Seas around Foula, Bluemull and Colgrave Sounds and the East Mainland coast have all been designated Special Protection Areas (SPAs) by the Scottish government.
RSPB Scotland said the long-awaited announcement would safeguard these important feeding grounds, which thousands of birds rely on for food and shelter.
Foula, one of Britain’s largest and oldest seabird colonies, hosts more than 190,000 breeding seabirds. This includes five per cent of the British bonxie (great skua) population.
Over 190 pairs of red-throated divers (15 per cent of the UK breeding population) will be protected by the two new inshore SPAs.
The East Mainland Coast SPA provides important foraging and resting habitats for wintering birds, supporting over seven per cent of Britain’s wintering population of great northern divers.
RSPB Scotland head of marine policy Alex Kinninmonth said they were “very glad” to see three Shetland areas included.