male common scoterUK Marine SPAs


The UK currently has 110 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. 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

An indicative suite of draft SPAs in Scottish waters has been announced by Scottish Government for the information of stakeholders.


The draft SPAs that are being considered have been identified based on data collection, collation and analysis undertaken by JNCC as part of work on the four different types of marine SPA analysis. The suite includes two locations which are primarily in offshore waters (beyond 12 nautical miles from coast) where JNCC has the advisory role, and twelve locations in inshore waters (up to 12 nautical miles) where Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) leads on advice. The offshore locations are in the seas around St Kilda and Foula and support a combined seven species of seabird in important numbers: Arctic skua (Stercorarius parasiticus), Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), common guillemot (Uria aalge), European storm-petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus), great skua (Stercorarius skua),  northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) and northern gannet (Morus bassanus).  


Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland (DoENI) are considering possible marine SPAs in English, Welsh and Northern Irish inshore waters, including extensions to existing seabird colony SPAs and entirely marine SPAs. JNCC are considering possible marine SPAs in offshore waters elsewhere in the UK.


JNCC's Marine SPA team have produced e-newsletters in the past to keep stakeholders informed about JNCC's marine SPA work. Archived newsletters can be accessed in the links below.


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