Hatton-Rockall Basin NCMPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is located in the far west of Scotland’s offshore waters. Rockall Bank lies to the east, Hatton Bank to the west, and George Bligh Bank to the north. This is a really deep muddy area which is home to animals that don’t require much natural light! The site is important because it aims to protect unusual groupings of deep-sea sponges which are classed as a declining habitat. It is an unusual area as it is made up of polygonal faults which are cracks in the seafloor. They look like the cracks found on a sun scorched desert, creating a unique relief on the seabed providing a habitat for deep-sea sponges.

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

1,257.65 km2 (485.58 mi.2)


143.32 km (89.05 mi.)

  • Offshore deep sea muds

    One of the most widespread and common habitats in the Scottish offshore environment which supports a variety of animals including prawns, shellfish, starfish and worms.

  • Deep-sea sponge aggregations

    Deep sea areas dominated mainly by two types of sponge - glass sponge and giant sponge.

  • Sediment drifts and polygonal faults representative of Hatton Bank (and adjacent sea floor) Key Geodiversity Area.

    Areas where sediment has accumulated and areas with cracks in the seafloor, similar in appearance to those on a sun scorched desert

Did you know?…

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

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

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