Green MSP Alison Johnstone has urged the Scottish Parliament to back calls from Scottish Environment LINK for a strong network of Marine Protected Areas using the powers set out in the Marine Act passed at Holyrood in 2010.
The call came on the third annual UN-recognised World Oceans Day, which this year recognises the particular contribution young people make to protecting our seas.
Backers of a motion on the issue note the continued decline of biodiversity in Scotland's seas recorded in the latest Marine Atlas. These remain some of the world's most important ecosystems.
Alison Johnstone commented: "All too often, especially on the environment, the impression given by Ministers is that passing a law is the job done. In the case of last year's Marine Act, nothing could be further from the truth. Ministers have choices to make, especially about the scope and range of Marine Protected Areas, and it will take pressure both from Parliament and environmental campaigners to ensure they keep to their commitments."
She continued: "Our seas are an extraordinary and neglected asset, and a strong network of properly protected areas will boost their regeneration and diversity, as well as bringing genuinely sustainable economic and social benefits. The legislation allows Ministers to support our seas. The question now is simply whether they will take that opportunity."
The full motion (S4M-00237) published on 8 June 2011 reads as follows:
That the Parliament supports World Oceans Day 2011; notes that this year's theme is Youth: the Next Wave for Change; considers that young people are often a knowledgeable and motivated segment of the population when it comes to the environment and its protection; recognises that Scotland's marine environment is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, whose inshore waters are home to over 8,000 complex and 40,000 single cell species of plants and animals; is concerned that recent reports claim that the health and biological diversity of Scotland's seas are in decline; supports the successful implementation of the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, which aims to reverse these trends, and backs Scottish Environment LINK's Marine Taskforce call to establish an ecologically coherent network of well-managed Marine Protected Areas by 2012 in order to protect and regenerate Scotland's precious marine environment.
* For the most recent Marine Atlas, see: