North-west Orkney

Site overview: This site is located to the north and west of Orkney. It is a really important area for sandeels, which in turn are an important food source for other animals, including many types of larger fish and seabirds, such as puffins.
At risk: It is known that, sadly, seabird breeding success has been very poor in this area. It is believed that this is because there has been a lack of sandeels here. In the past 10 years, kittiwake productivity has only once been above 50%. Last year, of 325 surveyed kittiwake nests, only a single chick was fledged. This would not be the case if there were lots of sandeels available as food. It is really important that the sandeels are allowed to breed freely here in order to provide a source of food for seabirds. This can only happen if the site is well managed.

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area
MPA Purpose
This complements the MPA power introduced through the Marine and Coastal Access Act for offshore waters around Scotland. The Act also allows the Scottish Ministers to designate MPAs for demonstration and research and for historic/cultural conservation.


59° 30' 57" North,
3° 8' 50" West

Surface Area

4,369.95 km2
(1,687.25 mi.2 )

Iconic features protected by this site