© Kat Stephenson

Scotland's magnificent seas

Scotland has an astonishing 10% of Europe’s coastline. Framed by myriad sea lochs, firths and islands, the surrounding seas are home to a third of the global population of grey seals; the world’s most northerly population of bottlenose dolphins; 23 other species of the world’s 82 whales and dolphins and 43% of all seabirds breeding in the EU. They also provide summer feeding grounds for the basking shark, which is the world’s second largest fish, and the endangered leatherback turtle.

Beneath the waves are some of the finest marine habitats in Europe, including rocky reefs covered in soft corals, sea fans and sponges, shallow beds of delicate maerl, sea grass, flameshell and horsemussel - all providing refuge for young fish and shellfish - and spectacular coldwater coral reefs

Diver in Scotland
© Calum Duncan

So much to lose

Scotland’s seas are under threat from human activity. We have fished them almost to exhaustion and used them as a convenient dumping ground. Scotland’s Marine Atlas* revealed the health of a staggering proportion of Scotland’s marine habitat is deteriorating, with the majority of our seabed facing many serious problems.

Save Scottish Seas

Almost ten years of dedicated campaigning by MCS in Scotland and partners resulted in the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 which requires Scottish Ministers to protect and, where appropriate, enhance the health of Scotland’s seas; develop a national marine plan that includes marine ecosystem objectives and establish a network of well-managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Turning point

MCS in Scotland is co-ordinating a joint campaign in support of a network of Scottish MPAs. Strong public support for ambitious and careful management can help kickstart recovery. We now have an historic opportunity to help reverse centuries of decline in Scotland’s seas as the Scottish Government have launched a public consultation on a network of proposed MPAs. Right now, we need your support for strong management of marine protected areas in Scotland.

Actions you can take

  1. Browse Scotland's Marine Atlas
  2. Find out more about Scottish Wildlife

Did you know?…

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

MCS established its Scotland office and programme in 2000 in Edinburgh

Scotland has 10% of Europe’s coastline

Scotland’s Parliament: Ambitions for Scotland announced - MCS comment

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out a big Programme for Government in Scotland’s Parliament.

Read comment from MCS