Our Marine Protected Area Network
What is a network of Marine Protected Areas?
The UK has signed up to international agreements such as the
Convention on Biological Diversity and the
Convention, that aim to establish an 'ecologically coherent
network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)' by 2012 which is
well-managed by 2016. The sites in the network will work
together to provide more benefits than an individual area could on
its own. MPAs established under international, European and
national legislation will all contribute to an ecologically
coherent network of MPAs.
One network, six designations
Our Marine Protected Area network will include:
Natura 2000 Sites
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and
Special Protection Areas (SPAs) established
under the EC Habitats and Birds Directives respectively to protect
marine habitats and species of European importance.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
SSSIs are established under the Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981 and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act
2004 to protect species, habitats and geological features of
sites are established under the 1971 Convention of Wetlands of
International Importance to promote the conservation and wise-use
of wetlands of international importance and their resources.
Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)
MCZs are a new type of MPA designation that will
be introduced over the next few years through the Marine and
Coastal Access Act. They will protect nationally
important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology. In
English inshore waters and English, Welsh and Northern Irish
offshore waters they have been identified by the Marine
Conservation Zone Project. In Welsh inshore waters the
Conservation Zone Project Wales will designate a small number
of highly protected MCZs.
Scottish Marine Protected Areas
will be established under the Marine and Coastal Access Act and
Marine (Scotland) Act for offshore and inshore sites respectively.
They have been identified for the protection of nationally
important marine biodiversity and geodiversity features.
Northern Ireland will be introducing a
Northern Ireland Marine Bill to the Northern Ireland Assembly
in 2011 to come into force in due course. This will outline
proposals for nature conservation in Northern Ireland's territorial
waters which may include plans for MPAs.