Marine Species

 
Marine species occurring in UK waters are protected under various international, European and national legislative frameworks such as the EC Habitats Directive and conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.
 
The UK signed up to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992. The UK government discharges its duties under this agreement through the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), which was launched in 1994. In 1995, the UK Biodiversity Steering Group established the framework and criteria for identifying species and habitat types of conservation concern  defined as priority species and habitats. An original list of priority species and habitats was created between 1995 and 1999, and included a number of marine species and habitats. This list was revised following the Priority Species and Habitats Review, completed in 2007, and the current list of UK BAP priority marine species now totals 87.
 
The EC Habitats Directive sets out a framework of protected sites within Europe called Natura 2000. Those animal and plant species of community interest whose conservation requires the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) are listed in Annex II, whilst those animal and plant species of community interest in need of strict protection are listed in Annex IV.
 
Marine species are also being considered for protection under the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic ('OSPAR Convention'). It was opened for signature at the Ministerial Meeting of the Oslo and Paris Commissions in Paris on 22 September 1992. Under the OSPAR Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Ecosystems and Biological Diversity of the Maritime Area (Reference number: 1998-19), the signatory countries of the OSPAR Convention agreed to "identify those marine species, habitats or ecosystems that need to be protected, conserved or restored". JNCC is currently contributing to work within OSPAR's Biodiversity Committee to identify species (and habitats) in need of protection. This is being undertaken using the Texel-Faial Criteria.
 
Within the UK, the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) is the major legal instrument for wildlife protection , transposed into UK legislation via the Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 226. The Act has various parts, supplementary lists and schedules. Schedules 5 and 8 list the animal and plant species protected by this legislation.
 
The use of consistent and correct species nomenclature is important in all aspects of marine biological work, especially in the storage of marine biological data. JNCC's work on marine species involves using standard species checklists within its database systems and all data entered on to these databases must conform to this checklist before it can be accepted. The checklist currently used by JNCC for marine species is the UK species list, produced by Ulster Museum/Marine Conservation Society. To facilitate greater consistency in the use of species names across Europe, the JNCC became involved in the European Register of Marine Species (ERMS) project in 1998.