The areas covered will contribute towards the protection of species such as minke whales and Risso's dolphins, and will be supported by ORCA's new Hebridean survey programme.
The Scottish government have announced new funding for the protection for whales and dolphins in Scottish waters after agreeing additional funding to support the development of four marine protected areas (MPAs).
In welcome news for marine wildlife in the region, the potential MPAs would include protection for minke whales, Risso's dolphins and basking sharks. There are currently no MPAs for these three species anywhere in the world.
The four areas benefitting are Sea of the Hebrides, Shiant East Bank, North-East Lewis and Southern Trench, and will also provide support for sand eels, sea fans and sponges in the regions that have been identified.
The new proposals have been welcomed by conservation organisations across Scotland, and ORCA are delighted to see progress on protecting these important habitats.
Excitingly, if confirmed two of the MPAs (North-East Lewis & Sea of the Hebrides) will be covered by the new programme of surveys in the region with CalMac that ORCA will be delivering for the first time in 2018, giving a fantastic opportunity for volunteer citizen scientists to contribute directly towards marine conservation policy in the region.
ORCA look forward to working with our friends in Scotland to help progress these proposals further and to having the chance for our data to make an impact on Scottish marine protection policy over the coming year and beyond.