Additional Annex II Marine Species SACs

Four species listed on Annex II to the Habitats Directive are known to occur in significant numbers in UK waters away from the coast:


Other marine species on Annex II also occur in UK waters, but SACs are unlikely to be identifiable for these species in waters away from the coast for areas which are "essential to their life and reproduction". Otter and river lamprey (or lampern) occur only in inshore and inland waters. Lamprey, sturgeon and shad are all rare in UK offshore waters and without regular places of occurrence. Loggerhead turtle is primarily a tropical and subtropical species which may wander into temperate waters and is recorded infrequently in UK waters.

Marine mammals

The marine mammals listed above are typically wide ranging and highly mobile in waters away from the coast. The effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in conserving wide-ranging, highly mobile species continues to be a source of debate. However, where critical habitat (e.g. feeding and breeding areas used over the long-term) can be identified, then MPA-based management may provide some added protection.

Grey and common seals

For the two seal species, coastal SACs have already been designated in the UK to protect breeding colonies and moulting and haul out sites. A review of recent data on seals at sea in UK waters is currently being undertaken to determine whether or not it will be possible to identify any SACs for either of the two seal species in waters away from the coast.

Bottlenose dolphin

Three SACs have been designated for bottlenose dolphin within UK territorial waters. These are Cardigan Bay, the Moray Firth and Lleyn Peninsula and the Sarnau. Analysis of existing data for bottlenose dolphin indicates that it is not currently possible to identify suitable SACs in UK offshore waters

Harbour porpoise

The UK has identified the Skerries and Causeway SCI to protect harbour porpoise and has identified 34 other sites where it is included as a non-qualifying species. In the early part of the century, analysis of available data failed to find any sites that would meet the selection requirements of the Habitats Directive. In 2013, JNCC contracted further work to assess effort related sea- and land-based sightings to determine whether persistent high density areas for harbour porpoise could be identified. As a result, 5 sites were consulted on in 2016, and subsequently designated in 2017, joining the Inner Hebrides and Minches SAC in Scotland.

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