Advice and Support

Designation process: Historic Marine Protected Areas

How we designate Marine Protected Areas, from nomination to consultation.

We advise the Scottish Government on the designation of Historic Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). We work closely with a wide range of stakeholders as part of this process.


Anyone can apply for a site to be designated.

Find out how to propose a site as a Marine Protected Area.

Field assessment

To help select and assess Historic MPAs, we work with partners to share data and carry out co-ordinated surveys.

More specific site visits may be needed for designation applications and to monitor existing Historic MPAs. We commission assessments where this is the case.


We consult with a wide range of interested parties before making recommendations to the Scottish Government on Historic MPA designations.

The only exception to this is where there’s an urgent threat to a marine historic asset. The Scottish Government will designate urgently on our advice without consultation, but it’s only a temporary solution. Full consultation is needed to make the designation permanent.

Designation criteria

All candidates for Historic MPA designation are assessed against the criteria for national importance published in the Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019). Only nationally important assets can be designated as Historic MPAs.

Download the Historic MPA Guidelines