Native Species




Marine life, including seabirds in Scotland are protected by a range of national and international legislation. These laws are designed to protect rare and vulnerable species as well as their breeding and resting places. These species and habitats are important components of our ecosystems and can provide a range of goods and services including nursery grounds for fisheries, water purification (through water filtration and carbon capture (called carbon sequestration).

NatureScot and Marine Scotland have have identified 81 marine habitats and species considered to be of national conservation importance known as Priority Marine Features (PMF). A full list of PMF’s can be found on the NatureScot website.

Protecting important native species through Marine Spatial Planning

The Shetland Islands Regional Marine Plan (SIRMP) has a range of polices designed to protect and enhance these important species and habitats. A number of maps in the SIRMP assist developers and decision makers in siting potential marine developments. These maps are created using data from a range of data sources including surveys and monitoring undertaken by the Marine Spatial Planning team at Shetland UHI. These data sets are constantly being updated as we find and survey new records of important species and habitats.

Get involved in native species surveys

You can help the Marine Spatial Planning team by submitting records of important species and habitats you may spot whilst out in the marine environment. You can also get involved in helping map species and habitats such as seagrass and blue mussel beds with the Shetland Community Wildlife Group.

We have created an identification guide for snorkelers and SCUBA divers which describes some of the sensitive species and habitats that may be spotted in Shetland waters. Records can be reported to the team by email to

Download the guide below:

Related Links:

Mussels and anemones Marine State of the Environment Assessment

Contact Us

Marine Spatial Planning Section

Shetland UHI Scalloway Campus

Port Arthur