Scotland's marine wildlife will be put at risk when a piece of legislation protecting it expires, environmental groups have warned.
WWF Scotland and RSPB Scotland said the European Union failed to meet a deadline this month to introduce the amendments needed to extend the life of an agreement known as the fisheries Technical Conservation Regulation, designed to protect sensitive marine environments and species.
They said the conservation of vulnerable Scottish fish stocks could also be at risk when the legislation expires at midnight on Monday.
The charities warned that the EU would no longer be able to legally prevent certain activities in fragile marine areas, such as the use of deep-sea gill nets.
Now, the groups are calling on the European Parliament, Council and Commission to resolve any outstanding issues as a matter of urgency and to introduce emergency measures early in the new year.
Helen McLachlan, senior marine policy officer at WWF Scotland, said: "It's totally unacceptable that a failure to agree procedure at a European level is able to put at risk hard fought protection for key species, fisheries and marine areas around Scotland and beyond.
"This needless delay has the potential of allowing damaging practices to return to fragile marine areas and impact vulnerable marine species. It is vital that this situation is resolved as soon as possible if Europe is to sustainably manage our precious marine resources."
Kara Brydson, of RSPB Scotland, said: "Protecting marine wildlife from the worst effects of fishing shows the EU at its very best.
"We trust that the EU institutions will not play Russian roulette with our wildlife, and will come back around the table to ensure that vital conservation measures remain in place.
"Scotland hosts the majority of the EU's breeding seabirds so safeguarding protected offshore areas for them, and the sandeels they rely on, should be a priority for everyone involved."