Highly Protected Marine Areas are seismic shift for Scotland’s marine biodiversity

New plans unveiled by the Scottish Government for Highly Protected Marine Areas represent a “seismic shift for Scotland’s marine biodiversity” according to the Scottish Greens. 

The proposals, launched this morning by the Scottish Government will now go to consultation. They would make Scotland the first country in the world to designate at least 10% of its seas as Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs). The announcement coincides with COP15, where a global agreement is expected to include a requirement to expand protected areas.

HPMAs are a key commitment in the Bute House Agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Green spokesperson for coastal communities, Ariane Burgess MSP, said: 

“These bold plans represent a seismic shift for Scotland’s marine biodiversity. They will see key parts of our seas and coasts dedicated to the protection and restoration of nature, protecting them from exploitation and destruction.

"Highly Protected Marine Areas will be special places, protected for the good of current and future generations for their local, national and global importance. They will also play a critical role underpinning the restoration of healthy fish populations and supporting the development of a sustainable fisheries sector.

"Developing a new protected area network such as this is a big endeavour, and I am delighted to see it take a step forward. Critically, the next stages will be progressed in close cooperation with coastal communities to ensure they benefit as much as possible from the new network.

“With Scottish Greens in government we are working to protect wildlife and nature and transform our relationship with our planet. These protections are a key part of the cooperation agreement that we negotiated with the Scottish Government.

“Stakeholders have been invited to put forward proposals for HPMAs, and I hope to see coastal communities embracing this opportunity to secure vital protection for their natural environment.”


HPMAs are designed to provide additional environmental protection over and above those offered by Marine Protected Areas. It is proposed that they include protections from activities such as fishing and aquaculture, as well as infrastructure developments such as new ports, harbours and offshore wind.

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