Newly classified Irish Sea Front marine Special Protection Area

4 December 2017

Following a public consultation at the beginning of 2017, the Irish Sea Front site proposal has now been classified by the Secretary of State as the Irish Sea Front Special Protection Area (SPA). SPAs are protected sites classified under the EU Birds Directive to protect rare and vulnerable birds, as well as regularly occurring migratory birds, in the member states of the EU.

The Irish Sea Front SPA is the first SPA in the UK to protect an important seabird foraging area fully located in the offshore environment. It aims to protect foraging grounds of Manx shearwater, and tracking studies indicate that individuals from at least three different colonies around the Irish sea utilise the area. The site lies about 35km southwest of the Isle of Man and about 36km northwest of Anglesey, very close to the Western Irish Sea Front, which suggests that prey items could aggregate in the area and create very good foraging conditions for the birds.

The Irish Sea Front SPA has been classified as part of the larger tranche of SPA classifications, including another new SPA between Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay in Cornwall as well as four extensions to existing SPAs located predominantly in English and Welsh Territorial Waters.