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Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 launched

News Item 2020

A new online platform which assesses the condition of Scotland’s marine environment and the human activity it supports has been launched.

More than 250 scientists have contributed to Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020, which brings together data from 183 studies to provide an up-to-date review of Scotland’s seas.

The assessments found that progress is being made to improve the health of Scotland’s seas. It also found that: 

  • progress is being made to reduce the levels of nutrients and contaminants in our seas;
  • the marine economy is providing significant economic and social benefits to coastal communities while the growth of industries like offshore wind, wave and tidal energy are of increasing importance to the Scottish economy;
  • Marine Protected Areas and measures to tackle marine litter need more time to be fully effective;
  • climate change is the most critical factor affecting our seas and impacts on coastal flooding, erosion and marine species;
  • collaboration with coastal communities, industries, public authorities and international partners is essential to improve the state of Scotland’s Seas.

The findings will be used to inform the forthcoming review of Scotland’s National Marine Plan and the development of the Blue Economy Action Plan. They will also help inform future management of the Marine Protected Area network.

Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 places Scotland at the forefront of international work in this field and provides a comprehensive review of the health of our seas. It brings together data on our marine plants, animals and industries, setting out where we can better support our marine environment and informing how we manage the sustainable shared use of the sea by a range of marine industries. 

“The Assessment finds progress is being made as we balance the sustainable development of emerging and established industries with protections for our marine environment. It also highlights the very real impact climate change is having on our seas.

“Last week we published our Climate Change Plan update setting out over 100 new policies to set us on track to a just transition to net zero, as well as our Future Fisheries Management Strategy, which sets out our vision for Scotland to be a world-class fishing nation, delivering responsible and sustainable fisheries management. 

“Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 will be an essential resource as we continue to deepen our understanding of the marine environment, together with our international partners, to deliver clean, healthy and biologically diverse seas which can help to sustainably grow our Blue Economy and continue to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.”


Scotland’s Marine Assessment 2020 can be accessed via the Marine Scotland information portal. It is a Programme for Government commitment 2019/2020.

This peer-reviewed scientific assessment has been produced by the Scottish Government, NatureScot, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland. It builds on the data first collected in Scotland’s Marine Atlas 2011.

The Future Fisheries Management Strategy and updated Climate Change Plan 2018-2032 are available to view on the Scottish Government website.

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