Chapter 4: Healthy and Biologically Diverse
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.
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.
Scotland's coast is of particular importance for waterbirds and there are a number of sites of international importance for the wintering populations of wildfowl, waders and geese that they support. Many species are long distance migrant visitors that breed in the high Arctic and winter on Scotland's coasts.
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.
Scottish underwater TV surveys to estimate Nephrops burrow distribution and abundance, from Nephrops Functional Units of significance to Scotland. Underwater TV footage is taken at specified stations within Functional Units. The underwater camera is mounted on a towed sledge and tow duration is 10 minutes. Records of Nephrops burrows, Nephrops and other benthic fauna is recorded onto DVD for analysis and review.