The UK OSPAR Marine Protected Area network

The OSPAR Commission recommended that Contracting Parties1 complete an initial consideration (by 2005) as to whether any areas within their jurisdiction justified identification as OSPAR MPAs according to the OSPAR MPA identification and selection guidelines. JNCC evaluated existing MPAs designated under the Birds and Habitats Directives (SACs and SPAs) and as a result 55 inshore Natura sites were identified as OSPAR MPAs and submitted to OSPAR by the UK Government in 2005. In 2008, eight additional SACs were reported as OSPAR MPAs. 107 SACs and SPAs were reported as OSPAR MPAs in 2011 and a further 12 SACs and 1 Marine Nature Reserve in 2012. 61 sites were submitted to OSPAR in 2014 and a further 23 sites were submitted in 2016. All 267 sites meet at least one of the OSPAR MPA ecological criteria2. A full list of the UK's OSPAR MPAs is available and a shapefile of the sites can be downloaded.
Further work on behalf of the country conservation agencies is being undertaken by JNCC to assess which additional MPAs are required to support  the development of an ecologically coherent, well-managed network of sites across the OSPAR Maritime Area. The scope of such work includes consideration of:
  • other existing Natura sites (including currently proposed or draft SACs);
  • existing UK MPAs identified for other purposes; and
  • new areas which have not yet been selected or designated (for example, through new MCZ initiatives already in progress).
JNCC has taken steps to assess the degree to which Natura 2000 sites can contribute to the protection of OSPAR threatened and declining features, and for which threatened and declining features additional MPAs might be required.

1 The Isle of Man is part of our contracting party under the OSPAR convention and so the UK submits MPAs as OSPAR MPAs on behalf of the Isle of Man.

2 An area may be considered for contribution towards the OSPAR network of MPAs if it meets one or more of the OSPAR MPA ecological criteria. The OSPAR MPA criteria are not the same as criteria for selection of Natura sites (SACs or SPAs) under the Habitats and Birds Directives.