Types of marine SPAs


Four types of marine SPAs are currently being considered by JNCC:


1. Marine extensions to existing seabird breeding colony SPAs

In the UK almost all seabirds have some of their breeding sites protected within a network of breeding colony SPAs. This type of SPA is simply extending their existing boundaries into the marine environment, if this is deemed appropriate. The size of the extensions varies depending on the species breeding at the colony.

The UK’s coastal environment provides important feeding and moulting areas, as well as migration staging posts, for non-breeding waterbirds such as divers, grebes, and seaduck. ‘Inshore’ SPAs will provide protection for the most important inshore waterbird aggregations.


3. Offshore aggregations of seabirds

All seabirds in the UK rely on various parts of offshore waters throughout the year, particularly for feeding.  ‘Offshore’ SPAs will provide protection for the most important seabird concentrations in the open sea.


4. Other types of SPA

Some important areas for marine birds may not be included within the above three categories and will be considered individually.


Areas of search

JNCC is using both existing data and targeted bird surveys to help the statutory nature conservation bodies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to identify possible marine SPAs in shore, and for its own offshore responsibilities.  A series of maps published in 2010 to show areas of search for the different possible types of marine SPA.  Pages 4-6 are now superseded by a 2012 report which describes further analysis and shows updated maps.  The 2010 and 2012 maps show general areas of search and seabird concentrations where further survey and analysis is progressing to identify important concentrations of seabirds.  The maps do not presuppose any action by Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government or Welsh Government to classify as SPAs i) any areas of search, ii) important concentrations of birds within or represented by them, or iii) extensions to seabird colony SPAs that have not already been extended.


Further information on the various strands of work shown in the maps is available by using the links above.


JNCC carries out this work on behalf of the statutory nature conservation bodies (Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Department of Environment Northern Ireland). JNCC is responsible for providing advice relating to waters beyond 12 nautical miles of the coast, and the relevant statutory body will use the outputs from JNCCs analysis to provide advice on waters within 12 nautical miles (more details on JNCCs responsibilities here).