Firth of Forth Banks Complex NCMPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is located in offshore waters to the east of Scotland, and includes the Berwick, Scalp and Montrose Banks and the Wee Bankie. There are really strong currents here which create a mix of different sand and gravel habitats. Seals, dolphins, flatfish, starfish, crabs and the ocean quahog all live here. The Berwick Bank is a key spawning ground for plaice and the seabirds and seals, that nest and haul-out all along the coastlines nearby, travel out to the area to hunt for food.

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

2,132.17 km2 (823.24 mi.2)


382.51 km (237.68 mi.)

  • Ocean quahog (Arctica islandica)

    The ocean quahog is a two-shelled animal that looks like a very large cockle and lives buried in the seabed. It can grow up to 13cm across and can be very long lived, with one individual reported to have reached over 500 years old.

  • Offshore subtidal sands and gravels

    Offshore areas of sand and gravel that are offshore and always covered by water. These habitats can support a rich variety of life and support internationally important commercial fisheries, such as those for scallops and flatfish.

  • Shelf Banks and Mounds

    Formations on the seabed caused by the action of strong currents on mobile sediments like sand

  • Moraines representative of the Wee Bankie Key Geodiversity Area

    Moraines are accumulations of dirt and rocks left behind on the seabed by glaciers millions of years ago. They are basically made by sediment and larger rocks and boulders that fell onto the glacier surface or were pushed along by the glacier as it moved.

Did you know?…

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers