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Special conservation areas
The East Mingulay proposal, which is approximately 13 kilometres east of the island of Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides and features the rare and fragile coral reef lophelia pertusa, has been approved by Scottish Ministers as a Special Area of Conservation.
The proposal will now be submitted to the European Commission for inclusion in the European Union-wide 'Natura' network of protected areas.
The scientific case for the Sound of Barra proposal has also been approved by Scottish Ministers, and Scottish Natural Heritage have been requested to conduct a public consultation on this proposal in the near future.
Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, said:
"The East Mingulay proposal makes a significant contribution to maintaining Scotland's unique natural environment. Stakeholders have made a welcome contribution to refining the boundary for the East Mingulay proposal, and their input is greatly appreciated.
"Making fisheries management advice available at this stage provides more certainty to the local fishing industry regarding both proposals, while also making clear that creel fishing can continue in the Sound of Barra to help ensure that the local communities continue to derive economic value from the area."
Natura 2000 is an European Union wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive and the Wild Birds Directive which aims to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
Following consultation with stakeholders, the site boundary for East Mingulay was revised to reduce the area by eight per cent. This revised boundary does not affect the integrity of the conservation area's features.
Advice on fisheries management has been provided which states that only demersal trawling and dredging effort needs to be controlled to maintain the East Mingulay site in favourable condition.
The Sound of Barra proposal aims to safeguard sandbanks, reefs, and common seals.