Threats to Scotland's marine and coastal environment

Scotland’s seas and our iconic marine wildlife are under threat. It is important to identify and take steps to reduce the impact of these pressures.

Climate Change

The over-riding threat to our marine environment is the risk posed by climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

Invasive Non-Native Species

For many years, plants or animals have been brought to our shores by people through a range of different pathways, such as the movement of boats, equipment, goods or stock. These movements arise from both international trade and recreational and leisure activities. Where these species have a negative impact on our native wildlife or people’s well-being or the economy they are termed invasive.


Pollution comes in a variety of forms and from a variety of human sources both on land and at sea. It is estimated that 80% of all marine pollution comes from human activity on land and enters the sea through rivers and streams.

Coastal Development

Our coastal and marine environments continue to placed under pressures from development and the exploitation of our natural resources, using these at levels beyond which they can naturally replenish.