The MPA overlaps with the marine part of the Sunart Special Area of Conservation (SAC) to the north (designated for rocky reefs, otters and terrestrial habitat interests) and the Firth of Lorn SAC across its centre (also designated for rocky reefs).
**Following requests from a number of stakeholders, Scottish Ministers have extended the representation period until 9th August 2015 with implementation of the new orders now scheduled for 1st November 2015.
As a consequence of this, Scottish Ministers will be making a Continuation Order for the existing South Arran MCO to take effect on 1st October 2015. This will ensure that existing measures remain in force until the new order takes effect.**
Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura MPA extends from the Sound of Jura northwards, incorporating the Firth of Lorn, the south-western part of Loch Linnhe and through the Sound of Mull into Loch Sunart. The MPA encompasses a large portion of the range of the relatively high numbers of the criticallyendangered common skate present in this area. The MPA also includes geodiversity interests from the Quaternary of Scotland (as part of the Loch Linnhe and Loch Etive key geodiversity area - Brooks et al., 2013). It is within a number of the deep glaciated channels associated with this geodiversity feature that large, reproductively mature common skate are resident (Marine Scotland Science, 2012; Neat et al., 2014). There is also some evidence that the shallow reef areas within the MPA are used by common skate for laying their egg-cases. However, there is no evidence to point toward specific parts of the area as nursery grounds for this species. Reef habitats are a designated feature of two existing marine Special Areas of Conservation (Sunart and the Firth of Lorn), with which this MPA significantly overlaps (see Map F). Other seabed habitat features within Loch Sunart are also the subject of a separate Nature Conservation MPA (Scottish Government, 2014; SNH, 2014). Loch Sunart to the Sound of Jura MPA was developed from, and fully encompasses, four discrete third-party MPA proposals from the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN).
The common skate is the largest skate in the world. It was once found around the entire British coastline but unsustainable levels of fishing throughout the 19th and 20th centuries have reduced the species to only the west coast of Scotland and Orkney. The common skate has been shown by angler led and scientific studies to remain in a relatively small geographical area year round and this is one of those areas. They lay large eggs, are slow growing and take a long time to reach sexual maturity therefore the rate of any recovery of the population is likely to be slow and would therefore benefit from spatial protection in addition to the existing ban on fishing vessels landing them.
The northern part of the possible MPA overlaps and builds on the Sunart Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The SAC is designated for oak woodlands and reefs.