Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area
United Kingdom: GB-SCT
Lying to the north and west of Orkney, this NCMPA (Nature Conservation MPA) is designated as an area of importance for sandeels, a fish that burrows into the sand to escape from predators.
Sandeel are a key source of food for a range of marine wildlife, including many types of larger fish and seabirds, such as puffins. Fishing for sandeels has occurred in many coastal and offshore areas around Scotland in the past but is now limited to occasional fishing off the east coast of Scotland. This NCMPA has been recommended for sandeels because of the important role the area plays in supporting wider population of this fish in Scottish waters. Specifically, newly hatched sandeel larvae produced from this area are exported by currents to sandeel grounds around Shetland and south of the Moray Firth.
The NCMPA includes important seabed features, such as sand wave fields. Study of these features can help improve our understanding of the relationships between currents and seabed sediments.