provision in section 68(8) and 71(3) to take account of socioeconomic impacts including displacement. There is no EU guidance on the inclusion of economic or socioeconomic factors when considering the designation and management of an MPA under national legislation.

Category: Scottish Government News

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