Views sought on regional Marine Protected Area management

Flame shell beds are protected in six locations around Scotland, , including Loch Sunart and Loch Creran, by a suite of Marine Protected Areas.

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A new way of marine management will be in the spotlight at drop-in events across Argyll.

Members of the public are being encouraged to attend the meetings to hear about the Argyll Marine Protected Area Management and Monitoring project.

Argyll has been selected alongside the Outer Hebrides to trial regional marine protected area (MPA) management in Scotland as part of the project, funded through the INTERREG VA funding programme.

The events will take place at The Rockfield Centre, Oban, on Tuesday April 30 from 2pm to 8pm; Kintyre Community Education Centre, Campbeltown, on Wednesday May 1 from 2pm-8pm; and at Lochgilphead Community Education Centre on Thursday May 2 from 2pm-8pm.

Amie Williams, Argyll MPA planning and data project officer for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), is running the project in Argyll.

She said: ‘This is a novel approach to marine management that we hope will be more user-friendly.  The development of the Argyll MPA management plan will be guided by a steering group made up of representatives from various sectors such as tourism, aquaculture and local authorities, who will meet to discuss and direct regional MPA management in Argyll.

‘The aim is to deliver resources that will be relevant to different sectors. For example, for the Argyll and Bute Council planners we might deliver information on how to prioritise overlapping designations. For the public we can provide more user-friendly information on the special nature of the marine environment of Argyll.

‘By developing more regional management while recognising the aspirations of maritime stakeholders, we hope to develop a shared vision for MPAs in Argyll.’

Argyll is home to a number of MPAs, including three Nature Conservation MPAs, three Historic MPAs, which protect wrecks, and six Special Areas of Conservation, as well as numerous Special Protection Areas for birds, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest protecting species and habitats including flame shell beds, common skate, seals, common tern and harbour porpoise.

Until now, management has largely been site and feature specific, with little consideration of issues that could be managed regionally. To start discussions on which features and areas might be more important to stakeholders, SNH has launched an online survey to gather opinions about MPAs in Argyll and steer the project.

To view or take part in the survey, visit www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/MarPAMM-Argyll

For more information about the project, contact Amie Williams on 03002 449360 or email Amie.Williams@nature.scot