Marine SPAs


male common scoterOne key objective of the Birds Directive is to establish a European co-ordinated network of protected areas. The suite of SPAs on land in the UK is well established. The Birds Directive states that conservation measures should be taken both in “the geographical sea and land area”. At the moment there are 110 SPAs which include marine components in the UK including four wholly marine SPAs in English, Northern Irish and Welsh waters, and 35 seabird colony SPA marine extensions across the UK.

In order to identify further areas suitable for consideration as marine SPAs, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has led on work to highlight the areas within UK waters where marine birds aggregate.

The role of JNCC

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) in collaboration with the four other Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies (SNCBs) Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI) have undertaken extensive survey and data collection over many years. Rigorous data analysis has been undertaken to highlight the areas within UK waters where marine birds aggregate. Further information on this work can be found on the page Marine SPA Identification.

JNCC's marine SPA work is carried out by the JNCC's Marine SPA team, and is steered by the Marine Protected Areas Technical Group. As guidance and methods are devised, we consult with stakeholders, marine and statistical experts as appropriate.


What next

Once evidence has been provided, it is then the responsibility of the relevant SNCB  (SNH, NE, NRW, and DOENI for inshore waters up to 12 nautical miles from the coast or JNCC for offshore waters  from 12 to 200 nautical miles) to select appropriate areas for possible classification as marine SPAs. Any areas that are thought suitable for classification as a marine SPA will be subject to a public consultation.

Each SNCB make their own plans for public consultation and SPA classification. Information on SPA proposals and any forthcoming consultations can be found on the relevant organisations’ websites. JNCC are currently leading on two draft marine SPAs which are part of a suite of draft marine SPAs in Scottish waters.



Marine interest features of SPAs with marine components

GIS boundary data for SPAs with marine components

(last updated October 2015)