Wyre and Rousay Sounds NCMPA

Status: Designated


Site overview This site was designated to protect maerl beds and the kelp and seaweed communities found here. These types of habitat act as a refuge for juvenile fish and a safe feeding ground for larger marine animals.

At risk The use of bottom towed gear throughout this site should be limited because maerl beds are easily damaged or even destroyed when fishing in this way, and they can take up to 10 years to even start to recover.

MPA Type

Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area

Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (NCMPAs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine Scotland Act 2010) and have been established around Scotland to contribute to the UK MPA network by protecting a range of important habitats, species and features of the seabed.

Designation date

24 July 2014

Surface Area

16.21 km2 (6.26 mi.2)


51.81 km (32.19 mi.)

  • Maerl beds

    Maerl beds include several species of red seaweed, with hard, chalky skeletons. Maerl is rock hard and grows, unattached to the seabed, in little nodules or branched shapes on the seabed. Each bit is quite small, but they can accumulate in large areas tha

  • Kelp and seaweed communities on sublittoral sediment

    Kelp and seaweed communities where the parts closest to shore are only exposed to the air by the very lowest tides.

  • Marine geomorphology of the Scottish shelf seabed

    The features of the seabed formed by the action of tides and currents.

Did you know?…

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

The future of fisheries is being decided

Fisheries CampaignThe UK government has opened a public consultation asking how we think they should manage our fisheries after Brexit through a new Fisheries Bill.

Act now!