Fetlar SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is located in northern Scotland, north of the Shetland Islands and is a really important area for sea birds, including the Arctic Tern.  The most important area here for birds is the northernmost part of the island and the south-western peninsula of Lamb Hoga, which has heather moorland with areas of Cottongrass.  The site partially overlaps the Fetlar to Haroldswick Marine Protected Area which helps protect the areas where these birds feed. 

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 March 1994

Surface Area

169.76 km2 (65.55 mi.2)


157.37 km (97.78 mi.)

  • Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

    Almost gull-like, this grey and white seabird is related to the albatrosses. It flies low over the sea on stiff wings.

  • Seabird assemblage (Seabird assemblage)

    Important areas where a number of seabird species occur in significant numbers.

  • Great skua (Stercorarius skua)

    A stout, dark, confident bird - the great skua is described as ‘the pirate of the seas’. It harrasses other birds and kills and eats smaller birds like puffins. It is also known to dive bomb any people who approach nesting sites.

  • Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

    A large wading bird that only breeds in north Scotland. The The Shetland and Orkney breeding population has been slowly increasing.

  • Red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

    A wading bird specially adapted to spend lots of time on the water. The males of the species are duller than the femails and look after the eggs and chicks.

  • Arctic skua (Stercorarius parasiticus)

    A medium-sized dark seabird that only comes to shore to breed. It is known to chase other birds to try and steal food and can be aggressive towards intruders that venture near its’ nest.

  • Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea)

    A bird with one of the longest migrations of any bird species. They often travel between the Arctic and Antarctic each year. They breed in coastal colonies, and feed mostly on small fish which they pick from the top few centimetres of the water column.

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets

Did you know?…

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

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

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas