male common scoterUK Marine SPAs


The UK currently has 108 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) with marine components, but only three of these are entirely marine. The Bae Caerfyrddin/ Carmarthen Bay SPA (Wales) was classified in 2003 for its non-breeding aggregations of common scoter. The Outer Thames Estuary and Liverpool Bay/Bae Lerpwl SPAs were classified in 2010 for their non-breeding aggregations of red-throated diver (both sites) and common scoter (Liverpool Bay/Bae Lerpwl SPA).


Work is currently underway by the JNCC and the four country nature conservation agencies to identify further SPAs with marine components that will comprise a suite of entirely marine SPAs.


The role of JNCC

The role of JNCC in progressing marine SPA issues is different between territorial and offshore waters (see map). JNCC is leading on the selection of SPAs within the UK offshore area. The identification of sites that lie within territorial waters is the responsibility of the relevant country conservation agency, although JNCC provide scientific advice on the identification of these sites on their behalf.


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 are consulting with stakeholders and marine experts through consultation exercises and/or relevant fora.


JNCC's Marine SPA news


Two new marine Special Protection Areas were submitted to the European Commission on 20 August 2010, following a three month formal consultation which closed in February 2010. The Outer Thames Estuary SPA has been classified for its nationally important wintering red-throated diver population. The Liverpool Bay/Bae Lerpwl SPA has been classified for its internationally important numbers of wintering common scoters and nationally important numbers of wintering red-throated divers. These two SPAs represent the second and third entirely marine SPAs to be designated in the UK (the first being Bae Caerfyrddin/Carmarthen Bay).


31 of Scotland’s seabird breeding colony SPAs were extended to protect their adjacent marine habitats from 25 September 2009. The extensions go out to 1, 2 or 4km, depending on which species are protected within the SPA. This followed a consultation, carried out on behalf of Scottish Government by SNH in summer 2008, which recommended the extensions based on work carried out by JNCC’s Marine SPA team.


JNCC's Marine SPA team produces a regular e-newsletter to keep stakeholders informed about JNCC's marine SPA work. If you wish to subscribe to this, please send an email to .


Marine SPA newsletters:

August 2013

January 2013

June 2012

Dec 2011

June 2011

December 2010

June 2010

December 2009

July 2009

December 2008

July 2008