Marine protected areas
The Government has a vision to produce clean, healthy and biodiverse seas around the coast of the UK. One of the means of achieving this will be through the establishment of a network of marine protected areas (MPAs).
The Government has a target to establish a network of MPAs in accordance with the requirements of the European Commission’s Habitats Directive and Wild Birds Directive and part 5 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The EC’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive also sets a target for this network of MPAs to be well managed. In English waters this network will comprise of European marine sites (EMS) and marine conservation zones (MCZ).
These European sites will comprise special areas of conservation (SACs) for annex I natural habitat types and annex II protected species and special protection areas (SPAs) for wild birds.
In addition to the European marine sites, the Government intends to designate an ecologically coherent network of national marine conservation zones (MCZs), using authority derived from the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
Our strategic approach to MPA management
We have statutory responsibilities for managing MPAs in English waters out to the continental shelf limits. These responsibilities derive from the Conservation of species and Habitats Regulations 2010 (as amended), the Offshore Marine conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007 (as amended) and the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
There are 75 EMSs in English waters for us to manage, when appropriate. We also have responsibilities in relation to MCZs as they start being designated by the Government. Our main areas of responsibility relate to licensable marine activities, sea fisheries and otherwise unregulated marine activities (such as recreation).
We have developed a strategic approach to MPA management to help oversee this important work. An MPA strategic management table has been developed that provides a high-level view for all EMSs in English waters. It summarises information about the sites, including some of the statutory nature conservation advice about the impact of human activities upon habitat features in the sites.
It is important to note that we have considered only the advice in relation to activities for which we have management responsibilities, so it does not address questions such as water quality and eutrophication. The table also identifies any management actions we are performing. We are working to produce site action plans for every site. These will provide links to more detailed information about the management work in which we are engaged at site-specific level. The intention is that the table will become our primary working tool to help us determine priorities for action and will be updated regularly.
Our priority rating has been increased to high or medium for a number of sites in the table. This has been done to support the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' change of approach to the management of fisheries in European marine sites.
We welcome your feedback on this approach, both in general terms, and in relation to any specific sites. Please contact email@example.com
The aims of this table are to:
- provide a transparent decision making process to openly illustrate how the MMO is working to manage the network of MPAs
- use evidence to provide a meaningful and consistent approach to the management of MPAs
- recognise high, medium and low areas of priority to responsibly manage resources
- encourage stakeholders to input evidence and provide feedback which will assist the MMO in assessing and reviewing potential risks
- create a flexible and dynamic assessment process
- incorporate quality assured evidence into decision making which will be consistent across the organisation.
Other nature conservation activity
Strategic management table
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