Duties relating to network
Section 79 – Creation of network of conservation sites
122.Section 79 states that Scottish Ministers have an obligation to designate Nature Conservation MPAs under section 67 in order to contribute to the objective specified in section 79(2). The objective is that any areas designated as MPAs, taken together with other marine conservation zones and relevant conservation sites in the UK marine area, form a network which satisfies certain conditions which are specified in subsection (3).
123.Those conditions are that the network contributes to the conservation or improvement of the marine environment in the UK marine area, that the features which are protected by the sites comprised in the network represent the range of features present in the UK marine area, and that the designation of sites comprised in the network reflects the fact that the conservation of features may require the designation of more than one site.
124.“Relevant conservation sites” are any European marine site, any European offshore marine site, the whole or part of any site of special scientific interest and the whole or part of any Ramsar site.
125.When complying with this duty to designate sites to contribute to a network, Scottish Ministers must have regard to any obligations under EU and international law that relate to the conservation or improvement of the marine environment.
126.Section 79 also requires the Scottish Ministers to prepare a statement outlining the principles relating to the achievement of a network, which the Scottish Ministers intend to follow. The document must be laid before Parliament within the period ending 2 months after the section comes into force. The statement may also set out other relevant matters that the Scottish Ministers plan on taking into account when designating Nature Conservation MPAs, which are not part of the conditions of improving and conserving the marine environment. This statement must be kept under review and if necessary amended and laid before the Parliament.