Fifteen new areas give protection to UK seas

In August fifteen new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were submitted by the UK Government to the European Deep sea life on Wyville Thomson Ridge – one of the fifteen new MPAs submitted to the European Commission: a white antipatharian, featherstars, anemones and a number of orange sea spiders (pycnogonids) on cobbly seabed © Crown Copyright, all rights reservedCommission to be included within the European ‘Natura 2000’ network of protected areas. This more than doubled the area of our seas that are protected.


The sites, which were selected on the basis of the best scientific evidence available, underwent a rigorous and transparent assessment and bring protection to habitats including reefs, sea caves and sandbanks, where marine life thrives. Sandbanks act as nursery grounds for many commercial fish species such as plaice and sole whilst also supporting sand eel communities that are a food source for seabirds and mammals such as seals. Reefs support a colourful array of sponges, sea squirts and corals that provide shelter for crabs, lobsters and fish such as the multi-coloured cuckoo wrasse. Birds will also benefit, with sites selected for the conservation of the red-throated diver and common scoter.


Candidate SACs and SPAs that were submitted to the European Commission on 20th August and possible SACs that are currently being consulted upon. The exact limits of the UK Continental Shelf are set out in orders made under section 1(7) of the Continental Shelf Act 1964 (© Crown Copyright). World Vector Shoreline © US Defense Mapping Agency. Map © JNCC 2010

However, the Natura 2000 network is still not complete and JNCC are continuing to work on identifying new sites in UK offshore waters for sandbanks, reefs and submarine structures made by leaking gases. We have just finished consulting on the Dogger Bank possible Special Area of Conservation which has been selected to protect its sandbank habitat and are currently analysing the responses that have been received. A report of the consultation will be made available from our website in due course. If designated, the site will adjoin with neighbouring sites in Dutch and German waters to create an international site which protects the whole of the Dogger Bank.


Once our MPA network is completed, these European marine sites will form part of an ecologically coherent network with the marine components of Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar sites, as well as new Marine Conservation Zones and Scottish Marine Protected Areas.





Contact File


Amy Ridgeway

Marine Protected Areas Communications Co-ordinator

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866841

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