They're home to incredible wildlife, and they provide us with food and recreation. For coastal communities who rely on activities like fishing and wildlife tourism, healthy seas are vital.
Our seas are also crucial in the fight against climate change, as marine ecosystems can store even more carbon than those on land.
But our seas are a shadow of what they once were. Intensive use has destroyed habitats and driven many species into steep decline.
We urgently need to protect our marine wildlife and help our seas recover, for the benefit of everyone.
On paper, Scotland already has a network of marine protected areas, designated since 2014 to protect our most precious ocean wildlife. But 10 years on, these vital areas remain largely unprotected. Industrial activities, particularly high impact forms of fishing, continue to deplete the life within them.
The Scottish government is required by law to design and implement fishing restrictions for each marine protected area, tailored to the natural species and habitats it contains. Depending on the area this might mean restricting certain types of fishing but allowing other types that have a lower environmental impact.
These restrictions are the bare minimum needed for marine protected areas to actually protect the biodiversity they contain. And they are long overdue.
The government was originally required to get these measures in place by 2016, and then by 2020. But by 2024, little has been done.
This cannot go on. The Scottish government must end the delays and act now to take this crucial step in helping our seas recover.
Sign the petition urging the Scottish government to protect Scotland's marine protected areas.
To Màiri McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy
Scotland’s marine protected areas need real protection. I call on the Scottish government to put tailored fisheries restrictions in place across Scotland’s marine protected areas by the end of 2025.