What are marine protected areas?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

Our shared goal

The UK is committed to making its contribution to a well-managed network of MPAs in the North-east Atlantic. This network of MPAs will help meet commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity and contribute to the measures needed to achieve Good Environmental Status across Europe’s seas by 2020 under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

JNCC's role

JNCC is responsible for identifying and providing conservation advice on MPAs in UK offshore waters. Our role includes providing advice to the UK Government and the devolved administrations on marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), marine Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Nature Conservation MPAs (NCMPAs).  

We use the best available evidence to develop our conservation advice for each site, undertaking survey, monitoring and assessment work so our advice reflects any changes in the ecological condition of the site or its features. We also provide advice to Public Authorities and sea users on activities in the marine environment

We work collaboratively with the other Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies and the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations in the UK, particularly when providing advice on MPAs that fall within both territorial and offshore waters. We also assist UK Government in liaising with European Union Member States over the management of sites whose boundaries are next to protected sites in their waters.


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