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Scottish Budget -  More Resources for Basking Shark MPA

There was good news from Holyrood yesterday when the Scottish budget was agreed. 

As part of the budget, they have allocated money towards the remaining proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) and accelerating the process. The official statement says that the money will be used to bring forward the public consultation on the MPA's 

'to provide additional investment of £200,000 to accelerate the delivery of the four Marine Protected Areas, which will allow the public consultation on the proposals to take place a year earlier than currently planned and subsequently lead to the MPAs to be formally designated a year early.'

The remaining MPA's are all important but the Skye to Mull MPA is of particular interest due to it's focus on basking sharks! The proposed MPA would be a worlds first on for basking sharks and highlight the importance of our waters for them and the fact we have the biggest seasonal aggregation of basking sharks in the world. Through photo ID and satellite tagging the sharks have been shown to have high site fidelity with certain areas meaning that they are semi-resident to the area and keep returning year on year. This all means that a small area (in terms of their North Atlantic range ) is highly important for them as a species. 

Basking sharks are already protected by many laws such as being listed on schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. However the MPA would strengthen their status in this specific area. This could be in management measures around the coast or further protection against industrialisation or intensification. They are listed on the IUCN Red List as ‘Vulnerable’ and also as ‘Endangered’ in the north-east Atlantic

The full statement from there Scottish government can be found here. More information on basking sharks can be found on our page here. Find out more about our science programme to study the sharks here or how you can take part in a tour to see them.

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