Since August 2007 the UK has had the legal mechanism to
designate SACs in the UK offshore marine area under the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats
&c.) Regulations 2007 (as amended).
JNCC is responsible for identifying SACs in the UK
offshore marine area. This includes waters
beyond 12 nautical miles, within the Exclusive Economic
Zone and the seabed within the UK Continental Shelf Designated
Area. For areas within the UK Continental Shelf Designated Area but
beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone, JNCC can recommend SACs for
habitat features associated with the seabed only.
Sites crossing the 12 nautical mile boundary
and lying more than 90% in offshore waters have been progressed by
JNCC. Sites between 10 and 90% in offshore waters have been
progressed jointly by JNCC and the relevant country conservation agency.
Status of UK offshore SACs
Twenty-five sites in UK offshore waters have been formally
recommended by JNCC to UK Government, and they have been submitted
to the European Commission to become candidate SACs. The first five were submitted to
the EC on 31st August 2008, six on the 20th August 2010, one on the 26th August 2011, three further sites on
30th August 2012 and five sites on
the 31 October 2012. Further sites for Harbour
Porpoise were submitted in January 2017.
information on specific MPAs in offshore waters, see our online
Site Information Centres
Sites submitted as candidate SACs or designated as
SACs contain examples of Annex I submarine structures made by leaking gases;
reef; and sandbanks.
Areas of Search
Areas of Search for future offshore SACs are based upon the best
available evidence of the location of Annex I protected features.
For the majority of UK offshore waters the data available on the
habitats present is sparse. JNCC has a programme to survey offshore
areas that are deemed as a high priority for inclusion in the
There is currently one Area of Search (AoS) for SACs in offshore
waters: the North-west Anglesey Reef AoS, located
in the Irish Sea. This can be viewed on the UK MPA
Interactive map and a shapefile of the point locations of the
AoS is available to