Fair Isle SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

This site is in the North Sea, halfway between the Shetland mainland and the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland.  The island is really important for seabirds, including skuas, terns, gulls and auks. The seabirds nest both on the cliffs and crags around the island as well as on moorland and maritime grassland areas, and feed in the waters around the island. 

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 December 1994

Surface Area

68.30 km2 (26.37 mi.2)

Perimeter

47.01 km (29.21 mi.)

  • Razorbill (Alca torda)

    A migratory bird that breeds on coastal cliffs and spends the rest of the year at sea feeding on small fish like sandeel, sprat and herring.

  • Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)

    Puffins are unmistakable and much loved birds. Sometimes referred to as the clown among seabirds they are one of the world’s favourite birds. With half of the UK population at only a few sites it is a Red List species.

  • 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.

  • Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)

    Adult gannets are large and bright white seabirds with black wingtips. They feed by flying high and circling before plunging into the sea. They breed in significant numbers at only a few localities.

  • Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

    A small cliff nesting seabird named for it its nasal “ki-ti-waak”” callnotes. The population is declining in some areas

  • Seabird assemblage (Seabird assemblage)

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

  • Common guillemot (Uria aalge)

    One of the most common birds breeding on sheer, crowded cliffs known as ‘seabird cities’. This seabird only comes to land to breed and spends the rest of its life at sea.

  • 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.

  • European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

    An inshore seabird that is only found in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean. It is seldom seen out of sight of land and nests on particular islands and cliffs in colonies of up to several thousand pairs.

  • 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?…

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

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