In our third blog of the Meet our partners series, we hear from Marine Scotland about the way their websites contribute the marine dimension to the Scotland's environment web collaboration.

Martyn Cox, Maps NMPi Manager, Marine Scotland
December 18, 2017

Adding the seas to the Scotland’s environment family


"Clean, healthy, safe, productive, biologically diverse marine and coastal environments, managed to meet the long-term needs of people and nature."

Scottish Government’s vision for our seas


Scotland’s seas are a valuable, ever changing resource, and a challenging environment for gathering data. Our seas cover six times the area of the Scottish landmass and plummet down to almost 2,638 metres below the waves – about twice as deep as Ben Nevis is high. We rely on our seas for food, energy (oil and gas and renewables), and transport as well as being a place of beauty for recreation. They are also a source of unrivalled natural habitats and species of importance.


"Marine Scotland is responsible for managing Scotland’s seas in collaboration with a number of others who have marine responsibilities and interests. It is a vast resource and we recognise the magnitude of the task, and we need to ensure that we make the information we have about our seas readily available to stakeholders and those who might be interested."

Graham Black, Director of Marine Scotland


Marine planning is new, unlike its terrestrial counterpart which is well established and mature. It has a lot of catching up to do, but benefits from having many years’ worth of data that have been obtained from surveying this sometimes harsh environment.



The Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 provided new statutory obligations to Marine Scotland for marine planning at both the national and regional scale. Scotland’s first national marine plan was published in March 2015, supported, as the evidence base, by Scotland’s Marine Atlas.


Published in 2011, the Atlas was another first both in what it covered – an integrated assessment of Scotland’s seas – and a first in that it was a collaboration between Marine Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), NatureScot, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS).



Moving into the digital age, Marine Scotland has now taken its evidence and information availability a step further and developed the Marine Scotland Open Data Network (MSODN). This is an integrated suite of platforms covering maps (Marine Scotland MAPS NMPi), data (Marine Scotland DATA) and information (Marine Scotland INFORMATION). These are now 'part of the Scotland’s environment' family, the network of trusted portals, and carry the logo. Between them they provide the marine (coast and seas) dimension, as well as taking forward Marine Scotland’s obligations for open data and openness and transparency about our seas.

Marine Scotland continues to work with SEPA, NatureScot, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) towards building the evidence to support a further overall assessment of Scotland’s sea in advance of the next version of our national marine plan. This work also provides support for statutory regional marine planning partnerships, which will be responsible for developing regional assessments around designated areas in Scotland. Key to the planning work is the Marine Scotland MAPS NMPi portal that hosts a range of data for marine planning and assessment. At the last count, these came from over 100 different sources. These layers range between physical oceanography, hazardous substance reporting and locations of a wide range of human activities, to available aerial photography. Marine Scotland MAPS NMPi currently hosts 900+ maps that are available to all online. All layers give details of data source and links to where, as appropriate, data can be downloaded, for example from the Scottish Government Spatial Data Infrastructure (Scottish SDI), a portal for Scottish public data. Links to Scotland’s Environment are included. Marine Scotland MAPS NMPi also integrates with the Marine Scotland DATA and Marine Scotland INFORMATION portals.


Key for Marine Scotland is to highlight the MSODN as the place to go for access and signposting to a wealth of marine related data.

"It has never been more timely to assess the state of Scotland’s seas. The seas face the challenge of natural variations as well as those brought about by issues such as human forced climate change. In addition, there is the growth in demand for their use, for example for renewable energy, which is intended to help us combat the very same climate change. A deeper understanding of the seas is critical and using the Marine Scotland Open Data Network and the wider Scotland’s environment family to make those data available to all is fundamental."


Prof Colin Moffat, Head of Science, Marine Scotland.

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