Chapter 4: Healthy and Biologically Diverse

Seal Management Areas

Marine Scotland Information NMPi icon

On 31 January 2011, Part 6 of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force. Part 6 seeks to balance seal conservation with sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and its introduction means: It is an offence to kill or injure a seal except under licence or for welfare reasons, outlawing unregulated seal shooting that was permitted under previous legislation A number of seal conservation areas around Scotland will begin to be introduced, designed to protect vulnerable, declining common seal populations A new seal licensing system, providing a well regulated and monitored context for seal management in Scotland has been introduced. Seal Management Areas are: East Coast, Moray Firth, Orkney and North Coast, Shetland, South West Scotland, West Scotland, Western Isles.

Sandy Ray (Priority Marine Feature)

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The Priority Marine Feature (PMF) list contains 81 habitats and species considered to be of conservation importance in Scotland's seas. It includes many features which are characteristic of the Scottish marine environment, ranging from flame shell beds in coastal waters, to cold-water coral reefs of the deeper seas, and mobile species such as minke whale and basking shark.

The sandy ray (Leucoraja circularis) can reach 120cm in length and occurs at depths from 70-275m. It is an offshore species typically found on sandy or muddy sea beds to the north-west of Scotland but can occur elsewhere around the coast.

Blue Shark (Priority Marine Feature)

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The Priority Marine Feature (PMF) list contains 81 habitats and species considered to be of conservation importance in Scotland's seas. It includes many features which are characteristic of the Scottish marine environment, ranging from flame shell beds in coastal waters, to cold-water coral reefs of the deeper seas, and mobile species such as minke whale and basking shark.

This layer shows the distribution of the Blue Shark. The blue shark can grow up to 3.8m in length and, as part of their annual migration, can be found especially off the west coast of Scotland during the summer months. It occurs at depths from the surface down to 600m.

Spiny Dogfish (Catch Per Unit Effort) (Priority Marine Feature)

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The Priority Marine Feature (PMF) list contains 81 habitats and species considered to be of conservation importance in Scotland's seas. It includes many features which are characteristic of the Scottish marine environment, ranging from flame shell beds in coastal waters, to cold-water coral reefs of the deeper seas, and mobile species such as minke whale and basking shark.

This layer shows the catch per unit effort of the Spiny Dogfish. It is widely distributed in Scottish waters and is found just above the sea bed, typically at depths of 10-200m (but can be as deep as 900m).

Conservation Areas - Common/Harbour Seals (Phoca vitulina)

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In response to local declines in common seal numbers, the Scottish Government introduced conservation orders under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 to provide additional protection on a precautionary basis for vulnerable local populations of common seals. In September 2004, the Conservation of Seals (Scotland) Order 2004 to cover common and grey seals in the Moray Firth, and in March 2007, the Conservation of Seals (Scotland) Order 2007 to cover common seals only in the Northern Isles and Firth of Tay. The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 introduces provisions for existing orders to continue, and for new ones to be introduced administratively as Seal Conservation Areas. The repeal of the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 on 31st January 2011 means that the existing orders will cease if not replaced by Seal Conservation Areas. The Scottish Government intends therefore to continue these existing orders in the form of Seal Conservation Areas from 1 February 2010.

This layer shows areas of seal conservation established under the Conservation of Seals (Scotland) Order 2007.  

Nephrops - Norway Lobster - Effort of vessels landing >75% Nephrops during 2007-2012 (Count of VMS positions)

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The most valuable shellfish species (and sometimes the most valuable commercial species overall to Scotland) is the Norway lobster, Nephrops. This species is distributed in all areas where soft mud and sandy mud occurs. These areas dominate most of the firths of Scotland and extensive areas of the west coast. In more recent years a major fishery has developed at the offshore Fladen Ground in the North Sea and this is now the biggest Nephrops fishery in the world. Nephrops fisheries are prosecuted by a large fleet of generally smaller vessels using otter trawls and on the west coast there is an extensive creel fishery.

The information shown on this data layer indicates areas where effort (measured in number of Vessel monitoring system VMS pings per grid cell) to catch Nephrops takes place. Data is averaged for the period 2007-2012.

Demersal Fish - Spatial variation in Species Richness of demersal fish in waters around Scotland, averaged over the period 1999 to 2008

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The spatial variation in Species Richness of demersal fish in waters around Scotland, averaged over the period 1999 to 2009.

This dataset is part of the larger Spatial Variation of Demersal Fish in Waters Around Scotland Dataset, which includes three layers that show the spatial variation of Demersal fish (generally living on or near the seabed) in waters around Scotland (averaged over the period 1999 to 2008) for:

  • Size Composition (Large Fish Indicator) (defined as the proportion of fish (by weight) in the community that is greater than 40 cm in length). The higher the value (varying between 0 and 1), the greater the proportion of large fish in the community.
  • Species Richness (a count of the number of demersal fish species recorded in any survey sample).
  • Species Diversity (indices that also take account of the relative abundance of each species in the sample).

All three datasets are based on surveys carried out by ICES set up to provide fisheries independent information to support stock assessments.

 

Demersal Fish - Spatial variation in Species Diversity of demersal fish in waters around Scotland, averaged over the period 1999 to 2008

Marine Scotland Information NMPi icon

The spatial variation in Species Diversity of Demersal fish in waters around Scotland, averaged over the period 1999 to 2010

This dataset is part of the larger Spatial Variation of Demersal Fish in Waters Around Scotland Dataset, which includes three layers that show the spatial variation of Demersal fish (generally living on or near the seabed) in waters around Scotland (averaged over the period 1999 to 2008) for:

  • Size Composition (Large Fish Indicator) (defined as the proportion of fish (by weight) in the community that is greater than 40 cm in length). The higher the value (varying between 0 and 1), the greater the proportion of large fish in the community.
  • Species Richness (a count of the number of Demersal fish species recorded in any survey sample).
  • Species Diversity (indices that also take account of the relative abundance of each species in the sample).

All three datasets are based on surveys carried out by ICES set up to provide fisheries independent information to support stock assessments.

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