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Scottish Government must not turn its back on the fireworks and flameshells that make the country's waters the most unique around the UK

33 recommended protected areas must become a reality says MCS

MCS Sea Champions, the charity's volunteers in Scotland, have handed over 3,750 public pledges to Richard Lochhead at The Scottish Parliament. The pledges support a comprehensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - safe havens for sea life protected from damaging activities to support the recovery of Scotland's seas.

Over 1,053 votes have already been submitted in support of the MCS successful MPA proposals for Loch Fyne, Loch Sween, Loch Sunart and Lochs Duich, Loch, Alsh and Beg, making almost 5,000 voices in support marine recovery.

Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland Programme Manager, who led the hand-in says Scotland's seas, though world-class, are in decline and have become a shadow of what they once were: "We urgently need a network of new MPAs to help our seas recover. The Scottish Government's own conservation experts recommended 33 MPA proposals in December 2012, and MCS is urging that all of these be included in the public consultation on the issue due this summer."

Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead said that he is "currently planning" to consult on all 33 Marine Protected Area proposals. Calum says this is what MCS had hoped for and  would be a key stepping stone to getting a comprehensive network.

"We owe it to this and future generations to properly look after our most precious resource. Much of Scotland's marine life is unique within the UK and therefore we have a special responsibility to protect it. Coral gardens, sea lochs, flameshell beds, fireworks anemones, tall sea pen parks and deepsea sponge fields are just a few Scottish specialities we stand to lose without better protection," says Calum.

MCS says that consulting on all 33 sites this summer is not just about protecting these amazing places for their own sake, although that is vital. It also makes social and economic sense.

 "Research published last November found that a theoretical network of Scottish MPAs could contribute social and economic benefits to the value of £10billion over 20 years, and potentially more. A network would not only improve the health of the Scottish seabed but could provide enhanced financial benefits from the enjoyment and use thriving seas will provide for future generations. There is everything to gain by consulting on all of these sites, which we call on Mr Lochhead to do," says Calum Duncan.

Important coastal stakeholders and businesses agree. Tom Brock OBE is the CEO of the Scottish Seabird Centre. He says that Scotland's seas are special and need to be properly conserved for future generations: "The Scottish Seabird Centre fully supports the development of a comprehensive network of MPAs around Scotland to help ensure that that these unique environments and their stunning marine wildlife are safeguarded."

Mark Hind, displays supervisor at Sea Life, Loch Lomond, where hundreds of pledges in support of marine protection were collected, said: "The importance of Scotland's marine life cannot be stressed enough. It plays a key role in the eco systems of both the local and the wider area. At Sea Life we encourage individuals to take responsibility for the protection of their local marine life, hence why the support from our guests has been so strong."

MCS says the public can continue to pledge their support for a comprehensive network of Scottish MPAs by visiting www.mcsuk.org/mpa.

 

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